Rahul Vira, CEO, Skechers South Asia, recently joined NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List and spoke exclusively about their association with Bollywood actor Ananya Panday, USP of the brand, impact of the pandemic on Skechers and much more. Read excerpts:

Talking about Skecher’s association with Actor Ananya Panday for their recent launch and what led the brand to finalise Ananya for their new collection, Mr Vira said, “Sketchers has been a brand that has been associated with a lot of fashion product launches in our footwear category. There was a time where we were focusing on our performance lineup of our products and we decided to move into and get our focus into fashion. Ananya is the best fit because she’s young, she’s fashionable and she has a huge fan following. For us, it was a perfect match.”

Speaking about what sets apart Skechers from other players in the market and what is the USP of Skechers, Mr Vira said, “We are a comfort technology company. I think that one single line makes a whole lot of difference between the competition and us. Every shoe that we make has to be a comfortable. That core ethos of our brand is something that has been loved by the consumers. Today, consumers are seeing that our shoes are so comfortable. They vouch by it. I think that is one major thing that sets us apart. There are multiple other technologies that we bring in for our Indian consumers or the global consumers. Whether it is our hydro-burst technology or ultra-go technology. Prima facie, I think, it is the comfort technology.”

When asked about the impact of the pandemic on his business group, Mr Vira shared, “While everything was shut, everything was shut for us also. Yes, those months in India or globally, depending on the severity, were some impacted months for all of us across the world. The good part is that people have started focusing on fitness and that is where we come in with our fitness footwear, walk series, go run series, go train series or just regular footwear that you would want to wear. Once things started opening up, the recovery rate for us went up, in terms of our business. It has become pretty decent enough. We are pretty confident that as markets open up more with restrictions kind of lowering down, it is doing to be a good time for us.”

Highlighting some of the new trends that have emerged in the new normal in the footwear industry, Mr Vira said, “One of the things we definitely see, one because of the Covid restrictions, team sports have taken a back seat. Individual sports have moved ahead. Simple things like running, walking; those are the things that have taken up. The number of people that you see walking today, in the morning or the evening, where I live or you live, you’ll see that the number has gone up. Those are the things that are happening on one side. On the other side, I definitely see people are also looking at ensuring that the footwear they buy is comfortable because you are spending a lot of time right now at home. You are going to be on and off pretty much regularly. That’s why easy on-off, comfort- those are the things that have become the new normal.”

Last but not the least, Mr Vira shared his thoughts on the big focus being on digital with marketing going digital and said, “I think digital is, especially in the last two years, has got so ingrained into our system now that digital is going to take a larger pie of the share for, whether it is you are consuming content or whether you are shopping or you are going to be watching movies. Digital is going to become a larger part of the life going forward.”