Designer spotlight: Isobel Lam of CHIYO

Updated: 18 Mar 2013

Who she is: Five years ago, Isabel Lam graduated from Berklee College of Music (the birthplace of over 200 Grammys) and started working as a film scorer. Then she took a wheel through advertising, SEO consultation work and a Master’s degree, before packing it all in to work from home and launch CHIYO. Her primary concern these days is knocking out funky shoes that look straight from the future.

About the line: CHIYO has only been around for eight months but it already has an instantly identifiable style. If you’re looking for a classic black pump, look somewhere else. CHIYO heels are high, offset or cutout, but never classic. Her most recognisable style is the Ripsaw heel, which features an exaggerated corrugated cut out heel that, despite appearances, is surprisingly comfortable. No spindly stilletoes here – all the CHIYO heels are good, sturdy wooden structures. Even the flats don’t escape Isabel’s love of texture – black oxfords feature shiny black ponyhair panels and transparent toe boxes.

‘I design things that I would wear personally and based on my style,’ says Isabel – lucky then, that her own style is so cool. ‘I personally love chunky wedges and heels, and I get inspired a lot by brands such as UNITED NUDE, Jeffrey Campbell, Heavy Machine, DURBUY etc. I don’t see many of these designs in Southeast Asia, which is why I launched CHIYO. It’s definitely a niche market.’ Isabel also designs clothes under the CHIYO label, similarly featuring Isabel’s love of playing with lines – geometric prints and unconventional draping feature heavily. But our money’s on the shoes – specifically the Bondage City Platform heels.

Where to find it: You can buy CHIYO online at, or at Bazarro, 61 Jalan Maarof, Bangsar (03 2282 8860/ Emma Chong

Tags: Features