Since the pandemic, a ‘new normal’ has settled in, and we’re seeing not just a new way of living, but also dressing — one that’s governed by active comfort and functionality. Be it work from home, yoga on your balcony or an easy staycation, it’s all about catching your breath, being relaxed, and finding your calm. And it’s so much easier to walk down this path in a pair of soul-comforting flip-flops.
Across the world and since time immemorial, people have been wearing these modest shoes that consist of a sole, and with a strap that goes across the top of the foot in some form or another. The name may be attributed to the 1950s, and to the United States of America, but flip flops have been around for at least 6,000 years and ancient Egyptians seem to have been wearing them since 4,000 BCE. Flip flops were once associated with the indoors, tropical weather and the beaches. However, with changing trends and a new-found all-weather fashion appeal, they are being adopted unstintingly by the fashion-conscious younger consumers as ‘everyday and everywhere’ wear. They have, in essence, become the footwear of choice, across occasions.
It is therefore important that the purchase of open footwear is a progressively high-involvement decision for the consumer. An innovative product with a strong value proposition will beat out the competition. It is therefore, in this highly competitive market, that the products are both innovation and technology led. And they go through a rigorous process that involves testing multiple concepts with consumers’ rapid product prototyping, and ensuring that the final product exceeds customer expectations.
Market Potential for Flip Flops in India
India is the second-largest footwear manufacturer in the world and yet 60-70 per cent of its consumption is met by imports from China, which means that there is a lot more consumption happening and not enough ‘Made in India’ supply. Leaving that aside, there is no Indian brand that is transforming the footwear sector here, to cater to the needs of Indians. The existing ones use standardised products for India, without creating any India-specific footwear. The state gets further aggravated when we talk about flip flops. Whilst it has a huge market in the US, UAE and Southeast Asia, with places like the US having dedicated flip flop brands, India has not seen this disruption in its market. We have the environment, the appropriateness and the potential to become one of the largest flip flop markets in the world.
India is the second-largest footwear manufacturer in the world and yet 60-70 per cent of its consumption is met by imports from China, which means that there is a lot more consumption happening and not enough ‘Made in India’ supply.
More on Flip Flops
Flip flops are a nascent sector in India, but they have a potential quite unlike any other. Indians are used to ‘chappals’ and sandals, and we’ve had these two varieties of footwear available to us for decades now (if not centuries). They were used but only at home, or during very confined occasions. As the taste and preferences of Indians get more varied and exposed, the acceptance of flip flops grew. Flip flops are now a high penetration category, and the target customers are as diverse and well-informed as they are many. Flip flops have a lot going for them. They are easy to wear, come in a miscellany of colours, styles and sizes, and they are comforting and airy while being used in a wide variety of weather conditions and settings. Such versatility and expediency is something everyone looks for. It’s a win-win.
Size of the Open Footwear Market in India
India’s footwear market was around US$10.6 billion in 2019 and is estimated to reach US$15.5 billion by 2022. Out of this, open footwear is the biggest category and has the highest penetration. This presents an India to the world full of opportunities in the open footwear sector. India has now joined the global trend bandwagon wherein 86 per cent of the footwear consumed is in the non-leather sector. This shows us the size and scale of the industry today.