Stepping out in style

A Singapore-based company is making great strides with its bespoke men’s shoes that have caught the attention of celebrities around the world.

Diamond Walker handcrafts shoes from quality leathers, to suit all styles and tastes. It is a truly international company, founded and headquartered in Singapore, with Seoul-based craftsmen using top-quality leathers from Italy. Its range of bespoke shoes attracts fashionistas from far and wide, including celebrities, royalty and top businessmen.

Victor Lee is CEO of Diamond Walker and one of its four main founders. He says: “The chairman and CEO of Seagate Technology flew in from the US to make shoes with us on a work trip, upon the recommendation of the regional managing director. Grammy-award winner David Foster was also introduced to us during a recent trip here.”

Diamond Walker’s bespoke shoes have also been worn by Middle Eastern royalty, as well as celebrities from across Asia, including South Korean artistes Rain and Yoo Jun-sang, members of K-pop band Super Junior and Bollywood star Kunal Kapoor.

The footwear features a variety of styles, from classic oxfords, brogues and derbies to sneakers, loafers, moccasins and sandals. The boot range includes Chelsea boots and those used for hiking and equestrian sports. They make up more than 200 shoe designs offered in-store by the brand.

Diamond Walker shoes are made from over 600 different leathers and suedes. As part of its bespoke service, clients can commission artistic embellishments, including ink tattooing or hand-painted patinas. Depending on the design and work required, it takes about four to six weeks to make a pair of shoes. The process includes measuring the client’s feet, pattern-making, clicking, brogueing and stitching.

The brand opened its first showroom at China Square Central in July 2012. With clever marketing and by word of mouth, it drew customers in. Diamond Walker also promoted itself through collaborations with other companies. For example, it designed a special shoe for certain VIP clients of luxury carmaker Rolls-Royce.

On how the tie-up came about, Lee explains: “We were in India for an exclusive trunk show at the Taj Mahal Palace and among the clients were the owners of Bombadier private jets, Princess luxury yachts and Rolls-Royce businesses in India. The Rolls-Royce boss loved what we did and suggested a collaboration [to design something] for their customers who owned the new Rolls-Royce Ghost model, which came with a special paint that looked reddish under sunlight and black at night.”

That led Diamond Walker to design red and black oxfords for those customers. It has also worked with football governing body FIFA, which acknowledged a pair of Diamond Walker shoes conceptualised for the 2014 World Cup, held in Brazil.

The company has eight people working in its brand office, and 18 craftsmen led by a creative director. It has come a long way from its inception, which was prompted by Lee’s frustration over the limited range of men’s shoes, and the fact that the best European brands tended to cater only for Westerners.

“Caucasian feet tend to be narrow and long, and [shoes designed for them] don’t fit [us] very well as Asian feet are broader and shorter. They may look beautiful, but they lack comfort and cost a lot. I felt there was a gap in the market for handmade shoes offering the best of both worlds. Thus, Diamond Walker bespoke shoes was born,” he says.

A pair of his bespoke shoes costs about $850, while designs that use exotic and high-quality leathers such shell cordovan, crocodile skin or snakeskin can average between $2,500 and $4,000.

Besides establishing boutique showrooms in Cross Street and Orchard Road, Diamond Walker is expanding internationally. It will open its first store outside Singapore in Doha, Qatar, this year. Lee says as a result of government trade body International Enterprise’s efforts to introduce the brand around the world, Diamond Walker has attracted attention from the Middle East.This article appeared in the Options of Issue 711 (Jan 18) of The Edge Singapore. http://www.theedgemarkets.com/sg/article/stepping-out-style

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