Walk like the Desis

Sep 10, 2015, 07:53 IST | Suprita Mitter

Mumbai-based Desi Hangover is a multidimensional social enterprise that sells handcrafted leather footwear created by local artisans aimed to help improve craftsmen’s wages and their status in society

  At a recent fashion week held in the city, a common theme that many designers opted for was the revival of Indian textiles and weaves. One show even managed to get artisans on stage as showstoppers. We found another successful initiative, Desi Hangover, that aims to help the artisan community.

Desi Hangover was started with the sole purpose of getting over India’s colonial hangover with foreign brands. During his travels to Egypt, city-based student Hitesh Kenjale (23), and founder of Desi Hangover, received attention from global audiences for traditionally-made Indian footwear that he wore. Kenjale realised the potential it had in the global market and started his research only to discover how beautiful these shoes were and the effort that goes into making them.

A pair of Kolhapuris created by Desi Hangover
A pair of Kolhapuris created by Desi Hangover

He discovered that Kolhapuris were made by artists in the interiors of Maharashtra and along its border with Karnataka. When he met these craftsmen, he realised that they were getting obsolete, as cheap, machine-made products had taken the charm and the market away from these handcrafted products.

Artisans at work
Artisans at work

So, he decided to help these artisans and teamed up with Lakshya Arora, Pritam Chavan, Abha Agrawal and Omkar Pandharkame to launch Desi Hangover in June 2013. Today, the company exports to six countries and uses the revenue to fund a school adopted in a village in Belgaum, Karnataka.

Founder of Desi Hangover, Hitesh Kenjale (right) with one of the  co-founders, Abha Agrawal
Founder of Desi Hangover, Hitesh Kenjale (right) with one of the co-founders, Abha Agrawal

“The artisans we met during our research were the craftsmen in the initiative. We taught them to make shoes that were could compete with foreign brands. Artisans are trained through regular workshops, use of technology and by learning about the market,” Kenjale shares.

“We strive hard to create quality products. We use the most premium vegetable tanned leather to manufacture the footwear. The hides are organically processed to create the finished leather. These leather sheets are manually flattened and cut accurately to make laces, soles, and the other parts of the shoes. Priced between Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500, the Desis (as this footwear is called) are manufactured without machine contact. Every artisan works for almost 20 days to create this piece of art,” he reveals.

They recently collaborated with crowdfunding platform, Wishberry. “We received enthusiastic response in the last quarter, with big orders and inquiries from across the globe. To meet these demands, we needed a bigger platform, higher quality tools and equipment, and more manpower. Hence, we decided to go the crowdfunding way. This would help us to up-scale the entire model and supply to the ever increasing demand and also reward our supporters in exciting ways,” he concludes.

Log on to: Desihangover.in

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