It started when cobbler Emil Podlubny sold a customer’s boots in the mid-’80s. The former owner of Emil’s Shoes, on the Chapel Street end of Windsor, started selling shoes to recoup his costs after customers failed to pick them up. He quickly realised that the vintage cowboy boots sold the fastest.

Eventually, demand outpaced uncollected stock, and in 2003 his grandson Ed Podlubny ordered 100 pairs of American cowboy boots for Emil to sell. Ed soon expanded with more leather shoes, accessories and handbags for Emil’s Shoes, before striking out on his own with Vintage Sole. There, he and his partner Rachel Podlubny continue to source and sell mostly American vintage from the ’80s onwards, as well as more contemporary noughties clothes, shoes and accessories.

Vintage Sole has covered some ground over the years, with outposts on Chapel Street (now closed), Brunswick Street and in the CBD. Yet its CBD store, set in the iconic Nicholas Building, is the most reminiscent of years gone by. Red and white neon signage and arched leadlight windows frame the store’s entry, which is tucked at the end of the art deco Cathedral Arcade.

Inside, you’ll find copper and wooden racks lined with denim jackets, rainbow-ordered rows of vintage t-shirts, cowboy shirts, patterned ’80s rayon shirts, sweatshirts, jeans and more. The ground floor has mainly men’s stock – follow the staircase up to the mezzanine level for an edit of women’s vintage. There you might find ’90s mini and maxi dresses in silk and linen, retro blouses, leather skirts, velvety numbers and more.

Whichever floor you’re on, there are also stacks of handbags and the store’s namesake item: vintage shoes. Expect to find classic Dr Martens, Adidas shell toes and of course, the enduring leather cowboy boots.

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Updated: March 16th, 2023

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