Stepping into a men’s world: Shoemaker Nita Chauhan wants to help Singaporean men dress better – The Straits Times

Stepping into a men’s world: Shoemaker Nita Chauhan wants to help Singaporean men dress better – The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Nita Chauhan is on a quest to help Singaporean men dress better, starting with their shoes.

"We check men out from top to toe. If they wear a nice outfit but wear shoes that are scuffed - or worse, slippers - it spoils the whole look," she says.

"Shoes are the finishing touch."

Ms Chauhan is not saying this just because she has two sons.

The 50-year-old is the founder of men's shoe label Vincitore Shoes, which has its main store in Millenia Walk and a smaller one in Mandarin Gallery. Its new store is opening in May in Raffles Hotel.

She is among a rare handful of female shoemakers in Singapore.

The brand carries ready-to-wear casual and formal shoes that are made in Italy and sized specially for Asian feet - which she says tend to be broader and shorter. The casual range starts from $380 while the formal line starts from $450. Sizes go up to European size 46.

She encourages men to bravely go for shoes in colours such as burgundy and olive green instead of boring old black. She also believes that leather soles gives the wearer a better gait and body posture, compared with rubber soles which are popular here.

Ms Chauhan knows her stuff - she trained under Italian shoemakers in the craft of shoe construction and design and also holds an MBA in retail management.

She had an early start in the business of selling shoes. At 18, she was roped in to help out at her father's shoe shop, which was at the then Marco Polo Hotel and sold brands such as Bally and A.Testoni .

Ms Chauhan took over the running of the shopfor a couple of yearsbut was forced to shut the business during the economic downturn in the 1980s.

She spent the next 20 years in as retail country manager with big names such as Forever 21, but three years ago, she decided it was time to revisit her roots and go back to what she knew best - men's shoes.

In 2015, with the support of her husband Vineet Chauhan, 50, who works as a quality, health and safety director, Ms Chauhan opened Vincitore Shoes' store in Millenia Walk.

While Vincitore has a website, it is for browsing the collection only. Customers have to come into the store to make a purchase.

"If you're going to invest a few hundred dollars on a pair of shoes, surely you want to see, touch, try and get some professional advice before you make a decision?", she says.

Ms Chauhan does not mind working the floor, seeing it as a chance to get feedback.

She says her motherly nature and age makes it easy for her to strike up conversations with male customers who go into her store.

But it is just as, if not more, important to chat up the men's shopping partner, especially if it is the wife or girlfriend, she realised.

"The fact is, even if I tell the guy it's a nice pair of shoes, they may not trust me. They might trust a male retail associate a little more."

She adds: "Ultimately, they want to get the nod of approval from their friends and partner."