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."
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“This design is outdated.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.
Every week, more than 2 million listeners tune into our broadcast and follow our digital coverage like this story, which is available to read for free thanks to charitable contributions from listeners like you. But less than 1% of our audience supports our program directly. From now through the end of the year, every gift will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous donor, which means your gift will help us unlock a $67,000 challenge match.
Will you join our growing list of loyal supporters and double your impact today?