SHORTLY after graduating from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Fashion Design, Tasnim Hisham was invited by renowned Malaysian fashion designer Datuk Rizalman Ibrahim to assist him in Paris for his Raya 2017 campaign.
It was truly a privilege to be under the tutelage of such a distinguished figure. Even after the inception of her own label Tease in late 2019, Tasnim continued working with Rizalman for his 2020 Zalora fashion show Kesuma Jiwa, with Tease’s first runway collaboration featuring brand new designs and silhouettes.
The contemporary footwear brand fuses a sense of understated elegance and quiet confidence, placing comfort on its list of priorities during the construction of its heels.
From the proportion and sculptural attributes of the heels, one can tell that Tasnim’s idea of pretty heels consists of strong femininity without excessive girlishness, and being daringly bold yet not too ostentatious. It’s the balance of these hallmarks that enables Tease’s everyday heels to adapt effortlessly to both formal and off-duty outfits.
Tasnim shares: “Tease began with a deep passion to innovate the footwear game in Malaysia with simplicity, injected with the brand’s reinvented motifs. It’s the idea of playing it safe while being a fashion risk taker by adding boldness and character.”
Have you always been enchanted by heels?
“It’s funny because I never intended to be a footwear designer. My passion was always in designing clothes. However, my interest in footwear started when I was working for Innai Red.
“Other than assisting in designing clothes for the label, most of the time I crafted accessories, creating concepts and styling for the collections. And I got to play around with a lot of shoes. Gradually, my passion for clothes slowly shifted, leaning towards creating looks or fitting a look through footwear.”
Do you think this intrinsic passion for footwear could also translate as an obsession?
“Yes, I believe so. Every day I will scroll through the internet to look for ideas and inspirations from footwear designers such as Amina Muaddi. I am beyond obsessed with her shoes. I hope to own a pair of her heels one day, but I believe how passion translates into obsession differs amongst people.”
Is there a muse who inspires Tease?
“My mother is one of my inspirations when designing for Tease. I’m always surrounded by vivid colours and furniture at home, and fashion statement pieces that truly reflect my mother’s confidence and independence.
“In a way, my identity is a reflection of her, and can be seen by the clothes I wear, and the shoes I put on.
“It’s much more than just choosing materials and colours that complement each other. Shoes are a symbol of strength and womanhood that I hold onto very dearly. I’m grateful to always have a muse being so close to me.”
When designing, what comes to your mind?
“Before I start designing, I tend to walk around the house to observe the furniture and artworks for inspirations. I’ll then interpret their shapes, textures and colours onto my designs. Essentially, these factors are important to resemble and resonate with Tease’s aesthetics.
“I’ve worn heels since I was 14 years old, so I’d like to think I have a fair share of understanding of what feels good for day-to-day footwear. Thus, comfort will always play a big part in laying the groundwork for Tease’s heels.”
Being a young designer, what’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in starting your own label?
“It’s definitely understanding Tease’s identity, whether it is to portray the brand’s DNA from the design and campaign, up to the tone and manner of the shoes.
“I also had doubts about how to gain the trust of the consumers, which is fair, because I’m still pretty new at this. On top of that, I also have to compete with other amazing local footwear brands that have long established themselves.”
What do you think of the evolution of heels?
“Over the years, heels have drastically evolved, from outrageous 6in heels to the likes of Alexander McQueen’s famous Armadillo 10in boots, and even so, some styles continue to reemerge from the past, such as the kitten heels, wedges and block heels.
“However, change will always take place but right now, I’ve realised there’s an increasing emphasis on comfort over style. I think the Lady Gaga days are over.”
How important is keeping up with shoe trends?
“It’s as important as creating trends. Some people [just] create trends, and there are others who understand the trends. I believe in a balance of both to improve a brand, as the fashion industry and its market are ever-changing.”
How can a pair of heels make or break a look?
“Statement heels are the way to go! You might have a simple outfit but when you pair it with bold heels, it’ll elevate your entire look. A pair of heels would only break a look if you force yourself into it. I guess you can never go wrong if you truly feel confident in it.”
What’s next for Tease?
“I wanted shoes to be my first venture. Shoes have always been a staple piece to complete a look. By adding other pieces to an outfit, I hope to venture into handbags, clothes and accessories in the near future.
“And of course, being recognised as an international brand would be a dream but for now, I want to make a mark in Malaysia first and make everyone proud. This is just the beginning for Tease, there’s more to come!”