October 4, 2013 Asmita Aggarwal

Leather that Weathers – Nappa Dori

Gautam Sinha of Nappa Dori uses only Indian leather, is ready to launch his e-commerce website and this debutant at WIFW SS 14 reveals why good design always wins…

When Gautam Sinha graduated from NIFT Delhi in 2010, he didn’t know that one day, making beautiful ikkat leather trunks for his dream company Nappa Dori will be his mainstay. After all, he started his career working for a company that made X’mas ornaments—bumble bees, napkin rings and lights. “But I did get a good exposure to what foreign markets want, how they function and that was my spring board to launching my own company Definite Design in 2004,” he smiles.

Definite Design made leather belts for export, the money was good, but somewhere Gautam felt his creativity was being restricted by the unrealistic demands of foreign markets, which were dominated by the idea of cost cutting.

So, he started Nappa Dori in 2010 hoping to do what he likes and wishing that the Indian buyer appreciates it too. “When I started, sourcing hardware and raw materials was the biggest hassle, as I didn’t have the backing of a venture capitalist, so I didn’t have a large investment to make. Sellers would often not take me seriously and just brush me off,” he remembers.

But Gautam was firm, he had made up his mind to make this work, so he established a brand which offers global quality, good design and not in-your-face Indian-ness. “It gave me a lot of satisfaction that I could do what delighted me, without any diktats,” he laughs.

Raised by a single mother, after his father an Air Force officer died when he was 12, Gautam learnt the nuances of the trade from his mother who was into garments. “The good part was that she never told me what to do, she left all the major decisions to me,” he says.

Participating for the first time at WIFW SS14, Gautam is hoping to explore the market and also launch his own retail e-commerce website as setting up stores is not just painstakingly expensive, but also a geographical nightmare. He strongly believes that accessory design, though in its nascent stage must be given equal importance as garments. And for him accessory is more than just jeweled clutches, it is good quality footwear and leather products which are quietly making their presence felt on the style map. “We do satchels, Mac book sleeves, skins, trunks, fashion and laptop bags and to my surprise trunks are our largest selling pieces,” he smiles.

With the big, fat Indian weddings being the only time when people spend money, Gautam gets calls from brides-to-be to send 4-5 trunks to carry their trousseau. “Each trunk starts from Rs 10,000 and goes up to Rs 18,000 max, but they are dainty so you can’t do rigorous travel with them,” he confesses, adding, “I only do products in Indian leather as I want to promote it. Though a lot of my buyers see the finish and feel and ask me if this is Italian hide, I smile and tell them don’t underestimate the power of brand India.”

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