Leather footwear startup aims to tap Indian market based on parent co.'s expertise in Europe
Leather footwear startup aims to tap Indian market based on parent co.'s expertise in Europe
With increasing disposable income, the love to splurge on fashion and lifestyle has turned into a cosmopolitan culture; which has given retailers and e-tailers an opportunity to cash in on the growing luxury retail industry.
Following the footsteps of its parent company, VAPH emphasises on design and product development with an aim of producing footwear that is fashionable, comfortable and durable.
When it comes to footwear, women are very selective some prefer bold hues and some go for classic designs, revealed Harish Nekkanti, Director, VAPH, during a candid chit-chat with Retailer Media. 
Tell us about the inception of your brand?
VAPH is an all-leather footwear brand that was started to cater to the need for high fashion shoes that do not compromise on comfort. We began operations in January 2015. VAPH has a team that comprises leather experts, shoe construction technicians and shoe connoisseurs who have been part of the footwear industry for over 3 decades catering specifically to the European market. The parent company has been exporting to several high fashion brands across Europe for over 30 years and specialises in leather and leather textures. 
VAPH has a dedicated design team that strives for perfection when it comes to leather quality and comfortable shoe construction. VAPH offers a range of loafers, sandals, moccasins, lace-ups, clean-cut slippers, oxfords and boots for both women and girls.
The company aims to fill the gap in the Indian market for premium, high fashion, genuine leather footwear for women, men and kids at affordable prices. 
Who are your target consumers? What are your strategies to retain your loyal customers?
Our target customers would be people who are looking for contemporary, comfortable and high quality footwear at affordable prices. Our team's expertise in the European market allows us to be ahead of the curve on fashion trends that are at least a season or two ahead of most other markets. 
We emphasise a lot on comfort as most of them are used for daily wear. We do a lot of tests and see how it fits and works for different people. Based on the test results, we make corrections. We promise our customers that the shoes will last long, if they're well taken care of. We believe quality and customer experience to be the cornerstones of our brand and we plan to make every effort to deliver both without any compromise. 
Age wise, our footwear for little girls begin from age two. And for women, we cater to all the age groups.
How have you priced your products?
VAPH has its price range from Rs.2,200 up to Rs.7,000. Majority of the products are priced under Rs.4,000. 
How do you plan to compete with existing domestic and global footwear brands?
VAPH is very new to the Indian market and every day we are trying to understand and gauge the Indian market better. We strive to provide affordable luxury with every new collection, through our fresh designs with uncompromised quality and comfort. In terms of design and shoe construction, we are on power with any global brand, as we have a well seasoned team with over three decades of experience in footwear design and development who have worked with several European brands. Also, we give a lot of emphasis to quality control and the materials we use.
How do you promote your brand?
We believe that word of mouth is the best way to promote a new brand. That being said, VAPH gives social media priority as well. We like engaging our customers and use mediums like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to keep our customers interested and informed. 
Online is all about offers and discount. So what are strategies to maintain a balance between brand identity and attracting consumers?
Very true. Online portals offer discoverability based on discounts etc. Hence, unless discounts are given it's difficult for a new brand to gain visibility to potential customers. VAPH, however, does not believe in heavily discounting products to gain visibility. We bank on customer satisfaction from their first purchase to buy again and to help us spread the word by mouth.
What according to you are the emerging trends in this industry?
Closed shoes such as loafers, moccasins and oxfords are trends which are picking up in India. Also, people these days are more aware of good quality and genuine leather shoes. Patent leather is also a trend, which is emerging, as it's easier to maintain when compared to suede or any other leather. In terms of textures and prints, foil prints and floral prints are also trends, which are picking up.
What are your expansion plans for this fiscal?
We will be launching our own selling platform on our website (www.vaph.in) to further enhance our customer's experience. Our new collection of brogues, sandals and lace-ups are also going to be available soon, apart from other interesting collaborations we have planned. And we also plan to launch a men's range very soon!
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