Stylish soles: Shoe geek goes for the perfect fit

Mr Abraham Leong with some of his dress shoes.
Mr Abraham Leong with some of his dress shoes.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Full-time national serviceman Abraham Leong describes himself as a shoe geek.

"Before my friends buy anything, they'll come to me for advice on style and sizing. I tell them that European brands fit Asians better than American brands because they use narrower lasts," says Mr Leong, who dishes out little nuggets of shoe information on cue.

He also recommends looking for shoes that are constructed using the Goodyear welted technique, as they can be easily resoled.

When it comes to leather, he suggests buying shoes that are made of full grain leather rather than corrected grain leather, which can look "plasticky".

Everything that he has learnt comes from style websites and books by American style writer Alan Flusser, who is considered one of the most influential menswear writers.

Mr Leong has been style conscious since the age of 18 - he developed a formal sense of style and would wear blazers even as part of a casual outfit. He saved up for four months so that he could afford his first pair of good shoes - a pair of tasselled loafers from British brand Loake that cost $300.


The 23-year-old has 12 pairs of dress shoes, from handcrafted labels such as Carmina, Meermin and Alfred Sargent. His collection has cost him about $6,000 in total.

Fit is paramount for Mr Leong.

"These shoes are expensive and they will last a long time, but if they don't fit comfortably, you won't be wearing them and using them to their full potential," he says.

He has no qualms lending shoes to friends, who often borrow from him knowing that he has many to spare.

"Initially, I was very cautious about my shoes, but I found it hard to walk because I had to pay so much attention to where I was stepping," says the bachelor.

He adds: "They are meant to be worn anyway, but not when I work at my parents' cafe. For that, I'll stick to Vans sneakers." He waits tables at their cafe on weekends.

He says he takes very good care of his "investments" and polishes them almost every weekend while watching football on television.

"My mother thinks I have too many shoes. I've got so many now that I need to keep some of them in my room."

A version of this story first appeared in the November 2015 issue of The Life e-magazine in The Straits Times Star E-books app.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'Shoe geek goes for the perfect fit'. Print Edition | Subscribe