Typically we find eco-friendly products are quite expensive, which is particularly true for fashion accessories and goods. Some of them are not very functional as well. However, the city of Pune is proud to have created a colorful environmentally-friendly product that is not only useful and affordable, but also makes a trendy style statement! “Osho Chappals” that adorn many a foot in the city are now making their mark across the globe.
Quite a few Indian celebrities have been clicked sporting a pair of Osho Chappals when they are comfortably lounging around. It comes as no surprise that these eco-friendly slippers have also made their mark internationally. Many an international model has trendily sported a pair while gracing a fashion show ramp amidst applause from designers and audience.
So what is it about this footwear that makes it so popular? The answer lies in the fact that they come in a range of eye-catching colors, don’t burn a hole in your pocket, are trendy and can be worn quite comfortably while making a style statement! Moreover, even though they are so cheaply priced, you are not looked down upon for wearing a pair. In fact, these slippers get a nod of approval from onlookers everywhere and have even led to some long-lasting friendships across borders by acting as icebreakers.
Do you wonder how these Osho Chappals got their name? The story originates decades ago at the Osho Meditation Resort (Osho Commune) in Pune that was established by the renowned spiritual guru, Osho Rajneesh. Internationally renowned as a spot to find peace and meaning to life, the Osho Commune sees a steady stream of foreign and Indian visitors throughout the year. Leather is not allowed inside the ashram, particularly near the meditation center.
It so happened that straw slippers were a rage in Japan and a few Japanese Sanyasis brought them along when they came to the Osho Commune. Given the ingenuity of Indian entrepreneurs, this idea was soon turned into a tangible product. These straw slippers sparked the Indian creative mind so much that local Pune manufacturers started to make their own version of the footwear. Soon several craftsmen in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Rajasthan began to practice the art of making these slippers and added their own innovations to them as well.
At times, Osho Chappals are also referred to as Chatai Chappals since their basic raw material is natural grass, bamboo, or jute straw. Their design is rather simple but their reputation is anything but that. Some wear them because they are comfortable and make a causal fashion statement, others because they represent freedom and are an expression of being in tune with nature. If you thought that these slippers find foot favor only among teenagers and the youth, you would be surprised to know the majority of the customers are adults and senior citizens as well!
The popularity of this footwear has only increased with time. Available both for men and women, their colors are so attractive that you can be forgiven for buying a pair to match each of your outfits! Senior citizens wear them as slippers at home, especially in summer. When the sweltering heat exhausts both the body and the mind, Osho Chappals are cooling for the feet since they are made from natural materials. At times they are also worn as bathroom slippers.
So how exactly are these flip flops manufactured? The process involves pasting straw or jute onto the rubber layer, which forms the sole of the footwear. To make these slippers more durable, another layer of straw or bamboo is added. The last step is attaching the straps that are made of velvet in a range of colors from sober maroon to funky neon green. At times, they are embellished with sequins. Additional design elements such as glitter, beads, stones, and various forms of embroidery are experimented with, while keeping the basic style intact. Manufacturers of these chappals are at times willing to customize them as per your requirements and budget.
Despite these positive aspects, this footwear falters in three regards – its durability, season unsuitability and feeble grip. Osho Chappals are not durable and depending on their usage can last for up to 3-4 months after which they disintegrate as the straw layer comes apart. Further, wearing them during the rainy season is not advisable as the straw/jute/bamboo becomes wet and leads to rapid wear & tear of the slippers. Third, the velvet strap material does not provide a sturdy grip for your feet. However, since they are so reasonably priced in today’s world of designer labels, no one minds spending on them!
Since they are comfortable to wear, the chappals are great for those who do not suffer from recent fractures or foot problems. If you have been advised footwear that provides support and a good grip, then Osho Chappals don’t make the mark as they do not have back support. And of course, for formal occasions wearing a pair may be a serious faux pas!