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Peshawar chappal-makers say Paul Smith design "outdated"

Published Mar 11, 2014 07:41pm


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“I'd say you'd have to be mad to pay 50,000 rupees for chappals, when you can get them for 1,500 to 2,000.” Photo from
“I'd say you'd have to be mad to pay 50,000 rupees for chappals, when you can get them for 1,500 to 2,000.” Photo from

PESHAWAR: A new sandal from designer Paul Smith based on a traditional Pakistani style has amused shopkeepers in its “hometown” Peshawar -- both for its $500 price tag and what they say is its outdated look.

A chappal of two cities: The £300 Paul Smith surprise

Pakistan's chattering classes took to social media on Monday to berate the fashion house for “stealing” the design of Peshawari chappals for its “Robert” sandal, priced at 300 pounds ($500).

But in the markets of Peshawar, the rugged northwestern city from where the hardy chappal originates, shopkeepers were more concerned that the British designer known for his signature multicoloured stripe was behind the times.

“This design is outdated. Some people in their 60s or 70s ask for that design sometimes,” Kamran Khalil of the city's Shoe Shop told AFP.

The high-gloss black leather, thin sole and open toe of the Paul Smith sandal have long been out of favour in Peshawar, Farhad Ullah, whose family have been making shoes in Peshawar for 70 years, explained.

“My father use to make this design but I don't make it any more as there is no demand for it,” he told AFP.

“Only some retired military or police officials come and ask us to make it for them.”

The chappal is ubiquitous in Pakistan, loved by all social classes for its comfort and durability, and normally sells for between $5 and $20 dollars.

There was astonishment that the Paul Smith version, which comes with a thin neon pink stripe along the side, could cost so much more.

“I'd say you'd have to be mad to pay 50,000 rupees for chappals, when you can get them for 1,500 to 2,000,” chappal-wearer Mansoor Khan, 46, told AFP.

But Zahir Shah, 35, manager of the Style Collection chappal shop in Peshawar, defended the high price tag.

“If you want to buy a cricket bat used by Shahid Afridi or Sachin Tendulkar, you have to pay millions for it,” he said.

“The price is not high because of the wooden bat but due to the name of Afridi or Tendulkar, and so Paul Smith is selling his name.”

After a day of Twitter outrage and an online petition, the Paul Smith website changed the product description to say the sandal was “inspired by the Peshawari chappal”.

Khalil said Pakistan should be pleased that such a famous designer had been inspired by the traditional sandal -- but urged Paul Smith to bring the design up to date.

“I am proud that the traditional Pashtun shoe is now available in the west as fashion, but the designers should work more to bring the best and latest designs,” he said.


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Comments (23) Closed

Shah Mar 11, 2014 08:22pm

British are thieves... they stole India, the kohinoor and now Peshawri sandal.

Zeeshan Hasan Mar 11, 2014 08:30pm

Whenever v do even copy there brand names. The sue against us. Now here Mr.Paul smith copied our design or if v say our cultural design and claimed his design. Y not Pakistan government claim on that guy. Who copied our 200 yrs old design and claimed his design ??

gangadin Mar 11, 2014 08:31pm

Let the public decide whether this item is worth the price. I don't see any one running out to buy it in the streets of London or New York. Paul Smith must have bribed some one in Dawn for all this free publicity.

Hassan Mar 11, 2014 09:06pm

Paul Smith Shoes - Black High-Shine Leather Sandals


Overview Men's high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari Chappal.

CENSOR_ME_I_DARE_YA Mar 11, 2014 10:45pm

They are right, though. Definitely a pensioner's chappal.

Sajid Javed Mar 11, 2014 10:59pm

Where is NFP, now. He Should know about this. He might come up with a "perfect explanation". lol

goodDeedsLeadTo Mar 11, 2014 11:31pm

Several things which is Pakistani or Muslim origin is not shown as Pakistan or Muslim origin in USA. It includes various kind of grilled & non grilled meat foods (tandoori chicken, chapli kabab, seekh kabab, tikkay, plow, biryani, different Pakistani mithayah, nimko snacks etc), sitar invented by Amir Khusro, Taj Mahal, original Algorithms, Algebra, basmathi rice, hina (mehandi). Peshawari chappli is not just one exception.

Imran Mar 12, 2014 12:34am

It is unfair for west to deny Peshawar's leadership in chappal design. How dare they cheat us on our precious/only contribution to mankind besides terrorism!

arshad Mar 12, 2014 03:55am

@Shah: You mean Brits are thieves from head to toe.

arshad Mar 12, 2014 05:18am

Chinese owners of Peshaweri chappal shops had a great impact on local design.Chinese use to make wider toe with extra strips on the sides which other started to copy.Naturally in order to keep the distinction in their product Chinese came up with the different design which was much like local traditional chappal.In that competitive business environment of the 80s Charsada chappal makers of that time in my personal opinion won the competition by making their product sleek and beautiful.

ExPat (usa) Mar 12, 2014 06:48am

No surprise there,for example, these western designers get a shirt made in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, pay less than 10$ but market it for 60-80$ in US. It is the brand name people are paying for, giving them bragging right. A Polo Player logo goes pretty far in the world of fashion.

Pragmatist Mar 12, 2014 06:49am

Paul Smith design may be fro the 60s or 70s but it does not matter. The older design is the purer version. That is what Paul Smith offers traditional Peshawari style chappal. The issue of the $500 price is also mute because this amount is equivalent to Rs. 500 for someone living in USA or Europe. We should also not forget that Paul Smith makes much better chappal with better materials and nicer stitching.

bilubhai Mar 12, 2014 07:35am

@Pragmatist: sorry what study shows that a value of $500 for some one living in USA is the same as RS 500 for some one living in Pakistan? that is just an ignorant comment. in Pakistan only the lowest of blue collar make 500 per day, in USA you have to be making upper class salaries to make $500/day. in Pakistan milk is RS. 70 Liter & eggs are about RS 75 a dozen. in USA price of a liter of milk is $1 and eggs are about $2 a dozen. what were you thinking.

kashif Mar 12, 2014 10:11am

This product/design should be promoted by Pakistan. Unfortunately, our products and designs are being taken over like this and we waste time on talking over its price and design. There are many other local and traditional products and designs we must promote internationally (maintaining the quality standards). Before any other by the way designer takes them and do the copy right as well:)....

Akber Sultan Mar 12, 2014 10:42am

Fashion and design never go "outdated". We can say Its just not IN today. Dresses and shoes of latest design we are wearing today were mostly worn by our parents and their parents. You watch a 50 years old movie whether English, Indian or Pakistani you will see that same kind of dresses are in use by today's youngsters to middle aged men and women. When one design completes its cycle the next design takes its place which may be very old but designers present it with little modification which is popular now a days. Its just like Indian film maker takes a 50 years old Pakistani movie and make a replicate of it with recent technology.

Saalim Mar 12, 2014 01:21pm

Not saying that PS design is better in anyway, or whether or not he should acknowledge IP owners, if there is one entity in Pakistan that owns it, branded shoes prices can be attributed to quality as much as it can be to the brand name. I am a big fan of Peshawari chappals, personally like the balouchi version more appealing, but PS's peshawari is bound to be comfortable and durable. The seams and stitches are nicely tucked in, no irritating rough edges to give you red marks, best available inlay material that absorb and repell sweat, the buckle looks shiny and solid, however, can't digest the pink stripe, I strongly recommend people not to wear this chappal in peshawar :-)

Murad Mar 12, 2014 03:27pm

The fact that someone else picked up a product from Pakistan and marketed it globally is a failing on our part. Is there a good enough reason why a Pakistani firm could't market this in the international market? I see cribbing about it as a non issue. They made us feel better by mentioning it and we gain absolutely nothing out of it. I don't think this design has any patent or anything and is widely manufactured by companies and individuals across pakistan.

Lets let it go and focus on adding value ourselves!

Furqan Mar 12, 2014 05:28pm

Overview of the product says, "Men's high-shine black leather sandals with neon pink trims inspired by the Peshawari Chappal."

I think Paul Smith has given due credit to Pakistan in overview.

Just Someone Mar 12, 2014 05:40pm

Where are IPR's (Intellectual Property Rights) now.

Saeed Motiwala Mar 13, 2014 11:19am

These sandals are the cowboy boots of the sub continent, and a true design icon. Kudos to Paul Smith in recognizing this.

javed Mar 14, 2014 01:05am

@Murad: We can make this situation to our advantage just flood the Western market with Peshawari chappal with many different designs and lower price

ali Mar 14, 2014 03:35pm

it's not peshawri chappal. Actually it is called charsadwali ( from Charsada) chappal. It is famous mostly with Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Ajaz Mar 14, 2014 05:00pm

For internationl protection of your products and model ,Pakistani must registred trade mark of their product so that they can challanged in international courts. In Spain any registred brand , to be copy is a very big crime. So there for , REGISTRED all models and design.