I am not much of a footwear person. Now, I don’t mean to say I like walking around barefoot. It’s just that I am so not the type who can maintain an exclusive pair of shoes to go well with each dress I buy. I am the kind who will buy 3 or 4 pairs of reliable (read: no pencil heels, no tiny-string stilettos), durable (read- slush about in the rain and they are still intact), goes-well-with-any-dress kinda footwear and leave it at that. And oh yeah, there is also a fancy, high-heeled, diva-like pair meant for occasions that do not demand too much walking ( I would die walking in them!) Considering the fact that I spend more than half of my life slogging in a cramped cubicle where people don’t have time to scratch their backs, forget checking out other’s footwear, I don’t really get into this matching-coordinating-shoes-n-dress business. So basically, I have a bad case of “guy-like” negligence when it comes to footwear. Guys, if you are shoe-fanatics, don’t take offence! It’s just that most guys I know don’t really care!
So considering my absolute nonchalance towards footwear NOW, you can imagine what I must have been like as a kid. The ONLY footwear brand I knew as a kid was ‘Bata’. Liberty, Action blah blah was still there, but Bata was a household name. Just like the Maruti 800 among cars and the Bajaj Chetak among scooters. So the black school shoes, the blue and white sports shoes and even the everyday shoes at home were all Bata. Back then, Bata was a no-nonsense, no strings attached kinda footwear company. At one point of time, looking at all the love people had for Bata, I even thought it was an Indian company. Much later did I learn that it was not! But looking back now, I realize there was something very Indian about Bata. It was the most economical, most comfortable and most minimalistic brand of footwear. Very rarely could you find some fancy footwear there. It was all about comfort and minimalism.
My tryst with Bata continued until I was old enough to buy my own shoes. From then on, I was no more a Bata loyalist. The collections at Bata did not cater to my needs anymore. As a youngster, your taste is bound to lean over something that is more stylish than comfortable and more outdoor-ish, in-the-wild kinda stuff. Woodlands was the best bet in that category. But yes, I must say, Woodlands was expensive! More so, when you have been wearing Bata all your life ;)
And then came the Metro, the Mochi, the Sole and poor Bata took a blow. In fact, I don’t remember buying footwear from Bata in a really long time. Even if I did, it was when I needed a comfortable pair of pump shoes for my morning walk in Mandya (the walk did not last for long, but the shoes did J ) . I thought Bata was all but gone, until one day in mid-2007( I think) when a pamphlet arrived with the morning newspaper. Bata was back! Trying to do it’s best to catch up with the new trends, Bata had introduced its line of new designs. Nothing over-the-top, but definitely a far cry from the minimalistic designs Bata was known for. And they had re-discovered their old designs too. Their footwear was now more colorful, looked younger, but, like always, was still very affordable! The Bata logo still makes me feel very nostalgic! It’s a brand I have seen morphing in my times…From tiny footwear shops to 3-level showrooms, Bata has changed and how! The way this brand has re-emerged is truly remarkable..I don’t know about the market gurus and their complicated analysis, but at least for me, I think Bata has really grown from what it used to be!
In the past year, their designs have really taken an upsurge in style and now, if you walk into a Bata showroom, you will see designs that are both stylish and comfortable! There are two things about Bata that still hasn’t changed. Their minimalism and their affordability. Their designs are still understated, yet elegant, and nothing flashy at all! And the cost is still very much easy on the average Indian pocket( old Bata loyalists will beg to differ I know!).Different people have different opinions about the quality though. That is one thing not all can agree upon. The experience differs from person to person, so I will not touch the quality part here!
This past week, I shopped for something comfortable to wear through the summer. And I found just the perfect thing at the Bata showroom. Now, you may have seen many variants of these close-toe shoes, but this one is ultra-comfortable. Your feet just slip into it and stay there! Plus, it’s ventilated. Tiny holes all around the shoe, it’s so perfect for sweaty summer feet! Considering the fact that I have giant feet ( no wonder I am not much of a shoe person! K), I was pretty surprised when this shoe actually fit :-P Their Hush Puppies (The brand from Wolverine.. I think Bata is marketing this brand in India), ladies’ formal shoes and the glossy peep toes were amazing too. But with their cool-on-the-eyes pastel shades and their ultra-comfortable,simple,no-fuss design, the winner for me is this understated, very girly pair of close-toes that go well with the summer theme and look great on the feet too! And guess what! Carry them home for just 300 bucks!How cool is that! ;)
Ok, FYI, Bata did not pay me to write this :-P This is just direct dil-se.. Btw, I think no footwear brand has managed to gather as much customer goodwill in India as Bata has. Good for them! Though I have to mention..When you are in the mood for Diva-like dress-up shoes, you are better off hitting the other high-end designer stores.
What a "sole"-ful post this has been ! ;)