@caplaitshoes // Pakistan
Hello! I’m Usman, the Founder of Çaplait Shoes. We’re on a mission to preserve a traditional handcrafted sandal of Pakistan and support ethical fashion while doing so. The Peshawari Chappal, a traditional handmade footwear, is a fundamental part of Pakistani heritage. Once only worn in Pakistan, the Peshawari Chappal have now become increasingly popular and are worn by fashion-lovers across the globe. We want to ensure that the cultural origins of the Peshawari Chappal are credited and preserved. That’s why our sandals are designed in Britain and handcrafted in Pakistan, by artisans who are fairly paid for their craft.
In 2014, the Peshawari Chappal became the focus of a worldwide fashion debate when British designer Sir Paul Smith created a similar shoe, retailing at £300, which caused thousands of complaints on social media saying the shoe appropriated the culture and craft of its original Pakistani makers. After a strongly supported petition towards the designer and UK government, the shoe’s description on the website was changed to say it was “inspired by Peshawari Chappal”.
As a British-born Pakistani, I want to combat the disrespectful stealing of cultural ideas in fashion without any due credit. The Peshawari Chappal is a sandal that I have fond memories of wearing throughout my life, at celebrations like Eid and family weddings as well as day to day. It’s my dream to modernise this traditional sandal: by maintaining the cultural heritage of Pakistan and introducing the shoes to people around the world who would love to wear them too.
We’re putting this dream into action through everything we do as a business; right down to our name, Çaplait. The Peshawari Chappal is called “saplay” by the local people in the region of Pakistan where the sandal originates. We wanted to honour Pakistani heritage by keeping the traditional name, while adding our own modern and fashionable twist with a French translation.
From the off, we are placing the Peshawari Chappal artisans at the heart of everything we do. The Peshawari Chappal would not exist without the multi-talented Pakistani artisans who craft them. This is not fast fashion. Our major motivator for our Kickstarter Campaign is to ensure that the artisans are working in ethical conditions, are properly credited and fairly paid for their creations.
Handcrafted footwear is a dying trade. The artisans in Pakistan that we’re working with are worried that their craft, which has been passed down across the generations, is losing out to large commercial factories. By supporting Çaplait Shoes, you’ll be financially helping the Pakistani artisans to continue creating these beautiful shoes.
We currently have three core sandal designs: the Jist (minimal embroidery), the Swati (heavily embroidery), and the Hara (plain suede).
Traditionally the Peshawari Chappal is a man’s shoe, designed in plain, dark colours. We’ve adapted the shoes into beautiful, colourful designs that can be worn by women. We want for women wearing our shoes to feel like they’re giving something back to a culture, while owning a unique and special piece of fashion.
The designs have been inspired by traditional embroidery called Phulkari, a type of embroidery practiced throughout many regions in Pakistan. Phulkari emblems traditionally take inspiration from life in the villages, so typically feature geometric patterns from everyday life and motifs like wheat and barley heads. All of our sandals are handcrafted using the highest quality, genuine leather and suede, as well as being embroidered with cotton.
To bring our ideas to life, we’re working with renowned shoe designer Jessica Beecham. Born in Argentina, raised in London and trained in Italy, Jessica has been working in the industry for over a decade and brings a multicultural background and hybrid versatility to her designs.