Adapt To Survive
Post the Modi Govt. coming into power, big noise has been made around his (or as some say originally Manmohan Singh’s) ‘’Make in India’’ initiative. It is a fabulous one no doubt and one that has been timely introduced. While ‘’Make in India’’ is largely targeted to the international market with great FDI initiatives, its great news for the Indian consumer too.
All this is happening at a time when there is a clear shift in trend towards Indian silhouettes, motifs, prints, styles and fabrics. With traditional becoming chic again, it’s a great time to explore the lost Indian arts be it in textile, apparel, home décor or footwear. Top Indian fashion designers like Ritu Kumar, Anita Dongre, Rohit Bal, Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherjee have created spectacular collections based entirely on Benarasi handwoven silks and hand-made fabrics and motifs by the Indian weavers and artisans. Apparel and home décor led by houses such as Fab India, Good Earth and more recently Anavila, Pero, Ikai, Eka and Nicobar have gained huge popularity for their Indianess in sourcing and in soul.
A number of Indian footwear designers have mushroomed that source and manufacture in India. I think it’s wise that the designers that manufacture in India do more Indian styles such as open sandals and juttis since that is our core competency. Or for that matter styles using Indian fabrics and motifs such as ballets and oxfords that do not require lasting and moulding machines and can be handmade by the karigar (artisan).
My favourite of the Indian style are the Juttis. I love the way a number of new age designers have given this traditional footwear a fun and trendy twist taking it beyond the usual glitter and gota embellishments and making it more versatile and wearable. These trendy juttis with their exciting motifs and cool embellishments can now be worn with all sorts of western clothing and not just with Salwar Kameez and sarees (traditional Indian wear). There are a number of brands that are part of this jutti revolution- Needle Dust, Fizzy Goblet, Jutti Choo, The Haelli, Heiress Delight, Coral haze to name just a few.
A little history about the Punjabi Jutti – Till recently, the cobbler was one of the essential workmen of the village community in North West India. He was entitled to have the skins of all animals dying a natural death, or to share them with the village sweepers. Apart from his right to the skins of dead animals, he also got a share or fixed amount of produce, which varied from place to place. In return he was required to supply shoes to the whole family of his patrons once or twice a year, and to provide cattle thongs, plough gear, headstalls for cattle and other leather products of agricultural utility.
With modernisation and machines taking over for most manufacturing activities, the punjabi jutti or Khussas was slowly losing its presence and glory. And so most of the craftsmen were looking for alternative means of occupation. But thanks to these designers the Jutti that was close to becoming a lost art has been revived and how!
The juttis or Mojaris as they are also known are most popular even today in the North of India. I remember buying many during my summer holidays from Chandigarh, Patiala, Delhi and Amritsar. Most the shopping markets there have rows and rows of Jutti shops. So much variety and reasonably priced with each pair costing no more than a dollar or two!
The designer ones today are more expensive but some, like the summery floral pair that I picked up from Needle Dust for about 35$ is still totally worth the price. I bought them online for a friend’s wedding in Delhi and loved wearing them for the day function with my Indian outfit. Jutti is the staple of every North Indian wedding whether you are the bride or the guest! Delhi with its crazy wedding count- 25,000-1,00,00 weddings daily during the peak season of December to February the juttis just fly off the shelf!