What Are Peshawari Chappal Shoes?

Peshawari chappals are a type of traditional footwear worn in regions of Pakistan, especially among Pashtun people. Peshawari chappals feature a semi closed construction with two wide straps that overlap one another and connect at the sole of the shoe. The back heel also has a buckle that keeps the shoe secured onto the foot. The inverted triangular opening at the toe is a staple of any peshawari chappal. (1)

History of Peshawari Chappal

Peshawari chappals have a deeply rooted history as they are particularly popular with Pashtun men in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. The term “peshawari chappal” is derived from the city in which the shoes were first crafted, Peshawar, and the word “chappal” is pulled from the Urdu word which means flip-flops or sandals. 

The shoes themselves look like a type of formal flip flop or sandal. The shoes are often worn with a traditional dress called a salwar kameez, but in modern times it’s also sported with jeans and a tee-shirt. Finally, because the shoe is comfortable yet formal, it has become the premier dress shoe for all types of occasions in South Asian culture. 

What Are Peshawari Chappals Made of?

Peshawari chapels are almost always made out of a soft leather because they are easier to sew onto the sole. Traditional peshawari chappals are constructed out of polished black leather. However, there are always different types of styles emerging with the latest fashion trends. 

For most occasions, including formal attire and traditional wear in Pakistan and Afghanistan, black peshawari chappals are worn. For more festive occasions, the material used can be decorated with gold and silver threads and adorned with a variety of patterns and colors. The soft leather is sewn directly onto the rubber sole, and the back leather strap is adjustable so that you can find the right fit.

Peshawari chappal
Peshawari Chappal with golden design. User:Syedusman / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

Who Wore Peshawari Chappals? 

Peshawari chappals originated in Pakistan, but the formal sandal can be found all over South Asia, including Afghanistan and different parts of India. Depending on where you go, the name of the shoe may change, with some calling it a “Saplai” and others referring to it as a “Kheri.” 

When the shoe originated in the 19th century, it was primarily worn by tribal leaders. Over time, however, the shoe was meant to be worn by men of all social statuses. The more formal types of peshawari chappals are reserved for weddings, holidays, and other celebrations, yet the sandal is worn as a daily type of footwear too. 

Today, the shoe is still handcrafted by both traditional artisans in South Asia. And while the shoe does not have a major following outside of South Asia, online retailers and e-commerce in other parts of the globe are looking to change that. For the most part, the shoe has stayed consistent in its construction and has not deviated from its traditional look. (2)

Although there are peshawari chappals emerging in female fashion, the shoe is primarily associated with men’s footwear.