Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Jan. 13: Meet Kaka Sumi, a shoe designer based in Dimapur who launched his eponymous label with a range of men’s footwear in 2017 and was featured in the 2018 December’s issue of Elle Magazine.
Eastern Mirror caught up with Sumi, where he spoke about how it all began; his plans for the label’s future; and how Elle magazine happened.
Sumi developed the “obsession of drawing shoes” in the 7th grade, especially sketching the Spice Girls and their footwear. One little problem always persisted, he says. “Victoria Beckham is my idol and she always wore heels, it was such a problem for me to draw her heels; this started the obsession of perfecting my sketches of heels.”when he was a kid, which propelled him to start imagining what designs he could come up with at that time.
With a degree in footwear design from FDDI, Noida and a diploma course from NIFT Chennai in accessory design and leather design, Sumi is also coming up with a capsule clothing line in collaboration with another label, Ivy and Kay based in Goa and Mumbai.
After “researching and developing” women’s shoes for the last seven years, Sumi says he is finally seeing results to launch a women’s line apart from also launching a new and improved, upgraded version of men’s shoes.
“The initial idea of launching a women’s line of heels was taking a while so I went ahead and launched a line of men’s footwear,” Sumi maintained adding that even though his main focus was a women’s line, he did feel there was need of good, “classy men’s sandals in India especially due to the climatic conditions.”
The second line of men’s shoes will consist of “classy elegant” men’s formal shoes where the “technique of good-year welting” will be used. “The new launch of men’s welted shoes, the quality will be much higher,” he said informing that to produce a single piece takes about 48 hours.
When asked about his women’s line of footwear, Sumi said it was actually “rocket science” to produce heels after undergoing quality control inspections.
“I want my shoes to speak of beauty and elegance yet being chic and classy,” Sumi shared. The force behind ‘Kaka Sumi’ is a one-man show; and the designer is looking forward to structure his business after many trials and errors in the last six years.
“I travel so much working with different vendors to get the best product so I should say my workplace is scattered at the moment and until and unless I settle with a quality vendor I will keep moving,” Sumi explained when asked how his workplace made him feel.
The shoe designer is so obsessed with shoes; he spends his days always thinking about footwear. “Everything I see around me, I can’t help but think how I can incorporate them in my shoes,” Sumi said.
With inspirations from the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Alexander Mcqueen amongst others, Sumi in the same manner hopes to empower women with his shoes.
“In the process of trial and error I have ripped apart four Manolo Blahnik shoes and two Jimmy Choos to actually get to the root of shoe designing,” he elaborated.
Keeping in mind the sustainability of the environment also, Kaka reminded that his line is made out of pure leather, which is biodegradable unlike polyester and the likes that take 20-200 years to decompose. “I want to keep my designs and line environmentally conscious be it shoes or clothes, and keep fabrics sustainable.”
About getting featured in Elle, Sumi said it was by chance and luck. “The fashion director of Elle India, Malini Banerjee contacted me on Instagram; I still didn’t know who she was or how big the conversation would go,” Sumi beamed while explaining that Malini Banerjee has been very helpful and kind towards him by directing him to the PR and marketing team.
“We are also in talks about her introducing me to fashion curators across the metropolitan cities,” Sumi excitedly said.
When asked what his family thought about his profession, Sumi admitted that his first ambition was to become a pilot but later joked that dream ended because of the motion sickness he would get in flight. “My family has always been supportive about my career move, except my dad who was reluctant since he was in the government service and wanted me to also join the service,” Sumi shared.
“It was only after my dad retired and his boredom led him to draw and even show me some of his sketches of shoes,” Sumi quipped.
Eastern Mirror could not help but ask the stylish designer what he thought of Nagaland’s young and hip styles. “I wish Nagaland’s infrastructure was such that people can express their style but I am so glad changes are coming forward and I also feel my timing is good,” he said while stressing that the “sneaker trend” has to be done away with.
“I want to also collaborate with many Naga designers and hopefully come up with a ‘defusion’ line as well apart from a tribal collection once my base is strong.”
Kaka Sumi informed he would be coming up with a luxury themed store for both men and women footwear line in Dimapur in the future.