A Celebration of Shoes

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Malaysian should be proud of the shoe-making tradition within their country, with the humble shoe shops of the 1900s beginning a journey that has now placed Malaysian designers (and their shoes) on the red carpets of the world. Manveen Maan has the details of the Malaysia International Shoe Festival, which comes to the country in March to ride the buzz of the flourishing industry.

The Malaysia International Shoe Festival is a definite highlight on every fashion lover’s calendar. Set to be the most targeted international platform for industry players to display, feature, and promote quality footwear to the world, the four-day festival draws an impressive crowd from both the local and international fashion scene.

Held at the Putra World Trade Centre from 28-31 March (and, great news for shoe lovers, admission is free), the event is organised by the Ministry of Tourism and the Malaysia Footwear Manufacturers Association (MFMA), who have joined forces in an attempt to make Malaysia the shoe captial of Asia.

The festival will feature all kinds of footwear from sky-high stilettos to laidback sandals; stylishly gorgeous pumps to hip and cool boots. Touted as the event of the year for shoe shopaholics, the festival will also feature fashion shows and shoe designing demonstrations, as well as exciting activities and games for the whole family.

Now in its fourth year, the Malaysia International Shoe Festival 2013 is set to be even bigger and better than the years before. With over 150 booths exhibiting shoe brands from Malaysia and abroad as well as foot health demos, bridal shoes, and exhibitions, this event is a definite must for all the fashionistas out there, no matter what their need or interest.

Shoes Through The Ages

With over 100 years of shoemaking history, Malaysia’s shoe industry has experienced tremendous growth in spite of stiff competition from neighbouring countries. The industry’s humble roots can be traced back to the early 1900s, and it was Penang that played an important role, becoming a hotspot for flourishing shoe businesses and thus heralding the remarkable development of the shoe-making industry from its beginnings to what it is today.

The modern-day industry has changed its focus from an emphasis on original equipment manufacturing to marketing and selling its very own brands in the international arena. The Malaysian footwear industry’s emphasis has also gradually shifted to design and quality, mostly due to the emergence of China in the market, where labour and production costs are lower. Now world-renowned for its locally made products, the stylish designs and top-notch quality of Malaysian shoes have made them one of the most sought-after products in the global market.

It is also a great source of national pride that Dato’ Jimmy Choo, one of the world’s most famous shoe designers, is a Malaysian and an official Tourism ambassador for the nation. Last year’s festival included a gallery showcase of Choo’s works inspired by the Year of the Dragon, which drew the crowds. Other highlights from the 2012 event included a Rainforest Shoe House, a Wedding Shoe Wonderland, a Young Designer corner, as well as a foot health corner (complete with massages to pamper your feet!).

Step Into 2013

A total of 60,000 local and international shoe enthusiasts are expected at this year’s festival, providing an ideal platform for industry players to showcase their craftsmanship, designs, products, and services while offering them a platform from which to promote their brands. The festival will see more than 100 local and international shoe manufacturers coming to partake in the event, including those from ASEAN countries, the Middle East, and Europe.


This initiative is part of the Tourism Industry’s long-term strategy to achieve a revenue target of RM3 billion per week by the year 2020. Currently, the tourism industry contributes RM1 billion per week to the country’s revenue, and RM1.16 billion annually from the sale of shoes.

Besides making footwear for renowned international labels, this industry has also produced several popular homegrown brands. In fact, the export of locally made shoes to Europe, the Middle East, and Japan currently brings in a whopping RM600 million a year. Not bad for what started off as a traditional cottage industry!


28-31 March 2013

Putra World Trade Centre
41 Jalan Tun Ismail,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Admission: FREE
You may visit for more information.


Source: Senses of Malaysia Mac-Apr 2013

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