Single left shoe, circa 1914, tan leather, lace-up, with Louis heel.

Paragon-label shoe, made by H. Walters Pty Ltd for the Adelaide-based retailer C.J. Young Shoe Co. Ltd, prior to the Paragon name being purchased by A. Davison in 1930.

Paragon Shoes Pty Ltd became one of the most significant 20th century Australian shoe manufacturers, and at one time was the largest manufacturer of high quality of women's shoes in Australia. Its factory was located in Melbourne, and its shoes were sold throughout Australia and New Zealand. The name Paragon was originally owned by the Walter Shoe Co., and was bought by the donor's father-in-law, Alexander Ambrose Davison (Alec), after World War I. Alec was originally trained as a bookmaker. In his early years he marketed shoes under the name 'A. Davison'. His first company was The House of Stanley.

Paragon shoes were manufactured in a factory in Argyle St, Fitzroy, in the 1920s, one of the largest single-storied factories in Australia. Manufacturing later moved to Stanley St, Collingwood. Some shoes were also made in other factories for Paragon, and some were apparently designed overseas. Up to 100 people worked in the Stanley St factory, with as many as three generations working with the company at the one time.

Physical Description

Camel leather shoe, pointed toe, lace-up with five eyelets and Louis heel.


The Paragon Shoe Collection comprises over 90 objects, including pairs of shoes and single shoes, point-of-sale materials and promotional materials such as business cards and an umbrella bearing the company name. The Collection documents the business and products of Paragon Shoes Pty Ltd, one of the most significant 20th century Australian shoe retailers, and at one time the largest manufacturer of high quality of women’s shoes in Australia. Its factory was located in Melbourne, and its shoes were sold throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The collection was largely donated by a member of the Davison family, which ran the Paragon business for most of the 20th century. It documents the changing designs of Australian women's footwear, from the 1910s to the 1980s. It illustrates the development of new shoe styles, from sample shoes bought overseas to shoes that went into production and were worn by Australian women. The collection is complemented by an archive held at the State Library of Victoria, including company records, shoe design sketch books and further point-of-sale material.

More Information

  • Collection Names

    Paragon Shoe Collection

  • Collecting Areas

    Clothing & Textiles, Working Life & Trades

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Mrs Diana Gaze, Mrs Diana Gaze, 26/10/2005

  • Maker

    H. Walters Pty Ltd, circa 1914

  • Retailer

    C.J. Young

  • Inscriptions

    Insole: "MADE EXPRESSLY FOR / The C.J. Young Shoe Co. Ltd. / ADELAIDE" Label, inner upper: "The / Paragon / REGD."

  • Classification

    Clothing, Female, Footwear

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    27.5 cm (Length), 7 cm (Width), 13 cm (Height)

  • Maximum dimensions

    241 mm (Length), 68 mm (Width), 128 mm (Height)
    Measurement From Conservation. Left

  • References

    Howard, G., 2004. Lex Davison: Larger Than Life'. Turton & Armstrong, Sydney. Copies of several newspaper articles about Paragon from the early 1920s were included with the donation. The State Library of Victoria holds an archive relating to the Paragon business, containing receipt books, account books, advertising, clippings, sample book, sketches, photographs and a poster - MS 13570. The content dates range circa 1928-1988. An additional archive, PA 01/05, ranges 1940s-1980s.

  • Keywords

    Footwear Industry, Manufacturing, Making History - Paragon Shoes