98. Edwin Neo

Founding Partner of Ed Et Al Shoemakers, How To Build A Global Fashion Business

What:

Bespoke men's shoes from Singapore

How do you bring innovation to a category like footwear?

"The dress-shoe market for men in Singapore is pathetic; the prices are either astronomical or the quality is pitiable. We're filling this gap. Our designers go through an intensive training process to learn the craft. Our shoes spend weeks on the mold to better conform to customers' feet; most designers do this for only one day."

What goes into communicating your brand's essence?

"Because we produce so many custom pieces--which can take months--it's hard to advertise, in a traditional sense, what we do and why we do it. Education about our craft is the way forward. We've relied on word of mouth and social media to reach the customers who really care about our work."

How do you create a product that appeals to a global shopper?

"Most custom shoemakers offer a selection of designs and let the client choose the color and material. But we design the shoes with the client from the ground up. They specify any detail right down to the color of the thread. We've built a system that will enable us to fit all customers from a distance, which will really be a game changer for us."

Click here to see head-to-head responses to these questions from Neo, plus Oliberte Footwear founder Tal Dehtiar, and Havaianas president Carla Schmitzberger, Nos. 97 and 98 on our Most Creative People list.

Timeline

  • 2010

    Completes an apprenticeship with Koronya Shoes & Boots, sparking a passion for the craft of footwear

  • 2011

    Launches Ed Et Al a month after getting married. The company's first ready-to-wear collection sells out two months later

  • 2012

    Ed Et Al signs its first contract with high-end boutique Front Row Singapore, establishing a retail presence in the physical world

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