Saturday, 2 April 2016

Wear bling on your feet

Michael and Tresa have their hearts in their shoes. Footwear for them is not just business, but a pursuit of creativity. Each pair is like a work of art, they say. Inside their showroom at Convent Junction, they show you what they mean by that claim. Decked in gold, pearls, diamond, zari and shimmer, the footwear on display really seem like a labour of love. It is the “wedding collection”, says Michael Jose, the owner of the store. “Each piece is designed by us and handcrafted by fabric embroiderers in Mumbai,” he explains. His wife Tresa, who shares his passion for footwear, says the designs are mainly inspired by what is trending in the wedding fabric scene.

Antique and shimmer are the most in demand, though beads and sequins and all kinds of bling are in, too. “We have had brides who wanted their footwear to complement their wedding saris and gowns. If the dress isn’t too ornate, they want the shoes to do the business and vice versa. Some want their sari borders on their shoes, too. They share their ideas with us and we design it for them,” she adds.

Shadow, their recently-launched brand, specialises in custom-made wedding footwear. The footwear is made in one of the brand’s own manufacturing units in Kochi, while the specially-designed customised part is brought in from Mumbai and attached to the piece. Shadow works under its parent-brand Goldwin, one of Kochi’s earliest shoe-makers. Started 54 years ago by A.J. Jose, who is popularly known as Goldwin Jose, the brand introduced affordable, sturdy footwear to a relatively virgin market. Half a century later, the business has undergone tremendous changes, observes Michael. “There are many players, including international, in the market and competition is stiff. Online sales have also changed footwear shopping patterns a great deal,” he says. “In India, shopping for footwear online is still a little tricky, as we don’t have a consistent sizing system. Shopping for flats are safe, but when it comes to heels, size could vary,” warns Michael, which is why Shadow does an occasional online delivery of its flats though its FB page.

With the wedding season around the corner, Michael and Tresa and going to get busy. Though customisation is an exciting concept for the duo, the fact that footwear is still relegated to the final leg of trousseau shopping poses a challenge. “After all the hectic scouting for fabric, mixing and matching, footwear is almost always a last-minute dash. That is when we have a problem. Designing and getting the work done is a time-consuming process. The more time we get, the better the footwear would look,” she adds.

Goldwin has three manufacturing units in Kochi.

A traditional wedding sandal/slip-on/shoe has a resin or rubber sole with a silk in-sole. Embellished or not, even a basic pair looks like something out of an Indian fairytale—gold or silver coloured and slender. “Sheer and shimmer materials are increasingly popular,” says Tresa. Black sole covered in black beads are hugely in demand too, as they could be paired with any kind of outfit.

Though Kochi’s footwear sensibilities scale has never tipped to flamboyance, the wedding pair is an exception. Stiletto, wedges, peep-toes, kitten heels or the rare flats, the fancier the better. At Shadow, the to-be bride can even pick up a clutch to go with her special shoe. These too come in gold, silver, antique and black shades, all heavily bedazzled. The bridal-wear footwear ranges anywhere between Rs. 1,000 and 2,000.

Shadow also boasts a more-affordable, daily-wear range, which is very popular with the younger crowd. A funky colourful pair can be picked up at Rs. 300.

The options for bridal-footwear in Kochi today are plenty as brands in the business have everything on offer. “It is the goodwill of our parent brand that works in our favour. Goldwin is a name most people who have been in Ernakulam are familiar with and we bank on it,” says Michael.

Shadow can be found on FaceBook at ShadowKochi.
http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/michael-and-tresa-take-custom-made-wedding-footwear-a-step-higher/article8423378.ece

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