Controversy in Pakistan for Louboutin: its sandal is an homage to chappal, but the brand is accused of “cultural appropriation”

Christian Louboutin divides Pakistan. The stylist created Imran, sandal inspired by the Pakistani traditional Chappal (or chapal). The model has overlapping leather stripes that cover the foot, rubber soles and a slight heel at the back, an emblem of Pashtuns’ social classes that settled in the north-west of Pakistan. Louboutin’s version takes the name from the known Pakistani contemporary artist (and friend of the designer): Imran Qureshi. But, it appear that wasn’t enough to avoid criticism and controversies. While some appreciated Louboutin’s deed since it valorizes Pakistan’s artisanal tradition, others accused him of “cultural appropriation”, also mocking him for the retail price of its creation (500 USD against the 5.5 USD of a normal pair of Pakistani sandals). The Instagram post with which the French stylist had launched its product has been taken off, explaining that with his creation he wanted to show his “love for other culture’s ornamentations” and regretting the fact that some people were “offended”. “My designs are often an homage to artisanal craftsmanship, to traditions and various cultures”, stated Louboutin in an official note. “the world and its diversity have always been at the center of my work”. British designer Paul Smith had had a similar incident in 2014, with a sandal model that seemed very similar to the Chappal but didn’t say it was inspired by the Pakistani sandal type. The latter situation had also triggered protests online and on print sources.

Image taken from Imran Qureshi’s Instagram profile


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