Our collection comes from a town called Athani, India. It’s located in Northern Karnataka, a region with a centuries-long shoemaking history.
Near Athani, just north of the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, the city of Kolhapur is famous for handmade chappals, regal open-toe sandals; Athani’s aesthetic stems from the rich shoe design history surrounding Kolhapur. Sometime in the last two centuries, artisans in the region came up with a new design for woven leather slip-ons with a distinctive braid around the edge. These slides and shoes are the basis for our collection, and are recognizable across India as an Athani-based design.
Every pair of Mohinders is made in Athani, by a multi-generational cooperative of master shoemakers. Athani holds the design origins of our collection, and we’re proud to support this masterful and place-based process.
A pair of Mohinders takes over 37 steps to make, start to finish. Every shoe is made by hand; master shoemakers specialize in different parts of the process like weaving, skiving, stitching, hammering, and fitting on a last. Up to six shoemakers, often relatives, will pass an in-progress shoe around a workshop until it’s complete.
We’ve worked with the same Athani-based cooperative of shoemakers since 2012 in a collaborative effort to create Mohinders signature styles, reinstating the shoes’ original quality and increasing comfort for a long life of adventure.
The water buffalo leather used to make Mohinders is produced in small family tanneries about an hour’s drive from Athani. The way it’s made is an old, small-batch and manual process called bag-tanning.
What is bag-tanning?
Bag-tanned leather is a method of turning hides into shoemaking-ready leather. It’s done by hand, using a few simple ingredients: water + limestone for pre-tanning, then acacia tree bark + myrobalan as sources of tannins. Each hide takes about 30 days to tan.
Bag-tanning reflects the primary way leather was made for thousands of years, up until the industrial revolution. The year 1858 brought us the faster, cheaper, chemical-intensive process chrome-tanning (as well as a large-scale move toward factories, where most of today’s veg-tanned leather is made). In contrast, bag-tanning evolved over the centuries alongside regional shoemaking traditions and makes for strong, biodegradable, and high quality leather.
The myrobalan used in the tanning process gives the leather its caramel tone. Myrobalan also reacts with iron, allowing us to achieve a deep black using natural dyes.
Think of raw denim or high quality boots: superior materials take a little effort to break in. The result? A custom fit that stands the test of time (think vintage Levi’s, versus 90’s stretch denim).
Our full grain water buffalo leather is no different. The more you wear your leather shoes, the patina deepens and they form to your foot’s shape. Soon they’ll be your reliable, daily go-to shoe. No two pairs look the same—which is the beauty of well-made, traditionally tanned leather.
With each material used to make Mohinders, we do our best to reduce waste and negative environmental impact.
A few ways we do this:
Support leather made in traditional, non-industrialized tanning methods that use plant-based ingredients and no synthetic chemicalsLining leather sourced from in a tannery with a Leather Working Group gold rating Choosing natural dyes for our colorways: iron, myrobalan, Obenauf’s leather oilCrepe rubber soles: a two-ingredient, plant-based regenerating source of rubberOrganic cotton reusable dust bags
Our shoes are designed to last for years, not just a season. This means:
Crepe rubber soles protect footbed stitches and midsoles Construction updates allow every pair to be re-soled by a cobbler, extending your shoes’ life Lining leather + footbed cushion create a custom fit that lasts