Paul & Finch: A Crafter, A Design, An Inspiration
A Crafter, A Design, An Inspiration
Chief Inspiration Officer and brand founder Satyen Nanda is an avid traveler whose shoe addiction is insatiable and is ever searching for the next exclusive shoe for his clients. The leather, the stitch, the craftsmanship, there can be no Paul & Finch without quality check by Satyen Nanda. It is his eye for detail that crafts the perfect shoe. Launched 2 years ago, Paul & Finch is a connoisseur collection of men’s shoes. It only uses premium quality leather, the finest materials and highly experienced shoe craftsmen to create its shoes. There is great detail in every shoe. The range includes a stylish formal line and a formal easy wear collection. Soon the brand will be introducing the full selection of men’s casual, formals and formal easy wear. Also lined up are PF by Paul & Finch – an alternate leather collection, Paul & Finch accessories, Paul &Finch shoe care kit and the much-anticipated women’s line of Paul & Finch.
In order to meet the changing consumer demands Satyen is always on the front foot, knowing before the brand’s clients or rather what the next big thing will be. Satyen shares his views on aspects ranging from the brand’s values to its future with S&A’S Amit Chopra in an interview.
How has the response been so far?
Excellent! The busy Indian shoe market is seeing quite a buzz created by Paul & Finch in select outlets in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. That said, it must be noted that the rising dollar has created a dent in the imported shoe category with prices rising. The festive season and the wedding season will surely see a surge in deals and demand.
How would you differentiate your products from the competition?
Design aesthetics, ideation, craftsmanship are personally looked into with a hawk eye on quality at every stage. I am personally involved in curating the style, choosing the leather, using double reinforced stitching in high-stress areas of the shoe to ensure maximum durability. This along with our zero compromise policy on quality and craftsmanship makes our shoes unmatched in the category.
Who’s your biggest competitor?
Most international brands like Aldo, Steve Madden and home-grown brands like Rossobrunello and Tresmode are a few of the top players in the category. Today’s trends are fast changing; there is a lot of fluidity in customers’ needs. Naturally, it is increasingly difficult to name a single brand as our competitor. In fact, even brands at higher price points need to keep an eye on Paul & Finch because of our commitment to customer education and superior leather quality and workmanship.
What is the price range?
This is what probably makes Paul & Finch so exciting. Our range starts from slip on casuals at ` 5,490 upwards with a wide range at key price points all the way up to ` 20,000-25,000. We are introducing newer New York formal styles and street styles as well as international collections of hand crafted woven shoes and also a collection of shoes from Europe.
What are the main drivers that will herald a boom in premium men’s footwear like your brand?
The main drivers of change are the evolving Indian consumer and the dynamic Indian market. At the macro
level, rising disposable income, globalization, improved living standards with increasing awareness of international fashion trends is creating a vibrant and buzzing the market for fashion and lifestyle brands.
Global travel and the internet has evolved fashion sensibilities to another level. Consumers now connect with brands that resonate their style, and they believe success comes with the right look and footwear plays a very large part in how they present themselves to the world.
If you see historically men’s footwear was about longevity of use and style, it is now evolving to stunning designs, artistic sense of craftsmanship and impeccable service. And of course, the brand name! Also, there is a new market emerging and a lot of global footwear and fashion brands have started betting big on small cities.
What’s the profile of a Paul & Finch’s typical consumer?
Today the consumer is not constrained to only a few types of footwear, they own different kinds of footwear for different occasions. They are fashion-conscious, demanding the latest trends and contemporary styles. The Paul & Finch consumer is very discerning and has an eye for details. They also like changing their look often and want to be on point with latest styles, which is why our shoes are inspired by New York the urban fashion capital of the world. You can feel the buzz, the structure, the attitude and the style of New York in every shoe design we choose.
We have also noticed the consumer has become more value driven than price driven they do not mind spending more for quality, innovation, sustainability and a great customer service experience.
What’s your retail marketing strategy?
We want to be the “impact” brand in a multi brand outlet. We are working on bringing in technology in all areas of business, ensuring our in-store experiences are 100% connected. We do not want our consumer to be limited to one product or style. We will be creating brand experiences that will extend from the display, the buying and selling experience, the box, the bag and then extending our relationship with great comfort and quality. We wish to convert our customers into an ambassador of style, leading a flock of friends to our brand.
We have spent hours studying the service experience at 100s of stores across India. We know that service plays a huge large role in the final purchase of the shoe. We therefore ensure that the sales person at the outlet understands the uniqueness and detail that is gone into every shoe, and is able to match it with the customer’s specific need. In the future, once our entire range of products is available we would like to grow and have stand-alone stores through the length and breadth of the country.
What are the latest designs and shape that are trending?
Forecasting fashion needs a trained eye. New fads and trends arrive every season. And yes, some classics never fade away. Then again, even the slightest tweak can completely transform a classic.
Currently, there is a shift from men’s lace ups like oxford and brogues and slipons to styles such as monk straps, tassels, woven shoes and coloured soles. Comfort + fashion + transformation. The customer wants a shoe that moves seamlessly between all the worlds they are part of their social life, professional life and even believe it or not sport. Today casualization has led to sport shoes becoming a formal trend. There is a definite emergence of the high-end luxury market with Bally, Berluti, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
“Paul & Finch is a crafter, a creator, a design, an inspiration, an idea, a buzzing city and “an attitude. Like our customer, we are stylish, youthful, swift and we are ready to take on the world!”
Paul & Finch is a crafter, a creator, a design, an inspiration, an idea, a buzzing city and an attitude. Like our customer, we are stylish, youthful, swift and we are ready to take on the world!
What’s the theme of AW’18 ?
Our latest collection for AW 18 is based on travels around the world. Italian hand woven techniques and influences from all over the world, combing to create an unapologetic New York style.
The woven collection will bring in sophistication and craftsmanship to the fore. Soft, fashionable, luxurious and very premium.
We are looking at new lines in the future which will be a balance of European and Middle Eastern shoe and leather traditions with an accent on modernity and city slick.
What are some of the challenges that you are facing now?
The rupee weakening against the dollar is impacting our pricing, especially since we refuse to compromise on quality. For us once a customer, forever a customer!
Secondly, like food habits, footwear fashion also changes every 100 kms. Local or unorganized players benefit from this, they have greater flexibility but unfortunately are not very quality conscious. Introduction of GST will hopefully make it a more level playing field. Product counterfeits are still a huge issue for Indian footwear brands including ours.
Finally, we would like to bring the best of New York to India, even the best in the world, our women’s line, there is so much to do, to create, to design, to discover and yet, so little time.
Will we see an aggressive presence of the brand in the market?
We are in our launch phase and the buzz will only grow! India get ready for Paul & Finch!
How integral is digital media to the brand?
India is on high streets and online. We will be focusing on digital marketing to create the Paul & Finch brand idea among customers. Digital marketing gets the brand Paul & Finch in front of its ideal audience, who become aware of us, purchase from us and in turn become our brand ambassadors. Various research and market studies show that 11% of total shoe sales will be generated through online sales by 2020. We will be ready.
What would be your online strategy?
Awareness. This is our mantra for the year! Knowing a shoe, its quality, its style, its design inspiration, and buying it will never be the same again.
Retarget customers through digital ads, build our social pages, videos, blogs, new trend launches, educate, create style guides, we have a whole list of things to accomplish!
What would be major challenges for you in the coming year?
A. Introduce India to PAUL & FINCH – designed by NEW YORK B. Neutralizing the impact of the exploding dollar. C. Quicker turnaround time from spotting a trend to being on the shop floor. D. Increasing the brand footprint across India. E. Zero compromise on quality as we grow.
Your take on the current footwear retail environment in India.
Extremely optimistic! Various market forecasts show that the Indian footwear market will grow by 10.1% year on year till 2021. Brands that can build a luxurious position in the mind of the consumer and continue to innovate (new designs, patterns and concepts) that cater to the consumers ever changing fashion palate will eventually thrive.
“Our latest collection for AW 18 is based on travels around the world.”
“Forecasting fashion needs a trained eye. New fads and trends arrive every season.”
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