January 19, 2013 Word count: about 225

Cairo Cobblers
Most people know that you can get world-class tailoring done in Cairo, and for a fraction of what you would pay in Western industrialized nations. I’ve had several bespoke suits made by Cairene haberdashers – some are better than others, and I would encourage you to try and get a recommendation before you invest your time, hope and money. But few people know you can also have shoes made-to-order. The cobblers who provide this service are dwindling. I have been told of an Armenian cobbler near Falaky, but never found him. And there is another cobbler, near the synagogue in the bourse area. But I settled on a cobbler behind Café Riche, near Midan Talaat Harb. Shoe stores are seemingly everywhere in Cairo. However, many of the styles are just too ostentatious for my office. So I brought a pair of conservative-looking penny loafers to the cobbler, and asked them to approximate the style, but in black. They were delighted.

At first, they told me it would be almost a fortnight, but the shoes were ready within a week. Are they really that exceptional? It would be hard to say so, persuasively. But they were custom made, to my specs, and nobody else has a pair. And now I have them. But I still need to find the elusive Armenian cobbler, if just out of curiosity. Pete Willows is a contributing writer to The Egyptian Gazette and its weekly edition, The Egyptian Mail. He lives and works in Cairo, and can be reached at willows@aucegypt.edu

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