Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle

Dead Set On Originality In The Shoe Industry

XALF is trying to keep soles alive

The shoemaking industry in Malaysia has been a challenging scene for decades now. What’s left of the industry experts, such as XALF, are continuously adapting to the changing business environment. 

Once a thriving shoe producer

Little did we know that before the brief period pre-2000s, our country was one of the largest shoe producers in the world right after Italy. Surprising as it is, we’re far from our glory days as more than 70% of our manufacturers have shifted production abroad due to lower operating cost. 

Today, local shoe manufacturers consist of smaller local brands who have adapted to new strategies to keep Malaysia’s torch, as a once revered shoe producer, burning. 

(From left) Founder of XALF Xavier Mah, and XALF’s Creative Designer Alfred Hor are true believers of originality in the bespoke industry.

Luxury bespoke

Xceptional for him and Xquisite for her, both specially crafted for XALF’s exclusive collaboration with Bentley Malaysia - the Xtraordinary capsule collection.

To compete with the high demand for renowned brands, XALF is one local footwear brand that was built on innovation, exclusivity and premium materials to stay relevant. Since 2012, XALF has produced over 14 collections that carry more than 100 uniquely curated designs catering to both men and women.

(From left) Kimberly Ryder, Charmaine Sheh and Ai Tominaga showing off their custom pair of XALF heels.

The local bespoke shoe brand has also proven to be a celebrity magnet, having been worn by famous celebrities and figures across Asia including Indonesia’s Kimberly Ryder, Hong Kong’s Charmaine Sheh and Japan’s Ai Tominaga.

Focus on premium and original products

Adonis, the studded wingtip oxford from XALF’s TRUE collection.

By providing an original and authentic bespoke experience, XALF injects its very own style and identity that can’t be found in internationally mass-produced brands, and this sets the luxury brand apart to cater to the demand for premium customized footwear. They are also dead set on encouraging the local market to be original instead of trying to compete with other larger established brands.

The Blueprint, an exquisite pair from XALF’s Nude collection.

“Instead of competing with mass-produced brands that have been dominating the shoe market for the longest time, we have found a niche community with our luxury bespoke footwear label, and our clients truly appreciate the originality and class that we bring to the table,” said Xavier Mah, Founder of XALF.

When it comes to originality, XALF considers it an essential part of their business philosophy. Aside from fresh ideas and authentic materials, all their footwears are made by local talents right here in Kuala Lumpur as one of its initiatives to preserve its identity as a proudly Malaysian footwear label. 

Spreading the passion of craftsmanship

One of XALF’s biggest challenges when they first kickstarted the brand was the sourcing of local shoe craftsmen with the right expertise and creativity. As professionals who were once displaced by the shifting market, these craftsmen have found stability in terms of career and income with the brand.

“It wasn’t easy to locate these highly talented craftsmen, but I’m glad we were able to, or else their decades of shoemaking expertise will just go to waste. In fact, they possess specific skill sets required for both real leather and synthetic leather, both which require very different know-hows to make XALF designs work,” Mah added.

XALF voices their aspirations to continue championing the luxury bespoke industry and spreading the passion of craftsmanship and shoemaking through their designs and collections. 

To know more about XALF, visit or call +6010 863 2887 for a meetup.

Follow them at Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.

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