YOUNG and fashion-savvy, Nazifi Nasri started his own handcrafted leather footwear line about seven years ago.

The sticker shock from high sandal prices prompted his venture into the business.

At the time, Nazifi just wanted to slip on simple and comfortable sandals for casual outings with friends or to attend class at UiTM, where he was a student pursuing a business in transport degree.

“I did not like wearing shoes to attend classes. Instead, I preferred easy-to-wear sandals but I wanted an affordable pair,” said 28 year-old Nazifi.

As there were no suitable options, he decided to venture onto the creative path of making fun and wearable sandals and footwear from genuine and faux leather.

Elegance and comfort were the key starting points of the young entrepreneur’s label.

In 2014, Nazifi posted his simple and minimalist style designs on social media and began receiving orders online, and the Nazifi Nasri brand was born.

Since then, he has been making easy-to-slip-on strappy sandals from black leather, loafers, flip flops and also footwear for formal occasions.

His designs are available off-the-rack or made-to-order.

Nazifi has also expanded in making sandals and footwear for women. He has also created cardholders, cross-body bags for men, as well as handbags and tote bags for women.

“I love items with simple and minimal design because they are always easy to match with any type of clothing,” says Nazifi, who creates across a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

Speaking about his creative process, Nazifi said: “I do a lot of research, explore and I keep up with the latest trends in the market. My inspiration comes from architecture, furniture and fashion shows.’’

Sometimes, he gets inspired by local heritage. For instance, Nazifi incorporated weaving techniques into his Anyaman Box bags and the mini-Anyaman cardholder.

“I love it when people wear sandals or use bags. You can look stylish or smart with the right piece,” said Nazifi, whose favourite and most successful sandals are the Ares Sandal collection, inspired by a Greek movie.

“My favourite bags are the best-seller Oked Baguette collection. It makes a woman looks effortlessly chic.

“My bag collection is not mass-produced but hand-sewn. All these items are handmade with care and I use leatherette, which is animal cruelty free.“

He is also planning to experiment with new materials – bags and sandals in plant-based leather. These days, there is a huge demand for plant-based products due to the veganism and anti-animal cruelty movements, he explained.

“I want to explore and use leather made from cactus skin, pineapple leaves and apple skin for my bag creations and sandals. It is still in planning but it is my goal for the future.”

His latest creation is a large white coloured multi-pocket tote bag with pockets in four different shapes and sizes.

“Ever since the lockdown began, I paused my bag-making operations temporarily and decided to concentrate on making sandals, cardholders and small bags, as they are small and easy to make at home,” said Nazifi, who plans to open a shop or outlet with a shoe-making studio.