Designer for your feet

Designer for your feet

Designer for your feet

DESI STYLE Indian-made designer shoes are becoming popular owing to their chic quotient and affordability. Surekha Kadapa-Bose talks to experts in the field to track trends.

High life really comes with high heels. Don’t believe it? Then you need to check out the celebrities, film stars and the Page 3 wannabes falling head over heels to be dressed in the right shoe, especially designed by Indian designers to “conquer the world” as Marilyn Monroe said it. Desi brands like Veruschka, The Yellow Polka, Rohan Arora, Taramay, AKA Bespoke, Varoin Marwah, Turquoise, Vanilla Moon, Rungg and several others are fighting it out with  the Christian Louboutins, Jimmy Choos, Alexander McQueens and Manolo Blahniks of the world to adorn your dainty feet.

The Indian-designed shoe market may still be in a fledgling state, but it’s promising enough to be noticed. The dawn of designer and customised footwear has begun. Until a couple of years ago, men and women thought only of designer clothes, jewellery and bags. Footwear was designated only to ‘match the attire’. But things have changed since the fame haute couture shoe czar Christian Louboutin announced: “A woman carries her clothes. But the shoe carries the woman! A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk.”

Within your reach

The absence of the right combination of style and comfort has been the reason for the emergence of this new breed of desi shoe designers. According to Payal Kothari, designer of Veruschka, the Mumbai-based brand produces about 100-150 pair of handcrafted footwear per month, which are priced between Rs 2,000-Rs 10,000 a pair.

Foreign brands, though considered ultimate in style and comfort, lag behind the home-grown brands due to their steep prices. For middle-class Indians, there is nothing on offer below Rs 40,000 from the foreign brands. But luxury accessory brand Taramay, by
Delhi’s Nayantara Sood, retails its wedges, stilettos etc in the price range of Rs 2,500 to Rs 7,000. Ekta Sethi of Rungg offers hand embroidered footwear, using the traditional embroidery stitches like kantha, phulkari, kashmiri and others on her shoes, at   competitive prices.

Nowadays, even well-known designers such as Ritu Kumar, Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Vikram Phadnis are sourcing out suitable footwear for their fashion shows from Indian footwear designers. So are film stars like Anushka Sharma, Kajol and Deepika Padukone to name only a few. Not to forget, industrialists like Ambanis, Goenkas, Birlas and the like.

Kolkata’s Rohan Arora made an entry into luxury footwear category in 2010 having apprenticed with local shoemakers. Besides shoes made from cow hide, he offers those made from ostrich hide and even skin from chicken feet. While ladies shoes are priced between Rs 2,500 and Rs 24,000, men’s shoes are up for grabs for as low as Rs 5,000. A year ago, Rohan made a shoe from gold, using ruby as embellishment for a bride in Kolkata. Of course, he is unwilling to reveal what his client paid for the stiletto pair, but given the precious metal and stones used it’s anybody’s guess that it wouldn’t have cost less than Rs 35 lakh!

Personalised beauties

Made-to-order or bespoke shoes make the option of buying from Indian designers an attractive option for many. You order and get the footwear of your choice made with
materials, embellishments and design you choose. Besides genuine leather, fabric, canvass, faux leather, leatherite etc. are the more popular material used in India-made footwear.

The Yellow Polka shoes by Shinam Seth are quirky, colourful and, of course, stylishly comfortable and are priced upwards of Rs 1050. Shinam says, “There is a massive potential in the designer footwear market. People are willing to spend, if the designer is able to maintain the quality and is willing to customise and experiment with design.”

For designers like Varion Marwah, the key is to source the designs and raw materials from the right place. The Dubai-based Indian origin designer sources them from karigars based in and around Kolkata. “We use only natural fabrics such as  jute and canvas as they are comfortable, breathable, lightweight and yet very fashionable,” he says.

With customisation gaining popularity maybe the fairy tale of Cinderella’s glass story and her Prince Charming will turn into a reality.

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