European brand Buggati shoes is yet another foreign label coming into India to tap the country’s fashion-conscious population. Tim Müller, chairman of the AstorMueller enterprise, which designs and crafts the shoes, says fashion sensibilities in young Indians is growing very fast and that the retail climate is "good" too.
The brand is making its foray into the Indian market through fashion forward e-commerce site Jabong and will showcase its collection at the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week winter-festive 2015 on Saturday evening.
Tim says the reasons for coming to the Indian market are many.
"Fashion sensibilities in young Indians are growing very fast. E-commerce is driving changes in consumer choice across all towns and cities. The overall retail climate is good. There are a number of shoe brands already doing well, and some of them in segments closer to ours," he told IANS on the sidelines of the fashion gala.
"We have been closely associated with India for many years, through our manufacturing. Launching in India through Jabong.com was only a logical next step. As shoemakers, we want to put our best foot forward right from the start, and so we chose our moment," he added.
Tim said they chose the timing of the launch very carefully. In fact, he shared that they had an opportunity to launch the brand here a few years ago, but they held it back.
"At this time, we think Indian fashion consumers are transiting to a new level. They are being choosy and particular about how they dress, head to toe, both men and women. We see this, across various age groups. So yes, in many ways, we will help carve a new path for fashion retail in India, as many other fashion brands will too," he said.
The crucial thing to answer was not whether to enter the Indian market, it was "how", Tim shared.
"In that sense, yes, we think that there are today signs in fashion retailing favouring ordered stability alongside chaotic growth… signs that were not there before in such measure. E-commerce is one such sign," he added.
Talking about his view of the burgeoning Indian fashion industry, Tim said: "Indian fashion is very complex to me. There is so much happening. What is called ‘ethnic fashion’ at a mass level, is growing rapidly alongside western casual and party wear.
"And then there’s this movement concerning khadi, and this craft is being pursued by designers for Indian society’s upper strata."
Tim is also hopeful of a bright future for the market of bespoke shoes in India.
"There are good things at stake for bespoke shoes in India. I hear that many little shoemakers with their little shops still survive in even the big cities today. I believe that there is a certain type of consumer who desires the bespoke shoe.
"It exists in almost all markets around the world and I don’t see why India would be any different. Soon, the younger Indian will understand the value of such a shoe, that’s uniquely made to fit," said the grandson of Johann Müller, who in the 1920’s established The Johann Müller Workshop for Bespoke Shoes in Schwelm, Germany.
Tim’s father Hans Müller then expanded the business by launching Italian and Portuguese collections, while Tim joined the organisation as a trainee.
With his ability to anticipate shoe trends and market behaviour, Tim took the business to new heights, and knew that "filling in the ‘shoes’ of my father and grandfather was never going to be easy".
"Everyone wants a pair of good shoes. We wanted to deliver high quality shoes to more people. This simply meant more production, at the same high quality, but at happier prices. From the markets of Germany, we expanded to the rest of Europe and now we are in 35 countries," he said.