Desi Glam on with Kolhapuri Chappals for Women

This festive/wedding season you need all the help to stand out from the crowd. Why not try something different like hand-crafted Kolhapuri footwear and create a statement with your party wear style. Furthermore, authentic Indian handicrafts like these ethnic chappals are a dying art because of decline in demand owing to lack of awareness. An original Kolhapuri chappal, if used and maintained well, can last a lifetime. So, you can be sure you’re making an investment by picking out exquisitely crafted authentic leather Kolhapuri footwear.

Most of us may relate the term ‘Kolhapuri’ to traditional t-strap sandals with colourful embellishments. But these footwear designs you commonly find in the market may not be the real Kolhapuri slippers. So, how do you distinguish a real Kolhapuri chappal from the mass produced copies and spin-offs? Well, you’ve got to start at the beginning of the story. Let’s find out all about the real Kolhapuris – where they come from, their evolution, and of course, different ways to wear a Kolhapuri chappal.

Kolhapuris – The Origin

Kolhapuri Footwear or Kolhapuris, as they are commonly referred to, borrows its name from a southern district of Maharashtra. In the beginning, these hand-crafted vegetable dyed leather chappals carried various names like Kapashi, Paytaan, Kachkadi, Bakkalnali, and Pukari — all names of villages in the region, where these chappals were made by local artisans at their homes. Historical records show these ethnic chappals to have been around since the 13th century!

Essentially, Kolhapuris are open-toed t-strap leather slippers that were made from buffalo hide and thread. Colourful threads were used to add of bit of embellishment to these basic footwear, which were used by both men and women. It can take up to 6 weeks to make a pair of Kolhapuri chappals and they could weigh as much as 2 kgs! The weight comes from the heavy sole, which is made by layering leather pieces over and over. This makes it highly durable, especially in the heat and mountainous terrain of Maharashtra.

How are Kolhapuri Chappals Made?

To make Kolhapuris, multiple layers of leather are glued together at high pressure and then dried in direct sunlight for long periods. This tans the leather and makes it tough too. This inseparable piece of tough leather is later cut into highly durable soles. For the top portion of the chappal, various metal tools, thread etc are used to stitch, carve, glue and colour the leather which with be finally attached to the sole. It is an indigenous process that requires highly skilled hands to make the perfect pair.

Kolhapuri Slippers — Rise in Popularity:

So now, how did these tough locally produced footwear travel from the Maharashtrian villages to the rest of the country and the world? Official government documents award that distinction to the Saudagar family. It is known that in 1920, the Saudagars developed an indigenous design of the Kolhapuri chappal, which was thinner than the original design. This new design came with two-side flaps, which gave it the name “Kanwali” (the one with ears). The upper portion of the Kanwalis was also much elaborately decorated.

The Saudagar family sent their new design to Bombay, where they were noticed by the prominent footwear retailer, J J and Sons. 20 pairs of the Kanwalis were ordered and soon sold off. J J and Sons also got an order from Calcutta, where the Kolhapuris became much more popular. This increase in demand for their new version of the humble Kolhapuri chappal prompted the Saudagars to teach the skill to others as well. And, that’s how the Kolhapuris story took off to a better start. With the Hippie movement in the 70s, the Kolhapuris travelled to the USA as well. Their popularity faded out in time, but similar designs are slowly making a comeback now as toe-ringed or t-strap sandals.

So, that’s all the big history behind Kolhapuri footwear. Now, let’s go straight to Kolhapuri ladies chappals and find out all about the various designs available, how to wear them and the celebrities who loves to wear them.

Here we will be looking at the modern variants of Kolhapuri Chappals for women. These are modified to suit the aesthetics and functionality demanded by today’s women. The original Kolhapuri ladies chappals were much more basic and traditional in looks.

Kanwali Kolhapuri Chappals 

Kanwali Kolhapuri Chappals

Check out this original Kanwali with a dash of modern styling. But this Kolhapuri ladies chappal sticks to its roots with the traditional t-strap design. The colour comes from a strip a Dabu printed cloth on the centre strap. Dabu block printing is another Indian handicraft, native to Rajasthan. No compromise of trend or tradition, this authentic Kolhapuri ladies footwear is a must have for your statement collectionPair it up with a palazzo and lon jacket for trendy fusion look.

Ghungroo Beaded Kholapuri Chappal

Ghungroo Beaded Kholapuri Chappal

Time to add some cling to your bling! An Indian damsel is rarely depicted without anklets. These foot ornaments are deeply engraved into our culture and art that everyone romanticizes the tinkling of these charming accessory. Now if you are not too keen on sporting a chunky anklet at your next party, this ghungroo beaded Kolhapuri chappals for ladies can offer you an easy solution. A unique design by itself, not only the sounds but also the texture and shade of these beads lend a classic touch to the traditional footwear. Thus, making it an irreplaceable addition to your festive wardrobe. Pair them up with long kurtas and churidars or cigarette pants for the best results.

Kholapuri Slippers

Kholapuri Slippers

Now, if you are looking for something simple and ideal for daily casual wear, try these humble leather kolhapuri ladies chappal with just a hint of golden weave embellishment for the straps. Kolhapuri slippers are flat and mould well to your feet for a comfortable fit. Nowadays, softer leathers are used to make them skin-friendly and thus desirable for daily wear options. Don’t just limit pairing them up with kurtas and salwars; go ahead and floor your smart casual looks in jeans or skirts, along with this stylish footwear.

Kholapuri wedges

Kholapuri wedges

Flats not flattering enough? Kolhapuri ladies footwear have evolved to suit your high-heeled expectations as well. Check out these brilliant golden Kolhapuri wedges footwear. Pick these for your footwear collection and stand tall in authentic leather handicraft at your traditional celebrations and functions. Pair them up with a saree, lehenga or salwar — it doesn’t matter what, the Kolhapuri slippers are sure to steal the limelight. You wouldn’t be able to resist showing off the bling.

Truly stylish style

customised Kolhapuri jutti

If something truly special is on your mind, say for your wedding or one of the pre-bridal ceremonies, a customised Kolhapuri ladies footwear just might be your crowning glory. Check out this beaded red brocade Kolhapuri beauty — talk about making a statement. Go all mathed up and wear this with a traditional red lehenga or add a bit of contrast to your unusual hued wedding ensemble. If not for the wedding, this is a customised Kolhapuri jutti or Kolhapuri wedge can amp up your wedding receptions. Later, they will remain with you as a truly special wedding souvenir as well.

It’s time to check out celebrity take on this ethnic footwear option. Check out these actresses wearing Kolhapuri chappals.

Deepika pairing with a salwar kameez


Here’s Deepika looking like a dream all decked in desi glam. The Bollywood Mastani paired up her cream colored kurta with a classic leather kolhapuri slipper. Truly, a style to try, especially if you have long and lean legs.

Esha Gupta pairing with a casual dress

And here’s the pretty Esha Gupta showing us how to wear Kolhapuri chapplas for women with short casual dresses. The key is to keep it simple and stay comfortable.

Tabu Pairing with Dress

Tabu Pairing with Dress

Tabu is brnging the indo-wester fusion to full power in this silky ble shirt dress, pulled back hair and elegant Kolhapuris.

Kolhapuri Footwear — Current Scenario

The Business of Kolhapuri footwear is often seen as obsolete with a downward spiral in demand and well as availability of raw materials. Apart from the originally used buffalo leather, artisans also use cowhide and goatskin to make Kolhapuris, these days.  However the continuous efforts for banning beef has hit the availability of leather as well as resulted in their sky-rocketing prices. Kolhapuri slipper making is a dying art, with the artisans moving towards other business options. Of whatever remains, the designs and materials are also being overhauled to suit functionality as demanded by changing times. Traders demand cheaper products with softer materials and minimalistic designs, rather than the ethnic patterns that test the true talents of the artisans. If Kolhapuris were ethnic Indian slippers originally, changing times have given birth to Kolhapuri jutti, Kolhapuri wedges, Kolhapuri mojri etc. Designer Kolhapuri chappals are also available, at a premium price of course. These are often seen on celebrities — thanks to recognition for age-old handicrafts and fusion wear styles.

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