Fleet of foot Selling shoes to men takes skill

Affirmation of the wearer: Syed Naqiz (left) with Florsheim Malaysia marketing and sales head Shamir Hameed at their outlet in the Empire Subang mall.

Not all men are obsessed with shoes. Unlike women, men can spend thousands on their cars or car accessories, but seldom on shoes.

However, many say what you put on your feet reflects your personality. Syed Naqiz Shahabuddin, the owner and director of shoe retailer Florsheim Malaysia, firmly believes this.

For Naqiz, buying expensive shoes is more like an investment and you tend to see the potential in a man with good taste in footwear.

“It’s worth paying more for quality shoes like Florsheim. Whether you wear sneakers, slip-on sandals, dress shoes or fashionable shoes, it says a lot about you.

“A true gentleman will wear something more conservative and business-like,” said Naqiz, who also runs the law firms Naqiz & Partners in Kuala Lumpur and Bagus Enrico in Jakarta.

The firms specialise in corporate, commercial, real estate, banking, finance, intellectual property, technology, media and communications law.

Naqiz’s leap into the world of retail began with Florsheim shoes, an American brand which was established in 1892 by Milton Florsheim. Florsheim began producing shoes in a small factory located in Chicago, Illinois. Milton and his father, Sigmund, made the first pair of Florsheim shoes and went on to gain a reputation for style, comfort and high-quality workmanship.

The company is now recognised as one best shoe brands in the world. With 120 years of crafting in its pocket, Florsheim believes in its shoes being more than just shoes.

“Florsheim shoes are not just fleeting trend or a passing phase. It’s an affirmation of who the wearer is. The shoes are regarded as a timeless classic with an unspoken guarantee that they will feel and look as great in the next 20 years as now,” said Naqiz, who is assisted by Brandy Thong and Shamir Hameed who handle the marketing and sales aspects respectively.

Florsheim Malaysia started thanks to the efforts of Syed Naqiz and his father Tan Sri Syed Abdul Jabbar Shahabuddin.

Their first Florsheim outlet was opened in the 1 Utama shopping mall in Petaling Jaya in 2007.

The shop drew a warm response and this led to the opening of other outlets in Suria KLCC, Empire Sales Gallery, Johor Premium Outlet and the Parkson outlets in KLCC, Pavilion and Nu Sentral.

Apart from running Florsheim Malaysia, Syed Naqiz is a director in various other companies including Boustead Petroleum Sdn Bhd and the Kuala Lumpur Business Club. He is the secretary general of the Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO), an council member of the Bumiputra Shoe Manufacturers Association, an arbitrator of the Regional Centre for Arbitration in Kuala Lumpur and a panellist with the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

Naqiz refers to his Florsheim’s collections as “aspiration shoes” that will appeal to those who prefer a degree of comfort and classic style.

Their loyal customers include VIPs, royalty, corporate professionals and celebrities.

“We still have a long way to go when it comes to educating Malaysian men about good shoes. They have no qualms about spending on properties, cars and other stuff, but not on their shoes. Many failed to realise owning a good pair of leather shoes alone is not enough. You need to polish, wax it and dry it out often otherwise it will get smelly, dingy and soiled. Besides, it is not hygienic to wear just one leather shoes at all time,” he said.

Naqiz is gearing up to introduce more footwear and leather brands to the Malaysian market in the next few months. One of the brands in the works is Naqiz’s very own multi label store - Naquirkee, comprising quality foreign labels for women’s shoes, bags and accessories that possess out of the ordinary designs catered to those who prefer a quirky yet classy look.


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