Posted on September 01 2015
Black, brown, blue, tan, sandals, slippers, moccasins, formals, long boots—these are the colours and styles for the metro man--the style icon, the corporate or a casual shopper, Alberto Torresi has something for every man who likes to walk in comfort and style—so we discovered at the brand’s manufacturing unit in Agra.
Launched in 2010 by the 40-year-old Virola Shoes, the shoes are made of 100 per cent leather. And person pushing the growth is Ishaan Sachdeva, the second generation entrepreneur.
What’s interesting to know is how this Italian landed in Agra? Well, remember the on-the-spot concocted Albert Pinto of Golmaal Returns. Like Albert Pinto, this Italian was born at a dinner table in Italy, explains Sachdeva, who is also a Director in the company. His father, who started the unit, was trying to find the name for a shoe brand that they wanted to launch in India and sitting with agents in Italy, Alberto Torresi was born.
Talking about the shoes and their USP, Sachdeva showed that the company had developed and patented a stress-free technology. Giving know-how on the making of shoes, Sachdeva cited that it’s important to make shoes in a manner that they do not harm the knees and the heels. That’s what stress free does for Alberto Torresi.
Why shoes for men and not women when that market is larger? Answering that, Sachdeva said that since the company manufactured women’s shoes since its inception, it now wanted something different. Also, it’s more about capturing the market for the aware metro man as there are less domestic players in this stream. Reasons for the choice abound, going from brand loyalty to comfort and changing styles and tastes.Besides, the women's footwear market is mostly an unorganised market.
Inside the unit
Popularly known as India’s largest shoe manufacturing hub, Agra is where the royals lived and are buried. And you find this historical touch in the décor of Virola too. From the world of the local shoe cobbler to a professional shoe maker, the unit was an eye opener in many ways.
It had a huge display of shoes, which were exported and some for the domestic market. And for most of you heard grandma telling you not to put your shoes on the table, here’s a huge glass table for the wear that graces your feet and keeps it protected.
Surprisingly, the unit was neat and clean, no smells and no waste round. Even the leather store room was well kept. Leather comes from all over the world, as different styles have different needs. Virola manufactures for eminent global brands and there are seasonal styles doing the rounds. The unit employs around 800 people.
Branding and more
On branding and marketing, Sachdeva elaborated that he had spent a year learning marketing strategies in Germany. The shoes are sold online through various channel partners and are found in multibrand stores.
The key to growth is taking it to more tier II and III cities. He has got a good response as the price points are reasonable, keeping in mind the Indian consumer.
On Indian sensibilities, he finds the Indian consumer still conservative. Men like to experiment less, will want comfort for a reasonable price, will opt for a single pair sometimes, which can be used on multiple occasions.
Custom-made--only for the celebrated ones
Ramps—done a fashion show with Manish Malhotra
Brand ambassador—not looking at any at the moment
Open to—styling options, better technology
On the anvil--exclusive store, women’s range
Colour code--tan is the company's USP