The rise of cruelty-free footwear

With more and more fashion enthusiasts ditching leather shoes and accessories for faux leather and other eco-friendly alternatives, there is a rise in cruelty-free footwear in the market. One such brand, that is known not just for its style but also for its sustainability is CAI. We spoke to the co-founder of the brand Aradhana Minawala and asked her how she is planning to make a difference with her footwear label. Here’s an excerpt.

1. When was CAI born and how has the journey been so far?

AM: Cai started in 2015 when we saw a gap in the footwear market for well-priced, fashionable footwear. It was born with the sole purpose of providing fashionable and modest footwear that is manufactured without the use of leather, with contemporary styles and a compassionate virtue. We always had an urge of doing something creative and environmentally conscious, that’s when CAI was born. We followed a no inventory model for 2 years, wherein we sold shoes solely to one Fashion Portal, which did very well for us. Seeing the response we decided to start our own website as we got a lot of appreciation on social media. We have grown manyfold since then.

2. As an entrepreneur how do you deal with competition and strive to be different from others?

AM: It’s very important to know what your competition is doing and as an entrepreneur, it is important to know the difference between our strengths and the competition. It’s not about putting the other person down or competing with them it is about playing on our strengths and improving on them. We always work on our core and never compromise on it. We are our own competition and compete with our past performances.

We aspire to be market leaders in the sustainable and affordable footwear category. Providing the latest trends whilst keeping the most important factor in mind – Comfort which is key for us, and something that we as a brand do not believe in sacrificing. Each pair is tried and tested by the team, and worn for at least 24 hours before production of goods takes place. Design + Comfort is the sweet spot we like to hit with each new design or style we launch. This is exactly how we strive to be different from others.

3. What does luxury mean to you?

AM: With our trendy new styles, we offer our CAI loyalists the luxury of accessible fashion and comfort. The luxury of choice, The luxury of being pampered, and the luxury of access to global trends.

4. Please take us through CAI 2.0 and the vision behind it?

AM: We kickstarted 2022 with a bang! Our vision of Cai 2.0 was simple – We wanted to uplift our customer experience. Back when we started, we never imagined this kind of an overwhelming response toward our brand. As we strive to achieve greater heights, the need to establish our distinct identity became essential. We rebranded completely and launched a new website to give our users an absolutely new look and feel.

5. Being a cruelty-free brand, what message would you like to convey to your audience?

We as a brand are conscious of the environment. Conscious of consumer needs. Conscious of trends. All our products are cruelty-free. We do our best in reducing wastage of any kind and aim towards stopping wastage completely – for even the smallest of things – be it our products that are manufactured in factories or small things such as office supplies.

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