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The Weekender: Generations of Leather Crafters

by Our Barehands |

The Puspak* (pronounced as push-pak) woven slides in vegetable-tanned full grain water buffalo leather was handmade in a small village located in North Karnataka, India. With just over 11,000 people living in that village, our leather shoemakers have been pronounced 'Master Shoemakers' by the local community due to its centuries-long tradition of shoemaking. Many stopped formal education just at the age of 12 to 13 due to inaccessibility and other various reasons. However, they found a source of income through picking up their family tradition of shoemaking and thus been leather shoemakers for the past 20 years.


wilfred sequeira

Prior to the involvement of a local artisan-driven cooperative, many of our village producers were making a subsistence wage that could not guarantee them simply two meals a day. Due to their inability to generate a steady source of income, they were not able to send their children to school resulting in their inability to break out of the poverty cycle. Since the collaborative effort of local artisans beginning 1998, about 400 families have benefitted from its collaborative work. A louder voice and representation in both the domestic and international economy were attributed to their resilience and persistence over the years.


Our Barehands chose to work with this group of local producers because of their high-level of skill, dedication, and authenticity in their process and products.


The woven design in Puspak is what they call cavani-weaving. It is a style of braid-like weaving that bonds the shoe’s upper and midsole together. This technique is deeply rooted in the shoemaking traditions of North Karnataka and unique to the region that they call home. The slip-on design of Puspak, coupled with its multigenerational tradition of cavani-weaving style were creatively and single-handedly put together by our producing community. Every pair is made by hand; from the cutting of the leather, to its weaving, stitching, hammering and fitting, each master shoemaker focuses on different parts of the process. This process takes more than five shoemakers, often family members or relatives, to complete.


One of our goals at Our Barehands is to ensure that our producing communities have a sustainable livelihood - one where they will not have to worry about their or their family’s next meal. It’s simple; we believe that the more demand there is for our Puspak woven slides, the more income can be generated for our shoemaking producers.


*Puspak (noun) means flying machine in hindi. We like how our woven leather slides symbolize swift and easy wearing for any fuss-free occasion i.e. weekend outings, travels etc.


What story will your hands tell?

View our Puspak Woven Slides.