India’s open footwear (flip-flops, thong sandals, slippers, flats, etc.,) segment is estimated to be worth more than Rs 6,000 crore and growing at a CAGR of 15%+. Yet for many years this category has either been dominated by mass players such as Relaxo and Liberty or high-end international brands such as Skechers and Crocs. A homegrown, youth-centric open footwear retail and manufacturing brand called Solethreads is now creating a niche for itself with its range of quirky and chic in-trend flip-flops.
Founded in November 2018, the brand is the brainchild of co-founders Sumant Kakaria and Gaurav Chopra, who bring with them an experience of over 13 years in the retail industry. The duo has since been joined by Vikram Iyer as co-founder and chief business officer and Aprajit Kathuria as co-founder and chief marketing officer.
“Solethreads takes pride in being the harbinger of innovation and latest technology in footwear designing,” says co-founder and CEO Sumant Kakaria. The brand has Phylon molded technology (ultra-light and shock absorbent), Squishy technology (super soft and comfortable) and its patented Synturf technology (grass flip-flops) under its umbrella. It has more than 30 design patents already and has some new-age innovation in the pipeline, both in the product such as DIY designs, as well as its business model such as personalised footwear. The company has an in-house designing and R&D team that focuses on innovation and global trend spotting that connect with the youth.
“Being a tech-savvy brand, Solethreads has also partnered with tech solution partners that have helped us achieve our current scale and prepare for future growth,” says Kakaria. These include Glaucus for smart inventory management, Paxcom for e-commerce analytics and channel intelligence, Shoptimize for AI-based performance marketing and Vinculum for omni-channel integration.
As a digital-forward brand, it has strategic alignments with leading platforms Amazon, Myntra and Flipkart, says Kakaria. “We have seen tremendous response across all our pilots and channels. On Amazon, the brand crossed Rs 50,00,000 GMV within four months of launch. The fact that we reached `1 crore revenue within eight 8 months of launch while being bootstrapped, speaks volumes about the overall potential, as well as the team’s capability to build a very robust business model,” he adds.
It has recently revamped its own D2C (direct to customer) website. “On our own website, we touched a revenue of `50,000 per day, within 10 days of launching our D2C marketing campaigns, which is a very strong validation of our product-market mix,” says Kakaria. “Our design aesthetic and product innovation is ensuring that customers are turning to us for out-of-home use, and occasion led buying is something we are looking to build further.”
According to him, in the offline retail space, Solethreads has done a successful pilot launch with a leading Indian footwear retailer and is gearing up to expand across the latter’s network of stores. “We believe that there is exponential growth to be had in this category both online and offline, and hence we have geared our go-to-market strategy and team accordingly,” he explains.
Solethreads aims to become a Rs 300-crore fast fashion ‘open footwear’ brand in the next three years with strong online and offline presence. “We are bullish on going global based on our recent pilot tests across various international platforms,” he adds.