2009 was a huge year for jelly flats. From the RTW runways of Chloé, Givenchy and Fendi to ladies markets, right down to the pasar malam, it was clear that the ’80s had come back with a steeled vengeance. As I scouted high and low to find my novelty pair, I chanced on Melissa in Central World, Bangkok. This was where I fell hard. Because here was a brand that had perfected comfort with an eco-driven conscious and impeccable taste. Today, at 6.30pm, the doors will finally open to Malaysia’s first M Dreams boutique in 1 Utama Shopping Centre. We managed an exclusive walkthrough the day before, and sat down with its executive and marketing directors for an inside scoop. Here’s all you need to know.

Step into the M Dreams store, and you’re greeted by a larger-than-life feature campaign of Alessandra Ambrosio to your left. Beside it are costume accessories for you to have fun, to take a picture or two at the photo wall. Once you’ve had your fix, it’s down to business.

Inspired by Galeria Melissa, a concept perpetuated in New York and Sao Paolo, the store was specially designed to look and feel like an exhibition space.

Clean, fluid lines curate the entire Melissa range – for the first time in Southeast Asia (Singapore’s store opens next month) – replete with collaborative pieces from Jason Wu, Alessandra Ambrosio, J. Maskrey and the Campana brothers. The Vivienne Westwood capsule is due to arrive in February next year.

So what’s in a shoe? Melissa’s are crafted with Melflex plastic – a patented, hypo-allergenic, recyclable, breathable and extremely flexible PVC. Scented with bubblegum, Melissa shoes are also incredibly malleable – they’ll mould to the shape of your foot, and remember it even if you rolled up a pair and stuffed it into your luggage to save space over a long haul flight.  And if you took a closer look, you’ll find that each Melissa shoe is made in one piece – this takes into account using as little consumption of energy in fabrication as possible. It also means longer durability. The insoles see Melflex blended with a velveteen technology to ensure cushy comfort.

Onto design. Established in 1979, the Melissa concept was inspired by plastic shoes used by fishermen in the south of France. With the incredibly versatile Edson Matsuo as its creative director, it continues to stay relevant through constant collaboration. In the past, it worked with Jean Paul Gaultier and Zaha Hadid. Today, Vivienne Westwood, Jason Wu, Alessandro Ambrosio and the Campana brothers complete the roster.

Clockwise from left: Divine in gold, RM288; Divine in lace, RM288; Ultragirl + J. Maksrey in pink, RM1,500; Ultragirl Sweet in pink, RM300.

Clockwise from left: Electric II in grey, RM450; Peace II in black, RM475; Peace II in yellow, RM475; Patchuli IV in black, RM475; Patchuli IV in grey, RM475; Devotion in pink, RM575; Devotion in blue, RM575; Electric II in pink, RM450.

It’s little wonder as to why Melissa has such a huge following. Celebrities aside, get this: Melissa Shoes Malaysia’s Facebook page is 60 days old, with 9,114 likes. Its four-day-old Instagram account has uploaded 26 photos and garnered 1,571 followers. And it hasn’t even launched yet!

From left: Blake Lively, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood and Leona Lewis

From left: Alessandra Ambrosio, Katie Holmes, Hayley Williams and Dita Von Teese

Now that you’re well-versed with the Melissa brand, here’s what you can expect from its Malaysian counterpart. We sat down with KS and SK (they call themselves SK2), executive director and marketing director of M Dreams respectively, for a brief low down.

Kar Sing and Sau Keong

How did you come to learn about Melissa, and why did you feel the need to bring it to Kuala Lumpur?
SK: It was actually recommended to me by a friend last year, and I told KS about it this April [that’s a seven-month production timeline!]. We took a trip up to Hong Kong, where there are four M Dreams concept stores, and were seriously impressed by the brand. KS’s fiancée bought a pair of Campanas Zig Zag there, then walked the entire day doing touristy things in them. By the end of the day, her feet didn’t ache at all, and we were sold.
KS: M Dreams stores stock a full range. Melissa shoes have been available in Asia for quite some time now, but on a stockist system, with a limited range. We felt the need to bring the complete collection to Malaysia. Melissa just has so much potential as a product – it’s unique in terms of unparalleled comfort and interesting designer collaborations.

KS, this is your first venture into fashion. What made you decide to dabble into the industry?
KS: I’ve always liked doing new things. I’m a very product-driven person. Once I find a product that I completely believe in, I’m all in. So far, the fashion industry has been pretty fun!

In Asia, jelly flats have a steady rep as affordable “house slippers”. Are you concerned about how the local audience will take to the Melissa brand and its price point?
SK: Through our socials, we’ve been trying to create brand awareness – there are the house slippers, and there’s Melissa, which jelly aside, has the most unique designs in the market. We’ve been uploading Instagrams that focus on the design, and so far, the response has been great.
KS: I think another way to look at it, is that we offer designer collaborations at a steal. We make them affordable and incredibly comfortable. Once people try the shoes on, mindsets will definitely change.

Will there be an M Dreams membership program available in Malaysia?
SK: We’re actually working on that! We’re looking at kicking off our loyalty and VIP member priviledge programs next year.

Do you plan on bringing M Dreams to other locations in Kuala Lumpur?
KS: We’re looking at three to four stores in the future, at premium malls. The plan is to bring it to locations that would serve the Melissa girl community best, to open up at places they’d shop.

Any last words for our readers?
KS: Try on a pair – it will change how you shop for shoes.

The Malaysian M Dreams store will open its doors to the public at 6.30pm tonight, and is located at LotG341, New Wing, 1 Utama Shopping Centre. After today, it’s opening hours will be fixed from 10AM to 10PM on Sundays to Thursdays, and 10AM to 10.30PM on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit its Facebook page here.

Image credit: Cheri Loh