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Friday, March 4, 2011

Product Review: Mate Shoe Accessories

Product Review: Mate Shoe Accessories
By: Anna Chieng (Guest Blogger)

If you’ve ever attended an event donning the same outfit as another girl, particularly at proms and gala nights (unfortunately, I've been a victim of this tragedy), you’d know that a battle of ‘who wears it best’ would ensue (even if it’s just in your mind!), and the only things probably differentiating you from her are:
  1. Your hairstyle
  2. Your body, and
  3. Your accessories

While the first two are more difficult to change, there’s no excuse for the third! It’s all too easy to accessorise, though knowing what to accessorise with might take a bit of practising.

Even celebrities aren’t spared from a battle of ‘Who Wears It Best’!

While clothes are definitely top on the list of ‘Please-don’t-let-me-end-up-wearing-the-same-outfit-as-someone-else’, I’d say the next item on the list would be shoes!

I wouldn’t feel it as much if someone else was carrying the same bag (considering how everyone’s carrying Coach and Longchamp nowadays :P) than if someone else was wearing the same killer shoes! Sometimes I even plan my outfit around which pair of shoes I’m going to wear!

Just like accessories which do well to complement clothes, we now have accessories to complement shoes! Thanks to...

Where every piece of shoe accessory is designed and crafted by hand!

Now we don’t have to worry about wearing the same pair of shoes as someone else, because Mate’s shoe accessories do more than just accessorise – They TRANSFORM any shoe to something spanking new!

What kinds of shoe accessories are there?

Before we continue, let’s familiarise ourselves with the jargon! Mate carries 5 basic types of accessories, which are as below:

Heel chain– The chain worn around the ankle & runs across the heel sole

Shoe clips - Clips to add on to your footwear | Shoe anklet - An ornament worn around the ankle

Shoe spats - A type of classic shoe accessory covering the instep and ankle |
Flip flaire
- Wrap around your strap & snap it on

My Personal Take on the Products

When I received Mate’s products, the first thing that caught my eye is the really unique star-shaped packaging! Most people wouldn’t give two hoots about the ‘presentation’ and packaging, but just that little effort got me jumping on my feet and looking forward to opening what seemed like a little Christmas present! It’s really like nothing I’ve ever seen before :)

They've really upped the game, haven’t they?

As for the actual products, what I really like about Mate’s shoe accessories, apart from the fact that they CAN really transform a shoe to look totally different, is that they can be really, REALLY versatile! Depending on the types of accessories, they can be mixed and matched with so many different kinds of shoes – pumps, ballet flats, strappy heels, booties, wedges, etc., and even with each kind of shoe there are so many ways to accessorise! With creativity, the possibilities are almost endless!

These are my plain and boring, accessory-less shoes:

And these are Mate's accessories which are going to transform the shoes!:

Fabric trim floweret clips RM6

This can be used on the shoe in the centre, off-centre, back, on the straps, etc.

Elegant dangling leafy heel chain RM28

This can be worn with the chain around the ankle and under the sole,
or with double chains around the ankle on the front, or even double chains on the back.

Vintage pearl anklet with pink ribbon RM18

Best worn with shoes covering the heel.

Off-white big bow clips (Custom made)

Best worn with high heeled shoes or wedges with substantial height.

It’s almost like my dull and boring shoes suddenly came alive! These accessories gave them more spunk and character, as well as a new lease on life :P

Based on my observations of the details of these products as well as the feel of the fabrics, I could immediately tell that these shoe accessories are evidently made with high-quality materials! Mate’s products also go through careful testing before being put on sale to ensure that they don’t damage our shoes, and so far my shoes are alright :)

These accessories are also small and easy to carry around, whether to a vacation or to the workplace. So you can easily whip them out after work and transform your shoes from smart to casual, from sweet to biker chic!

As if all that weren’t enough, some of Mate’s shoe accessories can even double up as normal accessories! (Though I may not necessarily recommend it if you’ve already used it on your shoes – though you might be able to wash them, perhaps?)

Getting my money's worth. Hehe :)

As Mate’s shoe accessories are all handmade, they can be sold at very affordable prices, ranging from RM5-RM30 (Note: Limited quantities produced and selling fast!). And because Mate hand-make all their products, they are also able to provide services to custom make shoe accessories according to the customer’s preferences! How cool is that!

The Interview

With the innovation of such amazing products, I simply had to know more about Mate! And so I took the liberty to interviewed Cowie and Yves, the brainchildren behind Mate.

1. Tell us more about your business.
Mate is a shoe accessory business and we are here to help people beautify their favourite pair of footwear without looking like a plain Jane. They can now transform their favourite pair of shoes to as many looks and styles as they wish to and save more money for shoe shopping. We just started the business less than 3 months ago, on 6th Dec 2010. Both of us are involved in designing & producing all the products, marketing and customer service (We are one leg kicking).

2. Why ‘Mate’? How did you decide on/come up with this name?
The reason behind the name ‘Mate’ is simply because we not only want to make our dreams come true to be an entrepreneur and to share our passion and interest in fashion, but also to make more friends, expand our social circle. We want to treat our customers not only in a “seller-buyer” relationship, but we hope to make friends (to be their fashion mate, i.e. share fashion tips with each other) so that we will be able to produce better quality collections. And the brand name also represents the valuable friendship between both of us.

3. This is quite an innovation! How did the idea of creating shoe accessories come about? What triggered the idea and what was your inspiration?
There are lots of accessories available out there in the market. But based on our research and findings, hardly can we get accessories for shoes, unlike in other western countries such as the US where it is currently popular. Even Japan and Taiwan are catching up on the trend. Hence, we thought of giving it a try. Reading lots of fashion magazines regarding the recent trend for shoes & fashion, browsing the internet, and doing lots of shopping give us a lot of inspiration and room of ideas. We also do a lot of research on fashion trends such as the colours, patterns & materials. After that we proceed to find the materials we need & get work started.

4. What are some of the difficulties or challenges you’ve faced with the business so far?
The main difficulty/challenge that we face obviously would be the lack of manpower. As mentioned earlier everything about the product & brand is managed by just the two of us. Hence, we have to juggle our time wisely between sourcing for raw materials, product packaging design and brand marketing, and getting the “baby” born on time is the biggest challenge for us because we do not want our customers to feel disappointed should there be any delay in delivering the product.

5. So what’s next for ‘Mate’? Any plans to become a physical shop?
We wish to get more coverage on magazines or blogs for Mate to create awareness on this new trend, to share this great fashion idea with all the fashionistas out there, as we believe great things need to be share!! In the future we would like to expand the business from online to collaborating with other boutique or even getting a physical shop for our own. (Note: They’ve recently partnered with physical shops, Shortaholic (GHF-1-D, 1st Floor, Sg Wang Shopping Mall) and Evoker (26-1, Jalan Puteri 2/5, Bandar Puteri, 47100 Puchong, Selangor) where you can now find their products!)

There you have it! Thanks to Mate, we’re perhaps one of the first few Asian countries in the world to have shoe accessories. And thanks to Mate, I am now able to give my boring shoes many new makeovers and ‘multiply’ them into several different designs!

So two thumbs up to Mate! I would highly recommend them!

Check out their facebook fan page here, and
Hop on over to Mate for your own shoe accessory today!

Happy Shopping!
By Anna a.k.a Guest Blogger for YSK
Edited by Your Shopping Kaki :)

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