Shoe-Buying Tips From Local Shoe Designer Mashizan Masjum

Should you buy shoes online? Rising shoe-perstar Mashizan Masjum has tips.

They say that change is the only thing that’s constant, and no one knows that better than Mashizan Masjum, 44, whose appetite for bold career moves began 11 years ago. The then-independent TV producer quit his job here and went to New York in search of greener pastures. “I did it from scratch with no contacts. This was back in the day when it was unthinkable for a Singaporean producer to hit up [TV networks] in the West. It was tough, but I managed to break into the NYC market and lived there for six years. By the time I left, I was working for National Geographic,” he says. He returned in 2011 and continued to work in documentary-making, but he had still a lifelong dream still unfulfilled: to become a shoe designer. It was only three years ago that Mashizan pursued his passion for shoe design. He took a sabbatical and headed to an arts school in Florence, Accademia Riaci, to learn the ropes from a former head designer of Ferragamo. “I’d always been interested in shoe design. But at that time, I thought I was just doing [the course] for fun, and that I’d return to do TV and documentaries, which I did [for a while]. But I got introduced to a factory that could produce my collection, and I launched the brand in New York and Singapore one-and-a-half years ago. Before I knew it, I had to quit my TV job to do this full time,” says Mashizan, recounting the beginnings of his eponymous brand that now counts celebs like Beyonce’s sister, Solange Knowles, and stylist-host Jeanne Mai among his fans.

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8 DAYS: Share some technical knowledge that’s useful for laypeople who are shopping for shoes.

Mashizan Masjum: Comfort and fit are very important. People make the mistake of trying shoes on and just standing in front of the mirror. When you try on shoes in the shop, make sure you try walking in them to know if the shoes fit nicely on both feet. If it feels a little tight and you think you can bear with it, chances are, you won’t be able to. I’ve had shoes that I’ve tried to suffer through, but I stopped wearing them after three attempts. Good brands have half sizes, and we have them as well.

Should people buy shoes online?

If you’re not familiar with the brand, it’s best to physically try them first. Each brand has their own last — or mould — so the fit differs from brand to brand. Even the pitch, ie. the angle for high heels, is different. Generally, European techniques and moulds are different from those in China or Southeast Asia.

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This is home, shoe-ly: This was among the designs at Mashizan’s debut show at last year’s Singapore Fashion Week, inspired by History Channel’s Inside a Volcano. “I remember walking on the hot crusty lava of the Mt K lauea volcano in Hawaii. We could see the ambers and the silvery volcanic rock, and the lava was cracking beneath our feet,” he recalls. “Each collection is inspired by a documentary that I did. With five docus a year and 18 years of [TV] experience, there’s a lot of material for me to work with!” he quips.

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