Stepping it Up: This Entrepreneur is Aiming to Take on Global Brands with his Bespoke Footwear The shoe line offers a variety of designs, including brogues, oxfords and even vegan leather shoes

By Sanchita Dash

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In a factory in Agra, shoes are mass produced, branded and then sent off to one of the biggest retail companies in the world, Zara. The shoes then find their way back into the Indian market, this time with a much higher price tag. Like Zara, most major fashion outlets have manufacturing locations in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Oblivious to this fact, consumers in India often refrain from investing in a homegrown brand and opt for a high-quality international brand, even if they feel the pocket pinch.

When Ayush Diwan Khurana bought the new and trendy Zara loafers back in 2011, he was surprised to know that his uncle in Agra manufactures the same shoes. The student of economics from Delhi University, who went on to do a course in strategic marketing from London School of Economics, spotted the business opportunity in the shoe industry. Letting his creative instinct take over, he founded the shoe brand Modello Domani.

From Economics to Fashion

Making his move into the fashion industry, Khurana surprised many in his circle. But for him it was just something that came to him naturally, even without a background in the industry. He started the business from the living room of his house in Defence Colony in New Delhi in 2011, went on to officially launch the brand in 2015 and today has a flagship store in the area.

"We make sure that our prices are affordable, even if it's a pure leather shoe. We have a starting range from half of what others charge for the same product. That's why it's an affordable luxury brand," asserted Khurana.

Using Social Media for Marketing

For every entrepreneur, with everything going digital, social media is the most important aspect of marketing. But when it comes to being an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, the emphasis on social media marketing is even more. Instagram is the new online shop, where just posts about products gather interest and people direct message (DM) the owner about the details of the product. WhatsApp is the place where negotiations happen and deals are finalized. Modello Domani, too, has built a strong following of over 106k followers on Instagram itself. "With the brand being just 2.5 years old, that's a good presence to cherish. We post every two days without fail. The idea is to keep the client engaged," he added.

Challenging the Changing Trends

In the world of fashion, trends change by the minute. New designs and new prints catch the fancy of designers all the time, who, in turn, dictate the terms for the fashion community. A business in fashion should always be ready to face the risks of the game.

"Sometimes it can so happen that one day a person orders a product but the next day he/she decides that it is not required anymore or the design is not appealing anymore, and he/she cancels it. We, too, saw many lean periods when we started," recalled Khurana. To fit the various needs of customers, they have even come up with a variety of designs and shapes — from brogues to oxfords and even vegan leather shoes.

Modello Domani can be classified as a male-centric brand and has the USP that it can customize any kind of shoe within a short period. Very soon they will be launching a women's line as well. Not just that, they have even partnered with e-commerce giants like Myntra, Ajio, Flipkart, Paytm. "It works to our advantage. They buy our products and sell it on their behalf. That also works out as additional marketing for us but on their behalf," he said.

The 27-year-old Khurana opined that the word entrepreneur is very easily thrown around these days. "Being an entrepreneur doesn't mean you just wake up one day and come up with an idea. Like Mark Cuban says, that's a wantapreneur. It's not just about the idea, you have to implement and see it through, it's true business potential."

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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