Footwear label CAI was one of the first brands to introduce the concept of vegan footwear and has garnered many eyeballs since 2018. It was in 2018 that the brand launched a collection in collaboration with stylist and film producer Rhea Kapoor, bringing them more into the limelight. With contemporary styles that effortlessly add polish to any look, CAI fits the bill for all age groups.
Achieving another major milestone, last month, the brand opened its first-ever offline store in Phoenix Palladium, Mumbai, giving customers a chance to look and feel the product before their purchase. Designed by Aashni Kumar of Studio Flamingo, the space is purposefully designed, with minimalist and modern design accents that are juxtaposed with bold colour-blocked walls and vivid patterns. Muted tones of beige and gold, work as the defining colour palette, while the footwear adds pops of colour to the store.
TSL caught up with Aradhana Minwala, Co-founder of CAI to know more about the store and brand philosophy.
What urged you to start a vegan footwear brand and was it challenging to find your feet in the Indian market?
Being a vegan and PETA-approved footwear brand, we wanted to focus on introducing a fresh take on cruelty-conscious consumption. We identified a gap within the Indian market for trendy affordable shoes and dived into researching ways to combine traditional and new techniques in shoemaking. Our shoes are handcrafted with love and are made to ensure comfort and style up to their fullest. We aim to create aesthetic, durable and functional footwear that would give CAI an edge over the footwear market.
Sustainability, style, and comfort have always been the ethos of the brand, what can we expect in your upcoming collections?
Our upcoming collection is always going to be incorporated and fused with style, comfort and sustainability. Keeping those in mind, we will continue to be launching many more styles, a range of silhouettes, using a set of different and unique fabrics, embedded with different textures and experimenting with many more elements. We would also be entering new categories soon, and provide our customers with new styles and products for the same. So do stay tuned, and we shall let you know what exciting products we have coming up!
While you've been on an online shopping platform for many years, what made you shift to the physical store?
While we started off as an e-commerce brand, and have established a strong presence since we also wanted to try moving to an offline retail store. Due to the high number of orders, we tend to receive, having a physical store would also make it easier for customers to go try on our shoes and pick their favourite pairs. Moreover, being present in a big mall such as Palladium has always been on our vision board for a while now.
Do you plan to expand retail outlets across the country in the near future?
Yes, of course, we want to expand our presence across India! To us, the sky is the limit.
How do you blend fashion, comfort, and a sustainable approach?
Fashion, comfort and sustainability are the ethos of the brand and our top 3 priorities. We freshly curate our products and do not use leather, instead, we use newer materials to keep improvising our comfort. We use vegan leather which is simply PU or faux leather that you get in India. Moreover, we invest our time in research and development, to keep up with recent trends and styles. And lastly, our team tends to try and test each of our products, by wearing them before we launch them to our customers.
What differentiates CAI from other footwear stores?
It definitely has to be the unique styles that we provide, the way we tend to pick up on new trends and different aspired designs and our turnaround time for delivering this trendy fashion is fast. The ethos of our brand - comfort, sustainability, fashion - is what makes us who we are and makes us different from every other brand. At the same time, we provide all our footwear at affordable prices for every individual.