Finally, there are shoes that fit anyone, but only because they aren’t actually worn on your feet. Syro, a Brooklyn-based shoe brand that offers heels in plus sizes (men’s sizes 8 to 14), has released a crossbody bag that looks like a stiletto ankle boot.
Syro’s modus operandi was to inspire gay men to celebrate their femininity one step at a time, or as co-founders Henry Bae and Shaobo Han cheekily put it, “embrace the weapon of mass feminization.” Since its inception in 2016, celebrities such as Lil Nas X, Sam Smith, RuPaul and Bowen Young have joined the brand’s cult following.
Until now, Shiro had been making shoes, but the idea to start making accessories came to Bay in 2017, while he was walking along 23rd Street. “This lady waiting in front of me to cross the street had knee-high stiletto boots that she attached to her backpack,” he recalls to me over the phone. “It was completely DIY, and that’s when I realized that when we were finally ready to make a bag one day, it would definitely be a statement stiletto.”
Their designs are often inspired by real-life experiences of queer people, and the Stiletto bag is no exception. The co-founders wanted the accessory to be a statement of resistance and empowerment. Bae decided to make the bag a love letter to the trans community after learning about the Colorado artist who used her stiletto to stop an assailant during the 2022 Q club shooting in Colorado Springs. “That’s when I had a new energy to express the unapologetic femininity and weirdness that Shiro had championed from the beginning,” he says.
In addition to conveying a powerful message, Bae wanted to create a well-designed bag, which took some trial and error. What he didn’t want to do was just put the handles on the shoe and call it a day. The first prototype reproduced the shape of the shoe using equipment that traditionally produces bags. The result was convex, soft and without a sharp silhouette. When Bay got the idea in his head to create a strap that would cross the opening of the shoe and connect at the toe with a parallel zipper on the shoe itself, he decided to collaborate with the brand’s existing technicians to leverage shoe technology.