Walking the talk with the Kambles
Comfort for the feet gets redefined with the Kolhapuri Chappal-The distinct ochre coloured footwear has remained in the ‘must-have’ category ever since its origin in the 18th century, be it the common man or the khadi-kurta clad politician or the fashion conscious college student, the love for the Kolhapuri chappal has sustained over the years solely for the comfort it offers. The kolhapuri chappal continues to find keepers with the old and the young.
GFSPL’s client, 49 years old Vijaya Kamble, from Miraj has with her husband been engaged in the craft of making Kolhapuri Chappals for the last 30 odd years -an occupation that passed down from the earlier generation. The Kambles earlier used to sell the chappals to wholesalers from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, but now they have focussed their sights solely on the Kolhapur Market. Vijaya reveals saying, “The demand has remained steady and we continue to make at least around 150 pairs per day.” Probe a little into the making of the famous sturdy and stable chappal and a visibly excited Vijaya says, “The process is not complicated. We take dried leather and cut into different sizes and shapes, and then layers are pasted one after the other. We attach a heel to that and then the chappal is stitched with thread. The stitches itself generally exceeds 125 on each pair.” She continues, “Once that is done the chappals are washed and dried under the sun and thereafter designs can be made as per customers’ requirement.” A mother of 4 kids, Vijaya says “Right now only one of my kids has shown interest in our occupation. Kolhapuri Chappal making is a craft that has been passed down to my husband from his father and his grandfather. We have continued with this occupation and it has become the source of our livelihood.”