Tarun Oblum, a Hyderabadi handcrafted luxury shoemaker, talks about his journey
Hyderabad: There are very few other things that are as gorgeous as a beautiful pair of new shoes. And what better than fine leather ones of one’s choice? Bringing that dream shoe to reality is this luxury shoe brand ‘Oblum’ spearheaded by Tarun Oblum, a Hyderabadi shoe craftsman.
The alum of the Hyderabad Public School (HPS), who credits his art teacher for introducing the world of creativity to him, pursued a diploma in leather technology at Milan, which he said directed his creative soul to the soles. Soon after that, Tarun studied footwear design and development at the London School of Fashion.
Having started his shoe-making journey as a sole craftsman for the first six months, the shoemaker slowly gathered a team of six craftsmen from Agra who he said have become totally Hyderabadi now. “My craftsmen have all shifted with their families here. We have become a family now, their kids come and see where their fathers work which is not the usual case with shoemakers,” said the 29-year-old.
Working with these craftsmen at his store cum workshop at Madhapur, Tarun takes an understanding of the customer’s dressing sense and usual choices and makes suggestions as to which kind of shoe might fit the best. “As one gives an order, we take around a week or so to craft the shoe. Apart from delivering these handcrafted and dyed shoes, we also do servicing. As every part is handcrafted, it is quite easy to do maintenance for the shoe – like polishing or replacing any part of the shoe,” he explained.
Beginning with selling only about half a dozen shoes, Oblum now sells more than 30 shoes per month. However, the maximum sales have been post-pandemic. “The last three months of 2020 were very busy. People started getting married right on all of a sudden and we got continuous orders. We usually don’t sell off the shelf, but during that period we also sold from the store,” shared Tarun, laughing at the sudden onset of weddings.
However, Tarun’s collection stands apart for its wide array of colour choices. One can see parrot green, burgundy, and also mixed coloured shoes with various patterns and styles here. “Leather shoes are no longer worn just for formal occasions. So to go with every occasion we have these various colours. Some customers might not have worn coloured shoes ever, but as they try them at our store, they surely go forward and order,” the shoemaker said.
On the source of the leather, Tarun shared: “We mostly source leather from a tannery in Argentina and Europe. We also have a Chennai-based tannery sourcing for us for small goods like watch straps, wallets, passport holders, etc.”
Agreeing that the leather he works with is pure animal leather, Tarun noted, “There was a wave for vegan leather in between. But to be very frank, vegan leather is as harmful as animal leather. If one understands the source of the vegan leather – it is made of rexine which is as harmful as plastic. However, I’m very particular about the longevity and the finish of my products, so cannot choose to have any other kind of leather.”
The shoemaker also said that natural leather made of pineapple fibre, cork, and coconut fibre is still under experimentation in various parts of the country.
The price of these handcrafted Oblum shoes range between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000. However, some shoes depending on the leather might go beyond 25,000.
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