Indranee Rajah helps design shoes with Singaporean kick

Ms Indranee Rajah holding a pair of shows inspired by the Changi Control Tower. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Ms Indranee Rajah holding a pair of shows inspired by the Changi Control Tower. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Ms Indranee Rajah and Shelin Chee, who helped designed the shoes together. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Shoes inspired by (from left) kueh lapis, cha kiak, Benjamin Sheares bridge, Changi Control Tower and Pinnacle at Duxton. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Ms Indranee wanted to create shoes with a Singaporean feel so she incorporated elements found in local landmarks and icons such as the Pinnacle@Duxton flats, Changi Control Tower and traditional wooden clogs. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

The cha kiak, a wooden clog painted a distinct red with a striped plastic strap, was once a staple in households here.

But people no longer wear them these days, prompting Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah to give the clakety clogs a new lease of life with a makeover.

With footwear design company Bronx's Creative & Design Centre (BDC), she cobbled together a chunky pair of red strappy heels with the cha kiak's striped straps.

It is all for an SG50 Celebration Fund project titled In Our Shoes. BDC also worked with tertiary students to create shoes based on their stories and experiences of Singapore.

"I've been toying with the idea of designing shoes for three to four years now but was never able to translate them into actual manufactures," said Ms Indranee, 51.

Singapore's 50th birthday celebration gave her the platform.

"I wanted to create fun Singaporean shoes that say a bit about us. Something that has a Singaporean feel to it," she said.

Apart from the cha kiak-inspired footwear, she designed four other heels modelled after the Changi Control Tower, the Pinnacle@Duxton flats, kueh lapis snacks and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge.

And not to mention a pair of sandals with elements from zebra crossings and traffic cones.

Asked why she had chosen to design shoes, the Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC said: "It's a girl's thing. The shoes are fun and a bit different, but have elements that people can identify with."

Her favourite is an all-white pair with the Changi Control Tower propping up the back of the foot. BDC had used a 3D printer to create the heel, said Ms Indranee. "I was thinking of something that would make a nice stiletto heel and the Changi Control Tower lends itself quite nicely."

While five of her six designs are high heels, Ms Indranee said her everyday go-to shoes are usually those with a lower heel.

"Most of my shoes are quite practical with a low, two-inch heel," she said. "I wear the higher shoes only for special occasions such as a wedding dinner because they really make my feet ache."

Asked how many pairs of shoes she has, she said: "I haven't actually counted, but I keep my shoes for very long - some more than 10 years - and I still wear them. I have just enough shoes to fit into a small cupboard."

The shoes designed by Ms Indranee and the students will be exhibited at the National Design Centre from Thursday to Jan 25.

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