A Shoe Fetish That Led to a Shoe Store
The newest luxury footwear mecca in Mumbai is located at the sumptuous Grand Hyatt. Called La Scarpa, it is only the multi-designer shoe boutique in the country yet. La Scarpa is brainchild of Bhavna Radhakrishnan, who tells us about how her her shoe fetish went from just arms full of in her closet to a whole store.
Citing "shoes are for soul wear" as her mantra, Bhavna tells us how Indians need to be shown that there are more than just the five or six brands that they read about in the style pages. She tells us how she'd doing her bit to introduce potential customers from Mumbai to global luxury brands that aren't that well know yet.
When did your shoe fetish start?
I've loved shoes for as long as I can remember. The need for being in high heels and dancing away to glory…it was almost a necessary to be in comfortable shoes. And that necessity became a passion.
How did the idea for La Scarpa come about?
Shoes are my passion; and the need for luxury shoes in India has become very critical. Basically, I wanted to bring all the brands under one roof. I've seen the shopping in Dubai and I think it's far easier there than even in Italy, where you have keeping going from one street or lane to another to shop at your regular brands. And that's what made me realise that India needs some place where you can shop for all your favourite brands, without hunting for them. It took me about a year and a half to turn my passion into reality (the La Scarpa store).
What can we expect to see at the store?
All the current collections that are doing the rounds globally are available here. Before, it was very difficult to bring in new stock due to taxes and other duties, which is why Indians would usually see merchandise from a collection that wasn't the latest. But now things are different and it's easier to bring down the recent collections.
What do you look for, when picking up pairs to bring to India?
Being able to run and walk and just live in a pair for 12 hours or more without thinking of the pain, once you take them off. That's the main focus. Then I also understand the climatic condition, and the need in India that men or women feel at the moment.
How do you predict whether the pair that you pick will work in India?
I don't predict. I just keep in mind the climatic conditions and choose accordingly. The fashion capital of the world, Milan decides, and I just bring the styles to India. There are certain trends that are always on, like polka dots, animal print, colour block, peep toes, wedges etc. La Scarpa just follows and is a link between the world and India.
It is usually the brand that declares its top pairs and if I think they would suit the Indian buyer, I pick them up. For instance if a brand says a bright yellow pair is its star for the season, I know it wouldn't be what a regular Indian buyer is looking for, so I wouldn't pick that pair up then.
Cesare Paciotti black pumps; price: Rs 26,799; Pollini Studio wedges; price: Rs 20,999; Vicini flats; price: Rs 22,199. Available at La Scarpa.
What are must-have shoes for a woman?
I love all comfortable shoes, regardless. Right now I'm in a Givenchy pair, but my closet is full of other brands. I'm not really picky about a brand; it's the shoe that matter eventually.
What is your favourite shoe of all time?
Well, we are aware that it is a nascent market for luxury products in India. If you look at quality of construction, it has dramatically changed in the last few years. Developers are also putting much more emphasis on layouts, designs and products that are being used.
How is the city responding to La Scarpa?
I have a clientele not from the city, but out of the state too. I also have expats coming in. Fortunately, I have a lot of expat clients living in the apartments at the Grand Hyatt, and they are some of my major customers. In fact I need to educate the Indian market much more.
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