The Shameless Steve Madden Knockoff Machine

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, several months ago the Manolo pointed out the audacious shamelessness of the Steve Madden shoe company, who not content to steal the shoe design, literally pirated the publicity photo from Saks Fifth Ave, in the attempt to sell peoples the cheaply fake Louboutin knockoffs.

Now comes yet another entry in the ledger of shame from Steve Madden, this time the ridiculous attempt to copy-cat the Sportiletto, the very distinctive stiletto shoe from Balenciaga.

As the Manolo’s internet friend Stacy says.

Here’s the problem, the copycat isn’t an illegal manufacturing company that specializes in secretly producing knockoff goods, it’s popular shoe designer Steve Madden. How awful is it when a designer blatantly plagiarizes another designer’s work? Even though the two labels are eons away from each other in price, reputation, quality and target buyer, it seems really wrong. It might not be so bad if the concept of making a shoe from a bunch of tennis shoe scraps had trickled down the design ladder and Steve Madden reinterpreted it in a different way (designers borrow from each other all the time and hardly any idea is a completely new idea these days), but to use the same colors and details, from the pink and black mesh down to the green buckle, is pretty unbelievable.

Unbelievable, unimaginative, unethical, and ultimately shameless.

P.S. Thanks to the Manolo’s internet friend Wannabe for alerting the Manolo to this.


27 Responses to “The Shameless Steve Madden Knockoff Machine”

  1. JK Says:

    To be fair, I think they did a pretty good job of capturing the uglyness.

    Now if only it came with wheels that popped out!

  2. Laura Says:

    Well I have to say while the two shoe brands have different shoe styles…the look is very similar in both shoes. However I see with Steve Maddens design that it looks like he uses recycled pieces of shoes from his line…and recycling and going green is the right thing to do these days, am I not right?

    The Balenciaga shoe doesn’t look anything like the other shoes on the lines, therefore it is safe to say that the concept is very different here. They’ve simply just created the sporty style shoe using sport gear/accents.

    While they are both very similar in color scheme, I do think it’s fair to give Steve Madden some credit with the recycled shoe concept.

  3. Miss Janey Says:

    The Knock-Off is thievery, which is just plain wrong. Miss J, however, thinks both these shoes are ugly. Were she goingto coy shoes, this would not be the one she would choose.

  4. CP Says:

    When I see lower end designers do this, I think that passing this law wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all.

  5. Minky Says:

    I have mixed feelings about copyright (fashion is all about influences, mixing it up, right? And manufacturers like Steve Madden make fashion affordable for the rest of us) but it’s interesting to note that the Steve Madden shoe looks more comfortable, better support in the toe area and ankle. That said, I wouldn’t wear either. These are miserable looking shoes.

  6. JK Says:

    I don’t know Laura…if someone stole from me and his getaway car was a hybrid I’d still be annoyed.

  7. wannabe Says:

    Down to the freaking color placement? You think Steve Madden should get some credit when he copies the shoe down to the placement of the colors and the straps? No. Sorry. Had they been flats, maybe. No, I take it back, not even then. He is no designer, for this demonstrates a complete failure of imagination. He’s brought nothing new to the table at all. I stopped buying Maddens a few years ago when I realized how uncomfortable they were. Then he had a little federal tax problem. Now I wouldn’t give his horrid theivery a chance.

  8. chaser Says:

    There is part of me that wonders why anybody would bother copying such an ugly shoe.

  9. deirdre Says:

    Not to mention it’s not even the same shoe. The Balenciaga is a race car. The Steve Madden is a pump. What?

    Love the original.

  10. Sarah Says:

    It certainly isn’t good judgment on Steve Madden’s side to knock off ugly shoes. That will kill sales pretty quick. In this case, that is a good thing. Ick!

  11. ShortAnUgly Says:

    These evil bastards must be stopped!!

  12. Kirsten Says:

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flat out thievery (in this case).

  13. Sarah Says:

    Again I say, this doesn’t bother me. It won’t be bought by people who could afford the Balenciaga, of course; but why should people who can’t afford the balenciaga not have a shockingly ugly sport stiletto if they want one? Whatever shucks your oyster…

  14. belle Says:

    I agree with Sarah. The Balenciaga client is still going to buy the Balenciag shoe (no matter how ugly). Steve Madden makes shoes for the asprirational client who can’t even come close to the affording the Balenciagas.
    If you stop this what do you stop next… designer furniture knock offs, cookware knock offs? Almost all new designs across product lines are being knocked off to some extent or another.

  15. Atari Says:

    I don’t really care if Steve Madden copies the style of the shoes like this. “Making fashion affordable for the rest of us” et al. What really irked me was the Christian Louboutin ripoff, when they used the same photograph. Come on, have some class, Madden.

  16. Christine Says:

    I agree with the commenters who said that the Balenciaga buyer will always buy the Balenciaga, and the Madden buyer will buy the Madden, for they likely cannot afford the designer original. I don’t have a problem with Steve Madden doing this; for it’s not like he’s cutting into Balenciaga’s market and stealing their profits. (And let’s be honest – designing high-end shoes isn’t about artistic integrity so much as the almighty dollar.) People buy Steve Madden shoes because they love the look of designer shoes, but cannot either afford or justify spending more than $500 on a single pair of shoes.

    As a broke student, designer knock-offs are my only hope of looking stylish, until I finish school, get a job, and repay my loans. I’d never buy a designer shoe at this point in my life… so by buying the Madden knock-off, I’m not fleecing Balenciaga out of a sale – for me, it’s either the Madden shoes, or nothing. Designer shoes appeal to a certain demographic of shoppers; one that is not likely to change dramatically. And if those of us who cannot afford to be part of the designer demographic want to look pretty, why stop designers like Steve Madden from giving us that opportunity?

    Nonetheless, I think those particular knock-offs are hideous. As is the original.

  17. Jennifer L. Says:

    I am through with Sleaze Madden. I have no comment about his propensity to steal, pilfer, knock off, ripoff or tax cheat. I just refuse to buy his shoes. However, I do have a huge issue with the sudden appearance of red-soled offerings from Unlisted. They totally offend my Christian sensibilities (take it in what sense thou wilt). I have seen the offense at DSW and Famous Footwear where I was trolling for some Heelys (much to my daughter’s chagrin and embarrassment).

    Victoria’s Secret also had put out a red-soled boot last winter. Now that gets my goat.

  18. Vanessa Says:

    Why anyone would like to imitate this ghastly pair of shoes is beyond me. Balenciaga or not, they are the truly hideous.

  19. The Charlotte Allen Says:

    I don’t see the problem here (except that both shoes are hideous). It’s not illegal to knock off a fashion design, and cheap knockoffs never look quite like the originals because they don’t have the quality and detailing (that’s why they’re cheap). Unless you use the designer’s logo or otherwise try to pass off your work as the designer’s, there’s no harm done that I can see.

    Stealing a Louboutin photo to advertise a Madden knockoff (if that was the case) was a different story: that was a theft of someone’s work and a fraud upon the consumer.

  20. wannabe Says:

    Cheaper versions inspired by an original are totally fair game. Really. As Sarah correctly points out (and in a point I made myself in the other Madden scandal), they are hardly pitching the same demographic, usually. And it is very true that the pilfering of the idea is not so bad as the pilfering of the photo, which was consumer fraud. However, these shoes are SO unique (for good or ill), that I find Madden’s appropriation of the design kind of offensive. Or maybe it’s just because he’s a lifelong dirtbag I am unwilling or unable to see a single redeeming quality of. See

  21. Glinda Says:

    Just for the record, my son saw the picture of these on my computer and said, “Look, Transformer Shoes!”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  22. scott Says:

    wow. that is one cool looking shoe. lol

  23. IKnowNothing Says:

    I actually think the Balenciaga is pretty cool. The Madden, on the other hand, lacks a unified style, having a heel-section disturbingly similar to the Balenciaga, and a much more traditional (and hideous) toe-section.

  24. shoein Says:


    These shoes are a ripoff of a PRADA shoe that was sold at Saks 4 years ago!

  25. Stace Says:

    Does anyone know where you can buy the originals? Ive tried emailing balenciaga but i haven’t heard anything.

  26. Anonymous Says:

    i think the steve madden ones are cutter

  27. Koichi Ito Says:

    If look-like Louboutin, and has different brand name like Steve Madden or Jessica Simpson? It is still good it does not matter if what ever name is! Brand Name Steve Madden and Jessica Simpson are still better than Nine West Brand, which is cheapest one among them. Unfoutunately too many Louboutin are fake or counterfeit. So you should buy brand name like Steve Madden or Jessica Simpson!

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