PESHAWAR: Peshawari Chappal are no more restricted to remain part of the traditional Shalwar-Qameez attire as with the addition of new innovation in the fashion world, trendy youth have started to put on the traditional footwear with jeans, especially the fine suede pieces.
The popularity of Peshawari Chappal, especially with the young, signifies that the footwear is still a hot choice in the market with its innovative use by the young generation. Peshawar city has been the center of artisans, which is another interpretation of the word Peshawar as Pesha Warr (city of skilled people) where Jahangirpura Bazaar, near historic Qissa Khwani Bazaar has been the center of such skilled people who have been making Peshawari Chappal for over 70 years.
Jahangirpura is like a school where thousands of artisans started working as amateurs and later became masters of the chappal-making trade. One such artisan is Syed Hassan Ali alias Agha Jee who has been in this business for the past 40 years and is proud of adhering to his forefathers’ profession.
Agha Jee, who is also president of the Bazaar’s union, said, “Decades long expertise in the making of Peshawari Chappal attained for this product worldwide fame as the footwear is exported to South Africa, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia France, India, Afghanistan and Russia.”
He said a single pair passes through six stages of skilled hands to become a finished product. He said in the first step the sole of the chappal was made which is actually the flattened rubber piece cut from the automobiles tyre, and the skilled labourer charged Rs10 per sole. In the second stage, a piece of leather is sewn for Rs15, known as upper. The fitting of the piece with the sole is done at a cost of Rs50 in the fourth stage whereas wooden last is the fifth stage in which the pair is stuffed with a wooden piece to stretch and fix all the nails, leather and thread placed together to get the shoe adjusted, he added. In the sixth stage finishing touches are given to a piece which includes polishing and varnishing to improve the look of the pair while the artisan also paint its border with a factory chemical for a long lasting shine at Rs12 per pair.
Hasan Ali picked up some latest showcased pairs branded with funny names like 7610 Nokia model, Titanic and F-17 Thunder. Explaining the reason behind such unusual names, he said that the designers’ muse had the inspiration from the items which they wanted to copy, like the cell phone model 7610 or the F-17 Thunder — a symbol of Pak-China friendship, he added.
The chappal named as 7610 has also a variation, which is known as 7610 triple gear, very popular these days with youth, the businessman said. While trying to explain the term triple gear, he said, “When a pair was sewn thrice it was termed triple gear which made it a very well sewn and durable among all the pieces.”
He took out a jet-black piece from a two-fold covering, saying, this one was known as the Charsaada Cut as it was quite popular among the politicians due to its sober outlook. He selected another piece and said this one is known as mountain style as the shoes resembled mountain like curves over its upper part.
His next pick which was like the famous Titanic ship and copied from the model of the ship by the chappal makers, he said. The skilled man informed The News that the leather for chappal making was mostly tanned in district Kasur in Punjab province. The raw material was the animal hides like cow, buffalo, goat and sheep.
Syed Lal Baadshah son of Agha Jee said Peshawari Chappal had a vast variety of 400-500 designs and the number was gradually increasing with new trends. He said the best leather available in the market was the English leather, admitting the introduction of Chinese products and their rapid popularity due to its long durability and low price had adversely affected the sale of Peshawari Chappal.
Sher Ali, 60, who has been making Tilatar or Zari Peshawari Chappal for the last 40 years, said footwear bore witness to the masterly hands of the Peshawarites. Of the making process, he said that in the very first stage the upper, which is locally known as pana, was decorated with the stylish designs and then sent to Kamra town in Punjab for the decoration with the colored linen locally known as the Tilatar. He said the skilled women of Kamra town charged Rs120 per chappal, whereas the pana was imported from the United States, which resembles a lot the suede leather locally known as Sabar. He said nearly 40-50 designs were available in the local market. The artisan said that there were special requests for the making the pieces for children.
The general secretary of the union, Mohammad Yaqoob, said the excessive loadshedding had adversely affected the business in the Jahangirpura Bazaar. He called for cut in loadshedding and supply of electricity to the chappal-makers on subsided rates to save the industry.