A collaboration between continents created a Pakistani sandal that gives you wings

A collaboration between continents created a Pakistani sandal that gives you wings
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Saks Afridi shares a first look at the prototype for the "Hawa Sandal" in May of this year, the sandals were exhibited as a sculpture in his SpaceMosque art show in January of this year (May 20th, 2019 | Via Saks Afridi Instagram)
A collaboration between continents created a Pakistani sandal that gives you wings
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First look at the prototype for the "Hawa Sandal" (Photo Courtesy: Markhor official twitter account)
Updated 25 September 2019

A collaboration between continents created a Pakistani sandal that gives you wings

A collaboration between continents created a Pakistani sandal that gives you wings
  • 'Hawa Sandal' is the latest version of Pakistan's most popular Peshawari chappal
  • Pakistani-American artist, Saks Afridi and famous shoe brand Markhor's new collaboration is themed "Sci-fi Sufism"

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani-American artist, Saks Afridi, has collaborated with Pakistani hand-crafted shoe brand Markhor, to create a winged version of the traditional Pakistani Peshawari chappals, and called it the ‘Hawa Sandal.’
The Peshawari chappal has gained international fame in recent years, with the likes of Christian Louboutin and Paul Smith attempting their renditions of the shoe-style indigenous to Pakistan’s northwestern regions.
On Afridi’s instagram, models in the Hawa Sandal appear to be flying over cities and landscapes. The artist, who was born in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, spent much of his life living all over Pakistan and the world while his father worked for the national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. Since 2013, he has been working as an artist and now has a career over two decades long in design and advertising.
His preferred tool of choice is sculpture, and in May of this year, the first look for his now-popular Hawa Sandal, was revealed as a sculpture on his Instagram page.
The sculpture fit into his latest body of work titled “SpaceMosque.”
“The themes of my work exist in a realm I call Sci-fi Sufism, the Hawa Sandal sculpture was created around a para-fictional narrative in which, for a brief time, a mysterious spacecraft resembling a hovering mosque appeared and every human on Earth was granted one answered prayer every 24 hours,” Afridi told Arab News.
“The narrative explores greed and morality at war when prayer becomes the de facto global currency. The work asks us to reflect on what it is we pray for and to what end,” he said.
The story of the Hawa Sandal is one of the stories in the SpaceMosque narrative.
“It is (the story) of a boy in Peshawar whose parents had separated,” said Afridi. “He desperately prayed for a way to visit his father in Kohat. The next day, his prayer was answered and his sandals had grown wings. He called them his Hawa Sandals.”




20 years of design experience lead Afridi to design a campaign that grabs attention from someone scrolling through social media (September 12th, 2019 | Areesh Zubair for Saks Afridi x Markhor Via Saks Afridi Instagram)

“I wanted to somehow incorporate this story with a sculpture as part of the SpaceMosque exhibit which happened here in NYC earlier this year. I had recently been introduced to Markhor chappals through a friend … I couldn’t have asked for a more collaborative and creative partner.”
Markhor, the shoe brand, launched in 2010, that has grown a cult following for it’s imaginative and unique takes on the classic Peshawari chapal is the brain child of Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali who learned that some of the most well-known luxury brands work with craftsmen from developing countries like India, Vietnam and Pakistan, but rarely talk about them. To change this, they started working on the idea of Markhor.
Named after Pakistan’s national animal, the name was inspired to symbolize the craftsmen of Pakistan.
“The Peshawari Chappal is very commonly worn by not only Pakistanis but holds great significance throughout the subcontinent,” Mehek Nasir the Community Manager at Markhor told Arab News. “Handmade using leather and a tire sole, it is highly cherished footwear that we wear very fondly.”
The chapal holds significance for Afridi as well.
“I’ve been wearing them for as long as I can remember,” he said. “They’re a part of my identity and I wear them all the time here in NY as well. This chappal (Saplay in Pashto), has a few styles depending on the region they are from in the KPK province of Pakistan. I’m from a village called Babri Banda, near Kohat, and the traditional Kohati style is wider than the Charsadda Chappal, for example,” he said.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, folks are connoisseurs about their chappals.
“I have chappals from different regions in all sorts of colors. I even have an orange patent leather pair that I picked up 10 years ago in a shop behind Islamia College in Peshawar,” Afridi added.
Their cultural significance and the story crafted by Afridi to go along with them create a buzz around the sandals, and it was one that encouraged the collaborators enough to bring art to life.
“The sculpture of the chappals were a huge success so we decided to work together to make a wearable version of the footwear,” said Nasir.




The flying models to the backdrop of Lahore and New York city draw inspiration from the origin story of the "Hawa Sandals" (September 19th 2019 | Billy Stahlmann for Saks Afridi x Markhor Via Markhor Instagram)

Long hours of research and prototyping of over 6 months between Markhor, Afridi and their craftsmen resulted in a leather version of Afridi’s sculpture in two colors... white and brown.
Inspired by the story originally penned by Afridi, the collaborators created, Afridi also created a narrative around them, tapping into his years in advertising and storytelling.
“Story is everything. And a story with pictures is even better,” said Afridi.
“The capturing of the flying shots was a very fun experience, that got us connected to a lot of creative individuals,” said Nasir of Markhor to Arab News. “We had two different teams who took these amazing shots, one in Lahore and the other in New York. Saks personally headed the New York shoot.”
The “Hawa Sandal” is both futuristic and nostalgic in design, something that fits into Markhor’s aesthetic. The brand has never shied away from remixing the classic shoe and recently launched a line of women’s Peshawari Chapal, and also fits into Afridi’s artistic take.
“My more recent art practice is based in futurism. And futurism without current context is simply fantasy. I find stories written in context of what we know to be more compelling,” said Afridi.
“Design is no different. The chappal is classic, the wings are futuristic. Yet, there’s references of the past in them, going back to greek mythology. I guess that makes it retro-futurist.”
This was the artist’s first foray into apparel design and he and Markhor are now working on producing more colors of the limited edition sandal. Afridi told Arab News that a line based on his concept of sci-fi sufism, perhaps one with a focus on street-wear, would be something he was interested in.
Markhor hopes to collaborate with more artists from South Asia who, like Afridi, will be telling stories through their designs.




Markhor and Afridi worked alongside artisans and craftsman for 6 months perfecting a wearable version of the original art piece (September 17th, 2019 | Billy Stahlmann for Saks Afridi x Markhor Via The Markhor Instagram)

Currently, he is exhibiting some work from the SpaceMosque series at the Ford Foundation in New York City as a part of the group show called ‘Utopian Imagination’ on view until December 7th.
In October 2019, he will be installing a permanent art installation in Karachi called ‘Don’t grow up, it’s a trap’ in collaboration with artist Qinza Najm. He is also working on expanding the story of SpaceMosque to adapt into a TV show and a graphic novel.
The sculpture fit into his latest body of work titled “SpaceMosque.”
“The themes of my work exist in a realm I call Sci-fi Sufism, the Hawa Sandal sculpture was created around a para-fictional narrative in which, for a brief time, a mysterious spacecraft resembling a hovering mosque appeared and every human on Earth was granted one answered prayer every 24 hours,” Afridi told Arab News.
“The narrative explores greed and morality at war when prayer becomes the de facto global currency. The work asks us to reflect on what it is we pray for and to what end,” he said.
The story of the Hawa Sandal is one of the stories in the SpaceMosque narrative.
“It is (the story) of a boy in Peshawar whose parents had separated,” said Afridi. “He desperately prayed for a way to visit his father in Kohat. The next day, his prayer was answered and his sandals had grown wings. He called them his Hawa Sandals.”
“I wanted to somehow incorporate this story with a sculpture as part of the SpaceMosque exhibit which happened here in NYC earlier this year. I had recently been introduced to Markhor chappals through a friend … I couldn’t have asked for a more collaborative and creative partner.”
Markhor, the shoe brand, launched in 2010, that has grown a cult following for it’s imaginative and unique takes on the classic Peshawari chapal is the brain child of Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali who learned that some of the most well-known luxury brands work with craftsmen from developing countries like India, Vietnam and Pakistan, but rarely talk about them. To change this, they started working on the idea of Markhor.
Named after Pakistan’s national animal, the name was inspired to symbolize the craftsmen of Pakistan.
“The Peshawari Chappal is very commonly worn by not only Pakistanis but holds great significance throughout the subcontinent,” Mehek Nasir the Community Manager at Markhor told Arab News. “Handmade using leather and a tire sole, it is highly cherished footwear that we wear very fondly.”
The chapal holds significance for Afridi as well.




Afridi and Markhor are in talks to release the "Hawa Sandal" in more colours (Septemeber 21st, 2019 | Areesh Zubair for Saks Afridi x Markhor Via Saks Afridi Instagram)

“I’ve been wearing them for as long as I can remember,” he said. “They’re a part of my identity and I wear them all the time here in NY as well. This chappal (Saplay in Pashto), has a few styles depending on the region they are from in the KPK province of Pakistan. I’m from a village called Babri Banda, near Kohat, and the traditional Kohati style is wider than the Charsadda Chappal, for example,” he said.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, folks are connoisseurs about their chappals.
“I have chappals from different regions in all sorts of colors. I even have an orange patent leather pair that I picked up 10 years ago in a shop behind Islamia College in Peshawar,” Afridi added.
Their cultural significance and the story crafted by Afridi to go along with them create a buzz around the sandals, and it was one that encouraged the collaborators enough to bring art to life.
“The sculpture of the chappals were a huge success so we decided to work together to make a wearable version of the footwear,” said Nasir
Long hours of research and prototyping of over 6 months between Markhor, Afridi and their craftsmen resulted in a leather version of Afridi’s sculpture in two colors... white and brown.
Inspired by the story originally penned by Afridi, the collaborators created, Afridi also created a narrative around them, tapping into his years in advertising and storytelling.
“Story is everything. And a story with pictures is even better,” said Afridi.
“The capturing of the flying shots was a very fun experience, that got us connected to a lot of creative individuals,” said Nasir of Markhor to Arab News. “We had two different teams who took these amazing shots, one in Lahore and the other in New York. Saks personally headed the New York shoot.”
The “Hawa Sandal” is both futuristic and nostalgic in design, something that fits into Markhor’s aesthetic. The brand has never shied away from remixing the classic shoe and recently launched a line of women’s Peshawari Chapal, and also fits into Afridi’s artistic take.
“My more recent art practice is based in futurism. And futurism without current context is simply fantasy. I find stories written in context of what we know to be more compelling,” said Afridi.
“Design is no different. The chappal is classic, the wings are futuristic. Yet, there’s references of the past in them, going back to greek mythology. I guess that makes it retro-futurist.”
This was the artist’s first foray into apparel design and he and Markhor are now working on producing more colors of the limited edition sandal. Afridi told Arab News that a line based on his concept of sci-fi sufism, perhaps one with a focus on street-wear, would be something he was interested in.
Markhor hopes to collaborate with more artists from South Asia who, like Afridi, will be telling stories through their designs.
Currently, he is exhibiting some work from the SpaceMosque series at the Ford Foundation in New York City as a part of the group show called ‘Utopian Imagination’ on view until December 7th.
In October 2019, he will be installing a permanent art installation in Karachi called ‘Don’t grow up, it’s a trap’ in collaboration with artist Qinza Najm. He is also working on expanding the story of SpaceMosque to adapt into a TV show and a graphic novel.