Saloni Khanna, 31, a lawyer, has red peep toe shoes to go with her short red dress, a blue chunky heel pair to match her long churidar set and black mules for that little black top over denims. “Besides the casual, party and daily wears, I have also picked up night wear, weekend wear, garden wear, beach wear and sturdy multiple-time wear pairs,” she said.
Increasingly, big city consumers are adding to their footwear ranges as full ensembles – apparel and matching accessories – gain traction.
Designer Anita Dongre said: “While earlier, shoes were necessities, today they’ve turned into accessories, giving rise to the concept of shoe fashion. Increasing disposable incomes, international travel and the growing presence of international shoe brands in India have led men and women to get more choosy on the footwear they buy.”
“I do not want to be seen in the same shoes all the time when there’s so much out there in shoe fashion,” said Niharika Khan, 27, an advertising professional. “There’s so much bling in footwear, it’s actually like wearing not shoes but feet accessories.”
Several international brands, including Jimmy Choo, Etro, Paul Smith, Canali, Bottega Veneta and Armani at the luxury end and the likes of Pavers at the premium end, have entered India. Canadian brand Woodlands has been around for some time. A number of new Indian brands are also offering good quality, trendy stuff.
Manish Gupta, who’s just about to start a job after his MBA, observed that when he went shoe shopping at Shoppers Stop, he saw several brands with English names that the salespersons said were actually manufactured by Indian companies, except for Lee Cooper. “And while I picked up a formal office pair, I also picked up a semi-formal pair that I really liked – you can’t really wear sports shoes for all outings.”
“One of the most noticeable shifts happened when they started making shoes in a variety of colours, other than the customary black, white and brown. People sometimes actually buy a shoe and then look for an outfit to match,” observed Deepika Gehani, creative director, Genesis Luxury, which brought luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo to India.
She added: “Bling is synonymous with Indians, who love glitter, particularly in gold and silver, probably because they complement Indian attire really well and are colour-versatile. At Jimmy Choo, while we do offer the entire selection, we alter the depth to suit the Indian buyer’s tastes.” The brand is popular for its Swarovski-encrusted heels, retailing at over Rs 1 lakh.
The unbranded streetside footwear seller is equally happy with bling. Manoj Sharma, who sells bling footwear at Mumbai’s Linking Road, said, “In the past eight months, I have sold 20-25 pairs of shoes featuring artificial stones, sequins and laces, daily.”
Lavina Rodrigues Pinto, marketing manager of footwear brand Mochi, said, “Even the most casual of outfits stand out when paired with a glittering, shiny pair of shoes. Most of the bling stuff is produced in India itself.” She said that in 2012, Mochi sold bling footwear worth over Rs 8 crore.
While bling works with women, men too have started buying more pairs. “Men look to combine fashion and functionality. While in their day shoes they primarily look for comfort, they have started buying into fashionable options for the evenings and occasions,” Gehani said.
Tapping into the ensemble trend is Fashion 365 Retail, exclusive retailers for Aviraté in India. “Aviraté offers the entire range of apparel and accessories, including footwear, to complete the ensemble. With evolving fashion trends, it is imperative to offer a wide variety of shoes to complement every look and occasion,” said the company’s director, Jahid Osman.