PESHAWAR: The Peshawari traditional double-soled chapal scaled new heights of popularity when it was launched with its new title ‘Kaptaan special Peshawari chapal’ on January 8 this year.
“The special double-soled Peshawari chapal had been in fashion since long but when I gifted a pair of this specially designed new brand to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan on his wedding, the shoe became an instant favourite with all and sundry,” Haji Nooruddin Shinwari, owner of Afghan Chapal store in Namak Mandi Chowk told Dawn.
He has recently launched an online sale of Kaptaan special Peshawari chapal due to its increasing demand. The shoe dealer claimed that he had imported pure leather from Italy, its sole from Japan and its sheet sole from Germany with camel colour. He said that pure materials were being used in making of the shoe with hundred per cent handicraft. He said that not only followers of Imran Khan, but other people also wanted to wear Kaptaan chapal on special occasions.
He said that soon after acceptance of their gift by Imran Khan, most of the ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa began placing orders and also large Pashtuns following of Imran Khan from Gulf States and other countries contacted the store for making of Kaptaan chapal. He said that it took his craftsmen a week’s time to prepare one pair to be sold out at Rs10,000 in the local market. He said that Pashtun buyers living abroad placed their orders online.
Shoe dealer claims he imports leather from Italy, sole from Japan
“Now we don’t accept any orders from people because we have already received a lot and we have to meet them till Eid. If someone presses us, he could get a pair of Kaptaan chapal after a three-month wait. I love Imran Khan; therefore, I redesigned my shoe with the new title and it proved an instant boom,” the chapal dealer explained.
Wasim Jan, a buyer, said that he had shipped four pairs of Kaptaan chapal for his brother and cousins based in Qatar and added that they would wear the shoes on Eid. He said that although he liked traditional Charsadda and Peshawari chapals yet he cherished Kaptaan chapal. “I know that once the special pairs reached there, many of my friends would chase me to place orders on their behalf,” Mr Jan said.
Haji Sher Zaman, a dealer of Safi Mohmand chapal maker, however, painted a dismal picture of the chapal making business in Peshawar. He told this scribe that demand for traditional chapal was going down with every passing year owing to 20 to 40 price hike in its material. He said that only elite class could afford Kaptaan chapal. He said that the price of a normal traditional chapal pair this year stood at Rs800 to Rs1, 000 while last year it ran between Rs600 and Rs800.
“The chapal stores are being replaced by fruit and juice points in Namak Mandi Chowk. Once there were 60 chapal stores, but now there are only 25. Because of a serious slump in the market, I am not transferring this handicraft to my two sons. Traditional chapals are made in almost all cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal agencies, but Charsadda, Peshawari and Kohati chapals are still in great demand,” he said.
He said that the number of chapal makers was also decreasing because of dwindling trend of chapal wearing as common buyers could not afford even simply designed traditional chapal . He explained that cut pieces lots were shipped from abroad and chapals made from those leather pieces lured young people because of their fashionable styles and colours . Earlier, there used to be only traditional chapals in black and red colours, but now they are available in many colours which attract young buyers.
Sifat Gul in Jahangirpura bazaar told Dawn that traditional chapal used to be worn with Shalwar Qameez, but over the last few years young people also wore the traditional footwear with jeans. He said that these days around 600 different varieties of traditional chapals were made. He, however, said that it was a hard time for chapal makers and artisans as the common people preferred ready-made footwear.
Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2015