Hyderabad: A shoe reflects a person’s personality. However, for eco-friendly people finding a right pair of footwear that is both comfortable and also sustainable is not an easy task.
In order to cater to this growing eco-conscious population, Hyderabad-based company Neeman’s is making men’s shoes made from wool that are not only comfortable but natural and lightweight. Made from Merino sheep wool, a breed that lives only in extreme cold conditions and found in New Zealand and Australia, the shoes come with washable soles, are breathable, odor resistant and are flexible.
After spending about two years in research and development, Taran Chhabra and Amar Preet Singh have come out with three ranges of men’s shoes – sneakers, joggers and loafers. “The shoe is born out of my own personal experience of not able to find that one shoe that can be worn all-day long without feeling uncomfortable. Idea came from my experience wherein I had packed some five different kind of shoes during a trip to Spain and because of that I had almost missed my train. That is when I discussed with Amar about the need for having one pair of shoes that does not compromise on style but is yet comfortable. So we researched about the footwear market and decided to start our own venture,” informs Chhabra.
Both the Neeman’s founders do not belong to the footwear space – while Chhabra comes from a IT background, Singh has been consultant for many startups mostly in the education space. But it was their passion to create a first-of-its-kind venture in the footwear space bought them together. After spending about two years in conception, design and testing, the startup was able to launch their product three months ago and has sold about 1,300 shoes till now.
While outer part of the shoe is made with Merino sheep wool, the inside sole is made up of plant-based caster bean oil, recycled rubber and wastepaper. It has partnered with Australia’s The Woolmark Company – a global authority propagating Merino wool – for strategic partnership. After the raw material is sourced, the wool is shipped to London for design, then to South Korea for fabric creation and finally the product is manufactured in China before reaching Hyderabad – wherein the company has a warehouse in Shamshabad. However, the shoes are currently sold only in India.
“Going ahead, we plan to launch women shoes and also get into kids shoes as the fabric that we use is bacteria-resistant. We are also looking at setting up pop-up stores in select locations in India so that our customers can experience the shoes and also set up exclusive stores by end of 2019,” says Chhabra.