Monday, 8 April 2013

Bonjour KL: Young aspiring Malaysian designers steal the show at the country's International Shoe Festival

Shoes, shoes shoes… my recent (and maiden!) trip to Malaysia has turned out to be all about shoes!

And I don’t mean just shoe shopping! Although that was firmly on my list to do (check out my love for Malaysian shoe labels here), believe it or not, I got to do more interesting shoe-related stuff namely attending the annual Shoe Festival in Kuala Lumpur and meeting shoe legend Jimmy Choo for lunch!

I’ll discuss the latest in another post as I still need to get my head around the fact I was with the Godfather of glamorous shoes himself!!!! But today it’s going to be all about the talented students I met at the 4th International Shoe Festival and the utterly inspiring shoes they displayed!

The Shoe Festival seemed more like a museum with showpieces like
this Dragon-inspired pump which just loved!
Another extravagant design on display at the Shoe Festival...
But while some went all out, others kept it more simple yet inspiring.
I especially loved these booties!!!

Love these shoes made from recycled material by promising student Soo Tzu Hoo!
I WANT!!! (check a lot more photos below)

The festival had started 4 years ago, when Jimmy Choo was appointed as the Tourism Ambassador and he came up with the idea of having an annual event to attract tourists and locals alike to enjoy what we all love: Shoes!

The festival has grown year after year and apart from being a big opportunity for traders and shoppers alike, it is also a great platform for young aspiring designers to showcase their creations. Those were on display as they were submitted for a shoe design competition – mind-blowing creations which are mostly fantasy showpieces and not really meant to be worn! 

Check out these unusual creations on display! I love them!

But others - which managed to successfully combine creativity AND wear-ability - were the work of students who were chosen from various fields as part of an incubation program by the Selangor Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC) – given proper design and production courses to pursue their dream of becoming shoe designers.

The results for these were truly amazing! I was so impressed by the themes they chose and the final products which they handcrafted beautifully and to very high standards. I also had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to most of the students as well as the project director who mentioned that the initiative aims at taking back the high quality shoe-making industry to Malaysia as it once was known for - before the rise of cheaper manufacturing countries who have now taken over.

As a shoe-obsessed person who values quality over quantity, I really admire that! And for once I actually noticed that Malaysian-made shoes (even more mainstream brands from the country) have a superior quality to those produced anywhere else in Asia and despite their relatively low price tag, the quality is quite good and they are great value for money.

I had the pleasure meeting some of the students from the SHRDC who created some
stunning designs and demonstrated great shoe-making skills!

A seashell theme by Aina Azrin

A resort theme by Cathy Toong Way Sen

Some less literal creations from other designers as well...

And on-trend leopard print booties!

Now let’s talk about the shoes. The array of themes, styles and especially material the students use was quite interesting. I especially loved the work of Rhea Tan Yen Yen whose collection ‘Green is the New Black’ used material such as carved wood, patent leather and magazine scraps to create some stunning foot candy which I would proudly wear!

Another collection which caught my eye was the vintage-inspired one by Nur Fareeza Hamza which looked comfortable and quite well thought of in terms of balancing her design concept and practicality. If produced, I imagine something like this would definitely be a hit among style-conscious fashionistas.

One of my favourite was this eco-friendly collection entitled 'Green is the New Black'
by Rhea Tan Yen Yen. Love it!!!!

And some vintage-inspired shoes from Nur Fareeza Hamzah. Any takers???

Loving these!!! I would wear them in a heartbeat!

I also loved the fact that the ‘recycling’ and eco-friendly theme was resonated among a few of the designers like Soo Tzu Hoo whose stunning Coca Cola peep-toe sandals blew me away! If these were in production I would have ordered one right away!!! The whole mix of shredded tin with some glamorous lace and stunning shape was just outstanding!

Looking at all the displayed creations has really inspired me and allowed me to see the amount of talent these young Malaysians have! From the tough and edgy looks like Izyan Marinah’s ‘Automotive’ collection and Nur Dalilah Abdul Rahim’s understated ‘Black Bunny’ to the cute yet elegantly-constructed ‘Shoe-gar-rush’ designs by Wilson Lim Wei Seng which have given the expression ‘shoe candy’ a whole new definition - these students have proved that there still so much originality still to be explored when it comes to shoe design.

More eco-friendly designs using shredded tins....

I want!!!!

Izyan Marinah's 'Automotive' collection reflects her personality so well! Cool booties!

Nur Abdul Rahim has kept her 'Blunny' collection simple and Understated but

Aren't these just adorable? Wilson Lim Wei Seng know how to combine two
of women's favourite things in one - candy and shoes!!!

My hope would be that these talents will be discovered soon and given the chance to develop their ideas and dreams into reality. I for one will be one of their first customers if they do!!!!!

Meanwhile, enjoy looking at these inspiring creations and let me know which one you like best!

P.S. And while at it, check out this web video piece about the Shoe Festival which I was asked to do for Malaysia-based The Star newspaper switch up tv! Hope you like it!!! :-)

More from the showcase of SHRDC students

A peacock theme collection...

Another collection using recycled material to create shoes, this time it's newspapers!

And more from the competition entries on display...

How high can you go? Check out this cool skater-inspired neon heel boot!

Angel or a demon?

How cool is this sea-horse and coral shoe?