Christian Louboutin’s ‘Imran Sandals’ miss their mark
Late last night Christian Louboutin pulled the wraps off its new range of – Imran Sandals – which take inspiration from Pakistan’s traditional Peshawari chappals. After hours of fierce backlash online – with many dubbing the French shoemaker as ‘culturally insensitive’ the post was removed.
The shoes are so-named after the designer’s friend, artist Imran Qureshi. Inspiration for the shoe – or the name at least – seems to have come from a visit by Louboutin to Qureshi’s exhibition in Islamabad in 2017.
Following that visit, the designer also released a new collection of women’s flat shoes named after the central hub of the country, Lahore.
Unlike the women’s pair, these seem to have missed their mark. The sandals feature many of Louboutin’s design staples, including the trademark soles, studs and bright red logo. What seems to have caused some offense is the designer’s re-naming of the traditional footwear.
When the post went up, it was unclear whether or not they were named after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan – or after Qureshi – which led to the brand coming under pressure via social media.
Qureshi won the ArtNow Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, and recently created a large piece of art which sits on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. He is also set to receive an award later this month, at the Asia Arts Game Changer Awards in Hong Kong.
The brand has since said that the shoes are so-named after Louboutin’s artist friend, but still chose to remove the offending sandals from Instagram.
This isn’t the first time a designer has been in hot water over a pair of Peshawari chappals. In 2014, British designer Paul Smith faced outrage after creating his own pair of the traditional shoes and selling them for more than US$450 a pair.
In his case, the shoes – which are traditionally worn in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan (on the border of Afghanistan) – were seen as profiting off one of the country’s poorer regions.
Paul Smith also chose to change their name – he dubbed them simply, ‘Robert’.
The brand has not said whether or not the sandals will still hit stores or whether or not the nomenclature will be modified going forward.