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These Shoes are Made for Walking in India

Targeting the health- and wellness-obsessed millennials, this new sportswear brand promises designs that are specially equipped for Indian fitness sensibilities.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Illustration: Fawaz Dalvi.

For a country that puts sports on a pedestal, stylish sportswear has emerged as a burgeoning business. Eager to tap into this, KAN D:FY Sports Pvt Ltd brings to the field a new sportswear label called D:FY, a brand of athletic gear that’s been created by Indians for Indians, keeping their individual needs in mind. Marketed as India’s first multi-sport shoes, designs like Endure, Argos and Challenger feature technology like FLO for better balance, E-MESH for comfort and FLEXR for maximum grip, all stamped out in bright colours.


We spoke to the brand’s founders: Mumbai-based 46-year old financial professional Prashant Desai and 40-year old former Managing Director of Puma India, Rajiv Mehta, about their journey in navigating the Indian sportswear scenario and what makes their label stand out.

Vice: What made you start D:FY?
Prashant Desai: I was running a tech company and half-marathons when I noticed the lack of stylish, comfortable yet affordable options for sports shoes in India, though they need regular replacement. Even while buying a new phone, if you can’t afford an iPhone, you have quality middle-range options like Xiaomi or Oppo. This made me realise the potential for creating something like this in sportswear and pushed me to approach Rajeev, who has 9 years of experience in this industry, to launch D:FY.

What do you think has caused this growth in the Indian sportswear industry?
Desai: As the economy grows, so does discretionary spending, which leads to people spending more on wellness products and adapting healthier lifestyles. Even advertisements like Saffola and Dettol have changed their concepts from working professionals to working out.
Rajiv Mehta: Students are also more exposed to the subject of sports in school, especially with access to online streaming services. Even politics is intermingled with sports, with the awareness around Yoga day, roadside gyms and India excelling at the ongoing Asian Games; so the growth has been gradual but relevant.

What is so specifically ‘Indian’ about D:FY?
Mehta: Through our research, we realised that most Indians prefer open footwear, which makes their feet broader. Thus, shoes designed by global brands become restrictive. So, we measured the foot size of about 150 people from our running group and designed a special ‘last’, which is the inside part of the shoe, to create the ideal fit for Indian feet. We have also used bright colours to depict India’s inclination for vibrancy.

What about the cultural context?
Desai: We have multi-sports shoes that can be used adaptively, as most Indians grow up with a single pair of shoes for all sports. Similarly, because walking is the preferred wellness tradition in India, the weight and material composition of our shoes are more portionable for this purpose.

Having launched their collection of gym, multi-sport and walking shoes at their first store in Phoenix Market City, Kurla, the brand has plans to set up stores across 8 cities in India.