Buying a new pair of school shoes is one of those purchases you can’t avoid. Growing feet (and active kids) means that a new pair every 12 months is pretty much essential.
“School shoes are one of the most important shoes you’ll ever buy. Kids spend most of their weekdays in their school shoes so they need to be durable, sturdy and supportive,” Eleesha Quinn, who runs Instagram account @thequinngirls and is an ambassador for Shoes & Sox, told news.com.au.
But gone are the days of needing to brave the shops and battle for the perfect school shoes in person. Now you can shop for your child’s school shoes from the comfort of your couch, with the best brands (not to mention prices) available online.
Queensland mum Eleesha shops around for the best price on school shoes for her three girls Logan, Aleeia and Isla.
“I always keep an eye on the back to school specials,” she told news.com.au.
“Living regionally, I need to be organised as we don’t have all the major stores to choose from here. I usually order online.”
Need to get your child’s feet measured? No worries. It’s also very possible to measure at home and work out what size with our DIY guide below.
Here we’ve compiled our list of the best school shoe brands to shop, plus our top picks, meaning you’ll be able to get your kids ready for school with their best foot forward in no time.
BEST SCHOOL SHOE BRANDS
Chances are you had at least one pair of Clarks school shoes while growing up. The iconic British shoe has been around since 1825 and has been a go-to school shoe brand for decades.
This is Clark’s number one best-selling school shoe. Made from a full grain leather upper, features include a padded collar, leather lining for breathability, lightweight sole and a soft moulded footbed for comfort.
Reviews from happy parents on Clarks’ website say they are an “excellent shoe that I buy year after year” and the “only school shoes that my daughter is happy wearing”.
This is a great option for more active kids, or if your little one hasn’t quite mastered laces just yet. We love that it comes with a leather toe guard that’s scuff resistant as well as a heel loop to help them pull their shoes on quickly.
Five star reviews say the shoes are “very sturdy, waterproof’’ with one parent writing: “These shoes have lasted a long time with heavy wear from my primary school student.
“Great fit and grip. Very flexible and supportive. This is the second year that I have purchased these shoes.”
The sports brand is known for creating some of the best running shoes for adults, but did you know they also make great quality school shoes for children too? Founded in Japan by Kihachiro Onitsuka the brand first rose to prominence at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The Japanese team had been fitted out with ASICS sneakers that left rival athletes so impressed they soon ordered pairs for themselves. Today ASICS is a global brand known for not only its shoes but also its activewear and sports clothing for men, women and children.
Eleesha has been ordering this pair of ASICS shoes for her girls for the last five years as “the quality is so good”.
“I need the girls shoes to be durable, supportive and most of all comfortable,” she explained.
“I love the removable supportive liner to allow for more room at the end of the year when their feet have grown.
“No one wants to have to fork out for new school shoes a month out from finishing.”
ROC Boots Australia was established in Sydney by the Culls back in 1990, a shoemaking family with over 130 years of experience. Its school shoes, ROC Kids, are popular with older kids for offering more fashion-forward styles while not compromising on quality and comfort.
Perfect for older kids and teens, these shoes have a 5.5cm block heel with a durable, lightweight sole.
With a flexible wax leather upper and leather quarter lining, these shoes have the added benefit of being suitable for orthotics.
You can’t go wrong with these classic school shoes. Featuring a leather upper and lining, features include padding around the ankle, thick rubber heels and removable insoles.
“ROCs are the first pair of shoes that got my daughter through the whole year of school without falling apart and there were no complaints of discomfort!” reads one five star review.
“So this year we went back and so far we have the same results. Happy people here!”
Established in 1948 Harrison makes good quality leather school shoes in classic styles. This brand gets a big tick from us for its sheer variety of style, from classic lace ups and buckle straps, to sporty runners and velcro pairs.
Our favourites are the Indiana, a cute buckle-up T-bar style with cut-out detailing, and the Kasey which is a more modern style with a velcro strap.
These shoes are a great durable pair for kids who like their schoolyard sports. The lace-up design features a leather upper while durable PU soles are designed to last.
“Amazing quality that lasts longer than a school year. Have purchases for both my sons and highly recommend,” one five star review from a parent of six and nine-year-old sons on Shoes & Sox’s website.
“My son plays handball at school, in the past the toe area of his shoes would be badly scratched within the first few weeks of wear,” another review reads.
“He’s been wearing these shoes for more than two weeks and there’s no sign of scratches. I have a good feeling this pair would last much longer than his previous pairs which cost around the same price.”
Made from a high shine leather upper and lining that keeps feet breathing, theses shoes have a small rubber heel for a cute touch.
“Beautiful, quality school shoes. My daughter has worn these for years and we never look further than these at the start of every school year,” reads one five star review.
“She alternates with her sport shoes twice a week and gets at least a full year wear out of them!”
School shoes can be expensive, especially if you’re buying for more than one child at the start of the year. Priced under $100, Grosby are a great affordable option if you’re on a budget. Founded in Australia in 1925, it started as a small family-owned company that made slippers and is now today a popular affordable footwear brand.
A classic unisex style, these lace-up shoes have a smooth leather upper and padded collar for added comfort. There’s also a removable insole making it suitable for standard and wide feet.
Five star reviews on Shoe Warehouse’s website say they are a “good quality shoe for a low price” and “great for first lace shoes”.
With a lightweight sole, these shoes are ideal for sporty kids. Features include a breathable mesh upper, stretch laces and a velcro strap that makes it easy to get shoes on and off.
“Great shoe for my son. The velcro is easy enough for him to do and the soles are sturdy and he hasn’t put a hole in them yet. So that’s a win!” one five star review reads.
If you’re after a brand with serious shoemaking pedigree then don’t look any further than British company Startrite. Founded in 1792 Startrite has been making shoes for centuries and in 1943 they conducted the first UK-wide survey of children’s feet. Using expert advice from medical professionals and educators, Startrite claims to have revolutionised how children’s shoes are not only made, but fitted. They also have a connection to the British royal family after receiving a Royal Warrant for children’s shoes back in 1955. Since then they’ve fitted a whopping 1,500 pairs for young royals.
These sporty school shoes have all the features kids need like heel pull tabs, padded collars and self-fastening straps, as well as a leather upper that breathes. Five star reviews on Myer’s website describe them as “great sturdy shoes” that “really last”.
These shoes are a cute mary jane style that’s perfect for school thanks to their self-fastening strap and comfortable leather design. They also have a cute flower detail, with parents writing in reviews that they are “easy to put on and take off”.
If you’re buying for older children who insist they don’t need school shoes anymore (even though their uniform code says otherwise) VANS are a great option. What began as a skateboarding brand in 1966 is now one of the world’s biggest youth brands, with their Old Skool shoes a cult favourite that continually sells out.
A school-approved twist on VANS most popular shoe, these Old Skool Leather are a unisex style designed to last. Features include enforced toecaps, metal eyelets and padded collars for comfort.
“they’re just a simple but great pair of leather shoes to go with my formal uniform at school, great comfort and can never go wrong with VANS,” one five star review reads.
Alpha is another brand that offers great quality school shoes at a more affordable price point. Each pair of Alpha school shares come with a nine month outsole guarantee, while two of its most popular pairs have been endorsed by the Australian Podiatry Association. The Alpha Riley and Lennox were reviewed by an independent podiatry panel, who deemed the two shoe styles were ideal for young feet.
You can’t go wrong with these classic lace up shoes. With a full grain leather upper and breathable mesh lining, these shoes are built to last. Stand out features includes additional heel cushioning for greater shock absorbency, additional inner soles for a better fit and a thermoplastic heel counter.
Another school shoe recommended by podiatrists, the Lennox has built in arch support to keep your kid comfortable.
A durable outsole provides much needed durability while PU cushioning in the heel dials up the shoe’s shock absorption.
“Extremely comfortable shoes according to my children and lasted well even with much rough play,” one parent wrote in a five star review.
With over 30 years of experience making shoes for growing feet, Bobux was created by Chris Bennett back in 1991 after he struggled to find shoes suitable for then-baby daughter Chloe. Today Bobux is worn by children in over 40 countries across the world, with great options available for school-aged kids.
Tested to international REACH child safety standards these shoes are ideal for little feet. Standout features include heel pull tabs, padded collars, self-fastening straps and reinforced toe caps.
“Very soft school shoes, perfect fitting and quite easy for younger kids to put on by themselves. Looks great on their little feet too!” one parent wrote in a five star review.
A classic mary jane style, these school shoes have plenty of extra features to make them comfortable for all-day wear. Features include a padded collar and self-fastening straps as well as a rubber outsole for durability.
“Excellent quality, Bobux shoes are always outgrown before they’re outworn,” says one five star review.
A brand that needs no introduction thanks to their signature Airwair boots, Dr Martens also makes durable kids shoes that are perfect for school.
The British brand was founded back in 1901 and was considered a stock standard work boot until the 1960s when they obtained the exclusive rights to a German air-cushioned sole. Adding a yellow welt stitch and sole pattern Dr Martens’ Airwair boots were born and quickly became a fashion icon that remains popular until today.
Designed to last, these Dr Martens are made from signature Airwairs leather, with the sole and upper heat sealed and sewn together rather than just glued.
“I bought this as my daughter’s first school shoe, so comfortable and durable, unlike every other kid in kindy going through more than two pairs or more of other branded shoes,” reads one five star review.
“If her foot hadn’t grown these shoes would last for years, purchasing bigger size up for next year.”
The 1461 holds the title for being the first shoe boots brand Dr Martens ever made. First released back in 1961, sixty years later it’s still going strong thanks to features like its flexible sole construction and soft leather upper.
HOW TO MEASURE FEET AT HOME FOR SCHOOL SHOES
“Stand on a plain piece of A4 paper and mark the top of their toe and the base of their heel. Make sure you do both feet as they can differ,” Eleesha says.
“Then measure the length with a ruler. You can go one step further and mark the width of their feet as some shoe makes will be better suited to a wide or narrow foot.”
Most retailers will have a size guide online and we also love this DIY guide to measuring feet from CHOICE.
HOW TO STOP SCHOOL SHOES FROM SCUFFING?
Active kids mean that wear and tear are always inevitable when it comes to school shoes. But you can help prolong the life of their shoes by spraying them with a leather protector when you first purchase them.
It’s also important to regularly polish and buff school shoes to keep them looking their best.
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