Best foot forward
One of the most influential families that I have personally known now for many years is the Ferragamo family. First I met Ferruccio Ferragamo many years ago, then his brother Leonardo and last year, during my luxury conference (Mint Luxury Conference) I invited their sister Fulvia to speak and there I met her as well. One thing that binds them all is that they all are wonderful people and they all are passionate about the work they do.
Ferruccio while speaking to me told me about how much care his brand Salvatore Ferragamo take while making footwear. The size, width, shape and length of human feet is meticulously taken into consideration and using the best of hides they then manufacture their shoes. While bidding goodbye he even handed me a copy of Walking Dreams written by his father, the legendary Salvatore Ferragamo. The book was a fascinating bundle of revelations. When I think of shoes, Salvatore Ferragamo always comes to my mind.
Of course, there are few other quality brands as well… My wife Neena who is the Editor of Marie Claire India swears by her first pair of Tod’s that she still wear, even after many years of wearing it, I love Beruti and John Lobb and of course, then fashion regulars Gucci, Prada, Vuitton, Burberry, etc.
Indian market now have many such luxury footwear brands as Ferragamo which many girls that I know says how comfortable they are to wear, Tod’s, Fendi, Jimmy Choo and my good friend Christian Louboutin told me his brand will soon be hitting the Indian market. Christian should do well here as his name and brand is known well among the Indian fashion conscious. Guiseppe Zanotti is another brand that can compliment the stylish Indian woman but I guess it’s taking its time in entering the Indian market.
Indian luxury industry is driven by shoes and accessories of luxury brands and often, when I walk into the stores on routine visits I some time see good merchandise displayed quite distastefully. While walking into the same brand’s store in Europe one will see that their marketing tact also included in visually appealing visual merchandising. I must confess this is not the case all the time, but the fact is that I have also seen them displayed in a haphazard manner. Aesthetic display and unhindered views would definitely help sell better.
Once I walked into a luxury footwear brand store with my wife and the salesman in a smart suit out rightly told us that they don’t make her size… size 36! But another was quick to interject and we walked out with my wife smiling with her new pair of shoes.
But still I feel there is still enough room for improvement while sourcing the merchandise for most brands. I am not quite sure how the merchandising is done for most of these brands but some season I see them on the racks which I feel not appealing for the Indian women. But then, if they are selling they should be happy. But I suspect most brands are not really happy with their sales and I wonder how many of them have even broken even.
Of course bloopers too happen even after paying heftly for these shoes. Once I was sitting in an airplane from Sao Paolo to New York and the Wall Street banker sitting next to me suddenly pointed out to my right foot and murmured into my ear, “you sure everything’s right with your shoe?” I looked at my $500 shoe and found that it looked like a crocodile with open mouth. On landing at the JFK I went to Queens and bought a pair of sneakers for $20 and I still wear them after many years. That’s kind of disheartening. And after my return to India I called the country manager of the brand and he was quick to replace the same with another, better pair. My wife’s recently bought pair of expensive footwear started peeling off from the top and I had taken it to the brand two weeks ago. I am still waiting to hear from them as to what they proposed to do!
While some of these brands may be struggling with their existence here, the fact is that today Indian men and women who can afford it have a fairly good range of brands to choose from. They all are leaders in their own right and they are here. Reason enough to out your best foot forward, wouldn’t you say?