Is this a sandal or a chappal?
British fashion designer Paul Smith has a new shoe in his spring line that looks distinctly like a traditional sandal worn in Pakistan and much of south Asia — known as a chappal.
The Pakistani version sells for about $5. Paul Smith's version is selling for $595.
"The first thing that came to my mind was '$600? You've got to be kidding me,'" said Bina Shah, a writer and columnist based in Karachi. "And the second thing that came to my mind was cultural appropriation."
"At first Paul Smith called the sandal the 'Robert' sandal," said Shah."Believe me, we have no Pakistanis indigenously named Robert. So this started to spread on Facebook. I think I saw it on my brother's Facebook page and then it got to Twitter and I saw it again."
Paul Smith named the Peshawari chappal, Robert [or Bob for short] What's next? Sherwani as Steve and the Swati topi called Jose?
— mustafa (@themustafapage) March 11, 2014
So many things in this country are copied and plenty buy and use them. Paul Smith copies Peshaweri chappal and everyone loses their mind.
— Fauzan Naeem (@Fauzan723) March 11, 2014
Hey can I wear those Peshawari Chappal, I mean 'Paul Smith Shoes' with my tuxedo??
— Bilal Khan (@BilalKhan8) March 10, 2014
The strong online reaction seemed to have had an impact.
"What changed on the website was that Paul Smith changed the name of the sandal from 'Robert' to 'patent-leather strapped shoe'," said Shah. "And also added the line 'inspired by the Peshawari chappal.'"
But in the markets of Peshawar, where the chappal originates, shopkeepers seem more concerned that the British designer 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“This design is outdated.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.
Paul Smith's representatives didn't respond to a request for comment.