Mon, 2018-07-16

FEATURE - PAZZION STORY

BEST FOOT FORWARD


PAZZION answers the modern woman’s footwear dilemma with shoes that are both chic and ultra comfy

All beadwork is done by hand, with a beaded upper taking from two hours to half a day to complete.


They say the real proof of an elegant woman is on her feet. In the whirlwind world of fashion today, the comfortable shoe is something that the mass brands haven’t been able to fake. A woman may be able to put up with a body con dress that doesn’t quite fit around the hips, or a blouse in a fabric that’s a little too scratchy. Yet ask her to step out in a pair of stilettoes that bites at the ankle, or flats that squeeze her toes and it’s a whole other story.


The design process begins with translating inspirations on the mood board into sketches. Once a design has been finalised, materials are selected and a prototype is created.


The leather pieces are examined for flaws before the shoe pattern is cut.


When founder Tom Ng started PAZZION in 2002, there were few brands that could boast a high heel with the perfect arch, butter soft leather lining in every shoe and firm supportive soles. However Ng, trained as a mechanical engineer, had the foresight to understand that the architecture and interior of a shoe is what differentiates it. Fast fashion brands can rip styles off the runway in the time it takes to log on to the latest livestream of New York or Paris Fashion Week.

The real craft lies in creating a model that feels as good as it looks—that

takes time and expertise.


The shoe upper (the part of the shoe that covers the foot) is wrapped around the shoe last and pulled tight to give it shape.

 

“I started PAZZION based on the belief that trendy, sophisticated footwear could also be both comfy and affordable,” says Ng. “At the time, most of the ladies’ shoes in Singapore were open toe sandals. There was nothing in the market like the modern, feminine silhouettes that I saw on my business trips to Europe and Japan.” Fired by the desire to provide women here with similarly classy designs and wide variety, Ng invested his entire life-savings at the time into opening a small shoe store just off Orchard Road. Sixteen years later, it’s safe to say his instincts proved spot on. PAZZION now spans 8 stores island-wide and is carried in close to 10 international markets from Japan to China and Thailand.


The cut-out leather pieces are stitched together to form the shoe upper.



The brand’s success lies in its ability to create a stylish shoe without compromising on comfort and durability. The sports luxe blue laser cut shoe in its latest Spring Summer 2018 collection is a classic example. “The design looked good in the sketch and design phase, but after the prototype came out, we realised the laser cut holes were quite big,” shares Product Manager Ruby Wong. “We were concerned that the leather might tear upon prolonged wear, so we refined the laser cut pattern to ensure the shoe looks good and can still last.”


The shoe last – the mold upon which the shoe is constructed – is sculpted. The fit of the shoe depends on the design and shape of the shoe last.



The journey of a shoe from drawing board to PAZZION’s sleek boutiques is an exacting one. Once the design team has sketched up a look, the management and merchandising teams weigh in on what works for a customer and what doesn’t, tweaking the details till it is ready to be made into a prototype. Yet even at this stage, the shoe is far from finished—decisions still have to be made.

Should the shoe be produced in patent for a high gloss finish, or waxed cow hide for a vintage feel? Adding crystals may up the style quotient, but would the shoe then be too heavy? The technical team then fits the shoe, often refining the model multiple times before it goes into mass production.


“We would rather make a loss if a defect is spotted at our final quality control stage.”


Sports luxe blue laser cut shoes from the latest Spring/Summer 2018 collection onto its final stage of attaching the outsole.


“We would rather make a loss if a defect is spotted at our final quality control stage,” says Ng. “There have been times when we rejected entire batches of shoes because something didn’t meet our standards. In those cases, we either discarded the entire batch or if the defects were minor and did not affect wearability, we donated the shoes or simply gave them away to our employees. That’s how strict we are with our quality control at PAZZION.”


Surrounding of the factory. The Jiao Biao Canal near the factory provides a respite from the daily grind. Villagers often engage in recreational activities there, even dragon boat racing during Dumpling Festival.


Security guards Wang Xie, 43 (left) and Wen Han, 55 (right) stand at attention at their daily post at the factory’s entrance.


Indeed, trust is earned, not given, and PAZZION’s customer first philosophy is the reason women return to the brand season after season.


Its dedication to a seamless shopping experience, from its e-commerce site to bricks and mortar boutiques, even extends to after-sales repair services for customers who want to keep and wear their shoes for a longer span. “At our shops, we don’t just focus on selling, we provide advice to our shoppers to ensure they find a shoe that is suitable for them,” says Operations Manager J.J. Ng. “Not many brands provide after-sales service but we see it as an essential part of the process and our long-term relationship with customers from the moment they step into our store.”


Liu Ming Tian, 63, the factory’s head cook, has been serving up three meals for the workers for the past 30 years and is affectionately known as Tian Shu by the younger workers.


Most workers leave their homes and villages to come to the cities to work. They stay in dormitories close to the factory and usually cycle to work.


Every PAZZION store worldwide sports a distinctive storefront, from its black and gold furnishings to its unique signature scent. Everything is specially curated for a pleasurable shopping experience.


A look at the team behind the brand.


Rather than encouraging women to simply buy more, PAZZION’s shoes are built to be well-worn favourites. It’s a call to return to quality and traditional craftsmanship that is resonating loudly with the trendy, modern and eco-conscious woman.



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