If the Shoe Fits

Cutting-edge footwear designer Zack Lo finds creative inspiration in art, fashion, and reminders of home.

shoe designer zack lo

Photograph by Michael Piazza. Styling by Jenny Wilson/Anchor Artists.

Zack Lo may call himself shy, but his dramatic shoe designs certainly are not. Every pair he creates is a bold statement, theatrically embellished with staggeringly high heels and striking accents. Born in Ilan City, Taiwan, Lo studied at the Fu-Hsin Trade & Arts School, in Taipei, before moving to London to pursue graphic design at Kingston University. He now lives and works in Wakefield on his eponymous footwear collection, which launched in 2009.

This past fall, Lo released Panic, a fiery collection of platform heels and wedges inspired by the edgy, confident rock stars he envisioned wearing them. Featuring details like quilted leather, studs, and intricate carvings, the shoes have been shown in British Vogue and Elle China.

Here, Lo shares some of the things that inspire his exuberant work.

Taipei Night Markets

“Whenever I make a return visit to Taiwan, I go to the night markets—it takes me back to my teenage years. Here the streets are illuminated with string lights and lanterns, giving them a carnival atmosphere. It’s a Taiwanese tradition, especially for young people, to spend their evenings strolling through these streets.”

Thrift Store Style

“In Chinese, there is a traditional saying: ‘Know the new, but preserve the old.’ I find vintage clothes and accessories usually have a lasting appeal and character that newer items lack.”

Rock Stars

“I’m fascinated by music performers’ manipulation of the spotlight. They project an intoxicating, fantasylike energy, and they get a lot of attention in the process. I think of female rock stars as ancient goddesses—loved and worshiped by all people—which is why they’re the inspiration behind my newest shoe collection.”

illustration by ivan k lo

Courtesy of Ivan K. Lo

Drawing by Hand

“My brother Ivan is an established illustrator, and I am always in awe of the beautiful and interesting things he creates. They really help you to imagine the story in a creative way. It is a dying art that we should maintain.”


“I recently spent a week in Thailand and had a great vacation in Bangkok. I saw the Golden Mount on the Wat Saket temple and the famous four-faced Buddha, and I drank a lot of amazing Thai milk teas.”


What I’m Listening To

Goldfrapp, Tales of Us. “Each song is named after a different character and tells that story. So the experience of listening to the song cycle from beginning to end is like reading a good novel or watching a really interesting movie—but in music. My favorite track is ‘Thea.’”

What I’m Reading 

How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Leil Lowndes. “Many people are surprised to learn that I am somewhat shy, especially when I first meet someone. I am trying to step outside my comfort zone and be more extroverted.”

What I’m Drinking 

Cocktails from the Highball Lounge at Boston’s Nine Zero Hotel. “I love that they serve many of their drinks in vintage glasses—it adds to the hip environment of the place. On a chilly day, the ‘Winter Ginger Julep’ really hits the spot.”

What I’m Wearing 

“A distressed black leather jacket from All Saints, an organic cotton tee screen-printed with a morphed animal illustration I created, a pair of green vintage Army-issue trousers, and Tom Ford sunglasses.”