From lim­ited edi­tions to her­itage shoes

Shoes & Accessories - - Contents -

Sangeet Paryani has been a big fan of sneak­ers since he was ten. He re­calls the time when he bought his pair of Chuck Tay­lors with pro­found nos­tal­gia. Though sneaker has been a strong trend abroad, in In­dia it is the other way un­til re­cently. With this pen­chant, he has opened Su­per­kicks, a sneaker-ex­clu­sive re­tail out­let in Mum­bai. Sangeet claims that it’s the unique cu­ra­tion that sets the out­let apart from oth­ers. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with S&A’S Bobo Meitei, he said, the ar­ti­cles that we have are more life­style-based than any other MBOS.

hat prompted you to launch Su­per­kicks?

Per­son­ally, I’m a big fan of sneak­ers since I was like ten. I bought my first pair of Chuck Tay­lors (con­verse), and since then I’ve been a big fan of sneak­ers. This has been the trend that has been pre­vail­ing abroad but not so much so in In­dia. Un­til re­cently, since the past 2-3 years, we have seen a boom in the sneaker in­dus­try es­pe­cially in In­dia. Peo­ple are pur­chas­ing sneak­ers not only for their func­tional value but also for their aes­thet­ics. The rea­son be­hind this is peo­ple in In­dia are now much more brand-con­scious and there is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion of shoes, mov­ing away from just be­ing a func­tional com­mod­ity to a life­style prod­uct, an as­pi­ra­tional wear­able prod­uct. This is ex­actly what I’m try­ing to achieve through this con­cept called Su­per­kicks. The kind of shoes that I have here are more con­tem­po­rary, more cul­ture-based. And each and ev­ery shoe that we have here has a story to tell. So that’s the idea be­hind com­ing up with a su­per ex­clu­sive sneaker store like Su­per­kicks

What best de­scribe the plat­form’s val­ues?

There is a key dif­fer­ence be­tween Su­per­kicks and other sneaker re­tail­ers in In­dia. Firstly, the shoes that we have are not eas­ily avail­able; from lim­ited edi­tions to her­itage shoes to more con­tem­po­rary sil­hou­ettes, we have op­tions for all. It’s this cu­ra­tion that sets us apart. Sec­ondly, the ar­ti­cles that we have are more life­style-based than any other MBOS where you will find, which are other­wise mostly only func­tion­al­based sneak­ers or shoes. So that’s the key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two. Thirdly, it’s not just an MBO for the sake of be­ing one where peo­ple can come and see dif­fer­ent brands, but it’s more than that. We are not only sell­ing sneak­ers, there’s also a cafe in­side where we are sell­ing fudge and milk shake. We are also look­ing at do­ing lot of art-re­lated events. We will be dis­play­ing a lot of street cul­ture-based things; that’s what makes it dif­fer­ent from reg­u­lar MBOS. The Su­per­kicks shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence is all about spend­ing time at the store, pon­der­ing over what to pick out of all the won­der­ful curated and hand­picked sneak­ers that we dis­play. This is the place where we get cre­ative with ideas, one day you may find lim­ited edi­tion watches dis­played, other day you might find a quirky plant pots be­ing sold.

What are some of the spe­cific cri­te­ria the plat­form con­sid­ers be­fore list­ing a brand?

So there are three main cri­te­ria that I fol­low be­fore pick­ing up any ar­ti­cle of any brand; num­ber one is that the brand should have a few lim­ited edi­tions sneak­ers, and a few of its ex­clu­sive sneak­ers should be avail­able at few places in In­dia. That’s a first and fore­most cri­te­rion. This helps us cre­ate a lot of buzz around it. Like, for ex­am­ple, we have the Yeezy Boost 350 by Adi­das Orig­i­nals. If it comes to a store it sells within an hour. This is the kind of lim­ited edi­tion pull that we re­quire from brands and that’s the kind of ar­ti­cles that we keep. The sec­ond big­gest cri­te­rion would be that the brand has some her­itage value or a story be­hind its cre­ation. For ex­am­ple, the Nike Cortez is the first shoe that Nike ever made and

thereon they have re-in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the same model ev­ery year. Last but not the least, there are more con­tem­po­rary style shoes that ap­peal bet­ter to our mil­len­nial. They con­nect to, like the Adi­das Ul­tra boost or some­thing like the Nike Va­por­max, new age shoes that have been never seen ear­lier. It’s a oneyear-old shoe in terms of de­sign­ing but that is much more rel­e­vant to to­day’s au­di­ence. So th­ese are some things we keep in mind be­fore se­lect­ing a shoe for the store.

What re­tail and pro­mo­tional strat­egy does the plat­form have to con­sol­i­date its po­si­tion as well as to in­crease its foot­print?

It is a lit­tle too early to talk about ex­pan­sion plan for now. But we surely are fo­cus­ing to­wards build­ing the brand fur­ther through our mar­ket­ing ef­forts. We also have a team that is han­dling our mar­ket­ing though the brand strat­egy. The agency is called ‘idea huband’. We are in­vest­ing heav­ily on a month-to- month ba­sis in or­der to pro­mote our store and the idea be­hind it to the right kind of peo­ple. We are tar­get­ing var­i­ous dig­i­tal medi­ums and so­cial me­dia plat­forms specif­i­cally In­sta­gram and Face­book. That’s where most of our tar­get au­di­ence vis­its.

It is the mil­len­ni­als we are tar­get­ing and they have a lan­guage in which they are talk­ing. So we are try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with them in that same man­ner and mak­ing sure that we are cre­at­ing enough hype. We are also con­nect­ing with the sneaker com­mu­ni­ties in Mum­bai. In the near fu­ture we also will be look­ing at cross pro­mo­tions and in­flu­encer mar­ket­ing to get the word out to the right au­di­ence. This is cur­rently what we are fo­cus­ing on.

Ex­plain the out­let’s prod­uct port­fo­lio and what ad­di­tion can we ex­pect in the near fu­ture?

Among 1,500 shoes, Su­per­kicks of­fers block­buster shoes, trend set­ters and con­tem­po­rary de­signs that are aes­thet­i­cally rel­e­vant such as Nike Air Jor­dan, Adi­das Ul­tra­boost, Nike Va­por­max and many more. Cur­rently, we have ten brands un­der Su­per­kicks. Th­ese brands are: Adi­das, Asics Tiger, Nike, Puma, Ree­bok, New Bal­ance, Vans, Con­verse and Fila. We have also in­tro­duced our tenth brand, Ylati. It is an Ital­ian premium sneaker brand with hand-crafted leather, mak­ing its en­try in the In­dian mar­ket for the first time through our store. This is in the first month of us open­ing the store that we have al­ready added a new brand.

We are look­ing at sim­i­lar as­so­ci­a­tions and brands in the fu­ture as well. Surely, un­der my radar is Un­der Ar­mour and another is Onit­suka Tiger. So when the time is right th­ese brands will also be in­cluded in our col­lec­tion. We would also look at mov­ing away from be­ing just another sneaker store to ex­pand and in­tro­duce the street wear cat­e­gory to our store. Another big trend that is seep­ing into the In­dian cul­ture, es­pe­cially among the mil­len­ni­als; there are brands like Stussy, Carhartt, Ex­tra Large and Deep that are in de­mand in In­dia es­pe­cially by the gen-next. So we would try to get through some of th­ese brands un­der our roof for ap­par­els and mer­chan­dise.

Give us a de­scrip­tion of your ideal cus­tomer.

My ideal cus­tomer is this group of peo­ple of in the world who call them­selves ‘The Sneak­er­heads’. They sort of au­to­mat­i­cally be­come my ideal cus­tomer. Sneak­er­heads are those kind of peo­ple who are into sneak­ers, they col­lect sneak­ers and they live for sneak­ers. This is the first kind of cus­tomer that we would love to tar­get and who we would love to en­gage with all the ac­tiv­i­ties we plan to do. And the set of peo­ple that are also very im­por­tant, un­like the sneaker heads, are the bunch of con­sumers in In­dia who are ready to ex­plore some­thing new in life and would love to have a pair of sneak­ers which has much more mean­ing than just style and com­fort and colour.

They are the ones look­ing for sneak­ers with a story be­hind them which they can cher­ish for­ever. They are also ad­ven­tur­ous and out­go­ing. That’s the kind of con­sumers we would want to tar­get. Con­sider ad­ver­tis­ing agency peo­ple, standup co­me­di­ans or those rebels who don’t be­lieve and stick to con­ven­tional norms.

On­line plat­forms have vis­i­bly dis­rupted the re­tail land­scape. How prom­i­nent a com­pe­ti­tion is the on­line plat­form?

I’m an old school guy. I per­son­ally be­lieve a brand is not formed just on­line any­more, it’s not com­pletely es­tab­lished

there. An off­line vis­i­bil­ity is re­quired to get some kind of recog­ni­tion which can­not be com­pared to an on­line pres­ence alone, es­pe­cially to­day when the on­line space is re­ally clut­tered. There are big­ger play­ers like Ama­zon or Flip­kart that are also sell­ing sim­i­lar, if not the same, prod­ucts.

Also, our off­line space is not just for re­tail alone. We are also ex­pand­ing and get­ting into smaller events and ac­tiv­i­ties for en­gag­ing with our con­sumers. All this can­not hap­pen on­line. You need to have a face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion with th­ese peo­ple. You need to have dis­cus­sions about the cul­ture, the trend in gen­eral. The sneaker cul­ture or the pe­riph­eral cul­tures around sneak­ers like the hip-hop cul­ture or street cul­ture. They are all the things con­nected to the sneaker cul­ture evolv­ing ev­ery day. And th­ese dis­cus­sions can­not hap­pen on­line, be­cause it can­not be re­stricted to a hand­ful peo­ple alone. You need to open up a di­a­logue in an off­line space like this store, it just changes the ball­game. With an off­line store, one also has more vis­i­bil­ity, brand rec­ol­lec­tion and loy­alty. The Su­per­kicks shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence is all about spend­ing time at the store, pon­der­ing over what to pick out of all the won­der­fuly curated and hand­picked sneak­ers that we dis­play. Hav­ing said that, we are also look­ing at cre­at­ing our own web­site at some point but that would not ever dis­cour­age me to open up more stores in the fu­ture.

In what re­gions of the coun­try we can ex­pect your foot­print?

Af­ter Mum­bai, there will be ges­ta­tion pe­riod. I want to learn and un­der­stand the kind of re­sponse we get here and if we do­ing the right things when it comes to pro­mot­ing the brand. But, yes, af­ter Mum­bai, Bangalore and Delhi are the surely two key cities that I would like to tar­get. Es­pe­cially be­cause of the fact that a lot of my tar­get au­di­ence, the young work­ing gen­er­a­tion that has higher dis­pos­able in­come and as well as a large chunk of sneak­er­head com­mu­nity, is present in both th­ese cities. So yes, th­ese two cities are on my radar. But we are tak­ing it step by step for now.

High rental cost and space scarcity have made it dif­fi­cult for many to ex­pand their re­tail pres­ence. How se­ri­ous a prob­lem is this for you?

Mayank Dis­trib­u­tors, the par­ent com­pany, has been in the re­tail busi­ness for the past 12 years now. We cur­rently have about 32 stores that we op­er­ate all over Ra­jasthan, parts of Gu­jarat and Haryana. So we do have an ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to open­ing up stores. Yes, Mum­bai, be­ing a new city and ter­ri­tory, was an ini­tial chal­lenge for me; find­ing the right lo­ca­tion at the right place at the right rental. The good thing is that I’ve done my grad­u­a­tion from Mum­bai so I’ve stayed here for about five years of my life. I sort of had an idea of which should have been the ideal place for open­ing up Su­per­kicks and I think we man­aged to do that. We are at the cen­ter of Mum­bai, in its heart. We are not in South Mum­bai or And­heri or any other lo­ca­tion. We are right in Ban­dra, Khar where most of my tar­get au­di­ence stays.

Al­though ini­tially, we did ex­plore the idea of open­ing up on Link­ing Road, but due to the high rental prob­lem in such ar­eas we de­cided not to. Open­ing up close to Link­ing road but not ex­actly on the main road has also worked for us and our con­cept; as com­mer­cial as the other stores that are present there. So, at the mo­ment we are very close to Link­ing Road but we still have our own niche space. We have a hid­den gem kind of vibe to a store and that’s work­ing well for us. It took me about six months to get the right lo­ca­tion and at the right rental. I can’t com­plaint any­thing.

Sangeet Paryani

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.