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South Asian Brand Soma Blends Tradition and Fashion

Karachi, Pakistan-based shoe company Soma combines the talent of local artisans with a global perspective of trends to direct its collection of women’s footwear.

The brand launched in the U.S. earlier this year with two lines: one modeled after the South Asian shoe, the Khussa; the second based on high street fashion trends. The collection is a split of handcrafted, exquisitely detailed footwear with historical roots and trendy slides and loafers embellished with fringe, velvet and tassels. The collection retails for $60-$85.

Soma manufacturers all its shoes in Pakistan. “All of our shoes are handmade, so we select these artisans that are really well known for their quality hand stitching. They’re world-renowned for their art,” explained Mashal Thariani, Soma USA co-founder.

“Our whole goal [is to] essentially maintain the livelihood and financially support local craftsman in South Asia. We believe taking this art into the American market will revive the dying art of these hand craftsmen in South Asia,” she added.

Already established in South Asia, and with divisions in Dubai and London, Thariani launched Soma to the U.S. in Spring ’17.

The Khussa originates from the 17th century during the Mogul Empire of India. The shoes are made of leather and there are no right and left foot. The shoes tend to feel snug at first, but they become more comfortable with each wear.

“Once you slip your foot into it, the leather takes the shape of your foot. It kind of expands and stretches out to conform to the shape of your foot,” Thariani said.

Despite Soma’s recent introduction to the U.S. market, the brand has already garnered a following through high-end shoe events during the summer in the Hamptons, shopping parties in Manhattan and a strong media push.

The brand has also turned to Etsy to generate buzz and to reach consumers directly. On Etsy, consumers have had the opportunity to explore the brand, contact the designer directly and place customize orders. Thariani says the option has been popular with brands that want their bridesmaids’ shoes to match their dresses.

“I think it’s such a unique product. We see so many different types of shoes and Soma is reinventing a shoe that’s been around since the oldest decade. [We are bringing] something new and innovative to the market.”