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From loafers to stilettoes

The Indian leather world has now set its eyes on new designs for women's footwear, reports Nandini R Iyer.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2006 14:19 IST
Nandini R Iyer
Nandini R Iyer

Men have it easy. Black, brown or tan — their choice of shoes doesn't go beyond the obvious, generally.

Compare that with colours that range from mauve to ecru, heels that vary from stiletto to wedge, and styles that speak of strings, straps and sensuality. There is a shoe stalker in most women and it is not easy to please them.

For long, India, the second largest shoe producer in the world, forgot them and stuck to making and exporting men's formal shoes.

Now things are changing in the Indian leather world, which plans to shoe the Carrie Bradshaws of the world.

Sources say that the Council for Leather Exports, Chennai, which serves as a nodal agency for the industry, has asked member firms to come up with fashionable designs for women's footwear.

Though over 50 per cent of the global demand for footwear from Asian countries is for women's shoes, only 20 per cent of India's shoe export is women's footwear.

As an industrialist says, "We are losing out on the demand for women's footwear because we aren't producing enough. In fact, India's share of global footwear import market is 2 per cent."

Getting a toehold of the world mart won't be easy. Industry experts say they have to quickly come up with new designs as style changes in women's footwear faster than you can say Jimmy Choo.

The Council for Leather Exports has asked exporters to come up with cheaper shoes to take on low-cost, made-in China footwear. Also, tap the US where Manolo Blahnik, Prada and Gucci tattoo the sidewalks.

First Published: Apr 03, 2006 14:19 IST