KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Sisters Yokie Theam and Yoke Sin Theam started a fairly new shoe brand in Malaysia, called Yoke and Theam. Featuring chunky sandals and strappy platforms that play with colours and textures, it is a fresh new look that makes you stand out from the crowd.
“I studied fashion in Australia and I used to work in Melium. After that, I wanted to try something new, so I worked in Luxasia,” said Yokie. With a love for fashion, she decided to pursue her dream of starting her own label.
Her father and grandfather have a background in the shoe business, with their family’s shoe factory in Ipoh. The company has been running for more than 30 years.
“Shoes are related to fashion and I wanted to continue the legacy of my father and grandfather. I talked to my elder sister Yoke Sin about it and we decided to start a collection together,” she said.
The two of them worked together handling the designing, marketing, photography and business of the brand. Yoke Sin spent 12 years in London working as a graphic designer so it was a good mix of talents between the both sisters.
“We have a good chemistry working together so I decided to give it a try. There are not a lot of shoe brands in Malaysia so we wanted to start something unique,” said Yoke Sin.
When they first started, the production team that makes the shoes in their father’s shoe factory did not want to make the new designs that included rubber soles. It took some time to break the deadlock.
Yoke and Theam uses rubber for the shoes because it is durable and sturdy. You also get a good grip while walking. No synthetic materials are used and the designs feature textile paired with leather.
The reason why Yoke and Theam don’t just use leather is because they believe that more designs can be explored with the use of different types of materials.
Those who wear Yoke and Theam shoes are independent women with an individualistic style, and exude style and elegance. To create their shoes, the sisters play around with masculine and feminine elements.
“We launched our website last year in September but we had been planning for a year before that. We did a lot of research and development. As for materials, we source both locally and internationally,” said Yokie.
Yoke and Theam started out selling their shoes online and they have offline stockists for customers who prefer to try out the shoes in store. “Many people are keen on buying online. People used to prefer trying out before buying but with size charts provided, they are more confident buying online,” said Yoke Sin.
Yokie agrees, saying that there is a trend now among their customers who are only interested in buying online due to the convenience. Even though it is essential to try it in store, people know their sizing already and they are comfortable about buying online. However, Yoke and Theam have plans to increase their presence in stores by adding more stockists to their list. You can try out their shoes at Fashion Valet in Bangsar Village II or Editions KL in Publika.
“For each design, we brainstorm together and do research here in KL. Yoke Sin often travels back to Ipoh where we do our development and design,” said Yokie.
If you are wondering if Yokie and Yoke Sin have disagreements over designs due to their own personal tastes, the sisters would tell you that of course it happens but at the end of the day, they think about the brand and what kind of image they want to portray. They have the best interest of the brand at heart and whatever suits the brand and is good for it will be the decision.
“It’s good that we are sisters so we don’t really fight. If we do, we get over it after a few minutes and all is good again,” said Yoke Sin. Yoke Sin is the eldest of four sisters while Yokie is the youngest. Their second sister is helping out with their father’s shoe business in Ipoh.
Yoke and Theam have big plans for the future, with South Korea and Hong Kong the next destinations for trade shows. Once that is settled, they also plan to have trade shows in London and Italy.
Currently Yoke and Theam have a stockist in Singapore and based on sales, a lot of their customers in Singapore are Westerners. The high street price point and versatile design are what appeals to customers.
“Our shoes are priced from RM200 to RM300 which is not luxury but not exactly budget as well. Our customers know what they want and they are usually aged 18 to 45. We will introduce other designs like pumps and closed shoes,” said Yokie. The Zeus sandals and slides is their star product, unique for its mesh design. Most of their designs are also sold out on the website. Yoke and Theam have just released their new Serena sandals featuring a facelift – black instead of white outsole that pairs with the black camouflage straps. The new look Serena sandals is sold exclusively on Zalora.
Although Yoke and Theam is selling shoes online now, the sisters don’t discount that if things go positively, there might be a physical store in the future. Now, they are focusing on getting more stockists. Unsurprisingly, Yoke Sin and Yokie love shoes but their taste in shoes is very different from their designs. Yoke Sin likes Nicholas Kirkwood for his avant-garde designs while Yokie adores Rene Caovilla’s heels which are adorned with diamante, his signature design.
Get your Yoke and Theam sandals from www.yokentheam.com now!