Often called “Kheri”, Peshawari chappals make up a small scale business that provide a living to many shoemakers who spend their days busy in making, stitching and fitting the shoes.
Sitting in his shop Peshawari Chappal Wala, Rahman Habib was busy stitching a Peshawari chappal, something he has been doing for the past 30 years.
What is an actual Peshawari chappal like?
Habib says, “The one that I am making right now is a real Peshawari chappal. It is made in pure leather. Some rubber material is also used. I think most Peshawari chappals are more or less the same, but the designs are different.” According to Hussain Agha of New Khyber Chappal, “Only Kohati Chappal comes close to the Peshawari chappal. But they are two different things.”
Habib has three workers at his shop. “One worker makes four pairs in a day at my shop. So in a single day, as many as 12 chappals are made.”
According to Muhammad Javed, who runs Khyber Chappal Maker, “The sales of these chappals pick up around Eid. All that I have stored up in my shop will be sold off.”
Agha, however, points out a decline in the sales, “Last Eid, I was able to sell 1500 pairs of these chappals but this Eid only about 600 to 800 pairs were sold.”
What’s trickling the market go down?
“These chappals that I make would go to as far as Miranshah but the current political situation has gravely affected our country and now the business is operated locally, for Karachi based clients only,” says Agha. Pointing out another reason for the decline, he adds, “Since the China chappal (referring to cheaper open flats) have stormed in our local market, people wear those and let go of Peshawari chappals altogether. Compared to the China chappal, Peshawari chappals are far more expensive.”
How old is the history of Peshawari chappal?
“At least a hundred years old. These chappals, initially were made in the city of Peshawar,” says Mehroze Khan, who sits at his friend’s shop.
Javed explains the manufacturing process of Peshawari chappals, “First it is leather cutting, then the sole-making process. Stitching is done by needle or the machine. Finally the fitting of the chappal takes place.” The chappals are mostly handmade.”
Price varies starting from Rs 300 to Rs 800. “It (price) depends on the leather material used in its making that defines the true cost of production,” says Habib.
Habiba and Agha both agree that it’s mostly black colour that men prefer in Peshawari chappal.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2010.