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Steve Madden Steals From Christian Louboutin | Manolo's Shoe Blog

More on the Steve Madden PhotoShopping

Manolo says, in case you may have missed this last week, the Manolo caught the shoe designer Steve Madde stealing the designs of the master Christian Louboutin, and also the photos used by the Saks department store to promote the Louboutin shoes.

Over the weekend the Manolo’s internet friend Susan, at the Counterfeit Chic, dissected this case, and notes the irony that the photo stolen from the Saks website has more protection under the law than the design of the shoes, themselves.

Of the course, for the Manolo the greatest crime is that Steve Madden is attempting to defraud his customers, by making them believe his shoddily made shoes are exactly like the masterful original upon which they are based.

P.S. The Manolo’s friend Julie, also had the few erudite words to say about this case at her new shoe blog, Almost Heeled.

17 Responses to “More on the Steve Madden PhotoShopping”

  1. carrie November 26, 2007 at 2:54 pm #

    Hi Manolo & Readers-
    First off wanted to say thanks to Manolo for bringing the hideous Steve
    Madden photoshopping issue to everyone’s attention! I love, love, LOVE
    that you are as outraged as we are :)
    wanted to let you know that I also did a quick posting today on my shoe
    blog about it. Hope you don’t mind that I’ve linked your website and
    post. I also included the email I sent to SM and their reply. Check it out if
    you get a chance.




  2. carrie November 26, 2007 at 2:58 pm #

    ayyyyy! my link is not working
    try this:

  3. raincoaster November 26, 2007 at 4:05 pm #

    I was just looking at a photo of a very posh funeral in some glossy magazine and noting that, although the attendees were properly got up in black or navy, almost to a woman they were wearing black Louboutins…with the vulgar, flashy red soles. Kicky, yes; fun, yes; sexy, yes. Funereal? not a chance. They’d gone to the trouble of having only matte black accessories…except the bloody shoes!

    Trademark or no, the shoes would be more beautiful without the red soles; the higher the heel, the more of an aesthetic issue it becomes, because more of the redness is on display.

  4. bonnie-ann black November 26, 2007 at 5:02 pm #

    steve madden’s shoes are shoddy, his behaviour is shoddy and his depiction of women in his advertising as Bratz(TM) dolls is shoddy. i am glad the Manolo and others are getting the word out.

  5. Sarah November 26, 2007 at 5:11 pm #

    Sorry, I have to go against the grain here.

    Ever seen those Suave shampoo commercials? Where two women with gorgeous hair flounce around for thirty seconds, and the announcer informs us that one of them spends a lot for salon products, and the other uses Suave? “If you can’t tell, why should we?”

    Seven hundred dollars is an exorbitant price to pay for a mass produced product that you don’t plug into your wall. That it is not even remotely beyond the pale, in fact ‘reasonable’ as far as couture products goes, simply shows how divorced female ideals of conspicuous consumption have been removed from products that provide us value for money.

    I remember being shocked when a friend of mine, a professional geisha, told me the average kimono she wore to work cost over ten thousand dollars. Then she actually went into the economics of the kimono industry, explained that every single kimono was a work of handcrafted art which kept dozens of artisans, sometimes the only living remnants of their craft, fed, and which was completely unique and symbolically sound in every detail. I was convinced at this point, and then she said, “Besides, it’s no more than you’d pay for a high-end handbag at some department stores.”

    Louboutin’s name is not worth seven hundred dollars. No one’s name is worth seven hundred dollars. Value in fashion is assigned by a very small, very select cadre of people, and those values exist solely to keep a level of stylistic cache unattainable by the masses. Or else, how do you know how chic you are?

    Of course, those signifiers fall apart if chicness is widespread, which is the real danger if mass market knockoffs. It is not a matter of protection of intellectual property; haute couture exists to determine the trend points upon which attainable intellectual property will be based, five years down the road. Nor is there anything patentable about patent leather, laces, shoe boots, or round toes. And if you honestly think shoe boots will be au courant long enough to constitute a ‘basic,’ or that any amount of money will make stilettos comfortable or long-lasting…

    In summary, I am not offended by Steve Madden.

  6. Heather November 26, 2007 at 6:20 pm #

    That is totally trashy. It is one things to make a similar style for those who could never afford the real thing, even though there is no real comparison in quality, but it is another to use phony photos. Isn’t that against the law, False Advertisement?


  7. dangster November 27, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    Sarah, I’m gonna have to disagree with you. Louboutin’s name is not worth $700 by itself, yes, but much of that amount goes into the design and manufacturing of the shoes. Have you actually ever bought and worn a pair of high-end designer shoes (made in Italy), and then compared them to a knock-off, mass-produced version (made in China)? The designer versions are indeed higher quality.

    And as for the Suave commercials, their hair products really aren’t very good :/

  8. Nancy November 27, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    What everyone is really missing here is this: those shoes are ugly, I don’t care who made them. They are just plain ugly. Feh on that shoe.

  9. Ninjarina November 27, 2007 at 8:06 pm #

    I’d have to agree with dangster. People that make mass produced products are paid by the piece – my mother was paid about 10 cents for each collar she sewed onto a shirt circa early 90s in a sweatshop near our apartment in Brooklyn. This prompts the workers to make as much as they can as fast as they can and I can assure you, quality goes out the window. These are unskilled workers on an assembly line. You cannot compare that kind of work to that of a skilled craftsperson. On top of everything, the instant you put on the shoe, you will realise how much difference high quality materials and perfectly BALANCED shoes make. Most mass produced shoes suck to walk in b/c they are poorly fit and poorly balanced. Higher end shoes are balanced similar to ballroom shoes, with more weight shifted to the heel, taking some of the weight in your forefoot and making them more easy to walk in.

    The problem with your logic Sarah is that you feel that fashion is egalitarian when it is clearly not. Style, elegance, and grace are up for grabs but if you feel like you need to wear whatever is in fashion that year, be ready to pay for it.

  10. wannabe November 28, 2007 at 10:08 am #

    My dearest Sarah:

    The issue isn’t whether you could or should pay $700 for shoes. Certainly the Louboutins are of higher quality, though indeed, both they and the SM knockoffs are footcoverings and therefore of similar use. The entire fashion world knows that knockoffs happen — but there is a way to do that legitimately. ABS Allen Schwartz is the absolute king of this kind of industry. He looks at Oscar gowns and then reproduces the look in an “inspired by” kind of way at a much lower price point so that people who cannot afford the Versace gown can buy it. No one has a problem with that, really, since the customer buying the ABS dress could never have afforded the Versace in the first place.

    It is fundamentally different, however, to be “inspired by” someone else’s design and to produce an outright copy using inferior materials. Then to have the temerity to underline your perfidy by not even bothering to produce your own photograph, but rather stealing a photo of the original and photoshopping it, is flat-out wrong and deeply offensive. No one is offended that Madden produces cheap shoes — you get what you pay for. What we are offended by is his effort to pass them off as something else — a groundbreaking design that looks as good as the originals. (I’m betting the plastic copies just don’t look as good.) It’s consumer fraud.

  11. Sarah November 28, 2007 at 10:44 am #

    All excellent points, these. Kudos for being the best place I’ve yet found on the internet to have a disagreement. Wannabe, I especially find your argument convincing.

    I took a look at that dress designer, though, and compared it to Oscar pictures, and it really does look like all he’s done in some cases is ‘produce an outright copy using inferior materials.’ It reminded me of some of the faux iPods that you can buy, which almost exactly resemble the original except for maybe a slightly different screen ratio and, one presumes, a shorter life expectancy.

    And as for the points, quite similar, made by dangster and ninjarina, I agree with you. More expensive shoes ARE better made, and feel better to wear. I just wonder how much of an appreciable difference you can credit when discussing a fundamentally uncomfortable shoe.

    You’ve modified my opinion a bit with your detractions. I am still not offended by the process of knocking off (I think one of the bloggers called it ‘design stalking, which made me laugh) because I’m irrepressibly egalitarian, as ninjarina said. Power and style to the people, in my book. But he shouldn’t have used that photograph.

    If for no other reason than it’s not a particularly flattering one, and it makes the gold piping look yellow.

  12. WendyB November 28, 2007 at 12:44 pm #

    I think Wannabe puts it very well. BTW, I have no idea what the costs of the Louboutin are and how high a margin there is on those shoes. In my (jewelry) business, the biggest cost difference is labor, because gold is the same price everywhere. The labor of a person working in good conditions and making a good living in New York could be priced 10 to 100x the cost of a environmentally damaging factory in China. I absolutely believe that if you manufacture in some parts of Asia there will be abusive working conditions somewhere in your supply chain. It’s impossible to supervise…even when you shut one bad factory down, another will open. It is the Wild West of manufacturing there. The government has no control and certainly no one else does. So, before anyone buys cheap knockoffs, consider who probably made them. Personally, I’d rather pay good money for something made in decent conditions in Italy, France, Britain or the U.S….or get some one-of-a-kind vintage item than buy some $20 knockoff piece from H&M that was most likely made under poor conditions.

  13. Ryno November 28, 2007 at 4:29 pm #

    The relative cost and value of originals and knockoffs might take a different cast if we look beyond fashion and at performance. For example, I depend on technical fabrics and good construction in winter clothing, boots etc, because I ski back-country, and camp in the snow for days at a time.

    I can spend big bucks on high quality items, or save a lot of bucks by buying knockoffs. Having experienced severe discomfort a number of times in my life due to clothing/gear failure, and since my life depends on things not failing (as well as on making good decisions), I choose to plump out the bucks for the top-quality stuff. In fact, that is just another good decision.

    OK, maybe fashion choices do not have mortal implications, but the formula remains the same: you get what you pay for. Trying to pass a lesser product – or a knockoff – as the equivalent of the higher-priced “real thing” is dishonest at all times, even when it is not life-threatening.

  14. s August 13, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    A lot of high fashion pieces are actually constructed in workshops in China so..

  15. Elisa S. Chappell January 26, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    What’s best here is that honesty applies and I have to tell Sarah here that she must adhere with all you folks so she may correct it.