Bridging the gap, one step at a time
Updated: Jul 28
In My Experience… Abhishek Verma, Founder and CEO,
Abhishek Verma started Indiano Pelletteria in 2016 to bridge the gap between mass-market shoes and luxury designer shoes.
As shoemaking is a technical business, not many venture into it making competition sparse.
Despite financial constraints, in the beginning, he roped in international shoe designers to work for him on a revenue-sharing basis.
Now, his brand produces shoes that are on par with some of the biggest luxury brands at a fraction of their prices.
Due to the tight budget opening a store in some of the high-end locales was impossible.
His first stores opened in a mall and Panchkula. His brand has gathered pace ever since the market has grown, opening more avenues to collaborate with other premium brands that have only helped to promote his brand further.
The first few collections sold like hot cakes as his first clients were impressed by the craftsmanship and the prices.
He offers clientele a chance to try his shoes on for a few hours and see if they’re comfortable before buying.
Advises budding entrepreneurs to think logically and emotionally to ensure their brand flourishes.
Manners maketh man?
Sure, but a pair of good shoes maketh man dapper. In India, there are very few premium footwear brands that can produce premium designer shoes for men and not everyone can afford international luxury brands.
Keeping this gap in mind, Abhishek Verma started Indiano Pelletteria in 2016. The brand produces exquisite en vogue shoes that won’t burn a hole through your pocket. In this interview, he tells us about the brand’s origin, the importance of finances and how he leveraged a gap in the market to produce a stellar brand.
Q: Can you take us through your journey of launching Indiano Pelletteria. I know this started when you identified a gap for Indian footwear brands for men.
A: When I returned from Italy, I started researching to start my own company. In 2016, I visited different stores to learn about the market. I found a huge gap in the footwear business between the mass-market and luxury market. For example, mass-market brands like Hush puppies sold shoes between ₹5,000 and ₹10,000. If you needed something better you had to go to an international brand where the prices start at ₹50,000.
Another thing about footwear is that it’s a technical product. Not a lot of people venture into this business. That’s why I decided to launch a footwear brand that would bridge the gap between mass-market and luxury shoes. We offer the same luxurious quality at almost half the price.
Q: Your team started with very limited finances. Can you help our viewers understand, how did you manage to get the best team in place given the financial restrictions?
A: The initial investment is crucial for any entrepreneur. A strong team backing you is necessary too. Keeping this in mind, when I started speaking to international shoe designers, I found that they were asking for enormous salaries I couldn’t afford. But I needed them on board to become successful. So I adopted a different approach. I told them that we could start a revenue-sharing partnership. I would give them a fixed amount in the beginning. Other than that, I would offer them a portion of the earnings when their shoes were sold. A few designers conceded and the result was that some of my shoes are on par with Jimmy Choo or even Versace.
Q: The brand originated understanding a gap in the Indian market. Was it a challenge to develop and educate the consumers about the value of high-end footwear?
A: One thing was clear at the start, I was the only one who would have to speak to the customers because only the person who created the product can explain its value. On speaking to them, I was surprised to find that a lot of consumers already knew about the technicalities. They were surprised to learn the prices I was selling Goodyear Welted shoes at. After a few conversations, I realised my collection would fly off the shelves. The product’s finish also changes the way it is perceived.
Certain customers who were unaware of the technicalities asked if the shoes were comfortable. I gave them a choice to try them on for eight hours and if they were still unhappy, they could return them, free of cost. This helped me expand and retain my customer base and also get new customers.
Q: What were the challenges you faced while putting your brand in the Indian Luxury market?
A: I was ready with my products but then the question was getting the right clientele. Most would go to known locations that had high-end stores. In Delhi, at that time, there was just DLF Emporio and Khan Market. Khan Market was out of the question due to the rental rates. In Emporio, other than finances, the other problem was category placement. Only 20% of the mall’s space was for footwear brands. I could get a space if an existing brand shut shop. Another problem was that the mall only looked for prominent and established brands. Even with money, it was impossible to go there.
There were very few multi-brand outlets at that time. I approached the management of The Collective and a manager who spoke to me said they only accepted international brands. I shifted my focus to smaller malls. I opened my first store at the Gardens Galleria Mall. I opened another in Panchkula because the clientele there were willing to experiment with brands.
Now, the market has opened up and there are more multi-brand stores. Things are much easier for me and I can promote my products everywhere. Collaboration with other premium brands is easy too. A lot of brands approach me to collaborate but I screen them before making a decision as I don’t want my brand to be diluted.
Q: What would you advise an entrepreneur wanting to get into the Luxury world today?
A: Think logically and emotionally. Thinking logically will bring down the risk of failures. Thinking emotionally will inculcate passion that will help your brand to grow.
The brand does not just sell men’s shoes but women’s shoes as well. If you want to stride in style, you may want to check out this fledgling brand that is making huge strides in the luxury market.
If you want to watch the whole conversation with Abhishek click here to go to our YouTube channel where you'll find many other inspiring conversation with Indian entrepreneurs.