Making Kolhapuri Chappals World Famous Again

Vaarsa is a vintage-inspired, slow fashion brand collaborating with local artisan communities in India to create modern capsule collections. We're about individuality,creativity, sustainability, heritage and craft.

Through Vaarsa we intend to bring back the age-old tradition of authentic kolhapuri chappal making to every household. The wages to our artisans are going to be the highest in the industry. We are hoping this would influence the future generations to get involved in this business and keep the tradition alive.We plan to offer the local craftsmen communities the means to support themselves through their skills so as not to abandon them while looking for a regular job.

The Good Time

Kolhapuri chappals are one of the most detailed footwear in the world. Kolhapuri chappals (slippers) or Kolhapuris as they are commonly referred to,are handcrafted open-toed Indian slippers made of vegetable bag tanned leather, produced using traditional techniques and tools. Kolhapuri chappals are renowned for its aesthetically pleasing look, unique patterns and styles.

It is the most famous footwear in the history of Maharashtra region in India and definitely the most sought also. Kolhapuri Chappals have been in existence since the 13th century, popularly called as as Kapashi, Paytaan, Kachkadi, Bakkalnali, and Pukri, the name indicated the village where they were made.

Authentic Kolhapuris are not made in any factory but are made at home by families from the cobbler community in Kolhapuri GI Districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka in India. These families have preserved the art form by passing it from one generation to other. Kolhapuris were first designed in the town of Kolhapur, located in state of Maharashtra in western India.Thousands of families from Kolhapur were involved in making Kolhapuri chappals. Every family has a distinct style.

Current Situation

Kolhapuri chappal making is one of the most intricate art forms in the world and it had all the possibilities to make it big and leave its mark on the global fashion industry but as the time passed by, the artisans couldn’t keep up with the changing trends of the market. Not upgrading themselves to the new trade tools, business skills and fashion trends gradually slowed down their growth and the business.

In March 2015, state of Maharashtra where the footwear is made imposed beef ban and all of a sudden the availability of leather made locally became scarce or it had to be bought from other states at 25-30% higher prices. The impact of this was very negative, the families who were making a handsome amount of living were now struggling to sustain and fulfill their basic needs.

Current Situation

Kolhapuri chappal making is one of the most intricate art forms in the world and it had all the possibilities to make it big and leave its mark on the global fashion industry but as the time passed by, the artisans couldn’t keep up with the changing trends of the market. Not upgrading themselves to the new trade tools, business skills and fashion trends gradually slowed down their growth and the business.

In March 2015, state of Maharashtra where the footwear is made imposed beef ban and all of a sudden the availability of leather made locally became scarce or it had to be bought from other states at 25-30% higher prices. The impact of this was very negative, the families who were making a handsome amount of living were now struggling to sustain and fulfill their basic needs.

Why Kolhapuri Chappal making when it is
on a verge of getting extinct!

There has been many reasons for the lack of demand for authentic kolhapuri chappal in the International market. Every Family in the village (from the cobbler community of Kolhapur region) makes these chappals hence every household produces a unique design and there isn’t one unifying platform or a brand where these artisans can work as a cluster and take this craft on a global platform.

Day by day due to the inconsistency in availability of work and now due to the government ban many artisans opted for new professions for survival. The big problem right now is that the existing artisans are among the last generation of authentic kolhapuri chappal makers and their average age is above 50 years. Learning to make Kolhapuris is a very detailed and intricate process and the remuneration for the workmanship is inadequate, this is the biggest reason for the future generations to opt for other professions.

Apart from the decrease in number of artisans, the art form is also under the threat of cheap plastic imitations, mechanised mass manufacturing and the use of degraded leather. Till date there has been no legal protection for the art form from getting misused. If this continues and no action is taken to create new artisans and save this art form, the authentic Kolhapuri chappal will be seen only in museums and it would be a history. What will remain is only imitations and cheap look-alikes which will only devalue one of the greatest art from.

How will Vaarsa revive the Kolhapuri Chappal !

  • Launching Vaarsa on a global platform and reaching an audience who appreciates handmade & heritage products.
  • Growing Vaarsa as one unifying brand of Kolhapuri Chappal
  • Make Kolhapuri chappal a global fashion icon
  • Creating awareness about the art form as a GI (Geographical Indications) product
  • Generating a global demand so artisans get continuous work
  • Paying artisans the highest remuneration in the industry, hence motivating the new generation to learn the art from.
  • With the help of designers creating new modern collections keeping the base of authentic designs
  • Representing India and taking Kolhapuri Chappal at the highest and biggest fashion events globally. Like “Paris, Milan, London and New York fashion week.
 
 
 
 

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