Serene Gandhi talks with You & I
Why did you choose to design shoes?
They’ve been a passion for many years. I’d sketch them out as a kid during my boring chemistry and physics classes, and I eventually became curious as to how they’re made. I started buying different brands, ripping them apart, and comparing the raw materials to see how each felt. My main goal then was to make high heels that don’t leave you with blisters, or ankle and back pain. That’s when I made my first peep-toes with cushion lining, and the rest just followed.
You’re constantly moving between New Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. That sounds like a lot of travelling.
Well, nothing good comes easily. It is a lot of hard work and takes planning. Before I expand into new territories, I spend a good amount of time setting up a system. That way, after the first initial cycles, it takes on a life of its own and means less travelling for me.
Of all the shoes you’ve designed, which has been most satisfying?
It was my first creation, which found its way to Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week through the brand I’d manufactured it for. That brand’s manager couldn’t help but call me in for the show, since all the models wanted to meet the designer of the shoe and place orders. That experience was the first step in launching my own label, Cara Pyramids by Serene Gandhi.
Since you have a no-leather policy, what materials do you work with?
As a PETA-approved vegan brand, we work with synthetic suede, patent, robot and cushions for lining. I love experimenting with new raw materials that are sent to us by our suppliers. Gone are the days when leather was a necessity in footwear, as new age technology gives the same durability to synthetic materials.
What goes into creating a new pair of shoes?
I mainly use new age technology as my inspiration. My team and I work a lot on research and development to create new constructions that you can’t see, but you can feel when you put on a pair. I want to give classic designs a touch of new age comfort.
Is there something that all your designs have in common? Where does your expertise lie?
All my shoes have memory foam linings. My technical knowledge is in the manufacturing of high heels. Very few Indian manufacturers understand the technical depth involved in making these, and how it can save women from posture and/or joint problems in the future.
Where do you find inspiration?
The moods and personalities of people from all walks of life inspire me the most.
I always try to capture someone’s personality in my designs, or the mood they want for a particular occasion.
Who’s your favourite designer?
Christian Louboutin is my favourite – not just for his creativity, but for how passionate he is about his work.
What else do you enjoy?
I love to write when I can, and I also have a fierce passion for horseback riding; I never miss a day, as it’s my only time away from the busy city life.
You seem quite happy with life right now.
Well, I would like to travel more often for pleasure. My line of work spares no time for leisure, so I crave days when I can just take off on a trip. I’m a very spontaneous person, but I made a commitment to my work and the people working for me. But after a few more years of hard work, my work can hopefully run without me for a while.
..... as told to Anahita