Kolhapuri chappal eyes foreign shores, set for a makeover; Paris designer roped in for training

Aiming to revive the legacy of the iconic Kolhapuri chappal, the Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries (MSKVI) Board is all set to give it an international makeover. The board has roped in Paris-based design professor and footwear designer Neona Skane to conduct workshops and train local artisans and chappal-makers.

The board is also taking the help of current and former businessmen and experts from other footwear giants such as Bata to conduct these workshops. The MSKVI Board is also planning to explore ways to take Maharashtra’s popular handcrafted Kolhapuri chappals to the international market.

“Observing that the Kolhapuri chappal market has been on a decline, we decided hold a workshop to identify the factors behind this. This was the first time we were successful in getting footwear industry representatives and chappal-makers face to face. There was an interaction where people gave their suggestions and it was decided that Kolhapuri chappal needs a facelift. We felt there was an urgent need to improve their aesthetics, comfort and aligning these products keeping in with the market trends. The aim through these workshops is to make Kolhapuris contemporary and receptive to Indian and international markets without losing their traditional and heritage value,” said Richa Bagla, CEO, MSKVI Board.

To start with, the board has got together traditional Kolhapuri chappal-makers and artisans and has tagged them under one brand name Kalatmak Kolhapuri to help consumers identify genuine heritage products. As part of these workshops, Skane is visiting houses of local artisans in the villages of Kolhapur and interacting with them, teaching them modern techniques and understanding factors behind the deceleration of their growth.

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