1949 Fostars Shoe Catalogue

A nice chap who collects vintage catalogues has lent us several choice publications for use as archival material in the Book.

Here’s one of my favourites – a very high quality catalogue filled with beautiful illustrations of shoes that can be ordered by the discerning customer.

Fostars was a Sydney establishment. I’ve found other catalogues from the ’50s, but nothing else about them although it looks as if the National Film and Sound Archive has an old cinema advertisement from 1940: that would be worth seeing!

Can you imagine receiving something as beautiful as this in your letter box in 1949? See below for the treats offered. Oh, if only it were this easy to find beautiful shoes nowadays!


  1. My Dad Edmund Albany Moran was a director of Fostars shoes until he passed away in 1952
    I have a lot of info about shoe manufacturing factories and techniques in Abecrombie St Chippendale.Fostars had their own retail outlets. My mother Thelma worked there as well as my Auntie and uncle Jim Burnett. The major shareholders were the McEvoy family Jim and Andy(son)

  2. my mother and sisters norma smith, joyce smith and marjorie smith worked at fostars in the late 1930’s. there was a manager reg swinbourne at the sydney store.

  3. My parents Ron O’Connor & Beryl Collins both worked at Fostars shoes where they met and the rest is history – Dad was a clicker and Mum worked in the office.

  4. The catalogue is just gorgeous and a real celebration of the years immediately after WWII – when life was just beginning to look so good in Australia. I do remember those years, and some pretty hard times for many, but by comparison to some other parts of the world we were living in a paradise. We still are, just by the way.

    However, rather than a comment, I have a question…
    I have some old, quite high quality, movie film of a parade that I am trying to date. It shows, amongst other things, a neon sign for a Fostars’ store somewhere in Sydney. I suspect Oxford Street 1947 and just maybe Easter for the opening of the Royal Easter Show. Do you know where Fostars’ main store would have been about that time?

  5. Hi Geoff, I’m not sure of the location of the Sydney shop but I still have the catalogue: it should have an address on it so I’ll let you know once I’ve found it.

    By the way, if you have a link for the clip I might be able to help you date it.

  6. Hi Nicole
    Thanks for the reply!! I do not presently have a link to the film – but I will find a way to create one. The film originated in my father-in-law’s papers but we do not have any history to it. It is 16mm black and white film, clearly in Sydney. I had it transcribed to video two or three years back. (there is no sound). You would probably be able to date it from the fashions in it.

  7. I was looking up Fostars as my mother worked there around 1950. I also remember her talking about Mr Swinbourne who was a manager there. I think the store where my mother worked was in the Strand arcade. The catalogue looks great and the shoe styles haven’t changed a lot over the past 65 years.

  8. Hi Nicole, came across your page whilst trying to glean some info on Fostars, it has answered some questions, thank you.

    My Auntie, Kathleen(Kay) Doolan, worked at Fostars factory. I know for sure it was in Chippendale, but am only guessing it was on Abercrombie St. She was there from the early 50s through to closure in the early 60s, I think. She operated the switchboard on her own.

  9. Interesting Greg: thank you for your comment. I did a bit more digging and found this article from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1952 – it looks like (at that point at least) Fostars was the biggest shoe manufacturer in Australia, with no less than four Chippendale factories and three more workrooms on Sydney’s fringes. Abercrombie St is likely to be one of them, I agree. If your aunt was on switchboard, that suggests she might have been working at the head office, as the smaller factories will have less need of a switchboard if they’re close by.

  10. Searching family history on my Uncle Henry FERRIS, PARRAMATTA who worked at Fostars for 6 years prior to 1941 when he enlisted as a pilot in RAAF. Found reference to Fostars on his service records. He was 20 when he enlisted.

  11. Like Robyn O’Connor, my parents also worked at Forstars shoes, they met in 1958, my dad Arthur Reid was also a clicker & my mum Kay Slattery worked in the accounts dept, mum has told me that the office & factory was in Balfour St Chippendale in Sydney, they were surrounded by the old Brewery.

    The rest is history as well..

    I have a question, does anyone have a photo of the actual building as I’m compiling a presentation for my dad’s 80th birthday, Like This Is Your Life.

    Anything would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Helen

  12. Thanks for your comment, Helen.

    A quick check of Trove supplied the address of 28 Queen St, Chippendale. They had a few factories so that might not be the main one but the address was found on an advert for a secretary in 1950 so that’s probably the head office. It looks like there’s a modern building there now, with the original Fostar’s building demolished but if you try the Mitchell or State library they might have archival photographs. Good luck! It would be a lovely remembrance. Another place to try is the local council, as they would have provided demolition approval and so will probably have pics of the old building.

  13. Hi there, my great great grandfather was a shoe designer there. I will need to clarify his first name (possibly William) but surname was Allen. Does any have records of their shoe designers based in Sydney? Thank you, James

  14. My mother and father also worked at Fostars, his name was Arthur McFarlane. It seems like many families worked there together. I have also been trying for any information on this company.

  15. My great great grandfather who worked there was called Robert Alan if anyone knows that name, thanks, James

  16. Hi, i just found a tatty Fostars shoes Booklet, anyone know if theres a market for such a book? And how it may be worth?

  17. Sitting here with my great aunt Merle Abbott 92yrs young who worked at Fostars starting as a 21yr old in 1948 & she’s thrilled to see this beautiful catalogue & reminisce about those wonderful 18 yrs at the Chippendale factory. She was a shoe machinist & table hand.

  18. Thanks for your comment, Lachlan – and what precious memories for your great aunt! I’m glad that I was able to bring her some joy. I wish that companies like Fostar’s were still around, preferably remaking some of these gorgeous styles because I’d love to put in an order.

  19. I have a promotional photo card (A5 size) & matching envelope featuring a Fostars Ambassador men’s shoe & a photo of, I believe, my great grandfather, James Victor Mason, who was a shoe maker. He is wearing a laboratory-style coat. The envelope has a return GPO Sydney (Box 3959V) address.

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