Local shoe designer Del Toro may soon have some stiff competition coming their way. Wynwood's latest addition to the men's shoe industry, Kabaccha Shoes, is right on their ostrich-skinned heels.
"My strategy is to break through the men's market, because I believe that men's fashion is really lacking in color," says Kabeer Arora, founder and owner of the shoe brand.
The brand started a year ago, when Arora saw a deficiency of statement shoes for the dapper gentlemen. Think Mark McNairy meets Prada meets the entire color spectrum. "Everybody makes safe shoes; I want to make 10/10 risky, trendy shoes," Arora adds.
"I was reading this article on Dapper.com that came out on January 19, about 2015 Best Men's Shoes Under $200," Arora explains, "and there wasn't a splash of color on any of them. You can buy these anywhere right now. Next time you go shopping, just look at the men's shoe section -- all you'll see is brown and black."
That's not to say black and brown don't make their share of appearances in Arora's latest collection, but they're usually offset with a pop of red, or a grass-green sole.
"My brand is about freedom and choice, and having an option. There's not one name that encompasses the whole movement of color in men's fashion, in my opinion."
Every shoe is made out of Nappa leather, which comes from the best of the best Italian tanneries, and boasts a micro sole, which makes the lace-ups virtually weightless. Some might even compare the line to Cole Haan's Spring 2012 collaboration with Nike. But the difference between the two, Arora says, is the soles and consistency of color-ways.
"This wingtip is a classic wingtip, and no brand can take credit for the design," Arora says, "Cole Haan soles come in maybe three to four colors per season, but I wanted to only make color. Plus, their soles look sort of like swirly ice-cream."
Micro soles have a questionable reputation for sustainability in the industry, but for the average Kabaccha shoe, the wear-and-tear factor is slim to none. "A lot of people usually associate light-weight with low quality and little durability." To test the quality and durability of his product, Arora has worn the same pair of grey, suede loafer for the last six and half months. He's even worn them to the gym.
"Well, I don't do cardio in them, but it's gotten to the point where I don't want to take them off under any circumstances." It's questionable whether or not he goes to bed in them - the relationship is really that serious.
Still, top quality Italian leather, a micro sole, and sick color-ways all sound somewhat financially unattainable. Surprisingly, however, the price point isn't too shabby. "I should be selling them for $500, but I want to keep them under $300," says Arora. "They are costing me $120 to make, but the retail price is still under debate; the idea is to make it so that young guys are able to afford good product." The undetermined price also includes a swanky shoebox and dust bag made in Italy, and a gifted pair of peds.
But men won't be Kabaccha's only target market. The brand is also set to release a line of unisex sunglasses and women's shoes, pretty much mimicking the men's line. You'll even be able to customize the color-way of your choice and/or engrave your name onto any Kabaccha shoe; that is, if you love yourself that much.
Though the concept of Kabaccha spawned only a year ago, the journey of Arora's shoe fetish has been 27-years in the making. As the offspring of Indian shoemakers, Arora was born into the world with that pulsating through his veins, but he still sought an education at London College of Fashion for design.
There, he fine-tuned his skills as a shoe designer, and shortly after, packed up his bags and headed to a designer's paradise: Milan. After graduating, Arora threw himself into the factories of Milan, learning first-hand how a shoe was really made, not just designed.
Even though Arora was taught by the best makers in Milan, the concept manifested just four hours out of the big city, in Marque. Deep in the process of building his own brand and creating the perfect wingtip, he jetted between London and Milan, solidifying his product. But it was in Miami, Arora's hometown, where he would launch Kabaccha Shoes.
"I could have gone to Los Angeles or New York to launch, but that would be like bringing sand to the beach -- another shoe designer in L.A. is like another actor in L.A.," says the Wynwood shoe designer. "Miami is a beautiful city, but the start-up community is non-existent. The Shoe District is still here, but its been kind of pushed out of Wynwood now."
And domestically manufacturing shoes in Miami is no walk in the park. "In L.A., you could go into The Fashion District in Downtown and have this stuff made instantly; here it's hard."
Manufacturing domestically might be hard, but marketing sure ain't: "I'm using Crowdfunding as a means to get the word out."
Since its launch date last Monday, the brand has quickly tallied up $63,669, surpassing its $25,000 goal. The brand could possibly even raise millions, Arora says. But it's up to you to see if he gets there.
For now, kabacchashoes.com is the only place you can find Arora's spry-guy line up of brogues, wingtips, loafers, oxfords, and soon-to-be dress slippers. And to back his project, check out their Kickstarter.
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