Agender or gender fluid footwear or clothing have been a part of the Indian subcontinent’s culture since ancient days. In recent times, closer to home one notices the ubiquitous Kohlapuri slippers, Punjabi juttis/mojaris or now the Peshawari chappal – a worn especially by Pashtuns in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan; have taken over our everyday fashion choices. Eponymous to the city of Peshawar these flip-flops were originally only worn by men, paired with their traditional pathani suit.
In March 2014, Paul Smith a brit brand staying true to its dry sense of humour came under the scanner for selling slightly quirky Peshawaris without giving due credit to its design influence. After a change.org petition was signed by several they began selling it with a tagline “Men’s high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari chappal.”
Well now unavailable (atleast online), founded this year (2018) is Çaplait (the handle of the shoes is pronounced ‘Saplay’ by the locals) beautifully bridging heritage and modernity. Consciously, ethical manufacturing with innovation and sustainability are punched in its DNA to broaden the horizons of artisanal handcrafting. The ‘chappals’ designed in Britain but are manufactured in Pakistan. Easily identifiable with their signature tongue, squared toes, flat soles, cross-over straps and a buckle, Usman Manzoor and his international design team have unequivocally refined the traditional men’s shoe into a unisex footwear with embroidery, texture and colour for a fresher, unique appeal.
The young man has studied marketing and advertising and belongs to Bradford, West Yorkshire, a metropolitan county in England. His team takes great pride in practical, active commitment towards preserving a craft passed down by generations. Herein, its not just the artisans who are carefully handcrafting each pair to elevate the shoe to a truly luxurious level, but also the highest quality hardware and premium Italian leather soles which are individually hand painted and hand finished.
Available in EU sizes 37 – 41, Çaplait has 3 capsule lines, to begin with. Paying homage to the Punjab province (divided between India and Pakistan) The Jisti, has basic traditional Phulkari motif – three tiered wheat and barley. The Swati (my favourite), is named after a famous historical tribe, which is effectively its most decadent line. Priced approximately at INR 12,000 its fuller embroidered geometric patterns are bewitching in black & gold, white & gold or white & grey options. Lastly, The Hara, derived from the Hazara region in Pakistan, mirrors the original chappal in solid sumptuous deep navy, rich camel or cool grey suede for a contemporary styling.
To ensure a perfect fit, one will first have to measure the foot from the heel to the tip of the longest toe. Using their sizing chart as a reference, a size that is slightly longer than the measurement should be just right. But I have slim feet in a smaller size than available so will probably contact the team – firstname.lastname@example.org in hope of getting my perfect pair!