Whenever Watsal Rajbhandari visited villages across the country, he noticed old people still wearing their traditional clothes on a daily basis, which made him think.
“We proudly call dhaka topi, daura Suruwal and gunyo cholo our national dress, but we rarely wear them,” says Rajbhandari, who, along with Dikesh Prajapati and Amuda Mishra, came up with the idea of bringing back traditional art forms and expression. through modern clothing after the 2015 earthquake.
It is said that you make contact with the shoes before eye contact. Passionate about shoes and fascinated by ethnic artistic expressions through fabrics, the three friends launched Dochaa shoes in 2017. This follows two years of research into the market, products and fabrics from different cultures and ethnicities.
Dochaa Nepal started out making and selling casual shoes, and then evolved into tote bags, handbags, masks, and other handicrafts. Rajbhandari and Prajapati have been actively involved in the growth of the brand.
“Since we started with a hundred pairs of shoes when we launched, we have experimented with different designs and explored fabrics more specific to ethnic communities that can be included in the designs,” he adds. “Our fabrics set us apart because they make a unique fashion statement while preserving our heritage.”
Dochaa promotes modern designs in the form of pangden fabrics from Sherpas, lawa from Newars, Shyama from Tamangs, to dhaka fabrics from different cities.
Dochaa supports indigenous communities with the help of various donors and NGOs, and empowers women and people from marginalized communities by providing them with their fabrics, training and offering them jobs in product manufacturing.
The company recently launched a subsidiary brand called “Kewa Handcrafted” on the Teej occasion to address the hard work of women, and which offers products for women such as sandals, handbags, bags and masks.
Dochaa believes in maximum detail in their designs and provides after-sales services like shoe laundry service, free repairs, and occasional free accessories. It is one of the few brands of fabric footwear to offer guarantees. Another of its strengths is regular customer feedback on its designs.
Rajbhandari says, “We have a growing niche of consumers who understand the importance of our products and are interested in the stories they tell.” Among consumers, there are a handful who know what they are buying from Dochaa, while others are tempted by unique colors and patterns.
“We grew up watching our grandparents wear these fabrics, and with the change of generation comes the desire to change,” adds Rajbhandari. “Maybe that’s why Dochaa wants to make a fashion statement that represents all generations.”
Dochaa has already attracted a large number of international consumers and plans to go to other countries with its products. “Nepalese fabrics are admired outside Nepal because it’s something new to them, and they want to know more,” he says.
Dochaa plans to set up more stalls and also to open a physical store outside Nepal.
She is currently in the process of launching sneakers in natural jute and hand-woven ethnic fabric, which will make them the first Nepalese manufacturer to do so.
At the same time, for over two years now, Rajbhandhari and Prajapati have been working on the prototyping of an artistic edition where they incorporate the work of artisans into their products.
“Every year we see more and more young people going abroad in search of a better life. I want to encourage people to stay in Nepal and create more job opportunities here, ”Rajbhandari adds. “Dochaa, as a brand, values building a local platform to support our economic growth. “