Home-made shoes now walk the walk, and how!

Kathmandu, November 12:

Nepali footwear industry has come of age. With a number of indigenous brands, it has created wider options for people willing to buy quality shoes at economy prices. BF Dear Hill, Takura, Shikhar and many more shoe brands have penetrated the market. However, this was not so earlier. Just a few years ago, the only Nepali shoe in the market was Bansbari brand.

Currently Nepali branded shoes occupy 40-45 per cent of the total domestic market. “Bansbari shoe industry in the earlier days was the sole Nepali shoe manufacturer, Fit Rite was introduced in 1987 and then came its leather wing during 1990. However, now we have a number of brands in the market,” said Hom Nath Upadhyay, second vice- president of Leather Footwear and Goods Manufacturers’ Association of Nepal (LFGMAN). There are 45 Nepali shoe brands registered with LFGMAN while the number of locally manufactured shoes is informally around 20, said Upadhyay.

“The demand for Nepali footwear has increased significantly, and to reach this stage we had to struggle very hard. We are happy to note that the number of customers willing to buy Nepali shoes is on the rise,” said Nawaraj Gautam, managing director of Takura Shoe.

One can get better quality Nepali branded shoes at the same price range of fancy imported shoes that have less durability. “The main reason people are opting for Nepali shoes over foreign ones is the durability factor along with cheaper prices,” Gautam added. Upadhyay said, “Against imported shoes worth Rs 2000, customers can get far better quality Nepali shoes at the same price.”

Thanks to the change in people’s choice regarding footwear, Nepali footwear is taking over the market and edging out imported shoes. High quality, good designs and reasonable prices of footwear manufactured in Nepal are reasons for its success. According to Upadhyay, since the shoes are manufactured at the local level they go directly into the market and this is one reason for their reasonable price. Soes that are impiorted have to go through various channels before hitting the market and are hence costlier.

Buoyed by the growing demand, Nepali footwear manufacturers are leaving no stone unturned. They are resorting to strategies like attractive advertisements, promos and offers to grab the market.

Meanwhile, although the market for Nepali footwear is growing, the raw materials for making the shoes have to imported from India. Upadhyay said, “We are on our way to achieving success but we still have to import raw materials like leather for the uppers, like Pharmapoly Rubber (PPR) and Polyurethane for soles. It is costlier to set up a factory here but if the market grows, in another 2-4 years we will be able to afford the import cost and produce higher quality shoes fit for the international market.”