In the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, “when one door closes, a shoebox opens.” Whether it’s for retail therapy, collecting the latest designs of your favourite brands or just buying footwear that is comfortable for your feet, shoes have always been an integral part of our lives. They are the finishing touch to every outfit and, depending on what your choice is, they might just bring a whole new dimension to your final look. In this month’s edition of Onzz Malaysian Brands, we bring you the latest and hottest local footwear labels to discover and love.
1. Yoke & Theam
Looking for chic yet adventurous designer shoes? Enter the Malaysian-born sister duo Yokie and Yoke Sin. Perhaps, you could say the shoe-making mantle was passed on to them with a family legacy for over 30 years in the business, but these sisters prove to have an impressive artistic background themselves. Yoke Sin, the eldest of her four sisters, graduated from Middlesex University London with a degree in graphic design and has had a hand in the design industry for more than a decade. Her youngest sister Yokie, on the other hand, holds a degree in business and commerce from Monash University. Additionally, she also went on to receive a master degree in fashion and textiles from RMIT University Australia. Together, the sisters formed Yoke & Theam in 2015 equipped with their skills and experience in the fashion industry. Their footwear designs have proven to be unique and have successfully captured the eyes of shoe connoisseurs.
Among their famous designs are their Picabo, Zeus, Serena and Ivy shoes. What differentiates these shoes from the rest of the designer shoe industry is the quality and the functionality of the shoes. Yoke and Yokie aim to market shoes that are not just fashionable but provide good comfort and proper support for your feet.
The designs of their brand is such that it marries both feminine and masculine aspects of fashion, pushing beyond stereotypical gender images and trends. The quality of their shoes are also top-notch as the sisters carefully curate materials and hand-craft each design. Apart from this, each shoe is designed in the most ethical way possible as Yoke & Theam stand by their animal friendly and vegan policy. Want to look and feel empowered with an adventurous taste yet walk without wincing at every step? Then perhaps, this brand is made for you.
I know what you’re thinking. Sounds like Moschino? Well, step aside because Machino brings only the prettiest and classiest heels at a much more affordable price. With designs that pair both trendy and traditional, these shoes are a must-have for every girl with an avid shoe-collecting hobby. Machino is based in Kuala Lumpur with a small, tight-knit team of individuals working hard to bring you the best of both batik and beauty in shoes. Their aim is to inspire original designs with quality materials. Behind each pair is a journey of selecting the right fabric, colour and pattern to enhance the structure and heel of the shoe.
Just like Yoke & Theam, Machino aims to gift their customers not just the beauty of traditional Malaysian colours and patterns, but the comfort of walking in shoes that are suited for every sole. Their brand offers a wide range of sizes from EUR 35.5 to EUR 43. Each shoe is also made with thick, spongy insoles to give you the perfect support for long hours of standing and walking. With a decade-long experience in traditional clothing, the team at Machino decided to collaborate with a local shoe factory that has been around for more than 20 years to produce quality footwear.
3. Nelissa Hilman
On her way to becoming the next household name in footwear for Malaysian women, Nelissa Hilman is no stranger to unexpected beginnings and pursuits of passion. A chemical engineer by profession, Hilman made the first step towards this craft when she took a break from the corporate sector and began an exploration of creativity at the POLIMODA Fashion Institute in Florence, Italy. Once she began her journey in shoemaking, there was no denying this newfound passion would soon become a business venture of her own. Now a decade later, Hilman has established a sustainable designer shoe brand for Malaysian women. From strappy bridal heels to summer sandals, Nelissa Hilman caters to the celebration of femininity in her designs. She focuses on the “distinctive youthfulness, comfort, sustainable material, and craftsmanship” of each pair she makes.
Hilman makes it a point to embody the Malaysian heritage of shoemaking through her handcrafted designs as she aims to ensure the work of talented local shoemakers don’t go unsung. Additionally, Hilman’s brand also upholds sustainability as one of the pillars of her production with minimising the quantities of each item in stock as well as post-production waste.
Some of her bestsellers include these:
As the name suggests, this shoe brand specialises in neutral-toned, leather shoes. The best part about this brand? Not only do they market the effortlessly stylish look with their slip in heels and sandals, all their curated materials and leather are animal-friendly. Founded in 2016 by Aina Syahirah and Julie Anne, Kulet’s target customers are not just made up of a single gender. In fact, Kulet caters to both men and women with their simple and sleek, no-fuss designs. Each pair of shoes are made with the intention of looking and feeling effortless- a simple slip-in with no hassle of wearing socks, tying shoelaces or fastening buckles and straps.
The name Kulet was chosen for the brand as it is meant to be a play on the Malay word “kulit” meaning skin. This name captures the essence of Kulet shoes as they are not only made with synthetic leather but their neutral-toned colour ranges are also meant to compliment all kinds of skin tones. Kulet aims to be inclusive to all genders and all races with this concept in mind.
5. Nazifi Nasri
Tired of hearing the age-old lament of limited fashion choices in men’s apparel and footwear? Well, Nazifi Nasri is here to change that. Established in 2014, it first started off as a footwear brand that caters for men’s sandals and shoes. However, since then it has been trying to expand their products to include women’s as well as unisex designs. Nazifi Nasri focuses on products like classic leather loafers and sandals but amps up these ordinary styles with a subtle personalised touch. They aim to bring to life a classic yet minimalistic vision of footwear for both men and women.
Some of their bestsellers include:
As they say, one can never have too many shoes because every occasion deserves a different pair. Perhaps you’ve found a new brand of footwear to obsess over from this article, or maybe you have discovered some interesting names that offer cooler kicks. Either way, all of these labels deserve some praise and attention for simply being locally made and serving shoes that are just as stylish with a subtle Malaysian touch!
Written by: Hannah
Edited by: Poorani