Setting The Vibe For The Urban Tribe With Flatheads
Bringing forth a fresh perspective in the thriving sneaker production market in India, Flatheads has charted out a league for itself. Read on to know more about the label and its innovative feats.
The performance sports and apparel industry has been on a never-ending rise in the country, all thanks to the rapidly changing lifestyles that demand the best of all worlds in various spheres of life. While a lot of big names are responsible for this multifaceted growth, the common eye tends to miss out on the local avenues extending their reach to the various nooks and crannies that are majorly overlooked in the process of catering to the mass.
Stemming out of the itch to contribute something new to the sneaker market, Flatheads is a Bangalore based sneaker label, creating an impeccable mélange of comfort with a creative yet functional perspective. Utkarsh Biradar and Ganesh Balakrishnan, alumni from IIT Bombay, who specialised in the fields of Design and Engineering respectively, incepted the label in 2018 after their first entrée in the space of e-commerce, which went by the name “Momoe” and soon got acquired by Shop Clues.
We caught up with Utkarsh Biradar, the CEO at Flatheads to know more about the label and its dynamic journey. Entrepreneurs hailing from different places of interest and specialisations, both founders had been contemplating the various possibilities that the Indian market would be breaking into - provided there was an ever-changing ecosystem and openness towards newer prospects and concepts.
Telling us about his ever-existing fondness for sneakers, Biradar mentions that he has had a habit of buying sneakers, irrespective of their size, to study them and their designs, further stating that his sneaker obsession is almost fetish-like.
The cool, casual yet sharp look and feel that the products from the label exude comes from a detailed observation of the changing lifestyle. A large chunk of corporate and work life is becoming less uptight and a lot more casual as time passes. While people have been resorting to "smart-casuals" and semi-formals in terms of apparel, the footwear part of the daily ensemble kept lurking towards the use of athletic sneakers - which, according to Biradar, has not one but two cons.
The prospect of wearing sports sneakers might sound comfortable but anatomically, those sneakers are specifically designed for use on tracks and courts for a few hours, not making them the best options for a long 12-14 hours in the office. And last but not the least, the athletic aesthetic breaks the look into many disappointing pieces.
When one sees the sneakers that Flatheads offers, there’s an unmistakable clean aesthetic that comes with them. Telling us about the elaborate and complex character of the existing design language of sneakers in the market, Biradar mentions that at Flatheads, they want to cater to the outlook that is missing. The present generation embraces the elements of simplicity and minimalism openheartedly, thus fuelling the label to work in the direction of these design ideologies, while also helping them maintain the initial thought-out aesthetic. The sneakers feature clean construction, clad in soft and muted tones, thus also making them versatile to style with varying ensembles.
While the label has brought various functional sneakers into existence, be it the exclusive line of snug fitting Kapow sneakers or the forever stylish Ellipsis, the one that caught our eyes and attention was the revolutionary Aurea – India’s first sneaker made out of bamboo yarns.
Yet again, being ideated to curb discomfort and take breathability to another level, the spark for a bamboo sneaker came from a humble thought and became a sustainable entity on its way of taking form in reality.
Biradar often pondered about making sneakers that provided the same level of comfortable we would feel in a cotton t-shirt, but in practicality, wrapping a tee on one’s feet would get anything but approval. Additionally, wearing sneakers for a prolonged period induces warmth towards the toes, thus making it an uncomfortable experience for many. Delving into the depths of inducing comfort, the label drew closer to the varieties of natural fabrics, which are known to perform better dermatologically too. While the use of a natural fibre solved the case of airiness, the creators also wanted to focus on making the shoe weigh as less as 400gm - which is as light as a glass of water!
The quest to solving all these riddles led the label to bamboo yarns. While bamboo yarn was light and breathable, it added functionality and also eradicated the use of foam in the upper of the shoe. The knitted version of the yarn worked just right for a rigid yet airy upper, and also maintained the optimum body temperature towards the toes, thus curing yet another pain point, that Biradar and many other sneakerheads have experienced.
Adding on the concept of sustainability in their production process and the sneaker line, Biradar rightly pointed towards the harsh fact about the mainstream sneaker industry being one of the major contributors of plastic waste in the world. While wanting to and working towards shifting the focus to a more conscious process, he stated that the road to a completely sustainable model is a long one, but the venture is working towards achieving it. While a lot of avenues try to sell the sustainability factor under an exuberant bill, Flatheads on the other hand believes in a more wholesome and practical approach.
Telling us about the plans for the future, Biradar explains that the label is looking at growing in various directions, right from working with new materials to form developments. The team at Flatheads is experimenting with materials like Pinatex, a variant of leather devised from pineapple, amongst many other things. The label is also in talks with various yarn dyeing factories to make the dyeing process less ecologically burdening by introducing the use of vegetable dyes. Stressing on the fact that the Indian population mostly follows trends, the brand wants to work towards making statements.
Unlike any other sneaker label, Flatheads aspires to serve the various tribes that the modern world has given rise to. With various lifestyles that come into existence through varying professions and hobbies, the label tries to create statements that set them apart. Giving an example of a prospective sneaker that got interrupted under the constructions of the pandemic, he reveals that the team at Flatheads was working towards designing a travel sneaker, serving the multitude of activities that the modern traveler indulges in, be it an early morning run, a day at work or a night of social engagement!
Painting a self-celebratory picture in the rightest sense, the cultural vision that Flatheads believes in is an exceptional one.