Tucked away in a quaint street along Joo Chiat Road lies a shophouse that catches the eye with images of elegant Cinderella-approved shoes on its standee. With a modern fairytale to tell, Palola is a local shoemaking brand that handcrafts made-to-order and bespoke flat pumps.
It all started at a bak kut teh dinner when the idea of three grown men making shoes for women in the middle of the Central Business District (CBD) came up. This random musing led to countless sessions of prototyping before the very first pair of Palolas was born.
Intrigued yet? Let me take you through the three steps behind owning a pair of these custom flats.
Every order starts off with an intricate process of selecting your fit. Solely (geddit?) from this alone, you will be impressed by the trio’s dedication to their craft as well as their emphasis on each customer’s comfort when donning a pair of Palolas.
While the bespoke option offers you the luxury of a fully custom fit with precise measurements up to the contours of your foot, the made-to-orders do not understate on this aspect either.
Fun fact: it’s really common to have asymmetrical feet and chances are one foot of yours is half a size smaller or a little wider than the other (go stare awkwardly at your feet now). Therefore, shoes you get from any retail shop rarely fit you perfectly.
Taking this into consideration, you are able to mix and match different sizes and widths for your made-to-orders at no extra cost when you get a pair of Palolas.
After getting all your measurements taken, here comes the challenge — choosing from one out of the five designs available, every one of which is the result of months of prototyping. Taking longer than expected to decide? Let me reassure you that this is perfectly normal.
If deciding between five options was tough, the next step isn’t going to be any easier. Sourcing and importing all their leathers from Italy, Palola offers a wide selection of classic pieces as well as premium ones for you to choose from.
While the classic collection will always be in-stock, the premium or limited edition leathers may or may not be available again once it’s sold out so my advice is to get the premium ones first if you are having a headache making up your mind.
Although you may feel the pinch with the pricier bespoke option, the amount of work, customisation and consideration behind every pair is definitely worth as much or even more than its price tag.
Apart from a thorough measurement up to the contours of your feet, you get a pair of fitting shoes as well as assurance that the job was done flawlessly.
Also, since you never know how well a pair of shoes fit until you wear them for an extended period of time, the fitting shoes are equivalent to a ‘Palola trial’ of sorts where you can point out any discomfort felt and get them fixed in your actual pair.
In Singapore, the footwear scene has long focused on the retail industry instead of craftsmanship. Outsourcing production using a generic last, shoes from many household brands (both local and foreign) look pretty but they often compromise on comfort.
This is where Palola aims to make a difference — one pair at a time. As the only shoe brand in Singapore that handcrafts all their shoes in-house, every pair of Palolas that leaves the workshop is ‘like a child’ to the three gentlemen. Needless to say, customers feel the love as well.
In this age where many have become cynical of overused buzzwords such as ‘handmade’ or ‘bespoke’, Palola emerges as a brand staying true to what these terms used to stand for.
Here in Singapore, ‘support local’ is definitely on the verge of becoming an overused buzzword as well. Instead of continuously practising the sacred art of NATO (no action, talk only), take action and support the folks over at Palola as well as other local artisans in the handcrafting scene.
Prices: From $325 per pair