Bringing global designs to India, this Delhi footwear brand clocks Rs 5 Cr turnover
Shashank Arya has always been passionate about shoes. This passion has led him to launch Heel & Buckle London that he aspires would become one of the most sought-after brands for premium footwear and accessories, catering to modern men and women of society.
Shashank Arya, Executive Director of DAR Group
Shashank comes from a business family. After completing his schooling and graduation from Chennai, he moved to Delhi where he joined the family business. The DAR Group, founded by Shashank's maternal uncle, CM Rajgarhia, is a well known for its real estate and manufacturing arms. Joining an established group (as an Executive Director) did not require many changes, but diversification into other verticals like fashion was waiting in the wings to happen. That’s how the opportunity to launch Heel & Buckle London landed as a subsidiary of the DAR Group.
Shashank says, “There was always an idea of connecting with an international brand or starting something off of our own and so we formed the brand Heel & Buckle London under the DAR group”
In a bid to start, Heel & Buckle London launched its multi-brand footwear and accessories store, Berleigh in 2017 in Mumbai. The brand, which was started to bring international taste to local shores, has tied up with manufacturing units in Spain, Portugal, and China. The raw materials are procured and manufactured in these countries.
The company has another Berleigh store in Delhi and is planning to establish footprints throughout India in the coming years.
Heel & Buckle London store
Bringing classic pieces to local lands
The biggest change that happened with Delhi-based Heel & Buckle London was the opening and expanding distribution channels, both online, as well as offline. It is available for sale on its website, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and ecommerce sites such as Myntra and Elitify. Shashank believes that "digital transformation is compelling companies to change their business models and adapt to the new market reality," he says, adding, "With the rise of social media, the brand receives more opportunities to build a personal relationship with their clients."
“We are partnering very soon with Amazon as well,” Shashank adds.
Social media might have helped them pull more crowds but the importance of brick and mortar remains irrevocable.
The DAR Group has partnered with outlets such as shoes and footwear brand Inc.5 and fashion giant Iconic. But these partnerships are done after putting a lot of parameters into perspective.
Shashank explains, “Inc.5 has 60 stores across India. But we are not representing all of them. We are very particular about the channels we partner with because they should relate to our brand, and their target audience should also connect to us. The idea is not to be present anywhere and everywhere.”
Heel & Buckle London collection
Catering to the needs of informed consumers
Shashank says, "In today’s time, consumers are well-travelled and educated about the products available in the market. Therefore, getting the right products and catering to the right audience is crucial.
The world footwear market is extremely crowded. According to industry analysis provider Allied Market Research, the global footwear market is expected to garner $371.8 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 5.5 percent during the forecast period 2015-2020.
Shashank is aware that the competition gets tougher with both smaller and bigger players, vying for dominant positions in the market. However, he refuses to be a part of any ‘rat race.’
He further adds that his brand differentiates in design which is classic, and he prefers not experimenting too much as a strategy to cling on. Additionally, he believes that the importance of brick and mortar stores cannot be ignored, no matter how much effort it takes to set them up. The fundamental motto is to keep the collection limited, but classy. The company is also able to clock a turnover of Rs 4 to Rs 5 crore annually.
Some mistakes made initially did act as stumbling blocks for Heel & Buckle London. But now, Shashank believes, it has cracked the code in terms of collection, processes and distribution channels. Distribution to all the outlets is done from its central warehouse in Mumbai.
Heel & Buckle London collection
The road ahead
Shashank says that expansion is on cards but it will happen gradually. He aims to make Heel & Buckle London a recognised brand not just in India but also internationally.
Commenting on future plans, he adds, “We want to expand all over India, but we are in no hurry.” The company is also planning to go global and is eyeing south Asian markets specifically.
He says, “We are also looking at countries like Dubai, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, and Singapore.”
(Edited by Suman Singh & Palak Agarwal)