the Kolhapuris

Monday, January 28, 2013

Back in the college days, nothing was more apt for enhancing your personality than a pair of Kolhapuri chappals. In fact, every ‘cool’ and ‘different’ college going kid with anti-establishment leanings wore some variant of these. 
For quite sometime in my teenage years...the flag-bearer of Kolhapuri chappals was the super suave Milind Soman!

It weren’t just the cool kids who wore them. They were also the customary ensemble for the "creative" ad agency types, as well as intelligentsias and social workers too. If you walked into any Art College campus, you'd find tons of them. The usual permutation was “Kolhapuri Chappal + Kurta + Jhola + Scruffy Jeans. You could always complete the look by adding a pair of black framed eyeglasses and messy. Stubble or full-blown beards were also de rigueur.





Kolhapuri chappals are Indian hand-crafted leather slippers that are locally tanned using vegetable dyes. There seems to be 3-4 typical styles/models of chappals, going by the name kapashi, dangar etc. Some of them are closed shoes and some are open. They are famous handcrafted footwear made in the villages of Athani Taluk in the Belgaum district of Karnataka state of India. The villages well-known for this traditional form of footwear are Madbhavi, Mole, Shedbal and Ainapur.
The reason they are known as Kolhapuri is because of the patronage given by the Kolahapur royal family. Today they are also made in Kolhapur with some families established there. This footwear has been popular since the 18th century. An authentic Kolhapuri chappal is basically characterized by the manufacturing process used. Some of the traditional designs of Kolhapuri chappals include Kachkadi, Bakkalnali, and Pukari. These chappals are stout, sturdy, day long usable. These are very popular in rural areas of Maharashtra.
The leather is cured in a particular way, and it is made as a cottage industry. The entire household participates in the making. Men do cutting, women do stitching and children do weaving the ‘veni’. Different parts of the animal skin are used for different purposes, such as tail skin for thread, head skin for ‘patta’, skin of goat for ‘veni’ etc. Each family produces 35-45 chappals per week.
According to this article in The Hindu,the humble Kolhapuri chappal, created by all woman group of entrepreneurs from Karnataka, has entered the highly discerning European market. Branded ToeHold, this Kolhapuri couture creations come embellished with raw silk, Swarovski crystals, intricate embroidery, beads, braids, pleats and flounces. And they are being sported by the bold and the beautiful in Italy, Australia, Japan and even the highly-style conscious market of Sweden.
So is this one `Made In India' brand that has proved successful in Europe? The answer seems to be a resounding yes if one considers the fact that the group exported Kolhapuri footwear worth $60,000 to Europe in 2003!!


{You can find the sources of all the images and the original video credit in my Indiaah!! pinterest board.}

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