Technological strides revolutionise the footwear industry

Shoes have always been that special charm to the avid fashionista, men and women alike. There is little that can’t be cured by a pair of well-fitting moccasins, a freshly-polished pair of dress shoes, or sensuous red-backed stilettoes. Starting out as utilitarian bits of canvas and rubber, shoes have evolved into a definitive way of displaying individuality: whether it be Hunter Thompson and The Sex Pistols in their Converse, Lady Gaga in Kermit Tersoro’s art-meets-fashion creations, or Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and her iconic strappy Manolo Blahniks.

But Malaysians don’t need to head to Rodeo Drive or Galeries Lafayette to stock up on world-class footwear; we are no strangers to the scene, what with world-renowned personalised shoe couturier, Lewré, or shoemaker to the stars, Jimmy Choo, making waves in the international footwear industry.

Lewré, who are teaming up with Ata Plus to launch their first ever equity crowdfunding campaign, have their roots in passion. With presence in over 20 countries, Lewré attempts to tell a story with every pair of shoes they create, serving the crème de la crème of society – from the celebrities that light up our screens to royalty Lorde would envy (including Kate Middleton!).

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The international fashion and luxury goods sector is vibrant and thriving. Michael Kors recently acquired Jimmy Choo for a cool £896mil – just 16 years after it was valued at a significantly smaller £20mil. That means if someone had invested RM11,500 in Jimmy Choo in 2001, they would be seeing RM515,200 today. With that in mind, who knows what rewards a stake in Lewré may reap in just a few years, given the fast-paced nature of the industry: mergers and acquisitions in the sector rose an estimated 30% in 2016, while consultancy Bain & Company noted, in its Worldwide Luxury Market Monitor, that the personal luxury goods market will increase by billions of ringgit this year, thanks in part to efforts by luxury brands to place a spotlight upon the tastes of specific consumer groups, including millennials. Following in the steps of Jimmy Choo, Lewré intends to prepare for an IPO and M&A within the next five years.

While it’s easy to dismiss bespoke footwear as frivolous and solely for the upper crust, the truth is that with our local creative talent, Malaysians are easily able to purchase high-quality shoes for relatively affordable prices – and more to the point, it’s better for your feet.

Shoes with proper cushioning and fit, especially those customised to your feet, can limit the chances of back pain, and reduce the chance of injury when exercising or even just walking. A good insole can improve support, increase comfort, and are good for the flat-footed among us. Even the techies are getting in on the burgeoning industry; take Swedish company, Volumental, which has developed software to capture an image of your foot and then uses that to make shoes that fit exactly, significantly lowering the cost of customisable shoes in the future. Our local shoe designer, Lewré, is similarly looking towards making extensive technological advancements in its 3D management technology to ensure the best for its customers.

Personalised fashion is no longer a niche, with couture brands like Prada and high street industry giants like Nike giving customers  greater creative control over what they’re putting on their feet. Upmarket department store, Harrods, previously hosted an in-house bespoke event dedicated to customised goods from brands like Gucci and La Perla. The way forward, it seems, is through customisation, from Uggs to Topshop.

At the centre of this exciting boom in bespoke are our homegrown brands like Lewré, which is riding this wave and fueling growth by way of deepening the brand’s leadership in the bespoke fashion segment. The future’s got sole, so it’s time to get walking.

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