The kids’ footwear industry is largely considered as one of the most steadily growing segments in the country. According to a Ken’s Research Study, titled ‘India Kids’ Apparel and Footwear Market Outlook to 2020′, the Indian kids footwear industry is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 15 per cent from 2015 to 2020.
Bad decisions by earlier brands, and a failure to tap into and overcome the challenges of the segment slowed the growth rate. There were also fewer brick-and-mortar stores, with the kids footwear segment shifting base majorly to popular e-commerce portals. However, some new names have cropped up in the recent past that are here to stay and determined to make it big. One of them is Teddy Toes.
Founder kids footwear brand Teddy Toes, Varun Ahluwalia’s penchant for shoe-making is hereditary. His family has been in the leather shoes business for decades now. He introduced Teddy Toes with an aim of making luxurious international designs easily available in India, and at affordable prices at that.
The brand, which entered the footwear segment a couple of months ago, is an organized shoe player. Its focus is providing comfort along with style – apart from prolonged product life – to children.
The company’s plans involve a notable presence at leading multi-brand outlets and opening standalone retail chains spread across the country.
Ahluwalia spoke to Indiaretailing Bureau about what makes India an attractive market, how Teddy Toes is a great mix of style and value, his future plans, and how he’s determined to make a success of his brand. Excerpts from the exclusive interview…
Q. What makes India an attractive market for kid’s accessory brands?
Up until 10 years ago, kids in India would wear whatever their caregivers decided was right for them. They were dressed in hand-me-downs, sensible jeans, warm sweaters and comfortable shoes. But gone are those days. Today’s child knows exactly what s/he wants, opening up a great opportunity for kidswear, kids footwear and kids accessory brands in the country in terms of expanding product lines and attracting new customers. We at Teddy Toes have done away with taxes and duties and kept nominal margins to remain competitive as a premium brand. We are also supported by the fact that we are a lean organization.
Q. How has the demand for kids footwear changed over the years?
India is one of the highest populated countries with a steady increase in per capita income as well as childbirth leading to the kids’ footwear market growing faster than in any other country. Other factors include growing exposure leading to parents and children being more fashion conscious, and higher number of double income parents leading to higher household incomes and therefore higher disposable income.
Q. Have global brands with their attractive pricing strategy affected your business?
Not as yet, as our merchandise is at par with global brands with prices that match the Indian brands. Our main aim is to provide what the kids need, and once you have worked that out, global brands do not really affect your business.
Q. How has demonetization affected the kid’s accessory segment?
Demonetization hasn’t affected it much because for kids you never stop spending. Since children outgrow shoes and clothes very fast, the demand for kids’ clothing is barely affected by financial fluctuation, thus decreasing the risk factor for brand and retailers. The response has been encouraging. We have been getting particularly good feedback from Strata A and B of the consumer pyramid, who seem to appreciate the quality, styling and design sensibilities of Teddy Toes.
Q. Have you embraced e-commerce? Do you have your own portal or are you selling on other websites – which ones?
Online channels have have exposed consumers to a number of brands, many of which have become country-wide household names overnight. The Indian retail industry in exploding and inundated with fashion and footwear brands like never before. And since e-commerce is a vital nerve of trade today and we have tied up with all the leading e-commerce players in the country. We sell through our own portal – teddytoes.in – and through Hopscotch, Firstcry, Amazon, Flipkart, Jabong to name a few.
Q. Tell us about the products that you sell?
We make and sell genuine leather footwear for kids and ensure they are stylish and extremely comfortable for our future generations. The vibrant products along with exquisite tailoring is bound to make Teddy Toes a preferred choice for every discerning parent who wants to dress up their kids in style without compromising on quality.
Q. What is your pricing strategy?
Our fundamentals are very firm. We are focused on quality, comfortable styling and affordable pricing. Since we are a kids-only fashion brand, our footwear are designed to celebrate the innocence and creativity of a child. We fall into a segment of affordable luxury, where we sell 100 per cent genuine leather shoes starting at Rs 1,500 per pair.
Q. Tell us about some innovations that you have introduced in the kids footwear segment.
Keeping the playful and innovative nature of the kids in mind, we have come up with the concept of ‘Draw and Wipe’ – a range of footwear on which children can write, draw, erase and then do it all over again, priced at Rs 2,399 onwards per pair – and First Teddy Shoes – for infants from 3 months to 9 months complete with a wide toe box with soft bottom and latex insoles – to name a few. We have also introduced footwear in supreme leather with memory foam soft padding in soles and breathable lining to keep sensitive feet comfortable.
Q. What are you expansion plans?
There is still a lot of room to grow for us as a brand. We plan to expand both by adding newer product lines – including clothing and accessories. While domestic market penetration is our number one priority, we also want to expand our retail presence abroad.