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In the market for new shoes? Slip into the comfortable soles of these Malaysian shoe brands combining quality, design and in one case, a very good cause.
There was a time when the only Malaysian footwear brands were department store labels, mass-fashion chains, or, if you looked far enough, Jimmy Choo. Those years are firmly in the past as new-school shoemakers have stamped their mark through a commitment to understated style, affordability and premium craftsmanship. Here are some of the homegrown brands to check out.
Yoke & Theam
The millennial-backed success of Yoke & Theam’s streetwear-centric brand can be traced to its founders, sisters Yokie and Yoke Sin. Heirs of a family shoemaking legacy covering three decades, the women joined forces to create a line of shoes their squad would wear – and there is a squad! Check their #ytwalkoflife on Instagram to meet the creatives, fans and friends who live the lifestyle, then scroll through their catalogue of chunky marbled flatforms and lace-up kitten heels to get your own.
Check www.yokentheam.com for stockists.
Nelissa Hilman is the chemical engineer-turned-shoemaker who made the first big splash for Malaysian shoe brands when she launched her line of contemporary classics in 2012. A worldly, eclectic sensibility can be seen throughout her frequently updated collections, with the latest including everything from towering stiletto pumps to fuzzy slides. Also noteworthy, a collaboration of resort-worthy sandals incorporating prints from celebrated designer Cassey Gan.
Nelissa Hilman, UGF-20, Upper Ground Floor, Bangsar Village II, 59100 Kuala Lumpur. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm (excluding Public Holidays).
Between loafers, moccasins, oxfords and boots – men’s footwear typically doesn’t offer much by way of choice as women’s. Variety lies in quality and price, with endless fast fashion brands’ low-priced, and often ill-constructed products on one end and custom-fitted designer on the other. Zeve Shoes’ locally made pairs straddle both extremes for the sake of your feet and bank account, with each classic style running less than RM400. For that you get premium materials, fresh colour options and the satisfaction of #sapotlokal.
Zeve Shoes, Lot 2.2, Level 2 Podium, Etiqa Twins 11 Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur. Open Mon-Fri, 10am-7pm.
For a handmade product, see socially responsible brand Fireworkshouse’s handwoven leather shoes for men and women. From start to finish, each made-in-India pair takes 20 to 22 days to make, beginning with sourcing premium leather, processing them by hand, and construction and finishing – all without a single piece of machinery. With Fireworks, the brand is reviving an 800-year-old dying art of shoe-making in rural India, providing the artisans with resources, guidance and a platform to sell their creations to make an honest living out of their craft. Other than shoes, Fireworks also produces leather bags and linen shirts.
Check fireworkshouse.com for stockists.
Photo credit: www.stickyricetravel.com
A list of Malaysian shoes wouldn’t be complete without a shoutout to this timeless moulded rubber sneaker. It solidly outperforms pricier competition in summit races, are traced down by trekkers and mountain-climbers who swear by their durability, and are beloved by all for its low, low price (between RM8 to RM10 per pair). We Malaysians love a good value, and the ‘Adidas kampung’ is best in class.
Available at local sundry shops night markets.
By Grace Wong
Photos courtesy of respective brands.
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