His shoes are made for walking

Ikpyo Hong started making women's footwear to give his then girlfriend pretty yet comfortable shoes

When Ikpyo Hong, founder of South Korean shoe label Spur, set out to produce women's footwear, his goal was to give his girlfriend at the time a comfortable yet stylish pair of shoes.

"I think the feet are the most important part of the body. If our feet are not comfortable, life can be miserable," says the 40-year-old.

"At the time, I wanted to make shoes that were both pretty and comfortable for my girlfriend. If she felt good, she would be happy."

Hong was in Singapore last month for the press preview of the label's spring-summer 2016 collection.

Though the relationship has since ended, Spur, known for its handcrafted designs which focus on comfort, has taken off. The company, founded in 2009, has 40 stores in South Korea and 10 stores in places such as Hong Kong, Japan and Canada.

Ikpyo Hong is the founder of South Korean shoe label Spur. ST PHOTOS: TAMARA CRAIU


  • I like the minimalist, urban style of this Balenciaga bag and its simplistic look.

  • Things in his bag


    I always carry around a small bottle of mouthwash. I use it seven or eight times a day. It is refreshing and wakes me up.


    These are my favourite glasses. I have had them for 13 years. They are prescription glasses. When I wear them, they also help me to focus and calm down.


    I sketch sometimes. When I get ideas for designs or details that I can add to my shoes, I note them down. I prefer using paper to an electronic device.


    Whenever I wear a jacket, I add a handkerchief to my breast pocket. It is useful and adds a highlight to the jacket.


    This was made in South Korea. I have a friend who handmakes leather goods and she made this for me. I love the colour and the leather and was able to get my initials embossed on the wallet.


    I drove my car to the airport in Seoul and parked it there before flying to Singapore. I drive a Cadillac SRX.

The label has one standalone outlet in Singapore at Plaza Singapura. Its spring-summer 2016 collection will also be available fromnext month at  multi-label store SocietyA in Orchard Gateway.

A self-taught designer who studied business management, Hong worked in human resource management for three years before starting his shoe company.

The bachelor says he prefers to focus on women's shoes, rather than men's, because of the pace at which the trends change.

"For men's shoes, I feel the trends do not change much. But for women's shoes and fashion, especially in South Korea, the trends change rapidly.

"I enjoy how dynamic it is. It is more exciting and challenging and it is something I can pour my passion into."

Hong takes a hands-on approach to his label. From giving ideas to his design team for new collections to overseeing the production and prototyping of new designs, he makes sure he is involved.

Spur shoes, which are made in South Korea, have a sole which consists of seven layers of material, including an ankle support midsole, an arch support pad and an inner layer cushion.

Besides comfort, Hong also makes sure the shoes are stylish and fashionable. "Even the cut of the shoe is important," he explains.

"For flat shoes from Europe, the front part of the shoe, where the material goes across the width of the foot, is usually more square. This does not always flatter Asian feet, which are wider in the front. A curved cut is much more flattering because it narrows the foot visually."

This attention to detail is what has won the brand famous fans, such as South Korean actresses Song Ji Hyo and Yoon Eun Hye and girl group Girls' Generation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'His shoes are made for walking'. Print Edition | Subscribe