|These shoes are made for exploiting ... thanks for ABC News for this terrific shot of a man with a mission.|
I Googled "spot fake Louboutin" and watched a bunch of hastily-shot home videos and blog posts laboriously pointing out the differences between the real deal and the counterfeit. So I thought I'd add my own to the mix. Because ...
|Note the ridges on the soles of these fakes - actually quite thoughtful, as stepping onto carpet in the real thing is akin to ice skating.|
... I own a pair of fake Louboutins! (I think).
Now, I didn't set out to support fakesters. But I spotted a pair of ridiculously glitzy gold Louboutin sandals JUST MY SIZE at a fairly reputable East Village consignment store that specializes in pre-loved and ex-fashion-shoot apparel. I've bought quite a few things from this store, as the owner has great taste, fair prices and connections to people who know their threads.
|The Louboutins of dubious origin|
Then, on opening a box on my birthday ... there they were!
|Fake or not, they turn heads.|
The first occasion I wore them was the Standard Hotel. The signature red paint on the soles immediately got chewed up by the pavement, which is apparently the norm even for the real ones. It's why most cobblers will gleefully slap on the bulletproof red TOPY soles for $35 to make these shoes scuffle-worthy. However, under that paint seemed to be a rather porous chipboard-like material. Hmmmmmmm.
I queried the store owner who wasn't sure herself. "People want the real thing, they also want it cheap, right?" she shrugged.
|The West Village Louboutin store - a mecca for red souls ...|
So I took them to the genuine Louboutin store in the West Village, to see if the staff had an opinion.
|Don't mind the buckled lining: because it was disturbingly unglued, I slid a Footpetals pad inside for more cushioning.|
"How do you know?" I asked.
"I just know," he said, flipping them over and over. "That was a model from 2 years ago."
He didn't elaborate on the crux of the matter - how he knew it was real, but I sensed he had better things to do, like selling that $1500 fringed Tina skyscraper boot to someone more cashed-up and willowy than me.
So I went away believing I had the real thing, but still in two minds about the "finish" of the product.
And then I saw today's news.
There's no question, they still looked fabulous on, and I admit I've enjoyed wearing them on the 2-3 occasions that warranted it so far. But since most of the other stories on the web show the fake vs real comparisons with a closed pump, here's what to look for in an open sandal:
|Check the markings on the red sole.|
- Replica sometimes has ridges for grip, instead of being smooth. Mine had ridges, and this was the main reason I discovered they weren't real. I have since put a $35 red TOPY sole over them for wear and tear
- Vero Cuevo symbol - it appears to be on some real versions and not others
- Logo embossed shallowly instead of deeply
|Wonky, poorly printed lining. Bad printing and placement of "Paris."|
- is not high quality, or stitched into shoe, but just glued down and lifting
- has Louboutin logo stamped faintly and unevenly, with the word Paris blurry
- no padding in ball of foot (the average fakester has no regard for comfort)
|The trim looks OK|
- There is some debate on this - the piece of leather separating the red sole from the rest of the shoe is generally natural on lighter colored shoes or painted for darker shoes. So mine pass muster.
|Nothing a little superglue won't fix, right?|
- They say the heel can be glued in an inferior manner rather than be stabilized by a big steel pin. I have no way of verifying this other than dismantling it or having it cave on me in the street.
- The red sole is lifting away slightly from the heel - where's that superglue?
|Dustbag should be made of thick, velvet curtain material, not pyjama flannelette.|
The ABC story says that the fakes have a value of around $3.
Now, not everyone has $1500 to blow on the real thing. But the story points out that the counterfeit industry brings the economy down in terms of lost jobs, lost sales tax that goes to schools and services, supports organized crime and even terrorism. Yes, you are tottering around on a terrorist weapon.
You're also supporting a legion of underpaid Chinese workers, but that's a whole other story ...
So, it seems I may have a pair of big, fake loobs, for which $250 was way too much to pay. They should have been $40-$50 maybe, tops.
Should I keep them or burn them?
An eBay guide to spotting authentic vs fake Louboutins (though riddled with spelling and grammatical mistakes it's a decent guide)
Christian Louboutin's no-nonsense webpage to stop fakesters A pity he doesn't have a comprehensive list of features to watch for, because there's a lot of conjecturing on the web
Christian Louboutin official website at least I think it is ...
Some of my "fashionista" videos
The tikit wears Prada - riding my folding bike into the Prada store
Telfar Clemens Part 1 | Part 2 A collaboration with fashion designer Telfar Clemens and Bike Friday for New York Fashion Week 2008, in which I get inside the heads (and under the feet) of those 6' models ...