Mashizan Masjum's shoe label to make debut at Singapore Fashion Week

Former documentary film-maker Mashizan Masjum says his shoe designs are inspired by the programmes he has produced.
Former documentary film-maker Mashizan Masjum says his shoe designs are inspired by the programmes he has produced.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Occasionally, in the middle of the night, shoe designer Mashizan Masjum wakes up in bed drenched in perspiration.

The 43-year-old, who is based in Florence, Italy, where his shoes are made, has a panic attack once every few months, triggered by looming targets, production issues and fear of missing deadlines due to the time difference between countries.

But the Singaporean, who founded his eponymous shoe label in July last year, has never let panic get the better of him. Despite the night wakings, he still rouses each morning "excited and raring to go".

This go-getter attitude can be seen in many aspects of his life, such as in 2005, when he quit as a television film producer and moved to New York without a job offer. He eventually found work at some production houses, including the National Geographic Channel.

He took a sabbatical in 2013 to attend a four-month shoe-making course. And in November last year, he ignored naysayers - concerned friends told him his dream was too difficult to achieve - and left his successful producing career as head of content at production firm Infocus Asia to focus on his shoe label, Mashizan.

Mashizan, who started his career as a broadcast journalist at Mediacorp in 1996, says matter of factly: "Struggles strengthen you and there will always be critics."

The Nanyang Technological University journalism graduate, who sells his shoes online and at multilabel stores in New York, Milan, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, is having the last laugh.

His shoes - priced between $450 for a pair of pointed suede flats and $980 for knee-high heeled boots - have been worn by American celebrities such as singers La Toya Jackson and Solange Knowles.

The label will make its debut at Singapore Fashion Week as the closing act on one of the event's two stages - an honour Mashizan "did not expect".

The self-described optimist refers to his current career as his "second lease of life", but says it is similar to his previous occupation as he is "still telling stories with my shoes".

His collections are inspired by the documentaries he has made - the jagged rock of Santorini and the volcanic lava of Hawaii in his production, The History Channel's Inside A Volcano, for instance, inspired the silver and black shoes in his Fall/Winter 2016 collection.

His Spring/Summer 2017 range comprises pieces such as lattice window-inspired shoes based on a series he produced about people living in interesting abodes such as a metal home and a luxe tree house.

Mashizan laughs when asked if he has been sleeping well in the lead up to his show.

"I've learnt to manage my anxiety. Any entrepreneur will agree with me that it's not easy running a business and I know there are people before me who have been through this before, so I'm taking this all in my stride."

• Mashizan's collection will be showcased on Oct 30 at 9pm at Auditorium Foyer at the National Gallery Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Telling stories with shoes'. Print Edition | Subscribe