Boot Camp

Boots were not the most stylish in India even till a few years back.

Written by Nupur Chaudhuri | Published: January 16, 2012 3:23 am

Boots walk tall in the snug season

Boots were not the most stylish in India even till a few years back. Many looked bulky or odd with pointy toes and block heels. Unless you shopped abroad,you couldn’t get it right. But today,boots seem to have walked miles in Indian fashion,and are being funkily paired with saris and churidars.

The arrival of high street and luxury brands coupled with the creativity and competitiveness of Indian footwear designers have established a sturdy boot market. Shoe manufacturers,who were earlier focussed on exports compared to local retail,are now looking inward. Boots now come in an array of styles and fits — slouchy,thigh-high,cowgirl versions,ankle-lengths,uggs as well as the more popular flat-heeled variety. Also,according to footwear designers,wearing boots is no longer just a winter thing to do.

While solid colours like black and brown remain favourites,Salvatore Ferragamo has brought in trendier tones like white,stone,metallic,beige,burgundy,dark blue,chocolate,khaki,red and so on. “The trend steers more towards darker colours during autumn and winter,” says Karen Wilson Kumar,general manager,Salvatore Ferragamo India. The fine-crafted boots at Salvatore Ferragamo point to the popularity of both the pike and round toes. It’s about “keeping in mind the comfort quotient and yet being trendy,” says Kumar who labels ankle boots as the “footwear of the season” and these go well with even red carpet dresses.

The new arrivals aren’t compromising on comfort either. At Audelade in Atria Mall,Worli,Mumbai,boots flaunt the brand’s trademark sterling silver mesh,stitched with black patent or blue leather in easy fits. “Comfort comes first. Thus,we’ve lowered the heel height to a mid-heel level. The boots are very roomy too,” says director Aditya Sanghvi.

Delhi-based shoe designer Swati Mehrotra of Swati Modo Shoes says the past year has seen the rise of the flat boot. “It’s ideal for walking – it’s warm,has a sturdy sole and can be experimented with,” she points out. Suede seems to be the popular fabric as well. “Fine suede looks luxurious,” feels Kumar and Mehrotra agrees: “Flat boots can even be made out of leftover fabrics like sarees,and garments can be converted into boots. Denim and velvets are also great to work with. It’s easier to dry clean boots in these fabrics.”

In 2008,when Mehrotra launched her label,the mid-calf boot was the rage. It is still popular but the cowgirl boot style has taken over. In blacks and browns,with laces and antique gold studs,these thigh-high boots are the new arrivals in the Indian market. Footwear designer Rina Shah has worked on a funky boot line in Italian non-leather for her brand Rinaldi. “I’ve done cowboy and riding boots which are thigh-high and can be worn even in summer,” she says. Her Equestrian line has bright coloured eagles on the boots and other embellishments. “When I showcased the riding boots,I got a positive response,even from those who weren’t interested in boots. But the mentality of the Indian wearer that boots are only for winter needs to change,” says Shah.

Boot heels are equally versatile ranging from angular mid-heels to wedges. In summer,Mehrotra put together slouchy boots in flat heels as well as wedges. She used jute net and the boots fell like sacks over the feet. One also spots Indian embroidery on wedge-heeled boots in her collections. “Those are for my Japanese clients. The Indian market is still not prepared for that high bling in boots,” she says.

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