The Vegan Footwear: Kanabis
KANABIS is a first of its kind brand for fashionable, high quality and Peta approved Vegan footwear for women. All our products are made of high quality canvas, fabric and other leather substitutes keeping compassion for animals as a core value of the bus
Devika Srimal Bapna, Founder of Kanabis brings sophistication and minimalism to contemporary fashion with its classic and eminent designs. The label has built a successful business based on a model that includes strong principles and making sure the product is always at the forefront of its operations. The designs are exclusive and tastefully crafted with a careful mix of fabrics for the right look and comfort. The name is a play on the word Cannabis (aka marijuana!) since the company use’s a lot of canvas in shoes and canvas was historically made from hemp that came from cannabis. Kanabis is retailing thru online and all leading market places and offline at select stores and exhibitions/trunk shows across all major cities in India. Kanabis offers a style rather than a trend, creating timeless pieces and wardrobe favourites that can be enjoyed for more than one season. Devika pursued her MBA at DUKE university and started her career as a Chartered Accountant, started her career at Ernst & Young, London. She shares her vision with Dipika, S&A…
Tell us a bit about your brand
As an animal lover and PETA volunteer, I gave up leather few years ago and had a tough time finding good non-leather shoes that were stylish, good quality and affordable. I noticed the unstructured footwear industry in India - we either have the nonIndian players that are expensive and mostly do leather shoes or the unorganized/unbranded segment where quality, price, make etc. is questionable. It was almost a light-bulb moment when I thought ‘what the heck, I should start my own brand!’ And KANABIS was born- a brand for fashionable, high quality and PETA approved VEGAN footwear. We like to do something unique with each style we launch. All our products are made of high quality canvas, fabric and other leather substitutes keeping compassion for animals as a core value of the business. The designs are exclusive and tastefully crafted with a careful mix of fabrics for the right look and comfort. We keep a close eye on the current and upcoming trends in fashion. Each shoe also has a quirky name that tells a story about it.
How does your brand differentiate from its competition?
We are a first of its kind vegan brand that offers fashionable, comfortable and affordable shoes. In India the branded market (2030%) consists of the international brands that are more expensive, classic in their designs and predominantly use leather. We are an indigenous brand in the cool casual category – we play with funky prints, colors and fabrics so we stand out on our design element from rest of the brands and we are animal friendly.
What is your product strategy?
Our strategy is to bring that something new every season and expand our offering. We are currently only focusing on domestic market, but plan to start global deliveries at some point. We our working on increasing our online and offline visibility to acquire new customers and earn their loyalty so they keeps coming back for a new pair of Kanabis.
Who is your target audience?
Our floral and geometrical prints, high heel wedges or the younger women, typically 15-35 year olds, appreciate sneakers more.
Region-wise, which is the biggest market?
Since we are available online, our reach is pan-india and apart from the big cities we are pleasantly surprised to receive orders from smaller towns and cities. We exhibit in all major cities so have a growing customer base in the metros. And of course, Delhi being our home turf works well for us.
“We are a first of its kind vegan brand that offers fashionable, comfortable and affordable shoes.“
How are you embracing e-commerce? Are you looking at an exclusive online store or going with multi-brand online stores like Amazon, Jabong etc.?
Both. We sell online on our website www.kanabis.in and are also available at all leading marketplaces (Amazon, Flipkart and the likes). While our focus is our own web-store, presence on the marketplaces helps in wideningour reach and visibility.
According to you, what is the future of footwear MBOS in India?
Even though e-commerce is growing fast, one cannot ignore the brick and mortar, as the consumer still wants a closer look and feel of the product especially in footwear it still matters to customers. We are available at 8 multibrand boutiques/stores across the country and it certainly elevates our visibility and brand perception.
What part of the entire marketing budget is kept aside for digital and social media campaigns?
We are a bootstrapped so marketing budgets are not huge. On the offline side, we do a lot of outreach activities and events to build direct interaction with our potential customers and try and test our product and see their feedback first hand. On the online side, social media is a very big driver in pulling traffic on our website. But more than paid traffic, our organic traffic is also growing which is a great sign.
How has the response been on digital marketing?
Pretty good. It’s targeted, returns are measurable and budgets can be easily controlled. It’s a skill we are developing slowly but surely!
What is the scope of growth for Indian Footwear designers?
Immense. We hear of new designers and brands surfacing very often and with fast-fashion in India growing so rapidly- it’s an exciting time for everyone.
How long have you been vegan and why did you go vegan?
As an animal-lover and Peta volunteer, it ached my heart to see how leather is made. Especially in India, it is illegal to kill healthy young cattle but they are tortured brutally. So I decided to give up leather in all shape and form around 6 years ago. While belts, bags, watches were easy to replace I struggled to find good quality, stylish non- leather shoes. And finally found my calling and started KANABIS.
What are some of the most interesting materials you’ve worked with?
Canvas is one of our core materials- its durable, hand-washable, printable so we find it an excellent substitute to leather. We also love to play with a mix of other fabrics such as lace, jute, satin, and denim among others.
Being one of the pioneers in vegan eco fashion, how have things changed since you started your line?
The response we have received is phenomenal, which re-assures us of our concept and approach. It is great to see that awareness for vegan fashion is on the rise and we are confident in 5-10 years into the future, consumers will make more ethical choices and question the material, make and process of the product before buying it.
Has who influenced you as a designer?
Stella Mc Cartney for promoting vegan fashion.
What do you say to those who think you have to compromise compassion for fashion?
Check out www.kanabis.in
“Canvas is one of our core materials- its durable, handwashable, printable so we find it an excellent substitute to leather.”
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs from season to season?
We do a trend analysis for every forthcoming season and keep an eye on the colors and styles that are trending. Then we shortlist the styles we want, and go on a material hunt. Each fabric is handpicked by us and tastefully crafted so it sits well on the style we are going for- be it heels, or sliders or sneakers.
Why do you think some designers are apprehensive about using vegan materials?is it hard for you to source your vegan materials?
Finding material is not hard but finding exactly what we want can be. We don’t compromise on the aesthetics, which means it’s a lot of work till we approve the final look and fit of the shoe. We can’t speak for other designers but think the common perception is that unless its leather it won’t be high quality, classy, and durable.
What are some of your pet peeves about the current fashion industry?
When one does ‘ctrl c & ctrl v’ of designs, it’s not cool.
Lately it seems like just about everyone is “going green.” Do you feel people see it more as a trend that they really don’t understand?
Hope not! Good things must last and this one we feel is here to stay.
Can you tell me a little about your next collection! What inspired it?
We are doing a lot more flats since it’s all about comfort and slouchy fashion. We took our customer feedback on board and developed more styles on the more comfy soles and toe shapes. We are going for the raw look with tribal abstract prints, sliders with jute soles and haven’t forgotten the tassels, pompoms, and charms –the works! Stay tuned!
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
With lots of shoes, success and more! Our aim is to expand our product offering and customer base and build a strong, sustainable, animal friendly brand.
“Even though e-commerce is growing fast, one cannot ignore the brick and mortar, as the consumer wants a closer look and feel of the product especially in footwear.”
Devika Srimal Bapna, Founder, Kanabis