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Heart and sole – Neeman’s

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Launched in 2018, the sustainable footwear brand Neeman’s distinguishes itself through its innovative use of sustainable technologies

Bengaluru: Neeman’s is India’s first footwear brand that uses natural, renewable, recycled and biodegradable fibres in its shoes. Co-founders Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh are all for innovating with sustainable technologies to create a long-lasting positive impact on the planet and build for future generations.

An exciting start

Neeman’s was launched in 2018 by shoe aficionados Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh, who, while planning a trip to Spain, realised that they were packing more than a couple of pairs of shoes for different purposes and occasions. This led them to search for a pair of shoes that would suffice all their needs. But, when they could not find such a pair, they decided to bridge this gap by launching their footwear brand Neeman’s.

Chhabra is Neeman’s founder and CEO. He leads the brand’s R&D department, which has initiated the use of unique and hitherto unexplored materials such as merino wool and recycled pet bottles in the Indian footwear industry. Singh is the brand’s co-founder and COO. He takes care of daily operations and ensures that the brand and its goals are aligned with the overall strategy. Both Chhabra and Singh are making Neeman’s synonymous with shoes that are not only comfortable for all-day wear but also sustainable. “Venturing into a challenging category like footwear in India, we wanted to understand the pain points of the Indian market and create products accordingly. Sustainability was always a value that we wanted to build upon. The idea was to create a brand that was built for future generations, through circular technologies. What also gave us more impetus to create such footwear was the need for such an offering in this category,” says Chhabra.

Along the way

At Neeman’s, innovation takes place in its use of sustainable technologies. “Ours is a fashion-forward brand that only uses high-quality, long-lasting and eco-friendly materials, be it in the uppers, insoles and soles of the footwear or the packaging. From creating sneakers made out of plastic bottles to making sneakers out of wood pulp, we are pioneering sustainable technologies to create long-lasting impact and build for the generations ahead. We plan on exploring more technologies that are good for the planet and also help us create extremely comfortable footwear,” shares Singh. And the customers are not complaining. In fact, 95% of Neeman’s clientele rave about the brand’s exceptionally comfortable footwear—especially the sneakers from its extensive collection—that they love to wear all day long.

Designing shoes that cater to functionality, comfort and sustainability is what differentiates Neeman’s from other brands in India’s busy footwear segment. But what has also worked for the brand is its approach of going the direct-to-consumer (D2C) route. Neeman’s launch via its own website made it easy for customers to purchase comfortable shoes that also reduce carbon footprints, all at the click of a button.

Furthermore, with e-commerce penetrating the Indian market and people increasingly adopting the convenient mode of online shopping, for brands such as Neeman’s, the future looks very bright. “Sustainable footwear will be at the forefront of customers’ minds. The year 2021 was all about becoming aware of environment-friendly products; 2022 will be about embracing these. Also, while businesses and people’s social lives have been opening up, work-from-homeculture is still prevalent. So, more people will opt for comfortable wear. Think relaxed and multipurpose slip-ons, and shoes that are tough and durable yet soft and comfortable—products that our brand is known for,” conveys Chhabra.

Looking to the future

Neeman’s raised $1 million of capital in its seed round from Anicut Capital in March 2020. The brand then completed a Series A funding round with Sixth Sense Ventures in August 2021. A few months later, in November, Stride Ventures, which is a leading venture debt firm in India, invested Rs 7 crore in the brand. Neeman’s has collectively raised a funding of Rs 100 crore. “These investments demonstrate support for our vision and product portfolio.

We are geared to scale new heights by further strengthening our commitment to the planet by continuing to launch footwear in eco-friendly materials. We already have an impressive unisex line of footwear made from merino wool, natural cotton, recycled pet bottles and recycled tires,” concludes Singh.

Brownie Points

  • Neeman’s introduced wool joggers, the first of their kind in India, made from Australian merino wool. The product is a unique amalgamation of comfort and sustainability.
  • The brand launched its product lines ‘Relive Knits’ and ‘Eco Flips’ in the Indian market. Relive is made out of recycled plastic bottles, while Eco Flips uses recycled tyres for sturdiness and durability.
  • Neeman’s funding journey began with a seed round from Anicut Capital and continued to a Series A round of $2.7 million from Sixth Sense Ventures.
  • The brand is recognised as one of the most promising start-ups in Telangana.
  • Neeman’s launched ‘tree sneakers’, India’s first sneakers crafted from ethically sourced wood pulp fibres.

First appeared in The India D2C Yearbook 2022

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