The Peshawari sandal known as “Saplai’’ in Pushto was introduced in the early 19th century. The now popular footwear in South Asia was traditionally worn by tribal leaders. It used to be a sign of great wealth and power and slowly became a large part of the Pukhtoon culture that we know today.
Historically, it has been worn with Shalwar Kameez, but recently people have been known to wear it with everything from T- shirts to shorts. This might be because the Pakistani Prime Minister himself was often seen wearing them with jeans at public gatherings and this boosted its popularity.
The Peshawari Sandal is primarily produced in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Name “Peshawari” originates from the city of Peshawar and yet the different dialects of Pakistan call it by different names. “Saplai’’ in Pushto, “Kheri” in Punjabi, they are an integral part of the South Asian culture and are often worn at formal events such as weddings, Eid, Diwali and Christmas.
Traditionally it was made on very hard rubber soles with a strap around the back to increase durability and cut the cost price for everyday use. Recently it has started trending as formals with leather soles and high-quality finish to be worn with formal attire and maximum comfort.
These open sandals are hand-made, the art of making a Peshawari sandal being an inherited skill, passed down from their forefathers. The shoemakers make the sandals with utmost attention to detail and it is a matter of pride to be able to make them with a high quality finish. As it was worn by tribal leaders in the past, it is a custom to make these in pure leather. The sandals are first designed on a template, then the leather is cut into pieces, glued together. Then the sole (usually thick rubber or tyre) is cut into shape and the constituents are stitched together. Lastly the shoe mould is placed inside the sandals to give them perfect shape before they go through the finishing process.
The craftsmen work in small cottage size industries, traditionally run by one family. The passed down tradition has not been able to evolve with time due to the lack of technological advancements and so the tradition of hand stitched “Peshawari Sandal” is dying down.
One would think that, with the large amount and diversity of livestock available in Pakistan, it’s leather industry would be world class. That, however, is not the case. The industry seems to be lacking, especially when it comes to finished products such as footwear and wallets.
The large gap between Pakistan’s natural ability to supply resources for leather and having finished products available for export becomes more distinct when compared with other countries who have similar leather profiles. For example, the yearly export for the Pakistani industry stands at only $110 million while Indian exports are at $100 billion per annum. This indicates the potential the Pakistani leather industry has but does not use.
The global market desires more and more leather goods now since they are one of the most widely traded commodities in the world. In fact, their global trade value is over $100 billion per annum. These numbers themselves show how much Pakistan would benefit from improving its leather industry and supporting sellers of leather and leather goods.
The local industry has shrunk over the years due to lack of technical advancements, and this has made Pakistan lose its ground internationally. These changes shrunk the shoe sector especially and caused a large decrease in investment from tanners. This lead to regional competitors like China, India and Bangladesh gaining ground and increasing their value-added exports.
It is a shame that these circumstances arose, especially due to the competitive edge Pakistan has within the region. The craftsmanship involved, specifically in traditional shoe-making, is highly varied from the rest of the world and heavily detailed. It is an art that has been passed down generations, and is a shame for it to be going to waste. It can be the ‘something new’ that is always needed in the fast paced, always changing and incredibly globalized fashion world.
The back bone of the footwear industry, high-quality leather, is readily available in Pakistan. Along with that, recent times have seen heavy investments in the shoe making sector and this gives new hope for the rising industry. Pakistan is now finally being recognized as an emerging competitor in the global shoe market.
Pakistan’s leather industry is capable of becoming one of our nations’s greatest assets. It could benefit from joint ventures with developed countries like Italy and China where growing labour costs have caused a decrease in production over the years. International collaborations can be the key that could help Pakistan with its previous hurdles in lack of technology and increase labour efficiency.
The traditional art of shoemaking has been inherited by many in Pakistan. Their techniques are nothing short of sheer excellence. It originated in and around the old city of Lahore and now around 80% of Pakistan’s handcrafted shoes are manufactured there. The world-renowned traditional Pakistani footwear ‘Peshawari Chappal’ is their specialty. They are semi-closed sandals made with two leather strips crossing over each other with an open back, tied with a buckle. It is known to be made of pure leather.
It is an honor for us at Kobani to introduce these sandals, a piece of our history, to the rest of the world.
We at Kobani have embraced Pakistani craftsmanship and embraced our traditional footwear. We are delighted to share our secrets with you, on how we make the “perfect chappal”.
- Shoe Upper
- The leather piece that comes over your foot
- The leather used is chrome tanned, fully-dyed or merely primed
- The material used between the sole and the upper
- The welt is made up of tough leather, rubber, or plastic
- The welt is visible in traditional shoe designs
- The sole inside the shoe
- The insoles are made up of different materials; cellulose paper board, synthetic insole material or leather
- The insoles should primarily be moisture and odour absorbing
- The inside of a shoe often left as is
- Our shoes are lined with superior quality faux leather
- The bottom side of the shoe
- Outsoles are vital as shoe life and comfort depend on it
- Made from rubber, Pu leather, Dainite or genuine leather
- Rubber soles are often very cheap and long lasting
- Traditional footwear uses genuine hardened leather soles for excellent quality
Mochi Magic brings the knowledge every buyer should have before they buy their next shoe or chappal. While buying your perfect chappal, there are two main factors to look at. The first is how the chappal is formed, and second is what type of sole its formed on. The upper is also important, however, being the first thing buyers notice, it is usually the only thing they base their decision on. The sole is the true soul of the shoe, and is of utmost importance.
Types of shoe construction
1) Goodyear Welt
Usually used in hand crafted shoes. It is a traditional shoe stitching technique that uses an extra strip of genuine leather, known as the welt, between the upper and the insole.
- Usually used in high-end formal shoes
- Easier to resole
- Strong and durable
- Stiffer compared to other types
2) Stitch down
The upper is folded outward from the bottom edge and stitched to the outer sole.
- Dirt and water resistant
- Stiff to wear
- Easy to mend
- Long lasting shoes used in rough terrain
The upper is shaped separately and glued to the outsoles.
- The cheapest and simplest method
- Commonly used with rubber soles
- Light weight and soft to wear, usually used for trainers
- Cannot be resoled
Types of shoe soles
Leather soles have been used in expensive formal shoes for generations. Hardened leather sheets are combined along with rubber lining for a better grip. The soles tend to take the shape of the foot with time. Leather soles are exceptionally comfortable as they keep the foot cool and dry, while also providing good ventilation on hot sunny days. The durability of the leather shoe is timeless as they can be re-soled!
Rubber soles are a more modern choice compared to the leather sole. They can be easily moulded into different shapes, and are light-weight which make them an ideal option for sports and athletic shoes. The soles are also a sturdier compared to leather soles and provide ample grip. Rubber soles are synthetic and often provide a cheaper alternative for formal shoes as well. The modern shoe industry is shifting towards PU leather soles which are readily available in the market.
How are we are different
We use only the best materials to create the best shoe the market has ever seen. Each shoe upper used at Kobani is made of genuine calf leather. All our products are stitched using good-year welt to ensure durability, and the sole itself is made of hardened export quality leather. The memory foam is lined with genuine calf leather for comfortable insoles and to absorb moisture for breathability. The rest of the shoe is lined with high quality faux leather to give the shoe an elegant finish.