In this issue of SG Lifestyle, Column Editor Angela May Tan, speaks with Tom Ng, Founder of PAZZION, a home-grown label famed for their fashionable repertoire of footwear, bags and leather accessories, to find out how the fashionable 50 year old engineer turned shoe designer is doing, 20 years after launching his first store.
Angela: What is the rationale behind the name of your brand and what is the correct way to pronounce it?
Tom: PAZZION (pronounced pah-zzon) was a play on the word “passion”. I wanted a brand name that reflected my passion in footwear.
I have always been fascinated by shoes. Even as a student, I would spend my savings on shoes. Though my background is in mechanical engineering, I have always had an interest in fashion. So when I was offered the opportunity to enter this industry, I quit my engineering job and jumped right in to work in retail. I later caught the entrepreneurial bug and started my own ladies’ footwear business. Almost 20 years down the road, we are now present in 12 countries and have also diversified our business offerings with the opening of PAZZION café at Changi International Airport’s Jewel in 2019.
Angela: You were an engineer. What are the parallels, if any, in engineering and designing shoes?
Tom: Precision is extremely important in both engineering and shoe making. In both industries, one has to be very meticulous when it comes to details, such as the measurements, material used, etc to ensure that the end product is of utmost quality and standards. Unlike mass-produced fashion items such as clothes, every single detail of a pair of shoes is crucial as it can greatly affect the durability, the fit, the level of comfort, the level of support and the aesthetics. So similar to engineers, a shoe designer will have to make accurate calculations and precise measurements in order to craft out footwear that is ergonomically suitable and at the same time aesthetically pleasing.
Angela: With the advent of e-commerce, online shopping has taken the world by storm, especially in this COVID-struck era. Did PAZZION face any challenges since you have so many boutiques?
Tom: Fortunately, we already had digital presence prior to the pandemic. While our retail stores were badly affected by the lack of tourism and lower propensity to purchase, our e-commerce store helped ease the brick-and-mortar losses. Like everyone else, COVID accelerated our online expansion.
Angela: In 2019, you diversified into the F&B sector with the opening of PAZZION Café at Changi Airport’s Jewel. Are you gunning to be the next PS.Cafe, which started off as a fashion outlet?
Tom: PAZZION Café is an extension of the lifestyle concept that we want to develop. The intention was never to mimic any particular brand or establishment. We wanted to provide a more holistic experience for our customers with sensorial interactions such as the fragrance from coffee smells with textural materials used in our shoes and bags.
Angela: Do you, your wife, daughter (or someone in the family) design and/or wear PAZZION’s shoes?
Tom: My wife and daughter love our shoes and provide very useful feedback to our design and development team, who helps to create new designs for every season. While PAZZION has a huge assortment of footwear from heels to sandals to ballerina flats, my wife prefers the athleisure range while my daughter loves anything with embellishments that make her shoes sparkle with every step.
Bonus Q: Who inspires you in business and in life?
Tom: My dad. He was the one who inspired me to be an entrepreneur. He started his own business selling travel luggage at a young age without any financial support from anyone. Although it was a small business, he was able to provide for and supported the entire family until he retired.
PAZZION is part of Made With Passion, a nationwide marketing initiative to celebrate local brands and their Singapore spirit of turning possibilities into reality.
Interview by Angela May Tan, Column Editor & Writer