Our Story

A MELBOURNE INSTITUTION

Evans has been proudly developing a tradition of fine workmanship for over 60 years in the Royal Arcade, Melbourne CBD. The company was founded by Evan Skliros – better known within the Arcade as “Mr. Evans” – a highly renowned leather craftsman who first opened the workshop in 1956. Evans has since established itself as a boutique workshop specialising in leather items of value and is well regarded amongst designers, fashionistas and retailers.

 

READ ABOUT EVANS IN THE PRESS

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Melhotornot lifestyle blog View Article

The Migrant Craftsmen

The story of Evans began in September 1956 with the opening of the workshop adding to the diverse specialty and boutiques shops within the Royal Arcade. A highly skilled European migrant, Mr. Evans practiced his leather-making craft among aspiring Melbourne fashion designers.

Photo – A young Mr. Evans in the early Royal Arcade shopfront in the late 1950s.

a shoe-making business

 
A standard pair of women’s shoes at Evans would typically take a day to make. The desired leather was selected, a last chosen and any ornaments handmade and attached to the shoes.

Photo – An early Evans handmade patent leather ladies shoe. At the time there were many shoe-making factories located within the Melbourne CBD mostly worked in by European migrants. Mr. Evans actually worked at Barnards (one of the larger shoe manufacturers behind Georges) for nine months before opening Evans.

From Fashion Services to Repairs

Changes in fashion and the use of labour overseas for manafacturing coincided with a natural shift of the workshop towards shoe, handbag and leather repairs. Dyeing and shoe covering to match wedding or designer dresses became in-demand services, particularly among upper class clientele.

Photo – Mr. Evans in the shopfront with bridal shoes in the display. Bridal coverings remain a popular service with many generational customers sometimes coming in on the recommendation of their mothers- who remember getting their wedding shoes done at Evans.

A leather specialist company

Evans quickly became popular amongst Melbournians as the workshop became established as a destination for the more difficult and unusual jobs. While demand for the speciality work at Evans grew the main workshop remained centralised within the Royal Arcade to ensure quality craftsmanship could be maintained.

Photo – the pre-renovated Evans shop. Older customer will remember the sliding door and dividing wall – these were modifications of the original shopfront.

The Evans workrooms

The workshop gradually expanded to encompass much of the second and third floors of the Royal Arcade annex. Attracting talented leather craftsmen and retraining them in his standard of work, Mr. Evans established a unique repair facility within the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Photo – The pre-renovated Royal Arcade looking up into the Evans workrooms. Notice the adjoining bridge above the bulbs – this was removed after the Royal Arcade first major renovation.

Renovation of Evans and the Royal Arcade

The refurbishment of the Royal Arcade in 2002 coincided with the restoration of the shop front to its original architectural design. The small shop front with it’s iron cast staircase leading up to the workshop remains a Royal Arcade fixture and continues to provide quality craftsmanship to customers old and new.

Photo – The renovated shop front by architect Kenneth Edelstein, who also oversaw the refurbishment of the Royal Arcade.