This is the last in our #makeindia series of designers launched in August to celebrate India’s 70th Independence Year. We share our pride in buying handmade through the designers and artisans who continue our rich Indian legacy .
GUSH lives by the motto,
I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes
“As avid music lovers, we constantly have music playing whilst working. Music to us,is very inspiring, calming & also gives the much needed break in between a chaotic and busy day at work. The link below has a playlist which is continuously playing in the gush office everyday ”
I picked my favorite in their list.
Meet Manav and Vrinda the designer duo behind Gush Shoes and accessories.
Vrinda always knew at an early age that she was interested in design and would want to study the same. After researching, she realized the apparels market was getting a bit saturated, so she went ahead to complete her Bachelor in Design in Footwear & Leather Accessories from The National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai.
Manav, founded his first company a chauffeur agency called Dial-A-Drive in 2009 shortwhile after he quit his job as an analyst at JP Morgan where he worked at for a year post his Bachelor in Management Studies. While Gush was on the verge of launch he further went on & completed his law studies, gaining an L.L.B at the end of it.
After much persuasion, Vrinda quit her 3 year old job as an assistant designer in a reputed accessory label,to pursue her dream of starting a shoe label, along with Manav.
The brand was launched in October 2013. In 2012, in a general conversation, Being a shoe fanatic, I realized there was a massive gap in the mens footwear market and I was not getting shoes to my taste- trendy, funky, eye catching, comfortable & affordable.It was the same Brown and blacks which have been going on for years. I realized I was talking about shoe problems to a shoe designer & that’s when the idea of starting a shoe brand, tickled our senses.
Launching our little brain child, was by far the most memorable moment for us. We had already spent a year in research and development, which also meant no salaries and no income. We were all in and as nervous as anyone would be for our first ever exhibit because there is always that much more that you want to offer to people. We strongly believe, monetary satisfaction isn’t the only kind of satisfaction a startup should look for. The fact that people choose to spend their time going through your designs, trying them & appreciating them amongst the ever growing pool of accessory designers, is what motivates us to keep giving people what they want, the most.
The name came from the thought that people should look at our designs and feel the gush, the overflow of emotions of positivity, freshness and something they hadn’t seen before and the want of owning a pair. The process took several long brainstorming sessions, the name also sprung up as a combination of the first two alphabets of our surname, as Vrinda was adamant to include a part of our personal identities into the brand identity. Hence GUSH.
“We get inspired by our travels, surroundings, voids that need to be filled, etc. Ideas are discussed amongst the 2 of us & jotted down in the form of sketches. An array of materials, ranging from vegan leather, cotton, jacquards, suedes, metal, cotton laces, etc, basically anything that catches our attention & is true to our style , are referred to for sampling. We prefer sourcing raw looking material which gives the brand a very earthy and boho feel to it. The constant sourcing trips help us put together materials that would be best suited for the designs. Sampling is the most crucial part as it determines the shape, size & fitting of each element of the shoe. Every single sample is made in my size as a tester so I can determine what changes need to be made. Once the sample is approved with desired changes, the pair is put in production.
For example a part of our latest collection was inspired from a road trip Manav, our chief catalyst took to Rajasthan, where not only the landscape is inspiring but there is so much local craftsmanship its tough not to be left awestruck at how talented craftsmen all over India are. They are a big part of India’s design legacy which needs to be tapped into. You will see hints of the same in our newest offerings.”
As designers, each & every design is precious to us. A lot of love & passion goes into the process. Some designs get appreciated as much as we think they will & some don’t, but from a design point of view we thoroughly enjoyed designing the All Aboard nautical inspired flats. With intricate rope & stud detailing,It is one of the easiest pairs to team up with any outfit, from shorts to jeans to dresses.
Collaborations have been an integral part of us trying to spread GUSH name amongst the fashion fraternity. One such collaboration with Lakme Fashion Week designer, Arunima Majhi gave rise to 2 of our favourite, The Almost a Shoe & Triband flatforms. They are unique, funky & extremely comfortable.
A few of our other favorites from the current collection are:
The Navy Nomad flats
The Cork it Up Loafer
The Gypsy Loafers
The Zuma flats : we used custom cotton prints on the base of the shoe and laminated it with plastic (to increase the life of the cotton fabric) to add that funky edge to otherwise boring footwear. This concept was quickly replicated/copied by a lot of peers in the industry.
Shady Gold & Pewter Rain flipflops
GUSH as a brand has a very strong core philosophy. We had unanimously decided from the beginning not to follow the local market trends and that of peers in the business, we would stay strong to our design ideology and what we feel the brand stands for. Both of us do not believe in heavy bling and embellishment although there is a huge market for the same. We have clients who ask us for the same but we always ask ourselves, how can we design something we do not believe in? Hence the USP would be a strong and unique take on footwear design which is easy on the feet, on the eyes and on the pocket.
As time has passed we have become more conscious towards the environment and the impact we have on the same. We have totally eliminated the use of real leather in all our designs, we believe in cruelty free and fair trade goods which don’t impact our eco system as much. We wish to push the envelope further and try and eliminate plastic waste and upcycle our waste material.
We Pack all our goods in Muslin Bags made by a local women’s charitable organization, and try and eliminate the use of plastics as much as we can.
The GUSH woman is young, strong, confident, at the same time relaxed, fun & trendy. The one word that describes our label best is “Boho Chic”. Mixing international design still sticking to the traditional handmade shoe craftsmanship or ‘karigari’, releasing designs void of bling & readily available fittings, is what makes us stand out.
“Manav & I have a distinct idea of design. Our designs are a true mash up of both our sensibilities. We sit on the inspiration board together and come up with the collection, but as I am (Vrinda) the Chief Artisan of the label, I generally look after the technical side of production having studied design in detail. I give life to most ideas on the design board by sketching, figuring out and picking the material required to make the pair, explaining to the karigar & making sure the sample is perfect right through till they are manufactured .”
Not delivering anything that doesn’t agree with our design sensibilities is what we deeply believe in. In the ever growing list of footwear designers, it is very easy to get lost & forgotten. Almost everyone has the means to get the product ready but not everyone has technical know how & a distinct design sensibility. The only factor that keeps you in this competitive industry is how you translate raw materials available to you into beautiful accessories, evolving with the trends, still sticking to your design aesthetics and providing people with what they want along with comfort.
The kind of response we have been getting over the last couple of years has just been overwhelming.We have enquiries to supply/stock our products to small designer boutiques in the USA, Europe, Australia and Israel which we are looking at very closely. We intend to setup a bigger manufacturing unit with a greater workforce to not only retain this form of art but also grow it exponentially with the help of different mediums we have today.
Our website is launching in the next couple of months which we are eagerly awaiting too. We are looking to raise a round of funding and have met a few investors for the same. Hopefully if all works out and GUSH can be a global designer label focused on sustainable and disrupted fashion.
Our collaborations with Lakme Fashion Week designer Arunima Majhi, SVA, Aaylixir, Chiragnaini have given us some thrilling & irreplaceable memories. It’s hard to explain the adrenaline rush we felt when we first saw our shoes walk down the runway, for the first time ever, for Arunima Majhi Label. It’s a great platform for new talent to showcase amongst the whose who of the industry & being a small part of it was overwhelming, After that we have collaborated with various designers & it’s been a pleasure working with all of them, it’s almost addictive.
As Baatein beautifully puts it for Gush Shoes :
We are the trend setters,
We don’t follow, we create.
We are the storytellers of tomorrow,
We don’t reiterate, we inspire and we narrate.
We are different, in our thought and in our make,
We don’t look back and murmur, we believe in second takes.
We are fierce, mad and always in style,
We don’t recall the yesterday,
We are today and right now and I believe,
Are going to stay in trend for a while.
P.S – Manav’s favorite song collection is available here – (https://soundcloud.com/manav-shah-1/sets/chill)