Mandarino

Con Platakis

A family-owned business for 11 years, Mandarino is a destination store for discerning customers from all over Melbourne. This charming children’s footwear boutique holds an exclusive collection of European leather shoes for little feet.

Perfectly fitting for comfort and wellbeing, the extensive range of shoes are naturally breathable and are designed for the healthy development of growing feet.

The changing shop window display is renowned with atmospheric props attracting loads of attention. While model cars have been a hit, seasonal displays might include a fireplace, a model of the Eiffel Tower and an exquisite array of tiny French shoes.

The store adds a fabulous touch to Glenferrie Road. Owner, Con Platakis, loves the unique charm of what he describes as “an old-school” shopping trip, far removed from the clinical and confined feeling of a large shopping centre. “There’s a great mix of cafes, restaurants, specialty stores and the exclusive buzz of being outside and enjoying the fresh air!”, Con says.

Con caters for children of all ages, up to pre-teens, but the best sellers are for first-walkers. “The whole experience of a toddler being fitted for their first pair of proper shoes is almost a ritualised event – often with an entourage of family members present and lots of snapshots being taken for posterity.”

Over the years, Con has developed personal relationships with his customers. “Over 11 years at this location, we have seen little ones come through for their first pair of shoes and before you know it, they have blossomed into adolescents and adult footwear. We like to think we have given these ‘not-so-little’ people a solid foundation for healthy feet for the rest of their lives.”

Behind the shiny leather and soft gold trimmings, Con is ever mindful of the need for young children to be correctly fitted for shoes, particularly in the crucial developmental years up to the age of six. “A good quality shoe that is badly fitted or unsuitable for a child’s foot is just as bad as a poor quality one. Look for footwear that is light weight, flexible through the front third towards the toes but resists bending in the middle (arch support), and has a firm heel counter. The material that the shoe is made of is equally important. Leather is by far the best material for footwear.”

Keeping track of fashion trends is not always the easiest thing to do when you’re busy on the floor of the store, fitting wriggly customers. “Fortunately, designers working for our brands do most of the work for us. Then it is up to our own intuition to select styles and colours best suited to our Glenferrie Road customers.”

"Over 11 years at this location, we have seen little ones come through for their first pair of shoes"