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Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan

What happens when a painter who’s also a runner designs shoes? A very, very comfortable pair that requires zero break-in, writes Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan

WHEN shoe label Sanctvs released its first product, there was only one shoe in two colourways — a black one with suede accents and a white one in calf leather.

But founder Kevin Loo, 44, would not have it any other way. A visual artist and a runner, he sees every creation as an artwork and, therefore, is not in a hurry to come up with many products for business’ sake.

Sanctvs shoes are made by his friends in Indonesia. Some years ago he gave the design to them and asked them to make a pair of shoes for him, for personal use. He wasn’t even thinking about selling them then. But then he wore the shoes for 18 months and it became the only pair he wore. The outer calf leather aged beautifully and the lamb skin insole delivered comfort for the feet. Loo was so happy with his creation that he decided to sell the shoes.

“I don’t do anything half-heartedly and anything I don’t believe in, so I definitely won’t sell a shoe that I won’t wear,” he says.

Sanctvs shoes in black suspended in the air, like an art installation, at the launch of the brand.


Loo, who is from Sandakan, Sabah, knows a thing a two about comfortable shoes. He is a long distance runner, after all. For the last six years he has been running marathons until an injury forced him to stop and recover this year.

He used to train in his Ultraboost “Japan” sneakers very early in the morning, he tells me, coming home only to get his children ready for school. “It’s an amazing feeling when you run before everyone else wakes up. You come back ready to seize the day.”

He had tried to run the pain away, but it got worse so he threw in the towel on running this year so that he could come back stronger next year.

“When you spend so much time in your shoes during a run, you know what comfortable shoes are and you will refuse to wear a pair that isn’t,” he says. “Comfortable shoes are ugly, and that’s the truth. Many people wear sneakers to work these days but not all sneakers are meeting-room ready.”

So Loo makes Sanctvs shoes to bridge this gap. While the white one is cool, just like a white sneaker, the black one can be paired with office attire without looking jarring from the rest of the ensemble.

Loo is not in a hurry to scale up, so production will happen only when he is happy with the raw materials.


Loo says his selling point is comfort and he is confident that when customers try on his shoes, they will like them.

“I want an everyday shoe that’s luxurious in material and comfort,” he says, adding that he targets middle to high income customers.

“My wardrobe staples are very minimal and simple, that’s why the creation of Necessity Vol. 1 from scratch was necessary for me as I needed to find a pair of shoes that fit my current style and aesthetics,” he says,

Loo says the shoes don’t require break-in, will not give you blisters and will grow to hug your feet so it gets more comfortable as you wear it more often.

“That’s how a shoe should be. It should be made or high quality materials to support you while walking and standing, and look good while doing so.”

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Black Sanctvs shoes have suede accent, but Loo says he can’t beautiful find white suede for the same feature on white shoes.




LINE Necessity Vol. 1

COLOURWAYS Black and white

MATERIAL Calf leather upper, lambskin insole



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