Playing footsie

Playing footsie

Playing footsie

Trends are temporary while fashion is permanent, style expertsremind. Take for instance, the footwear industry.

From vintage classic to the contemporary —shoes, sandals, boots and slippers, all have undergone massive changes in terms of their make, styling and appeal in the market. Like ethnicity, for example. From clothes, food, and even the shoes we slip our feet into, going back to the basics seems a frequent mantra these days.

“It prompts us to root for our   originality and embrace indigenous items and services in our daily activity,” says shoe designer Aprajita Toor. Thus mojaris, jutis, Kolhapuri
sandals or chappals, plus nagrai shoes mostly occupy the footwear racks during wedding and festive seasons. Sherwanis and lehengas, saris and dhotis, salwar suits and kurta
pajamas, all Indo-ethnic wear finds a perfect match in desi footwear.

“Kolhapuris in heels and a lot of peep-toes and pumps can go along with Indian attires,” suggests Aprajita.Traditionally handcrafted by artisans, these Indian footwear are usually cut out of a single leather piece or a patch of textile and further embroidered and embellished with brass nails, cowry shells, mirrors, bells and ceramic beads.

Experimenting with fashion

Every fad leads to experimentation and the shoe fashion is no different as creative minds work out ways to beat the ordinary and walk that extra mile. “Noticeably, pom pom sandals and shoes are much in vogue now. And we were one of the early birds to catch on this trend,” shares Aprajita, who had introduced her first line of pom pom-Kolhapuri collection in 2012 and ever since, the trend has been in vogue.

Style becomes all the more fun when spun with an inventive twist. As footwear plays an important role in an ensemble, the task becomes all the more challenging to make it noticeable and yet comfortable to wear. “The mojaris and Kolhapuris have always been a preferred choice by our customers while placing orders to team their traditional costumes and wedding outfits. So, we took chances on this score and the results are showing! We simply attached the jutis and mojaris to heels and the Kolhapuris on high heels to induce that desired key element to a traditional tale,” explains Aprajita.
For designer Neha Kumthekar (of accessible luxury brand ‘Oceedee’), the domestic wardrobe is finely complimented when worn with “heel sandals, peep-toe wedges, a stylish double d’orsay (the side or ‘vamp’ of the shoe is cut very close to the sole in order to accommodate wider feet) pointed pump, customised in materials, namely metallic leathers, silk or satin textiles, besides glitter or in pastel colours”. These options come handy as nowadays people are more forthcoming about adopting fusion fundas.

“Footloose and fancy-free youngsters can happily pair up an ethnic piece with casual slacks, palazzos, denim jeans and a tee, long dresses or skirts. This lends a nice feel to one’s look,” she suggests.

Designer Pranay Baidya segregates the choices of footwear between men and women. “Every woman needs a classic pair of gold wedges that flatters most outfits. However, much of the good work depends upon bespoke zardozi-embroidered stilettos to add glamour to the ethnic look,” he says.

For men, he feels, “A few pairs of embroidered jutis or slip-ons in neutral tones of beige, burgundy and black would add sartorial elegance to even a simple kurta-dhoti look, especially as home-grown fabrics form a vital part of the special occasion-oriented outfits.”

The streets of Kolkata are always abuzz with an abundance of traditional wares and their hawkers. Footwear is, of course, one such product where one can choose from a wide variety of shapes, sizes and shades on display over the crowded pavements or in plush stores. The roadsides of the long Esplanade stretch, shops in Chandni market or the famous Regal, Metro, Mochi outlets along the Grand Hotel arcade woo teeming customers from all spheres of life.

Growing demand

Other big cities and metros do not lag behind in catering to the rising demands of an upscale clientele base or managing the differing tastes of the middle class consumers. The streetside shoe bazaar at Bengaluru’s Koramangala region or down the posh Commercial Street and Brigade Road markets, the conventional Lajpat Nagar market in Delhi, the busy hub of Crawford market and shops in the Colaba, Juhu, Khar and Chowpatty areas of Mumbai do brisk business with their eye-catching footwear stock.

When it comes to pricing, there’s no doubt about the prevalence of a high-end luxury segment in footwear department. Nevertheless, the buyers can take heart in those low-cost plastic shoes at their disposal. It’s the safest bet in the muggy monsoons. In this season, footwear in golds, yellow, purple and silver are in much demand, says Aprajita and she vouches for materials like ‘vulcanised rubber’ to sport in the rains as that will “help protect your feet from getting damaged”.

True, maintenance is a big headache in moist conditions and her tips in this
regard include cleaning the shoes on a regular basis. Shoe cleaners come in the form of gels, sprays, liquids or creams. One can even use a soft brush to remove the sticky dirt, mud or soil from the surface of the shoe.

Designing footwear exclusively for women, Neha proposes PVC or polyvinyl chloride (third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer) as the in thing for this monsoon. “There have been some really interesting design innovations, courtesy this material,” she informs.

Usually applied in the soles and upper layers of modern shoes, PVC footwear can certainly add that breezy spring to your step. From candy tones to translucent
surfaces, PVC heels and pumps are already a superhit. The footwear palette revs up the gloomy weather with pink, sea green, orchid blue, coffee browns, monochromes and metallics.

Also, add to this an exciting punch of prints for all finicky buyers to select from. “Imagination is unlimited. The more you stretch it, the deeper you can delve into developing your ideas with uniqueness. So, if fabrics of clothes can be embroidered, why can’t shoes? Our bridal collection therefore offers our patrons an option to get embroidery done on their footwear and accordingly customise the same to complement their outfits,” shares Neha.

While ethnic fashion is the current craze, bling and glitter grab attention enough to bring that shine to your shoes and take care of its essential glam quotient. “Metallic colours and bling with shimmery sequins and crystals on your footwear can amp up the overall getup to chic and dressy,” echoes Aprajita.