KING'S was started by my father (Hemchand Karani) in 1965 in Dubai. For him, the heart of the business was service. I have seen him curious about what else we can serve the customer while he is with us.
I am Nilesh Karani. My brothers and I were brought up in Dubai in the '70s. My love affair with shoes has its roots in watching my parents getting ready for parties. Dad would immaculately plan his attire, subtlety complementing mom's saree for the occasion.
Dad always had three colors of leather shoes (Black, Brown, and Tan) in his wardrobe. He would match his Blacks, Greys, and Blues clothes with Black shoes. Different shades of browns and tans would get his tan or brown shoes for the day. We would watch him match his belt and his watchstrap with his shoes. He would not only match the leathers but even metals (i.e., belt buckle, watch strap buckle, and metal on the shoes).
On Friday (as it is a weekend in Dubai), he would take out his shoe care kit. It had an outlandish smell of wax polish and turpentine. There would be pieces of worn-out t-shirts cut in squares for him to use as polish applicators and buffing. We would observe him wrapping the piece of the t-shirt onto his fingers and apply polish in a circular motion. He would carefully use water during the polishing process to bring out the extra shine on the toes and the heel of the shoes.
He would let the shoes aside for 30 minutes after applying the polish. And he would end it in striking shine by buffing them with a horsehair brush. Subconsciously, we kids were picking up these habits and choices. Coincidentally, my grandfather also took care of his shoes the same way, and I guess Dad picked them from him.
One of the peculiar shoe preferences that we picked up from dad was him only buying leather-soled shoes. In my twenties, I too bought only leather-soled shoes. They had confident masculinity about them. The sound of crushing sand under the sole had a particular expression of good quality.
I am sharing some of my childhood pictures (at the bottom of the page) in which you will notice how my parents would dress me up. You see, dressing up with appropriate shoes, socks, watches, and accessories was second nature to us.
In the late 1990s, there was a radical shift in footwear trends. Many fast-fashion brands started mass producing imitation leather shoes that had glue construction and rubber soles.
As years went by, leather-soled shoes had practically disappeared from major retails stores. I was having a hard time finding a good pair of classic shoes. During my visits to Europe (they still have traditional shoemakers to date handcrafting shoes), I would pick up a couple of pairs of shoes that would last for years to come.
In 2017, during my visit to a friend's anniversary in Delhi, India, I was introduced to Dhruv Bhalla, the founder of 3dm Lifestyle. He had ventured into handcrafting classic styles of shoes in India and was exporting them to the USA and Europe. I immediately bought a pair of shoes from him. I wore them for a few days and decided that I want to get into business with him.
As we started selling shoes through 2018, I started getting requests from our patrons to customize the shoes with different colors, different patterns, and a combination of them. We started accommodating such requests, and more and more Custom shoe orders started coming in.
We developed a 3D interface on our website offering shoes, belts, bags, and cigar case customization to heighten the shoe designing process. We have had a phenomenal response from our customers.
The take up of our custom shoes has been mainly by people who demand more out of life. They love the idea of being different. It's like they have the power to look on the outside as they feel inside. They are definite about their choices and are bold enough to make them stand out from the crowd.
We have a long road ahead. We have recently launched Special Edition Shoes and Limited-Edition Pocket Squares. We are pursuing to bring you wider choices of unique product experiences that you would not find elsewhere.
Thank you for your interest and attention. God Bless.
My sister and I
My brother and I
My Grandfather, Dad and Mom