From a daily need to a style statement: The evolution of footwear industry in India

In the beginning, the footwear market in India was functionality driven. However, it has now become more vastly studied and detail-oriented.
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The Indian footwear industry has come a long way. From a basic need-based industry to a pre-eminent part of the overall fashion and lifestyle market — the footwear sector is one of the most rapidly augmented industries globally.

The rising demands for new and innovative footwear and the emergence of various global and regional brands across categories in the segment are the primary driving force of the market. 

Be it personalised choices or customised products, brands are analysing various ways to bridge the gap in shoppers’ requirements.

For the women's footwear industry, newer collections, categories, and segments are introduced in the sector with styles such as loungewear sliders, kitten heels, and occasion specific footwear.

All this is pushing industry leaders to consistently innovate their offerings for consumers.

The consumer desire and market availability 

In the beginning, the footwear market in India was functionality driven. However, it has now become more vastly studied and detail-oriented.

Consumers are well educated and savvy about their surroundings, and people are more conscious about sustainable development. Over time, brands have figured out these demands and are exploring more sustainable options to create environment-friendly products.

Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free alternatives have become extremely common as consumers are now aware of the leather industry's effects on the environment and animals.

A conscious switch

For a long time, fashion labels were dependent on inferior quality synthetics and unsustainable materials, putting a heavy price on the environment. However, the process of recycling and upcycling is now an innovative concept, which is now adopted by most brands across the world. 

While recycling converts material into something of roughly the same value as the original product, upcycling converts the material into something that can be used to craft a brand-new high-quality product.

Plastic waste from the ocean is also recycled and used to produce a wide variety of products for retail purposes. Some of the world’s most popular brands are using this technique to create products like shoes, dresses, skateboards, and more.

Another innovative technique is the scrap acquired from natural leather or other natural materials recycled to make footwear soles and footbeds.

Increasingly, brands across the globe are taking a fresh look at the journey of the footwear industry. More than a style statement, innovation and sustainability will now go hand in hand. 

Innovative techniques and sustainability

Beyond sustainability, globally, brands are now looking for ways to make their delivery processes sustainable.

Green transportation company Neoline is a 100 percent renewable, clean, and free energy utilisation company. With an increase in purchases and worldwide delivery, sustainability adds to the brand's overall affinity.

In fact, some high-end retailers have a dedicated space called ‘Restory’ — essentially a remodelling process performed on-demand to restore the customer’s favourite products to their former glory. The process is one of the most elegant and environmental-friendly ways to consume.

Moreover, innovative materials and technologies, even extending a product's longevity, is a great way to change the fashion landscape. 

A sophisticated and environmental-friendly option of synthetic leather — Mylo leather — manufactured by a Californian company is gaining popularity in the fashion and retail space.

Produced from mushrooms through their biological origin, this alternative solution is sourced directly from nature, making its composition renewable. Mylo leather goods company had previously partnered with some of the world's best-known athleisure and luxury brands as a raw material supplier. 

Homegrown Indian brands are now adapting to use Piñatex as an alternative — a leather substitute made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves. This innovation helps eradicate the consumption of leather from the fashion syllabus altogether.

Packaging materials produced from bananas and jute are gaining popularity in the Indian fashion scene to achieve processes that are independent and environment-friendly.

Edited by Suman Singh

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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