Pakistan has long since been known for its leather craftsmanship; be it in our iconic Peshawari style sandals or our Sialkot-manufactured World Cup footballs. The skills of our ancient craftsmen are eternally undeniable, passed down and perfected over generations.
The art of making handcrafted leather shoes has recently taken a turn for the worse due to globalization. The increase in mass production has cut into the quality of the finished product, in order to sell larger quantities more brands have chosen to compromise on quality and attention to detail. This in-effect has directly impacted local businesses, where shoe-makers are unable to compete with factory made products, ultimately losing out on business.
A team from Lahore, Pakistan has taken to revive this industry lost to globalization by: ‘combining indigenous craftsmanship, modern designs and every imaginable attention to details to create shoes for today’s gentleman,’ as stated by Waqas Ali, the 26-year-old Founder of Markhor.
Ali – a physics dropout, with no background in shoe-making, learned about the craft while visiting his birthplace village of Okara on a break from school. He then decided to discontinue his studies and peruse a dream closer to home; bringing back the tradition of Pakistani shoes. Over the past four years, he and co-founder Sidra Qasim have been working on bringing that vision to life, focusing primarily on men’s shoes as the styles are more consistent than women’s.
“Companies like Toms and Warby Parker are trying to solve problems in a different way,” he says. “What we believe is that if you just empower the craftsmen to help them provide for their families and their future, they will do amazing things . . . My co-founder and I are from the communities we want to change, and we understand the problems these craftsmen face. It’s not just about the salaries — it’s also about respecting their work.”
The company sought crowdfunding via Kickstarter, beating its goal of $15,000 in the first day, and has currently raised funds in excess of $85,000. The shoes are intricately beautiful, inspired by modern styles and artisan heritage… each carefully hand-crafted Markhor shoe is unique through its detail, color, and comfort.
At a competitive price of $200 for the shoes and $130 for the sandals, they are clearly better crafted than most other brands available in that price range. We can’t wait for them to go on retail sometime in 2015!