Fashion Talk
Aprajita Toor

Aprajita Toor

Founder
Aprajita Toor

We constantly experiment with different materials

The creations by Aprajita Toor were born out of a deep desire to create unique footwear for women. Toor speaks about the footwear market in India, the brand's target audience and the challenges of surviving in the handcrafted niche.

Fibre2Fashion : What factors are shaping the growth of the footwear segment?

Aprajita Toor:

Increasing demand for sports shoes and designer shoes are responsible for the major growth of the footwear market. Footwear comprises athletic and nonathletic footwear made of different materials such as leather, plastic and rubber, among others. Purchase of footwear has doubled over the past few decades and introduction of different designs and styles has helped in the retention of customers and grabbed the attention of new customers as well. 

The last few years have seen a leap in the percentage of Indians connecting to the internet, which coupled with increasing penetration and awareness of social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter have connected the urban and rural people to the latest trends and designs in the footwear segment. This has led to an increase in the demand for designer footwear in all sectors in the Indian market. With the rise in the number of digital payment options and improvements in online banking channels, more people are confidently shopping for footwear online; which has created a surge in the footwear business. The Indian market is expected to grow annually by 12.6 per cent (CAGR 2019-23).

Fibre2Fashion : What are your thoughts on GST for the footwear sector?

Aprajita Toor:

The introduction of GST brought about great anguish for Indian footwear manufacturers as the tax rates on footwear were pegged at 18 per cent. Footwear, which is a highly capital intensive business with tight margins of profit, was severely affected by the introduction of GST. The Indian customer is highly sensitive in spending habits, and manufacturers were pushed to absorb the GST in a way as not to cause a sudden increase in product prices. This caused a further reduction in margins for small manufacturers.  Although the government allowed input credit, footwear manufacturing being more labour-intensive, this benefit did not translate into much saving for manufacturers. The footwear industry has been requesting the government to consider reducing the GST rates on footwear to 12 per cent to allow the industry to continue growing and be able to improve its position in the global market.

Fibre2Fashion : What innovations are you working on in terms of fibres, soles, and linings in terms of technology and production? What are the materials that you use?

Aprajita Toor:

Our key focus has always been the comfort, along with style. We strive to develop technology that is suitable for the betterment of our environment keeping in mind the health and comfort for the wearer. We started using 'memory foam cushion' for comfort and health. We are experimenting with different materials for heels which are light in weight and friendly to the environment. We are constantly experimenting with different material forms-from leatherette (non-leather) to leather to textile. From full grain to top grain, experimenting with bonded leather and leatherette, a technique used to recycle and bond the waste fabric.

Fibre2Fashion : What are the trends that you see?

Aprajita Toor:

Women and men are getting more aware with respect to comfort and style; today's consumer wants to experiment with styles and colours.

Fibre2Fashion : What are the challenges facing the Indian footwear industry?

Aprajita Toor:

Explaining to many consumers that there prevails a certain beauty in imperfection. Since it's purely handmade, no two shoes are replicas. Although more time consuming, handcrafting of footwear is superior to machine-made footwear as some techniques of making the footwear sturdy, comfortable and luxurious cannot be replicated by machines.  Since every human body is different from another, no two pairs of feet are the same. Footwear crafted by hand and customised can account for this variable quite easily when compared to machine manufactured products. Also, the error rate of handcrafted footwear is less than machine-made shoes as any deficiencies in the manufacturing process are quickly identified and corrected. However, in recent years, much of the Indian youth have taken up jobs in the service industry and abandoned learning the art of traditional footwear, which has led to a great loss of age old techniques and expertise. This knowledge is slowly being lost, and it is becoming increasingly challenging to engage the youth of today to learn and take up the art of footwear made by hand. (HO)

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