Warmer weather means you can retire your winter boots and get your feet into some of spring’s great footwear, including sneakers, sandals and flats of all kinds. What could be better than a beautifully handmade pair of flats or sandals to slip your feet into?
When Afshan Abbas took a trip from Seattle to her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, she noticed women everywhere wearing beautifully colored flats and sandals. These ‘kolhapuri’ sandals, as they are traditionally called, are a beautifully crafted flip-flop style sandal, and the ‘khussa’ is an embroidered leather ballet flat. Abbas fell in love with the shoes and she ended up with several pairs for herself and for gifts for friends back in Seattle. Upon her return, her new shoes got so much attention that an idea began to take hold. Along with two of her closest friends and co-founders, Hamad Khawaja and Rameez Sajwani, the concept of Fuchsia took shape, prompting them to travel back to Pakistan. They met with local artisans in the small town of Sangla to finalize the concepts and designs for Fuchsia, and the company launched its debut collection in the summer of 2014.
More than 40 days of craftsmanship goes behind every pair of kolhapuris and khussa shoes. Using bright thread work and traditional designs, the shoes are produced in Pakistan use fine raw materials prepared with salts to soften the leather and are handcrafted using century old traditional methods. The raw leather is first cleaned by hand in the river, then refined and cured with salt. The leather is dried in the sun to avoid damage to the delicate subtle texture. The upper parts are then paired with soles and bound together with lengths of strong white thread. After more than 30 days in the sun (depending on the weather), the upper portions of the shoes are embroidered with bright colored stitching.
The cobblers traditionally make two identical shoes, so there is not a right or left shoe. The leather conforms to one’s foot upon wearing, making it the perfect fit for its owner. I love the idea of handmade pieces as much as I love the investment in empowering and employing the artisans whose skills continue the tradition of the handicraft industries of South Asia.
Find them online at www.fuchsiashoes.com