How they're made
The Making of Upper & Bottom Stock
1.Bag tanned vegetable buff leather is mostly used for soles as well as for uppers. At times, bag tanned cow leather soles are also used. At Akirn we use Buff calf leather (bag tanned) for making uppers for better comfort.
2.The bag tanned leather is wetted to ease cutting and is then cut into outer sole and insole, using pattern sheets. (Picture)
3. The leather is then pressed by rolling machines to make it flat and increase its strength and durability. (Picture)
4.After that the leather is split to achieve exact thickness and girth. (Picture)
5.The cut soles are dried both naturally and artificially for further craftsmanship.
6.After that, dry leather patterns are cut with cutting dies on clicking machines for perfection and uniformity. (Picture)
7. Meanwhile the most unique part of the design, the ears are cut and prepared to paste and stitch to the sole..(Picture)
8. In the case of punched designs, the desired designs are punched on the grain side of the insole as well as on the upper straps. (Picture)
9. Meanwhile, stitching leather threads are prepared from the tail portion of the same bag tanned leather.(Picture)
10. The whole chappal is now stitched with a leather thread. The sole stitching is all around the sole and also in the middle of the sole which gives it strength and a unique design.. (Picture)
11. Cleaning the leather is an essential step in the process. It washes out all the impurities and extra minerals in tanning process, giving the leather new sheen and a fresh texture. The cleaning process is repeated several times after every human interaction with the material.
12. Tassel the 'Weni' is the most delicate and important element in Kolhapuri Designing. There are three types of 'Weni'. Two of them are prepared from Buff Calf vegetable tanned leather. Of which, one is prepared by weaving two strings and is used in the belt and decorative work. The other is prepared by two strings punched through each other, which becomes part of the strap as the post toe and is also used in decorative work. (Picture – All Three Weni, Both cutting and weaving) The other one is prepared from Goat vegetable tanned leather, this 'Weni' is the most delicate part to create.(Picture – Both cutting and weaving)
13. Upper straps and Thumb straps are made with inner linings with softer leather material for added comfort,.(Picture)
14. All other decorative elements are prepared with hand punching dies.(Picture)
15. Where the whole world has shifted to pasting and machine stitching of sole of the footwear, Kolhapuris are still hand-stitched with leather threads using expertise of trained artisans. (Picture)
16. The ready pair is washed and cleaned for the last time prior to further decorative work. (Picture)
17. Then the sole is decorated with beautiful handcrafted punching. (Picture)
18. The soles are then polished by rubbing with specially designed porcelain rods or glass tiles for better sheen and texture. (Picture)
19. Then the Sole and Upper belt are fixed and stitched together using specially made foot lasts to achieve perfection in fitting.
20. Finishing with a combination of tried and tested techniques and advanced machinery.