Harshwardhan Patwardhan is the dynamic founder of the footwear label, Chappers. As a path-breaking brand in the Indian footwear industry, Chappers is making waves through its innovative designs, unmatched customisation options, and technology-driven in-store retail experience.
Harshwardhan is a quintessential Indian and true to his Maharashtrian roots, he had an obsession for Kolhapuri Chappals. When he went to study Business Management at Nottingham, he carried a pair of the iconic sandals with him. However, when his footwear was highly praised by people in UK, he began contemplating giving a modern touch to add global appeal to the legendary Kolhapuris, that are typically available in only black, grey or brown colours. Upon returning to India after completing his MSc in Business Management, he decided to create his own footprint as an entrepreneur instead of joining the transportation business of his father. The ‘Make in India’ initiative by the PM Modi proved to be the ultimate inspiration, convincing the young businessman to embark on the journey.
He extensively researched on the footwear, undertaking several solo trips to Kolhapur to find out about the sandals, and meeting leather manufacturers in Dharavi etc. He first tested the waters by creating a few pairs that were tested under diverse and challenging conditions such as long and difficult treks and walking through waterlogged areas during heavy rains. Once the quality was ascertained, Harshwardhan led the company towards initial production and design. The brand name ‘Chappers’ is a smart mix of ‘Chappal (Hindi for sandals) + slippers. After the branding etc., was finalized, the brand was unveiled through a small stall in a Pune mall. The overwhelming response saw hundreds of pairs being sold within a fortnight, and Chappers was well on its way to glory.
With his maiden entrepreneurial venture, Harshwardhan Patwardhan is aiming to bring about a fundamental transformation of the footwear industry. He is extremely passionate about contributing to the global acceptance and popularising Indian handicrafts. In the next ten years, he anticipates Chappers to become an international footwear brand with on-ground presence in at least 10 countries, selling 20,000 pairs a month plus. He started with Kolhapuri Chappals and gradually expanded to other footwear varieties like loafers, shoes, mojris etc. He is also a multi-linguist with proficiency in Hindi, English, and German apart from his native language, Marathi.