There’s something inherently final about slipping a perfect pair of shoes onto your feet. Almost as if no designer ensemble, no sleek blazer-and-tie combination, and no amount of couture accessories that adorn your body matter at all if that final element of foot style is missing from your sartorial get-up. So let’s call a spade a spade and admit that whether you’re one of those people who’s only got three or four pairs of shoes neatly lined up on a single shelf, or one of those crazy hoarders who’s got an entire cupboard designated just for their footwear, we’ve all got a little shoe craze going on inside of us.
Buying that perfect pair involves much more than we give it credit for. Footwear experiences the added pressure of being unbelievably comfortable as well as incredibly stylish so the joy we experience in its pursuit and purchase is unparalleled to put it lightly. The only thing better than buying them? Getting a custom pair made especially for you.
We could play this footloose, fancy-free game of words all day but we’ll cut to the chase and tell you why we’re here. We rounded up the very best of the independent foot soldiers, otherwise known as a list of companies that retail—and custom make—shoes we personally love for both men and women, to make buying a pair of bespoke shoes for yourself that much more effortless. You’re welcome. Now get scrolling and pick a pair that speaks to you.
I. Chalk Studio
“Chalk Studio likes to make and break fashion rules alike.”
Chalk studio has a range of young, quirky shoes for women that aim to bring out your playful side. Co-founders Nupur Nagpal and Aakash Saikia’s bold and bright creations are head turners, inspired by fashion’s most coveted trends. As such, they inject each new collection with fresh motifs, kitschy elements and witty prints making fully sure that if you’ve got these babies on your feet, you can be assured of second glances. More importantly, they consistently keep their lines both affordable in price as well as versatile and accessible in their styling, something which has made them a favourite with stylists, young bloggers and designers, as well as fashion houses who are always on the prowl for well-produced yet easy fashion products.
HG Loves: Maasai Mode, a pair of platforms with motifs inspired by Kenya’s Masai tribe. Priced at INR 1,799.
“To change the way Indian men looked at shoes, and bringing them quality handmade leather”
Naman Shah started Cuero after a trip to Dubai, when he noticed that European men wore much better shoes than their Indian counterparts. Combining his passion for shoes and business sense, he went into bespoke footwear. He’s showcased at fashion week and counts a number of celebrities amongst his clientele.
HG Loves: Cuero’s leather sandals for women. For what started as a men’s footwear label, Cuero certainly knows what the ladies like, too.
“Design and comfort that make a shoe extremely versatile; from work to the street.”
With an emphasis on fashionable, this brand channels aesthetic and comfort into each of their designs. From casual work attire to a black-tie event, Dameriino works towards ensuring fashion doesn’t mean having to give up functionality — merely enhance it with design and a love for artistry.
HG Loves: Fresco, a combination of the classic brogue, the hip sneaker, and the chicness of tan leather at INR 4,150.
“GUSH is young, strong, confident, yet relaxed and trendy. The best way to describe our label is boho-chic.”
Launched in 2013 by Vrinda Gupta and Manav Shah, Gush describes itself as ‘boho-chic’. In 2012, Shah was dismayed by the lack of good options for men’s footwear, and along with Gupta, realised that there was a serious void in the market. “I just ran the idea of starting our very own shoe and accessory label for men past her. Her technical expertise in the field and my business management background seemed like an ideal match, and that sowed the first seeds for GUSH,” he says. Soon, they realised that cutting out 50 percent of the market was not a good idea, and developed a women’s collection as well. Three years later, they’ve collaborated with designers for fashion week and worked on a men’s collection for SVA’s runway show—apart from retailing on e-stores like Nete, Scootsy and Zohraa. Soon, GUSH!’s shoes will be available on Amazon, Flipkart and KOOVS. So you know where to go if you want a pair.
HG Loves: Gush’s trendy platform shoes. All of GUSH!’s products cost between INR 1500 to INR 4,000.
“Bringing unconventional footwear to the public”
A Portuguese word meaning style, Janota is the brainchild of Angela and Edwin Pinto of Goa. Angela has been dabbling in handicraft since she was 15 years old. She used to make clothes for herself and her family and after marrying Edwin, who is trained in pattern making and garment construction, the two of them put their combined knowledge to use and started Janota with the idea of bringing unconventional footwear to the public. They draw inspiration from Goa’s bohemian lifestyle and the joie de vivre of their fellow Goans.
HG Loves: Nobu, a pair of tan leather boots with a standout flap and visible stitching lines. These lovely boots are priced at INR 4000.
“Old world craftsmanship realized in modern fashion.”
They specialize in crafting sneakers that make every pair simply timeless. Their forte is luxury sneakers, maintaining a delicate balance of comfort and style. Crafted with attention, their range of sneakers come in neutral colours, allowing you to style them with several outfits with ease. Ved Dhadphale, founder of SVED, aimed to create the middle ground for India’s urban crowd — before it was either branded fast fashion priced at an outrageous cost, or cheap sneakers that compromised on quality. Once he perfected the craft, he moved to India and started SVED.
HG Loves: Black Classic, a jet black pair that’s nearly always sold out at INR 3,999.
VII. The Sole Sisters
“Combining modern elements with India’s local crafts”
Initially, The Sole Sisters started out as a blog, but today, it sells handcrafted shoes. The woman behind it, Chondamma Cariappa, quit her advertising job to pursue her passion for shoe design. All her shoes are handcrafted and combine modern elements while drawing inspiration from India’s local culture and crafts.
HG Loves: Their chikankari collection, made from handmade leather and gorgeous chikankari work. They cost INR 3,000.
VIII. The Shoe Factory
“Each pair is handcrafted by skilled artisans”
Delhi-based model Arjun Dutta started The Shoe Factory in 2013 when he discovered that he didn’t like anything in the market. “I could seldom find anything that appealed to my street style sensitivity, neither in terms of colour nor styling. So I decided to design my own,” he says. Over the years, Dutta has collaborated with numerous designers and showcased his collections at fashion weeks. Today, his most popular style is the Wholecut Brogue, while his personal favourite are the Monks with removable fringes. If you like Dutta’s collection, email him ([email protected]) to place an order. You can choose from existing styles or get Shoe Factory to make you your very own pair—show them an image of a shoe you like and they’ll make it from scratch.
HG Loves: The Olive Green Long Wing Derby. It’s hard to make a pair of green shoes look good, but The Shoe Factory manages perfectly with these babies and they’re priced at INR 8,500.
IX. Nappa Dori
“Our shoe designing process is quite an intricate one, with severe attention detail in unexpected places”
While most know that Nappa Dori makes amazing handcrafted leather bags and accessories, not everyone is in the know that they also make great shoes: the journey began when one of their artisans asked if he could make a classic Calcutta leather chappal, and the owners agreed. Soon after, Nappa Dori launched a limited edition collection of women’s shoes and received a great response. Now, they’re planning to release their next collection—but this time, for men and women. Their most popular styles are brogues and oxfords. You can place an order via email ([email protected]) or visit their stores at Meherchand Market or Hauz Khas Village.
HG Loves: The oxfords. Priced between INR 6,000 and INR 7,000, they’re sleek and androgynous. Was there ever a more versatile shoe that looked this good? Probably not.
X. SS HOMME
“Bespoke shoes in India, especially for men, are a rarity. Much like our bespoke garments, our shoes also undergo the same meticulous process.”
SS HOMME began as a bespoke luxury men’s suiting store in 2012. Since then, the team has been overwhelmed with the positive reactions from Mumbai’s dapper gentlemen, who understand the importance of dressing well. After expanding to include a prêt-á-porter section, SS HOMME has now moved into the realm of handmade shoes. “Bespoke shoes in India, especially for men, are a rarity. Much like our bespoke garments, bespoke shoes also undergo the same meticulous process of amalgamation. The process begins with choosing the design and the right type of leather for your shoes,” says Sandeep Gonsalves, one of the co-founders. If you want a pair of snazzy shoes courtesy SS HOMME, book an appointment through their website, or email them ([email protected]) to schedule an appointment for shoes.
HG Loves: Their burnt orange Brogues. It’s the perfect pop of colour needed to add some excitement to your outfit. SS HOMME’s bespoke shoes start from INR 18,000.
Research by Diva Garg.
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