Competitive footwear industry targets niche market

Footwear, an often ignored market is growing at a competitive rate in India. The latest trends show a compound annual growth rate of about 15 percent and a total market share of Rs 26,300 crores, according to industry body Assocham and consulting firms Technopak Advisors and Tecnova India.

With an annual production of nearly 300 crore footwear, the industry is certainly on the rise in the country.

Today, as the market is expanding, consumer needs are also changing. Now, people demand more styles and variation in footwear design, which has led to the emergence of the concept of 'bespoke footwear'.

Footwear designer Aprajita Toor, who started off as a jewellery technologist, feels that people love the concept of customized footwear, as they can choose what they want and in the colour they want.

Toor started off four years back with fashion store Mogra in Bengaluru, incorporating old techniques of footwear and made them with different styles at her Chembur factory. Her designs combine Indian aesthetics with an international twist. But her love for Indian craft is omnipresent, as she brings traditional elements into all of her creations.
Every design of mine carries a touch of Kolhapuri," said Toor.

Currently, Aprajita's quirky designs cater both to women and children. The designer feels creativity is a must to succeed in the industry, though she adds, that as a designer, you learn a lot of skills on the job as you understand consumers' likes and dislikes.

She also cautions that it is not one of the easy industries to survive in.

"The industry is male-dominated. All artisans in my factory are men, though there are women also, but, they mostly work from home," said Aprajita.

She adds that communication is another barrier she encounters while conversing with local artisans.

"Local craftsmen have their colloquial linguists and techniques for footwear making. But it gets difficult sometimes to communicate to them how exactly you want them to create a footwear or how to design it," said Aprajita.

Aprajita also mentions that there is serious dearth of footwear designers in the country. But she seems ready to face the new challenges in her field, as she hopes to design footwear for men as well in the future. Her other future plans include opening her own store in Mumbai soon.

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