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.

 

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.

Corsets, Satin gloves and feathered hats were the fashion of the day. As the sole worker at Evans, Mr. Evans offered bespoke handmade leather goods such as handbags and high heels, personalised to match garments and accessories.

Photo – A young Mr. Evans in his workshop 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.

At the time, such services were popular and Mr. Evans found himself facing stern competition. Mr. Evans worked hard to establish himself but soon like many businesses, faced the prospect of designers shifting their manufacturing processes overseas.

Photo – An early Evans handmade patent leather ladies shoe.

From Fashion Services to Repairs

Changes in fashion and the use of labour overseas 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.

A leather speciality 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.

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 old Evans shopfront

Renovation of 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 notable feature of the Royal Arcade and continues to provide quality craftsmanship to customers old and new.

Photo – The Royal Arcade Annex pre-renovation, with the Evans signs.