There are very few things in this world that have the same effect as the sound of high heels hitting the floor. With every step, that symbolic sound serves a multitude of meanings to different individuals. This experience, that was long deemed exclusive only to women, is now one shared by many with the efforts of Henry Bae and Shaobo Han; the forces behind Syro, a queer POC business based in New York that designs high heels for men and non-binary people.
With the company motto, “Diversity through visibility. Empowerment through community,” Bae and Han strive to normalize femininity and combat the stigma of dressing in gender non-conforming ways. The inspiration for starting Syro came from how difficult it was for men to find heels that fit properly. Syro aims to craft shoes for wider, bigger feet so that men are able to wear heels in a comfortable and empowering way. As Bae explains in an interview with Refinery 29, “our very existence would be our mission; Femme expression and representation is Syro’s mission.”
Strides in Syro heels combat the perpetuated gender norms of our society and encourages individuals to dress more freely. Syro is a long-awaited answer to non-conforming men and gender fluid people searching for heels that would grant them the opportunity to dress to their preference in a comfortable way. By delivering to this market, Syro exemplifies that there is a high demand for clothing and shoes for gender-queer people. Providing ample options for free expression represents the defiance against what society has, so far, accepted as normal and appropriate for people to wear based upon gender.
The accessibility and designs of Syro are also made to normalize the femme expression. With a range of styles and heights, their heels can be worn in a variety of settings. Men casually wearing heels throughout daily life is a concept that society has yet to accept, but the exposure of Syro heels shows true progress in society. Gender non-conforming clothing is not limited to LGBTQ+ events, but instead is a way of life that should be standardized and accepted everywhere and for any occasion.
Syro’s mission not only serves to broad market of people, but also serves society and the fashion industry in illustrating that gender fluidity plays a large role in how people dress and how they perceive dress. Bae and Han’s goals in establishing Syro are steps in the right direction for societal acceptance and equality of all people, regardless of their gender expression.