Time to step into big shoes
While India's footwear industry focusses on design and creativity, non-regular shoe sizes are the toughest to find. With big-footed consumers suffering the most, The Guide traces their footprint
What is common between Michelle Obama, Audrey Hepburn, Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton and Kate Winslet? Apart from the fact that all are or have been influential women in their respective domains, the other aspect that binds them is that each has big feet. While that might not pose as a problem for these celebrities, Indians with a similar predicament, can’t say the same.
Although the Indian footwear market is abuzz with avant-garde designs and styles when it comes to shoes for men and women, finding the correct size for people with large feet can be quite an ordeal.
My (big) foot
Mansi Wathare, an advertising professional, who wears size 11, explains the dilemma, “Every time I go to buy footwear, either I return empty handed or I have to settle for a simple and basic design. Interesting designs that have been flooding the markets of late, are never created in my size.”
Industry insiders admit to the void and are looking at ways to cater to this segment. Nirali Ruparel, who runs men’s footwear brand Achilles’ Heel, which offers customised shoes in not just average but also big and small sizes, agrees that buying footwear in India has been a dreaded gamble as most local companies don’t make shoes that are larger than UK size 10.
“Even international luxury brands stock sizes depending on the average Indian feet size. Due to their genetic structure, and big build, many face issues while finding the right choice of shoes to fit them; it’s where we come in,” she says.
Ganesh Subramanian, Chief Merchandising Officer, Myntra.com echoes a similar stance and mentions that the market is gradually opening up for this segment to cater big feet requirements. Giving figures he specifies that currently, the opportunity in men’s sports and casual category is around 15% and 20%, respectively. However in the black and brown category the opportunity is as high as 25% in the big size segment. “We believe there is potential to grow the segment by another 5-10%, which is not being catered to currently. In women’s footwear, the opportunity is higher at around 30%,” he informs.
Shoe sized dilemma
However, shoe designer Swati Modo has another take to this situation. She feels that as a retailer it’s difficult for a store to stock peculiar sizes in all styles. “The best option is made-to-order or tailor-made shoes where one closely studies the feet and shoes are made, accordingly. This also can help in creating an illusion of foot size; say, making big feet look normal,” she suggests.
For big-footed guys
Co-founders of JupiterShoes have shared a similar frustration as those with big feet and are determined to change things. JupiterShoes is a specialised store for oversized footwear. Unlike other retailers, they maintain a handsome inventory in hard-to-find sizes. They deliver at your doorstep with free shipping, cash on delivery and free returns. So if your size is between 10 - 14, you know where to click.
Log on to www.jupitershoes.com
India’s big foot stars
Actresses such as Deepika Padukone and Bipasha Basu are often been quoted in print, complaining of their big feet.