Fashion

In the Ecco chamber with Liam Maher

At the Ecco store in Delhi

At the Ecco store in Delhi   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The Danish footwear brand enters the Indian retail market with their first store in Gurgaon

What is the contemporary Indian customer looking for in any retail brand, be it premium or luxury? It boils down to provenance and responsibility — where it comes from and how it is made. On these two counts, Danish footwear manufacturer, Ecco, scores highly. The family-owned, 56-year-old brand opened their first store in India at Ambience Mall in Gurgaon last week, featuring their collection of sustainable, dry-tanned leather shoes for men and women.

Global creative director Liam Maher, who was in the country for the launch, says, “The current state of retail is in the forefront of everyone’s mind. But we believe we have a compelling, innovative product that will do well.” Luxury lifestyle writer and self-confessed sneakerhead, Magandeep Singh, who was in conversation with Maher at the event, says the premium brand uses full grain leather and Fluidform technology to achieve want they call “fashionable comfort”. “The latter ensures both comfort and durability: once the upper and outer sole are crafted, a liquid is injected to fill up the space between the two. This transforms into a soft solid sole, which cannot split away easily,” he adds.

Liam Maher, global creative director at Ecco shoes

Liam Maher, global creative director at Ecco shoes  

What India wants

Entering the premium market, Ecco will be competing with brands like Rockport and Clarks, going beyond their signature dress shoes, with sneakers and a line for the ladies. The Vitrus Boot is a great day-to-night option, especially in the winter months. Maher says a combination of market research findings and instinct led to the decision to mark a standalone retail space for the brand in India. “The more impressive fact is that much of the research with regard to the Indian customer is very true of the international customer. There are things happening globally that are being reflected in Indian shopping habits,” he explains. For instance, customers around the age of 30 have most probably grown up in sneaker culture. Coupled with the fact that the lifestyle and workplace dress code has evolved, they would want to upgrade to a premium version of the same, which is the brand’s target audience.

Their latest retail concept, launched about a year and a half ago, is the Prime store. The Delhi store too follows the same format, which can be found in their London, Toronto, Berlin and Hamburg flagships, among others. The space features interiors that reference the heritage of the brand, leather detailing and focussed lighting to create a premium shopping experience. “We have endeavoured to embed it with more demonstrative displays and more experiential components than previous retail concepts,” says Maher, adding that the collections in these stores are designed to fit the local customer.

A close-up of Ecco’s Fluidform sole

A close-up of Ecco’s Fluidform sole  

So why isn’t the Vitrus Mondial, their latest dress shoe, releasing in India till March 2020? “I was prepared to defend myself for this question,” he laughs, going on to explain, “It is just for this particular situation. The Vitrus Mondial is one of the biggest innovations we’ve made recently. It took us years to figure out how to engineer Ecco’s comfort signature into a European dress profile, and we want to make sure that they’re all perfect as they get to market. So we have been cascading it with an initial launch in one of our European stores, reaching here next year.” He concludes by assuring us that by and large, the launches for new technologies will be simultaneous with the global market.

Women’s shoes from ₹8,999 to ₹16,999. Overall pricing for men’s range from ₹10,999 up to ₹27,999. Pricing for ST.1 HYBRID: ₹15,999 to ₹16,999. At Ambience Mall, Gurgaon.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 2:31:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/in-the-ecco-chamber-with-liam-maher/article30049597.ece

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