Nupur Chaudhuri Footwear: In Conversation with the Designer
Every time I meet Nupur, I fall in love with what she’s wearing in her feet. The lady knows shoes! I wasn’t very surprised (albeit excited) when she launched her own [drool-worthy] footwear label. Here’s our little chat about it!
AB: Tell me about yourself. What makes you tick?
NC: I’m a journalist turned footwear designer. I’m incredibly fortunate that I’ve been able to use my love for writing to reach out to people over the last 11 years. Hopefully, I will be able to do the same with my footwear label. I’m a true-blue Taurean – creative, strong-willed, hard-working, honest, and a friend in need. While I may be choosy about the people I like and associate with, I am absolutely and shamelessly non-picky when it comes to animals. My dog Mowgli is the most important soul in my life. And it’s this love for him and animals that inspired me to go vegetarian – in food and shoes. My friends call me crazy and I think that’s because I do what I like – I’ll hop on to a table to dance if I feel like it without caring what anyone would say or think. I think that makes me tick.
NC: Actually my husband Ashwin Shetty did – he’s the one who encouraged me to live the dream and make shoes that I love. I’ve always been crazy about shoes (since I was a little girl!) – high heels in particular and I’ve always been complimented for the funky styles I’ve worn. It was in 2007 in Australia, at a wine and P.S.I Love You night with my girlfriends that I said aloud: “I want to make shoes!” The thought stuck in my head and in 2011, I took off for a footwear design course at the London College of Fashion. In 2013, Ashwin encouraged me to quit my job as Deputy Editor of Pune Times to work on my label. I did a second course at the Footwear Development and Design Institute in Mumbai and simultaneously researched the market, did a lot of sampling work to finally launch ‘Nupur Chaudhuri’ on 29th August, 2014. It’s a labour of love, hard work and dreams.
AB: Tell me more about NCF…
NC: Nupur Chaudhuri is about trendy, contemporary footwear that’s handmade and cruelty-free. You will see a lot of gold in our work but it will never be over-the-top, in-your-face. Classy and chic is how I would describe it. Also, we are big on gladiators and will be coming up with even funkier designs in our future collections.
I’ve always been clear that when I would launch, my label would have to be cruelty-free. Animal skin looks best on animals. Our tagline is: “No ‘soles’ were harmed in the production of these shoes’. It’s a myth that you need leather for good shoes because the synthetics and man-made materials give a sturdy look and finish and the high quality ones (which we use) are durable. A lot of people today are conscious about animal cruelty and would prefer to pick a non-leather accessory. Some make excuses for making and manufacturing leather products by saying that animals are not slaughtered specifically for leather. I’d say you live in a fantasy world because this very minute a snake, fox, rabbit are being skinned alive and a calf slaughtered for its skin. Moreover, leather has to be tanned and the chemicals added to the skin make it non-biodegradable. So you are harming the environment as opposed to what people think. I would eventually love to make Nupur Chaudhuri absolutely eco-friendly.
AB: What inspires your designs?
NC: Current trends in fashion, costumes, architecture, nature, colour combinations, just about everything I see around me. Plus, my own quirkiness and sense of fashion. I make shoes that I would wear – the label is a reflection of my personality.
AB: Pune’s still new to designer footwear, no? How’s the reaction been?
NC: Super! Surpassed my expectations, actually. I think people here have increasingly become very value-conscious – they want exclusivity, they want to know where the products are made and with what, they want good price points, they want customization – this is a boost for designers. Earlier, this was limited to clothes but now every girl who loves fashion, loves good shoes.
AB: According to you, what’s the biggest blunder women commit when it comes to footwear fashion? Anything that you’ve seen especially in Pune?
NC: Pairing floaters (with or without socks!) with dresses, jumpsuits, shorts. It irks me. There are so many comfortable options available in flats, wear them please! Wear trendy sneakers if you want, but get rid of those floaters. Another blunder, albeit not related to the fashion aspect, is wearing the wrong size of footwear. You are harming your feet and your body posture if you don’t wear the right size.
AB: Your favourite footwear brands are?
NC: Stella McCartney. Beautiful, cruelty-free shoes.
AB: What’s next?
NC: Expansion. We will be launching at multi-designer store Aananya prêt ensemble at Dhole Patil Road on 30th September. We are also expanding to different cities in the next three months. My own little Shoetique is also in the pipeline.