Indie Footwear Designers and Shops to Check out in Singapore

  1. Threadbare & Squirrel

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Threadbare and Squirrel is a multi label concept store that carries local Singapore brands. It has a cosy atmosphere and a is a pleasant place to shop if you like discovering interesting trinkets and accessories. It is conveniently located at Wheelock Place, which also houses a few other shops selling clothes and accessories from local designers.

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The shoes displayed at Threadbare and Squirrel are by local brand Emblem. The shoes are fully made with genuine calf leather and phyton skin, which gives the collection a raw, rustic feel to it. From what I understand, the shoes are made in Indonesia and are currently stocked in Singapore and Japan but they also sell worldwide through their website.

The shoes are super comfy and soft – suitable for casual wear or weekends. Prices range from SGD 89 (Flat sandals) to SGD 159 (Wedges). I particularly liked the black and white wedge I tried on – the Nala Monochrome –  which looks very delicate and elongates the foot when you put it on.

Emblem shoes can be found at Threadbare & Squirrel and through their website

Threadbare & Squirrel:
http://www.threadbareandsquirrel.com/

Address: 501 Orchard Rd (Wheelock Place), #02-20, Singapore 238880
Opening Hours: 10:30AM–9:30PM
Tel. No: 6235 0680

Emblem Boutique: http://www.emblemboutique.com/

 

2. The Tui Collection

Tui Pascale Arielle Sang designer
Photo from: The Tui Collection website

This handmade footwear brand was birthed in 2007 by Bahamian born British designer, Tui Sang. Tui arrived in Singapore in 2001 as a fashion model which gave her first hand experience of the booming Asian fashion market. A personal shoe size of 40 (which was not readily available in Asia back then) and a lack of mid-market footwear was what drove her to start The Tui Collection.

All their shoes are handmade by skilled Javanese craftsmen who learnt their craft from generations before. Their workshop also supports communities of stay-at-home mothers and widows, through training and commissioning them to make all the final adornments of the sandals such as pom poms, tassels, flowers and weaving.

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New arrivals

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Their bestsellers

I tried on their sandals and am immediately a fan. Not only are the designs unique, they are also insanely comfortable. Usually with ankle tied sandals, there is a high possibility that the strings cut into your flesh but with Tui’s sandals, the use of suede on the lining made the leather incredibly soft. All their sandals are made fully with organically dyed genuine snake or lamb skin.

The store at Cluny Court exudes a glam bohemian feel and is an absolute joy to shop in – alot of effort has been put into the visual merchandising and is coherent with the styles that they carry. They stock a pretty good variety of designs but because the sandals are all handmade they tend to have them in limited numbers. Be quick to get yours before they all run out!

The best part of buying sandals from The Tui Collection – you can customize and swap out the colours on a particular design if you really like a sandal at no additional charge! All you have to do is wait about 2-4 weeks and voila!

Prices start from SGD 180 for their flats sandals to over SGD 200 for heels and SGD 300 and above for their boots.

With the design and workmanship of the shoes there though, I would say it’s worth every penny.

The Tui Collection is only available for purchase at the Cluny Court store.

https://thetuicollection.com/

Address: 501 Bukit Timah Rd (Cluny Court), Singapore 259760
Opening Hours: 
Tel. No: 6463 0013

 

3. Arete Goods

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Arete Goods showroom at AZ@Paya Lebar
Arete Goods Founders
Founders Geraldine Goh and Diana Chan. Photo from Arete Goods Website

Arete Goods began with a frustration with finding ballet flats that were comfortable, simply designed and well made. The brand aspires to create goods that are classic, unassuming, yet elegant; traits that are embodied in their iconic symbol of the windmill.

The showroom is clean, simple and spacious with a good mix of display of their shirt dresses, fabrics and shoes. Arete Goods also makes the prototypes for their shirt dresses in the same premises so if you pop by to try on their shoes perhaps you might be able to catch a glimpse of them in action.

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Arete Goods’ ballet flats are manufactured in Alicante, Spain, a region renowned for its traditional shoemakers. Their shoes are simply designed, with a focus on good construction. The only area where branding is visible is their logo-debossed brass caps at the end of the tassels on the ballerina’s bows that add a touch of sophistication and prevent the tassels from unravelling.

They only work with genuine full grain leather for the uppers, (sheep, calf and goat suede), calf lining  and cow leather for outsoles. Like I mentioned in my earlier post on the benefits of wearing leather shoes, the use of leather absorbs moisture, allows the foot breathability and forms to one’s feet contours. The shoes give a structured look, something definitely suitable for work, and they don’t hurt the foot at all.

 

Their ballerina flats come in 2 cuttings – the Vera Ballerina and the Calla Ballerina. As mentioned on their website and in person, the cutting for their shoes may run up to one size larger than your normal. I also found that fitting differs based on the shoe cutting as well.

The Vera Ballerina Flat. Photo Credit: Arete Goods FB Page

The Vera would be suitable for ladies looking to cover up their bunions as the top line is cut higher at the sides. This also causes the shoe to wrap around your feet more firmly. As a result, I had to go one size up for this cutting.

The Calla Ballerina Flat. Photo Credit: Arete Goods FB Page

The Calla is a more classic cut, the sides are slightly lower than what you find in the Vera Ballerina. Because of a more open cut, I had to go one size down from my usual.

In both cases, the ballerinas offer a classic, timeless style and do not show any toe cleavage. So for those who absolutely hate visible toe cleavage, this is for you.

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Apart from ballerinas, Arete Goods also has a sandal collection, made by the same factory as their ballerinas. The straps are made from Tuscan vegetable-tanned leather that will gain a patina and get naturally more beautiful with age. Suitable for casual wear.

Prices are SGD 225 for Ballerinas and SGD 200 for the Sandals.

Arete Goods is stocked at various multi-labels stores but a visit to their showroom will give you a better understanding and experience of their brand.

http://aretegoods.com
Showroom at: 140 Paya Lebar Road, AZ@ Paya Lebar #07-14, Singapore 409015
Also stocked at various locations – check out their website for details
Opening Hours:
Tues – Fri: 1pm to 5pm
Sat: 9am to 5pm
Sun: 1pm to 5pm
Mondays and Public Holidays: Closed
Tel. No: +65 8522 4820

 

4. Palola

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The minute I walk into Palola, the whiff of glue and leather hits me in the face. This is evident of a true shoe making workshop. All steps from Pattern making, to Clicking to Closing are all done right here in their little space on Joo Chiat Terrace.

With so many MTO/bespoke men’s shoe labels coming up, the ladies were starting to feel a little sidelined until the founders of Josh Leong Shoes and J.Myers Company came together to form Palola – a Made to Order (MTO) and bespoke shoemaking outfit for women.

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For those who have always struggled with finding the right pair of shoes because of reasons such as bunions or uneven foot sizes, Palola will be a dream come true. Palola also carries a very large range of sizes from Euro 34 to 46, all half sizes included! You can even opt for different lengths and widths for each foot if you have uneven feet like me. Upon trying the fitting shoes, I realized I was a Euro 36.5 in length for both feet but a slim fit on my left foot and standard (nicer way of saying, wide) fit on my right foot!

Josh, Jeremiah and Kenneth, the founders, walked me through every step of creating the perfectly fitted shoe – explaining at length the importance of getting the right measurements for last making, to the details of all the leathers, to why fitting shoes are used to test out comfort before proceeding onto bespoke shoes. Clearly, these guys know their stuff. On top of that, they were so warm and hospitable – it just made the entire experience very enjoyable.

 

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Fitting Shoes used to test fit before proceeding
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Choice of Classic (Calf leather) and Premium Leathers (Calf and Baby Calf) sourced from the finest tanneries in Italy and Spain

 

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From left to right: Jeremiah, Kenneth and Josh – founders and craftsmen of Palola

The shoes look and feel very structured in my hands but surprisingly not at all on the foot. In fact, as Josh explained, the structure is needed to support good foot posture especially at the arch of the foot. Perhaps the reason for the soft feeling is their lamb skin lining used in all their shoes.

Palola Nubuck Finish Outsole
Nubuck Finished Outsole with rubber piece at heel and brass nails  – all the luxury finishing touches

(Photos above from: Palola FB page)

Though simple in design and silhouette, the attention to detail gives the shoes a luxurious feel such as having folded edges with only a 1-2mm stitching allowance, nubuck finished outsole and the use of brass nails.

Prices are SGD 295 for MTO and SGD 895 for Bespoke for the first time (includes cost for making the last) and subsequent orders on that last will be at SGD 295. However, these are their introductory prices and it will be back to regular pricing on 1 July 2017.

Regular prices are:
MTO –  SGD 325 for Classic Leathers and SGD 345 for Premium Leathers
Bespoke – SGD 895 first time, subsequently per the MTO prices above

MTO shoes may take up to 1 month to make and Bespoke shoes would be up to 2 months. As they say, good things are worth waiting for.

http://www.palola.co

Address: 12, Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427183
Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs (by appointment only), Fri – Sat 10am – 8pm
Tel. No: 6717 7849

 

Do let me know if you’ve visited any of these shops above or would like me to do a review on any other indie brands/footwear stores in Singapore! 🙂

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