Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience



Your Name:

Recipient Email:

The Peshawari chappal that Paul Smith were selling, without crediting the design to Pakistan. Photo from
The Peshawari chappal that Paul Smith were selling, without crediting the design to Pakistan. Photo from

Every single Pakistani man has owned a pair of these sandals at some point in his life. If not on a daily basis, then the Peshawari (or Charsadda) chappals are paired with traditional kurtas and worn on formal occasions such as weddings and, well, Eid. It is as much of a part of our national identity as is the chicken tikka in our traditional cuisine. Everyone knows what it is, has worn it, and its love spans through all of the country’s provinces.

This love and admiration for the Peshawari chappal is shared by none other than celebrated English menswear designer Sir Paul Smith who replicated the design as his own, in the market for a whopping £300 — 20 times the cost of the same chappal in Pakistan if bought from an upscale store.

The only bone of contention is that he decided to call them ‘Robert’.

Yes, that’s right, ‘Robert’.

Initially there was no mention of Pakistan, Peshawar or even Charsadda, or any credit given to the region where the design originates from. But in all seriousness, Mr Smith, ‘Robert’ is the best you could come up with?

Understandably, Pakistanis online are in an uproar. Some laugh, some are completely outraged, others are simply hurt. There is even a petition on demanding that the designer change the name of his sandals to ‘Peshwari chappals’. At the time of writing this, the petition had gathered close to around 50 signatures.

The outcry must have worked on some level because now Robert's description reads as, “Men’s high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari Chappal.”

The name 'Robert' has also been removed from the page, although the url still displays the orginal 'Robert' title.

Pakistani designers speak out

We asked several top Pakistani designers what their initial reaction was when they saw Robert up on display, whether this could be considered ‘stealing’ a design, should Mr Smith have referenced the inspiration from the beginning and if they would spend £300 on buying a pair of Robert vs. the locally-made Peshawari.

Here is what they had to say:

Nomi Ansari

Fashion designer, Nomi Ansari. Fashion designer, Nomi Ansari.

“The initial reaction was just WOW. I felt so proud but sadly realised that we’re the nation which doesn’t know its worth."

"What really made me upset is when I did not see the country, region or culture inspiration mentioned. Instead they’re calling it ‘Robert’ sandals. If they had been Indian sandals, that association would’ve been highlighted in capital letters. It’s not really stealing directly but yes one Pakistan/Peshawar mention would’ve been an answer to many questions being raised now."

"When I can get the best customised, most comfortable and hand made chappals from Gizri for Rs1,500 rupees or $15, I will be the biggest idiot to do that.”

"As I mentioned earlier we’re a one-of-our-kind of nation which doesn’t realise what our worth is and instead of being proud of our culture and heritage we run after anything that has ‘Made is France, UK, Spain, India or USA’ etc written on it. People will definitely take advantage of us being so confused."

"Everyone should send the international media the reference pictures and details of the product its inspiration coming from so at least Pakistan can come on the map of their interest and inspiration."

Munib Nawaz

Fashion designer, Munib Nawaz. Fashion designer, Munib Nawaz.

“In my honest opinion, this like you mentioned, isn’t the first time. Our motifs have been taken for years. Peshawari chappals is a another slap at our faces because we don’t take ownership of our own cultural designs — until some gora does it."

"If we owned the look then they wouldn’t have to give us credit. I don’t think they need to give the geographical credit.”

Adnan Pardesy

Fashion designer, Adnan Pardesy. Fashion designer, Adnan Pardesy.

“Initial reaction was that it’s nothing surprising! It happens all the time. Only this time it just caught the attention of people."

"Why should they mention it, really? We in this part of the world copy or ‘get inspired’ by the western designers all the time, do we mention where we got it and pass as our own? No, so it’s fine to do so. Seriously, it’s not stealing? It’ absolutely fair and Paul Smith has never claimed that he had the most original designs, anyway."

"Maybe I will buy them. I am sure they are of better quality in terms of the materials and I'm sure the comfort factor is there and I might just buy it since our version might just not be comfortable… that’s why I’ve never worn them. They end up doing everything better and obviously they have the market to sell at the prices they do."

"In all honesty designers do mention and talk about their inspiration all the time. Just because someone in West, after all these years, picked up one Pakistani article… I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like it will change the face of fashion forever.”

Kamiar Rokni

Fashion designer, Kamiar Rokni. Fashion designer, Kamiar Rokni.

“I thought they were okay. I didn’t love them. I’m sure many cultures have similar designs. And I don’t think it’s stealing if it is a variation on a traditional design.

“I wouldn’t buy them, I am quite happy with my Peshaweri chappals. And I’m sure the reference will come up at some point… but I’m also sure that these chappals have been done before.”

Nadia Hussain Khan

Model and actor, Nadia Hussain Khan. Model and actor, Nadia Hussain Khan.

“My initial reaction was ‘Bloody bas*****!’ In the ideal world perhaps there should’ve been a reference of inspiration but that’s where the sad part is — an international name being attached to something that’s so local and OURS. Now, all of a sudden, people want to go out and buy Peshwari chappals!

“Yes, it’s complete and utter stealing. I’d surely NEVER pay even £50 for this!

“Credit should surely be given, and perhaps some international journalist can point it out as complete highway stealing, but sadly that’ll never happen! It’s our country and the government needs to give and provide more opportunities for trade and development of our local crafts!”

Maheen Khan

Fashion and costume designer, Maheen Khan. Fashion and costume designer, Maheen Khan.

"My first reaction? Pride. Yes, there should have been a mention and acknowledgement of the region it was borrowed from as it's an exact copy and not an inspiration.

"All is fair in the world of fashion, but an acknowledgement would have been nice."

"I certainly would not pay this price to buy Peshawari chappals but it is Paul Smith after all!"

"If the Fashion industry did that — gave credit where it's due, what a perfect world that would be... but the world is not perfect, is it?"

Ahmed Bham

Fashion designer, Ahmed Bham. Fashion designer, Ahmed Bham.

"I thought it was some kind of a joke by internet freaks calling the Peshawari chappal 'Robert', But then I found out it was for real so I was kind of shocked. It was actually a copy without giving any credits to the people who actually own it."

"Of course there should have been some kind of reference for the inspiration behind this complete copy."

"We also take inspiration from the West, like in our jackets, blazers, etc. but we don't give them names like 'Gul Khan' or anything else — a blazer is still a blazer."

"Sir Paul Smith could have given it a name like 'Peshawari Chappal by Paul Smith' instead of naming it 'Robert' as if it's an inspiration from his personal imagination..."

"Without any credits given its 100 per cent stealing."

"I would rather pay my own real local manufacturers and craftsmen than Paul Smith for stealing someone else's hard work and making money out of it."

"Designers from this side of the globe have always given credits to them for taking inspiration, now its time to pay back..."

The writer is a Dawn staffer. Follow her on twitter @madeehasyed.

Comments (42) Closed

ahmer Mar 10, 2014 06:49pm

question: have we credited the designs we copy to any indian or western design? we copy trousers and sell as our own brands. We copy thier shoes and sell as our own brands?

secondly, do we have a patent on this? These sandals are worn from anywhere between Afghanistan to India to Bangladesh. How is it ours?

Khurram Mar 10, 2014 07:15pm

Some people in Pakistan are trying hard to associate ethnicity and regions with traditional garments and shoes that is actually wore by the majority of Pakistanis and is not associated with one specific region or ethnicity but rather is a part of Pakistani culture.

Peshawari chappal is one of the names of the traditional footwear of Pakistan and it has many names and in Hindko and Northen Punjab it is known as Khairi for centuries and in Sindh as well it has different names. Kindly just call it a Pakistani chappal as I have seen not only with shoes but with Shalwar Kameez and Waste coat as well that is a traditional dress of Pakistan now one ethnicity is dragging their name with it. Tomorrow i am afraid i will come to know that Shalwar Kameez is known as Peshawari Shalwar Kameez as if before that we never wear this dress at all.

Zeeshan Mar 10, 2014 07:19pm

He is under no obligation to denote any Pakistani heritage to the chappal, much as we aren't obligated to rename so many of our own cultural items that were originally influenced by the WEst.

Shahpur Mar 10, 2014 07:20pm

Pakistan is too preoccupied with daily violence in its streets.

Ali Mar 10, 2014 07:38pm

It should come with 1 pack of naswar :D

Ali Azfar Zaidi Mar 10, 2014 07:44pm

I always get a fresh pair of chawwat and peshawari chappals every time i visit back home. The goras absolutely love it and always ask if they I can get them one too. Its sad that we pakistanis just like to follow the west without giving any credit to anything that is homegrown until its blows up in the West or for that matter our neighboring country. Perhaps should be more self aware of our talents, be proud of it and promote it! As far as Mr Paul Smith is concerned, the guy just saw the gap in the market and went for it. I don't blame him... but perhaps he should have at least made a reference as to what inspired him to put these beauties on the high end shops of London's West End.

Nasser Mar 10, 2014 07:49pm

This is what happens to a nation which does not value education and knowledge.

Riyyan Mar 10, 2014 07:55pm

These are very well made with upper and sole both made from 100% leather but still

jiyala Mar 10, 2014 08:01pm

He got the free publicity (advertisement), and probably tons of customers too, thanks to the "outrage" of ghairat mand Pakistanis, then changed the product description to "Men's high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari Chappal.", making everyone look like a fool while he counts all the cash he made.

Great job everyone.

Zafar Quraishi Mar 10, 2014 08:14pm

Except Nadia Hussain all the twinks are either resigning to the fact that we cant do anything or further downplaying Pakistan. The Peshawari Chappal is as synonymous to Pakistan as the Kilt is to Scotland. We must all try our best to educate the world on this through postings on social media rather than wasting our time asking these twinks for comments.

Syed Mar 10, 2014 08:31pm

Forget about 'chappals'. Go and do something creative and make a difference in the world. Then you can get the real credit.

edwardian Mar 10, 2014 09:14pm

Hawaiian sandals or slippers are recognised universally and even called hawai chappal in Pakistan. Similarly, Peshawari chappal originally from Charsada can be made anywhere in the world but the new name does not do justice with the origin of this great design.

Probably, Robert is a serving private in the Army who returned from Afghanistan and this design inspired him to introduce to his uncle Mr Paul Smith.

Lakhkar Khan Mar 10, 2014 09:48pm

@Zeeshan :

Nobody is asking for that. They are simply asking the replicator to give credit to where it belongs.

Lakhkar Khan Mar 10, 2014 09:51pm


Maybe for you to do some research is not a bad idea. They are called "Peshawari" chappal for a reason and yes, Shalwar Kammez are originated from the same region which were made Pak national dress by Zia ul Haque.

Aziz Mar 10, 2014 10:18pm

The sandal thief of Britain!

Tariq, Lahore Mar 10, 2014 11:10pm

Every one wants 'imported' stuff in Pakistan even though it's contents may be absolute rubbish. Instead we support our home grown heritage and anything 'unique' from our culture should be copy written and protected internationally. It should be the job of provincial/central governments to arrange such protection through 'intellectual property office'.

Agha Ata Mar 11, 2014 12:08am

All this is the fault of Pakistanis, who didn't have the imagination to make such a beautiful foot wear exportable and famous. Now Smiths are using it, and you are hurt. Shame on you!

Iqbal AliKhan Mar 11, 2014 01:12am

I am actually surprised at the stupidity and arrogance of Paul Smith, with all the Pakistani's in the UK, one would have thought he would have had enough sense to realize that he would be caught. I am glad some of our designers have the integrity of calling out the atrocity being committed here. Adnan and Kamari are those wanna bee's who would have given away the patent for Basmati rice to Monsanto! Just because you do not have the integrity of giving credit the rest of us who maintain this integrity should not have to pay for your follies. Besides, who has stopped you, who are in this field, from creating a high quality comfortable chappal!

Proud Paki Mar 11, 2014 01:39am

@ Mr Adnan Pardesi : Your statement "Maybe I will buy them. I am sure they are of better quality" really reflects your own products' quality. It is our mind set that has never made us rise as a nation.. we will never feel proud of our own selves and always consider angrez better than us.. we were and will remain slaves of the west UNTIL we start being true to ourselves.

Kublai Mar 11, 2014 01:57am

Buy the real rough hewn ones. With truck tire soles. handmade, only in two colors, black or brown. Keep it authentic and original. Cost about Rs.700 after good haggling. Available in any chappal bazaar. Anything, like calfskin, lambskin, delicate looking,..they get wimpy.

GA Mar 11, 2014 02:29am

I recall an American woman selling traditional men's Swati caps to women in the States some 20 years ago. She had bought them on a visit to Pakistan and did identify the origins when I approached her. Except she was marketing it to women.

ABC Mar 11, 2014 05:42am

In business even if you have a patent other people will still copy your design. The main patent holders usually advertise their product in a much better way than the copiers. So to counter this promote literature about the origins of this design, such as time period, the country where they originated, in other words tell about the history of these chappals along with samples and pictures of shops full of these chappals and also provide the originals in the market where "Robert " is or will be popular. May the best man win.

Sadiq Ali Mar 11, 2014 07:09am

@Ali: And you should come with a sign that says "warning-toxic odour".

Sadiq Ali Mar 11, 2014 07:36am

These shoes originated in Pakhtunkhwa where they're known as saplai. I buy them in bulk whenever in Charsadda and the highest quality can cause up to $40. Heck I even have all my dress shoes made there which are far more comfortable and better looking than the shoes you get off the rack at any of the biggest fashion boutiques in the world. I understand why people are upset with this and honestly it irks me as well when I think about the cobblers in Khaar or Charsadda who'd be lucky to make a quarter of what these people do in a day for their hard work, just because some metro fashion designer decides to plagiarize something seemingly exotic and make it a patented trend. Its insensitive and the right thing would be to call them by their actual name, Saplai or Peshawari Sandals. You don't see people plagiarizing Japanese Zori and calling them Michaels.

sf Mar 11, 2014 08:03am

One quite often see these chapals in the U.S's regular stores not now but saw them few years back since Pakistani and Indian started migrating to the West, they were probably made in China, Its not new you still see them but not the Pakistani version. But they don't mention its orgin in Pakistan. Starbuck has masala chai, basmati rice is marketed without mention of Pakistan, even US companies tried to get patent for these two and there are many other designs of indian chapals that had been copied even some very expensive women dresses have touch of Indian and Pakistani style. And of course curry has become part of Western food. Not a big deal.

Sialkot wala Mar 11, 2014 08:16am

@Iqbal AliKhan: He is not selling this to desi public or market. However they are welcomed to buy it. This is a niche market. Affluent well to do. May even be seasonal. Forgotten by Fall weather.

sf Mar 11, 2014 08:18am

Look if you want to go after Paul Smith make Chappals under the name of "Peshawari Roberts" and sell them for $10 that will take care of him.

shandana khn Mar 11, 2014 08:30am

This is our design and the world should recognize it !

Agha Ata Mar 11, 2014 08:31am

@Iqbal AliKhan: No. Smith is clever, Pakistani chappal makers are stupid.

chikoo Mar 11, 2014 08:59am

this is really awful to know, i wish i could have sued this guy for stealing our traditional and ethnic stuff if i had sufficient money. i urge these people who spoke for fashion and special association to the product to Sue the brand. START LOVING YOUR THINGS because it will remain ours no matter where ever we go. this sense of belonging can never be refused although we have so many flaws and problems . Still this land is full of love , peace ,whenever we go back to it . Although our lives are not safe but we still want to live in there .

Muhammad Daud Alam Mar 11, 2014 11:39am

Yara smitha...Khana kharaba hamara naqal karta hay...!!!!

Michael Jordan Mar 11, 2014 01:03pm

The worse thing is that these are UGLY... No Taikka! Peshawaris are supposed to inspire rugged cool... These are lame to be honest and at 300bucks...cuckoo land price?

rich Mar 11, 2014 01:21pm

@jiyala: well ot works both ways

now many pakistanis will buy from peshwar coblers and hopefullt these poor people will makesome money

they too got free publicity

these are very common in india all our netas use to wear them

Dr Awan Mar 11, 2014 01:25pm

Probably the so called ' designer / plagiarist ' have no idea of pink color's association with man. This only shows the callousness on the designer part. ' Robert' may be fine but Peshawari chappal it can never be!

Faisal H. Qasim Mar 11, 2014 02:52pm

Lets not forget, maybe Paul Smith is outsourcing these Chappals from Peshawar. After-all, Pakistan makes and exports clothes to the top designers in the world...

Blister Mar 11, 2014 04:38pm

Ideal thing to do would be to spread the word on social media comparing the original peshawari chappal with this branded peshawari chappal (Robert-still can't believe!). The only inspiration is the pink neon stripe. That will make 8-10% of the chappal in terms of Paul Smith patent (if there is one). Once it is exposed on social media they will have to acknowledge or even change things for the better. This is not inspiration this is copy. Shameful. You see a lot of people (some not all) who shop at places like Paul Smith dishing money of this kind and they also work for various NGO's (powerful lot you know!) and they will either protest and prefer to avoid being branded as endorsing paligiarism or source and bring to fore the real makers from Pakistan. We should do it the western media is the way forward!

Salman Mar 11, 2014 05:00pm

Paul Smith you are totally out of your mind. you want to sell wrong product to wrong people with wrong price at wrong geographic location.

vijaykumar Mar 12, 2014 01:29pm

As far as I know, this chappal design is very very common in India and I too have used this before. But asking for a tag is asking for too much.

Rashad Mar 12, 2014 02:39pm

@Syed: what an !dea sir jee! :p

masdmasd Mar 13, 2014 09:43am

They have mentioned the inspiration (Peshawari Chappls) on the website.

anuj Mar 13, 2014 10:13am

Ho hum. Has no one in Pakistan's official circles heard of the Geography Indicator based trademark? Can the govt of Pak not start a campaign to protect it's nation's loved trademarked or at least locally produced designs or other local produce like Basmati etc?

The answer is Pakistanis are busy buying Gucci and deride the Peshawaris....McDonald's is stronger in the minds' of your elite than your own Biryani's made of local rice....who's bothered except now and then yelping "outrage" !

Jalal Mar 13, 2014 07:57pm

@sf: Dude where are you from? I am in US since 1983, have done lots of shopping since then, don't remember seeing any peshawari chappal kind of thing in any store. Yes, they do sell in desi stores, but the quality is nothing decent. Chappals made in peshawar are the best.