Men’s footwear segment is moving towards stunning designs, advanced artistic craftsmanship, finest artisanship and better service. Being a culturally diverse country, India has fashion slant of every culture, and that’s the obvious reason why numerous leading footwear brands are also venturing into more areas, and they unfailingly continue to launch new designs, patterns and concepts.
– By N Bobo Meitei
India is world’s second largest footwear producer after China, with footwear production accounting for approximately 9 per cent of the global annual production of 22 billion pairs. Categorically, men’s footwear industry has showcased a steady increase in terms of growth because of factors such as rising disposable income combined with the increasing awareness of international fashion trends. Majority of the Indian footwear market is men’s that accounts for nearly 58 per cent of the total Indian footwear retail market. Non-leather footwear accounts for 1.23 billion pairs, or 56 per cent of the footwear market in India.
“Men’s footwear in India is the fastest growing segment. According to the prevailing and emerging trends in the footwear industry globally, the Indian footwear industry holds a crucial place in the Indian economy given its immense social and economic contribution. We have been the largest producer of footwear for decades. With the rising disposable incomes of the customers, India’s domestic footwear market is booming. Rising incomes, advent of globalisation, improved employment and living standards in the country has led to the expansion in the size of Indian domestic market. Unorganised has always overpowered the organised sector in footwear industry,” says Anupam Bansal, Director, Liberty Shoes.
While the industry is dominated by the unorganised SME footwear players, but with changing consumer behaviour and modern lifestyle, the organised footwear retail segment has started shaping up in India.
Anupam claims that the current trend has encouraged the footwear industry to build on newer technologies and introduce better products. “We have done well with the casual range and the comfort range. This has motivated us to launch a fresh brand called Leap 7X and Healers that has seen a tremendous response in the marketplace and the retails footprint for the same is growing exponentially Surviving in such a small sector with so much completion has been a task but we try to maintain. Additionally, e-commerce also becomes an important channel of sales for men’s footwear in the country in order to attract new customers over the internet,” he stresses. Liberty shoes offers footwear collection of sport shoes, casual shoes, slippers, sandals shoes for Men at an affordable range to ensure their maximum comfort and safety.
Men’s footwear market has always been the centre of attraction for international players over the last few years, and the homegrown footwear brands are adding Indian elements to their brand narrative, culture, emotion, and overall appeal. Additionally, e-commerce platforms have also become an important channel of sales for men’s footwear in the last few years. An unparalleled development in e-commerce, due to rapid internet penetration across India, signifies the favourable prospects for the industry. As a result, Indian manufacturers are increasingly using online mediums to connect with the fashion-driven consumer through a carefully designed personalised experience.
Anupam states that Liberty has built confidence in their products and has always desired to provide innovative products to our customers. “Whether it is the Force 10 range in 1990 to Healers in 2017’ the products have impacted the markets and have been runway successes.In the journey we have held our partners in high esteem and kept them updated and in the loop with sales tools that has helped them sell in their markets,” he stresses.
From a basic need-based industry, Indian footwear market has rapidly turned into new fashion and style category. The Indian men’s footwear market is expected to grow at a higher rate in the country compare to women’s . With the evolution of shoe fashion, we see a new trend popping out probably every month in the fashion houses, he maintains.
Factors such as constant innovation in styling and technology, taking inspiration from around the world and making sure that the comfort factor are not compromised, thus making the brand unique and playing major role in shaping the segment, asserts Bansal.“We have been able to introduce some best practices at the product development, manufacturing and the retail level that has helped the brand salience and better deliveries to the consumer. Every brand under Liberty Group caters to a different target segment and makes sure the accomplishment of utmost contentment of our customer. Liberty Group is constantly trying to proliferate in the Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets to expand its presence and make the availability of the best shoe brand all over the country. We have diversified our collection for men introducing Leap 7X sports shoes range and Healers with intriguing designs.”
As for Chennai-based men’s footwear brand Toni Rossi the significant development in the segment has enabled it to strongly place itself. Its director Tanveer Avroor says,“We are taking strides to keep growing and making sure to keep up with the fast-paced market and to deliver the best pair of masterpieces to the customers. We have seen an immense response from North India and the demand is upward and healthy. Growing brand consciousness and social media explosion has helped customers to understand the product value better.”
Tanveer maintains that the brand has been working actively to navigate its way to the western region of the country it believes the market has shown positive response and acceptance of its products.
He asserts that the shortcomings Indian brands usually face is the unclear calendar planning of EOSS (end of season sale) periods, and it has become a huge concern, and, he thinks, has to be channelized. “Brands should become more customer-focused and dish out products which are high on style and quality consistently. As a brand we are not limiting ourselves to a particular category, but loafers have been performing really well for us.”
Another formidable brand in the segment is Red Chief. Its Managing Director Manoj Gyanchandani says that Red Chief is well established as a leading genuine leather brand in India in the segment, and for over 21 years now it has wide base of loyal customers across length and breadth of the country. The Kanpur-based brand, with state-of-the-art manufacturing units, has robust distribution network and its product lines are available to customers at 5000-plus multi-brand outlets, 150-plus exclusive stores and on all leading e-commerce platforms.
Manoj is equally hopefully of the segment’s growth in India because of increasing urbanisation, high disposable income even in tier 2 and 3 markets, and people’s aspiration level and quest for branded products. “Thanks to internet connectivity which takes fashion all nook and corners at lightning speed unlike past. Our portfolio includes outdoor, casual and formal footwear .Casual and outdoor sells like hot cake,” he states. “Indian consumers are highly price sensitive and wants best of the quality at nominal price. Many brands make mistake by compromising on the quality front for short term gains. We are a highly consumer-centric brand, and quality remains at our forefront.”
Indian men’s footwear choices are constantly evolving with fashion trends.Though several choices could be periodic, but some basic trends never go out of fashion. It could be wearing environment friendly, hand-crafted shoes that are made of recyclable materials and yet bring comfort. The segment is moving towards stunning designs, advanced artistic craftsmanship, finest artisanship and better service. Being a culturally diverse country, India has fashion slant of every culture, and that’s the obvious reason why numerous leading footwear brands are also venturing into the Tier III and II cities, and they unfailingly continue to launch new designs, patterns and concepts, with consistent focus on consumers, only confirming that it will thrive.