Walking in Unity: Malaysia’s International Shoe Festival

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Photo Credit: IndiaTimes / AP Photo

If the low price of footwear on the continent isn’t enough to coax you onto the Eurostar, you might want to look further afield. Malaysia holds an annual shoe festival with so much on offer that you’ll be booking your cheap tickets to Kuala Lumpur by the end of the day.

The festival’s website claims to take visitors on “a fascinating journey into the world of designer footwear”, while giving famous brands a chance to show off their latest creations. Situated on the Klang River, the Putra World Trade Centre is a spectacular venue for this truly international gathering of manufacturers, industry figureheads and enthusiasts.

As well as shoes, you’ll find some shows and entertainment for your delectation. During the last festival, there were giant chocolate sculptures (including a record-breaking chocolate shoe shown above), a shoe history gallery, and a particularly popular design competition. Not only that, but Bruno Mars was playing in one of the auditoriums in the building ““ a mesmerizing mixture for many in attendance.

The year before was the first ever International Shoe Festival. The theme was “Walking in Unity ““ 1Malaysia” and it showcased the burgeoning shoe industry within the country. The event brought in a lot of interest, both to the shoe trade and the country as a whole. Malaysia exports around $200m worth of shoes every year, and that figure is rapidly rising as the nation’s reputation grows.

Jimmy Choo, international shoe design superstar, has great hopes for the future of the festival and the business. “The festival will help steer international focus on to the Malaysian shoe industry”, he told the Myanmar Times. Choo is famous for designing shoes for the late Diana, Princess of Wales, among other achievements in the designer world.
If you’re thinking of flying out there, it’s worth taking in other aspects of Malaysia as well. The festival often coincides with the Formula 1 grand prix and the associated holiday, so prepare for slightly elevated prices an atmosphere of anticipation. The multi-cultural makeup of Malaysia presents a scintillating cocktail of language, cuisine and ethnicity. Outside the world of the PWTC, the streets of Kuala Lumpur bustle with colour and life. The shoe festival lasts for three days ““ why not stay for a week and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of Malaysia’s cultural capital. If you’re into architecture, no journey to Malaysia would be complete without a trip to the Petronas Towers. These gargantuan structures were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004, and public access is limited so arrive early in the day to avoid disappointment.

The International Shoe Festival in Kuala Lumpur is not to be missed by shoe lovers, fashion fanatics or interested travelers. The tickets are cheap and the country has plenty on offer. And, while everything is being packed away at the end of a long weekend, the sellers offer the last of their stocks at rock-bottom prices.

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