bugatti has enjoyed a strong presence in India since 2007 when AstorMueller, the owner of the license for bugatti shoes worldwide, set up a large manufacturing base in the country. AstorMueller is among the first few European shoemakers to recognize India’s capability in shoemaking.
In the years that followed, the brand expanded into a network of production facilities; equipping each with the latest manufacturing know-how and technologies to ensure that global quality and design standards are met in the country. Finally, in 2015, the brand was ready to test market bugatti shoes in the Indian retail space.
“We launched the brand on the Jabong platform at Lakmé Fashion Week. Three years hence, in 2018, we appointed Iconic Fashion Retailing as our exclusive India retail partner and distributor; thereby venturing into the brick-and-mortar format and into Iconic stores. This was followed by shop-in-shops in departmental stores and multi-brand shoe stores, especially e-commerce platforms with the marketplace players such as Myntra, Tata CLIQ, and Amazon,” says Sirish Kumar, CEO - India and Global Sourcing Director, AstorMueller.
“In the 3rd quarter of 2020, we opened the first exclusive brand store at Select CITYWALK, Saket, New Delhi. How well have consumers accepted the brand matters to us as much as the brand’s retail presence. Given the premium segment of the brand, and the impressive yet select number of physical stores bugatti shoes retail out of, we are happy with the equity the brand enjoys. For instance, we recently had a customer visiting our exclusive store who bought multiple pairs of bugatti shoes at one go – the single invoice totaling Rs 87,000. The wow factor for the customer was all about how well a bugatti shoe fits. This is just part of the three things that makes bugatti shoes stand out in the domestic and international retail space – the perfect fit, superior-quality materials, and top-of-the-trend design,” he further adds.
Today, bugatti Shoes is growing at 60 percent annually in India. The brand eyes to be one of the top 5 premium shoe brands in 5 years.
“We always deliver ‘The Latest from Europe’ – current and trend-strong shoe fashion to our retail partners and consumers. Currently, our entire inventory is on an Omnichannel retail model. An online order can be delivered from a nearby offline store. And bringing mortar-and-click together, very soon, and offline customers at our exclusive store will be able to order from our online catalog. 2021 will see us expand from 1 to 3 EBOs,” Kumar shares.
Embedding Technology in Shoe-Making
Technology is something that the brand embeds not only into the shoes that they craft but even in their processes.
“We have state-of-the-art technology and shoe development centers. Our rapid prototyping brings new ideas to life in the shortest possible time. Our international design team is aided by in-house advanced R&D analysis software to stay current on international shoe trends and market dynamics,” explains Kumar.
“Coming to the shoes, there is a host of advanced high-tech features that all spell unmatched walking comfort. And it is not just limited to our sneakers but also present in the formal Oxfords, derbies, and even slip-ons,” he further adds.
Impact of Pandemic
With the Work-from-Home model, there certainly has been an impact on work-wear wardrobe choices. Power Dressing is out. People have gravitated to Smart Casual.
“To this end, bugatti shoes has registered an exceptional growth. The casual footwear segment has been growing for the past few years, but the pandemic took it to new heights. Essentially a result of people opting for relaxed casual wear in apparel for which, and to complete the look, they opt for casual footwear. With our responsive, year-round collections, we were able to address this shift and growth in demand. We even launched a Work from Home collection in SS21,” he states.
Betting Big on India
At present, India contributes 0.6 percent to the global revenue and in the next 5 years, the brand is hopeful that it will hit 4 percent. This said the brand has a strong Indian DNA. Designed in Europe, with responsibly sourced materials from the best in the world, a vast majority of bugatti shoes, close to 73 percent, are manufactured in India. India is one of the most important and promising markets for the brand, both in terms of manufacturing and retail.
“The Indian footwear industry is at a very interesting crossroad. With changing lifestyles and increasing affluence, demand for international brands is projected to grow at a faster rate than has been seen. More international players are entering the Indian market,” he says.
“As one of the most desired international premium shoe brands, bugatti offers a diverse range to Indian consumers. We have shoes for all occasions, for both men and women. Our styles are avant-garde, riding the wave of predictive fashion. We are trendsetters, not just in Europe, but across the 36 countries, our brand is present. Our offerings in Europe are what will be in India, in real-time, and this remains a key advantage. Growth in the Indian shoe market is very connected to pricing and reach. We are priced just right for wide market acceptance,” he adds.
Expanding Production Capacity
As of now, 4 million out of 5.5 million shoes that the brand produces annually are made in India. That’s 73 percent of the total annual production. The brand plans to increase it to 90 percent in the next 3 years. This is in tandem with AstorMueller’s ambition to truly ‘Make in India for Glocal’.
“We design and produce a whole slew of categories, for both men and women. Going by recent times, in the women's collection, casual shoes are being rapidly accepted, while in the men's, semi-formal shoes and sneakers are cutting through in a space that seems less occupied. Keeping in purview how the pandemic has impacted shoe buying trends, this is in sync with the growing demand for smart-casual shoe fashion. This is the category where we had already predicted a growing demand and to which we have aligned our production infrastructure for expansion,” he adds further.
The company plans to take the brand available across all main and emerging markets, through various retail partners across India.
“A few select exclusive brand stores are already in the plan and much of it is underway. By the end of this year, we will have 3 EBOs in India. To reiterate, India remains and will always be one of the most important and promising markets for AstorMueller,” he concludes.