Although ‘Master John’ sounds like some kind of fetish shop, it was actually Toronto’s glam-rock boot shop in the 1970s. Stocked with styles that rivalled Vancouver’s Fox & Fluevog, London’s Terry de Havilland or Los Angeles’ Fred Slatten, John Master opened his first shop at 611 Yonge Street in c. 1971. The shoemaking was done at a small factory at 2752 Danforth Avenue near Main Street. His shop was as its height of success in 1974 – around the time he opened another shop at 513 Yonge Street. However, a declining interest in platform shoes forced him to close his first shop by the end of 1975, and the the second shop in 1979.
His boots were not the best quality in terms of construction, but they never lacked pizazz. Silver leather platforms trimmed with snakeskin were common features of his showiest thigh-high pieces. Master claimed to have sold 300 pairs of handmade shoes a week to his clients which included: Black Sabbath, KISS, and British actor Christopher Lee.
Added November 5, 2019: At the time I wrote this, little was known about this elusive bootmaker, but since then a lot more information has surfaced. I wrote another blog about him here.
Image top: John Master holding one of his prized thigh-high boots
Image right: A shot of the front window, June 4, 1975, images courtesy Vintage Toronto
Thanks to Terry Charter for sending some more pics (below) of Master John boots. Although Master John never labelled his boots, Terry has picked up some examples with known provenance from the original owners: