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Entries in Shoes (12)

Wednesday
Sep052012

Louboutin Entitled to Protect Signature Red Sole, Court Rules

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Christian Louboutin gets to click his red-soled heels together in victory.

A U.S. federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the famous French luxury shoe designer was entitled to trademark protection of its signature fire-engine red soles, with certain limitations.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled that Louboutin was allowed to protect its brand against red-soled shoes produced by Yves Saint Laurent S.A.S., another Paris-based luxury designer, but it instructed the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to limit Louboutin's registration "to uses in which the red outsole contrasts with the color of the rest of the shoe," meaning that if Yves Saint Laurent were to use a red sole on a red shoe, it would not infringe on Louboutin's trademark.

"It is the contrast between the sole and the upper [part of the shoe] that causes the sole to 'pop,' and to distinguish its creator," the appeals court wrote.

This decision overturned a district court judge ruling last year that went against Louboutin, saying that one color could never serve as a fashion brand trademark, even though the U.S. Patent and Trademark office had granted Louboutin protection in 2008.

The court battles over the bright red window into Louboutin's sole arguably put an entire shoe empire at stake.

Louboutin sells more than 650,000 pairs a year, and his shoes don't come cheap. The sexy, sky-high heels can sell for $495 and up -- with a crystal-encrusted pair costing $6,000. They have been seen on the feet of many of Hollywood's elite, including Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johannson and Jennifer Lopez (who has a song about the shoes called "Louboutins"). Even Barbie dolls have their own custom mini-sized Louboutins.

The signature red sole had become a beacon of high-fashion and the demand is great. Just last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confiscated 20,457 pairs of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.

Nightline caught up with Christian Louboutin at his Paris atelier in November 2011, as the designer was celebrating his line's 20th anniversary while the legal battle raged over his right to keep his identity as the red sole man.

"Well, you know, it's -- to be copied can be sort of taken as a compliment, but when it's to be really attacked, in a way ... then I do not see it as a compliment," Louboutin said at the time.

YSL's lawyers had previously argued that using the red sole for its shoes was not trademark infringement because "no designer should monopolize a color."

Louboutin rejected the Saint Laurent argument.

"I do not monopolize a color, I have put a color at a place where nobody has put it, and became -- becoming iconic, as a trademark," he told Nightline in 2011. "I do not monopolize more colors, and Hermes is monopolizing the orange of their bag, or Tiffany has a blue. It's just the way it is. At one point, it makes part of your identity. It is my trademark."

The designer said he first came up with the idea for painting the sole red in 1992, when the prototype of a shoe he created came in, but seemed to be lacking something.

"I had a girl working with me, trying on the shoes," Louboutin said. "So when she was not trying on shoes, she sort of had nothing to do, so she was sort of waiting, and, so she was doing her nails, at that time ... and I thought, why, this black has to be the red! So I grabbed her nail polish, and painted the soles."

It was then that his signature red sole was born. Louboutin said wearing shoes is a study in psychology. For women who may not feel comfortable with their bodies, in his shoes, he said, they will at least like their feet.

"I would say that a good shoe is exactly like a good wine," Louboutin said. "These shoes are going to stay and last for a long time."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Adidas Cancels Controversial ‘Shackle’ Shoe

Adidas(NEW YORK) -- Adidas has canceled plans to release a sneaker adorned with rubber fasteners after an image of the shoe posted on the Adidas Originals Facebook page ignited a firestorm of controversy.

The photo of the shoes, dubbed JS Roundhouse Mids by the company, is captioned, “Tighten up your style with the JS Roundhouse Mids dropping in August. Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”

Critics, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have called the shoe racist and intensive, saying it evokes the era of slavery.

Criticism was not universal, however. The photo received nearly 38,000 likes on Facebook. But that was not enough to stop Adidas from canceling the shoe, which was expected to hit stores in mid-August.

In a statement emailed to ABC News, Adidas defended the shoe and its designer, Jeremy Scott, saying, “Our collaboration with Jeremy Scott has always stood for creativity and originality.  Jeremy Scott is renowned as a designer whose style is quirky and lighthearted and his previous shoe designs for adidas Originals have, for example, included panda heads and Mickey Mouse. The design of the JS Roundhouse Mid is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery.”

In the same statement, however, the company also apologized for the shoe, saying, “Since the shoe debuted on our adidas Originals Facebook page ahead of its market release in August, adidas has received both favorable and critical feedback.  We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”

Designer Scott has said the shoes were inspired by a 1980s children’s toy called My Pet Monster, which has similar shackles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

Skechers to Pay $40 Million for False Toning Shoe Claims

Konrad Fiedler/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Skechers advertised that its toning shoes would help people lose weight, build muscle and get in shape, claims that will now cost the company $40 million in a settlement with U.S. regulators.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday the company has agreed to the settlement on charges that it "deceived consumers by making unfounded claims" about its Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups lines of shoes. Consumers who bought the shoes are entitled to refunds.

"Skechers' unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health," David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. "The FTC's message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims."

The FTC also alleges that Skechers manipulated and "cherry-picked results" from studies to support their claims. In one case, the FTC says Skechers touted the endorsement of chiropractor Dr. Steven Gautreau, but did not disclose that Gautreau was married to a Skechers marketing executive and that Skechers paid him to conduct the study, which the FTC alleges did not support the claims in the ad.

Skechers denies its ads were unsupported and says it "believes its advertising was appropriate."

"While we vigorously deny the allegations made in these legal proceedings and looked forward to vindicating these claims in court, Skechers could not ignore the exorbitant cost and endless distraction of several years spent defending multiple lawsuits in multiple courts across the country," David Weinberg, Skechers' chief financial officer, said in a statement.

The Skechers' settlement comes less than a year after Reebok agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges it misled consumers with false claims about EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes.

The FTC's settlement with Skechers is part of a broader agreement that resolves an investigation that included the attorney generals from 44 states. Under the settlement Skechers is not allowed to make any claims about its toning shoes involving health or fitness benefits unless they are backed by scientific evidence.

"Hopefully, at least here stateside, this will make big companies think twice before they make these specious advertising claims," Chris Morran, deputy editor at Consumerist.com, told ABC News. "The hurt isn't the $40 million penalty, it's the millions Skechers won't be making selling toning shoes. ... The sneakers are going overnight from miracle weight loss, muscle toning shoes to sneakers and that's the bigger hurt."

Skechers' has also been sued by consumers alleging that Shape-ups can cause serious injuries, including stress fractures.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

Nike Launches Sneaker Twitter RSVP System

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nike is launching a Twitter reservation system for their highly anticipated sneaker product launches, which have attracted police in riot gear as often as customers hungry for Air Jordans.

Nike’s Twitter RSVP system invites sneaker-heads to one of 11 participating Nike retail stores on Twitter. On an RSVP date, each store will send a tweet at a random time to begin the reservation process. Then Twitter followers must send a "Direct Message,” not just a tweet, with specific information including their shoe size to that store’s Twitter handle within 60 minutes.

While the company has not directly addressed whether the system is intended to decrease the instances of mayhem at some Nike product launches, Nike spokeswoman Mary Remuzzi told The Oregonian that the system “is something we began considering a few months ago.”

In February, customers rioted at a mall in Orlando, Fla. over the launch of a limited edition sneaker, the Foamposite Galaxy, after a Footlocker store cancelled the midnight, first-come first-served release of 200 pairs of the shoe over “safety concerns.”

While the shoes retailed at $220 a pair, bidding on eBay went upwards of $2,500.

Nike’s announcement comes ahead of the release of the Jordan Brand Air Yeezy 2 by this summer, The Oregonian reported. The shoe is the signature sneaker of hip-hop artist Kanye West.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr112012

Converse Lures 'Rebel Consumer' with Musicians

Converse(NEW YORK) -- Converse sneakers are the shoes that have set the beat for several generations over. Rock stars from Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones to Nirvana and Justin Bieber have all rocked out in Chuck Taylors.

Made of canvas and rubber, the century-old American brand's shoes have epitomized countercultural cool for decades.

"They really haven't changed in 103 years. They're basically the same exact shoe," said Converse archivist Sam Smallidge.

Watch the full story on ABC's Nightline Wednesday at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT

First stitched outside of Boston in 1908, Converse was born as a basketball shoe, though it quickly outgrew its place in the sportswear market and the Chuck Taylor emerged as a piece of American pop culture.

Even in these tough economic times, sales have been on the rise.

"I think everybody on the earth, it seems like, has had a pair of these at one point in time," said Converse CEO and President Jim Calhoun.

However, in the last decade, Converse found itself struggling, filing for bankruptcy and failing to compete in a saturated sports market.

"I think we tried to go down a sports performance path when there were other brands, frankly, that were spending more money and were better at it than us," Calhoun said.

Ironically, it was Nike, one of the biggest sports performance companies in the world, that bought up and bailed out Converse. Calhoun said the company now sells about 200,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors each day around the world.

"That's the best-selling shoe of all time and continues to really be our iconic product," he said.

But the shoe that once boasted a "Made in the USA" stamp isn't made in America anymore. To cut costs, the company moved its U.S.-based plant overseas to countries like Vietnam and Indonesia, where reports of worker abuse surfaced last summer. Factory employees claimed their bosses slapped, kicked and verbally abused them. When asked about the reports, Calhoun called the incidents "unfortunate" and "unacceptable."

While Calhoun said the company has made progress on fixing the problem, Converse's critics say the company is still falling short in rectifying factory workers' complaints.

"We don't take a passive approach. We don't wait for the problems. We proactively monitor our factories," Calhoun said. "But I'd be less than sincere if I said no problem will ever happen again."

Despite the controversies and financial problems, the company is now betting its future on a return to its musical roots. Converse began inviting musicians, including Pharrell and most recently the Gorillaz, to cut original tracks to build social buzz around the brand. They've also built an empire on special shoe collaborations with U2's The Edge, Metallica and Lupe Fiasco. The goal is to win back that "rebel consumer" of hard-to-woo hipsters.

Converse also recently built a 5,200-square-foot state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn called Rubber Tracks.

"The idea around the studio was to build a place to say thank you, thank you to all the artists who have done all this great work in our shoes over the years, and a way for us to give back to the community," said Converse Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill.

So far, 150 up-start acts, short on cash with big dreams, have been invited to record on Converse's dime.  The recording sessions are free for these garage bands and bedroom musicians, but the artists are invited to post their music on the Converse Facebook pages, which boast 47 million fans, making Converse one of the most significant apparel in social media.

"We're not measuring every single band that comes in here and how many shoes they're going to sell," Cottrill said. "We truly believe in the idea of doing good things for our consumers. Good things will happen to us in return."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb152012

Police Bust Women In Alleged Counterfeit Nike Scheme

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Two South Carolina women were arrested in Georgia after what began as a traffic stop resulted in what police are calling a major bust of counterfeit goods.

Police in Gwinnett County, Ga., say they pulled over a Pontiac Grand Prix on Interstate 85 on Saturday after the vehicle was spotted traveling too close behind another vehicle. Two women were in the car, and during the traffic stop the driver reportedly admitted to having marijuana in the vehicle and allowed police to conduct a search, according to ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

Officers say they found 78 boxes of Nike sneakers, but upon looking at the footwear officers became suspicious. The serial numbers on the sneakers did not match those on the boxes, the Nike logos could be peeled right off, and on some of the sneakers the Michael Jordan logo had one too many fingers, police tell WSB-TV.

Kotina Lashan Feaster and Jessica Pennick were arrested and charged in connection with the discovery. At least one of the suspects claimed no knowledge of the goods being counterfeit.

"She came down from South Carolina to get all these shoes and then she drove back to SC to sell them," vehicle officer Nicholas Boney told WSB-TV.

Police estimate the goods retail at more than $12,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec232011

New Nike Air Jordan XI Concord Causes Shopping Frenzy

File photo. (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)(NEW YORK) -- The arrival of Nike's new Air Jordan 11 Retro Concords in stores just in time for Christmas brought pandemonium all over the country.

Thousands lined up across the country to shell out $180 for the black and white "J's" that went on sale at midnight.

Police were called to shopping centers in Indiana, Florida, Texas, and Virginia among other states to control crowds of hundreds lining up for the shoes.

"I don't remember anything like this in the recent past at all, definitely not with the iPhone or anything like that," Linda Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, told ABC News.

Indiana police were called to three malls to help control "hectic" scenes of hundreds of shoppers, including many teenagers and children. 

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"It was pretty much a surprise for us," Jackson said. "I imagine the malls knew, but I don't know that they were prepared for the response."

Frantic shoppers even tried to break down a door at one of the Indiana malls.

"There was a door that was damaged, but I don't believe they were able to gain access," Jackson said. "It sounded like these are the need-to-have item of the season, for some reason."

Florida police used pepper spray on unruly shoe seekers and fights were reported in Kentucky; glass was shattered at stores in North Carolina.

East of San Francisco, the Air Jordan sale was totally canceled after a gun went off outside the mall and the gunman was arrested.

Within hours, hundreds of pairs of the shoes were on sale on eBay, some for more than $500. Many of the pairs already had dozens of bidders.

The shoes were widely released and are available at stores such as Foot Locker and Champs, in addition to Nike stores.

Air Jordans bring in an estimated $1 billion for Nike every year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov172011

High Heels for a Down Economy?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When the economy heads south women’s heels go north.

A look back at decades of shoe fashion research reveals that high heels soared during the worst recessions. “Usually in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” says Dr. Trevor Davis, a consumer products expert with IBM Global Services.

From the depression in the 1930s to the oil crisis in the 70s, and the dot com crash in 2000, high heels replaced flats and low, thick heels.

But once again, this recession is different.

A computer-based analysis of the last four years of social media posts shows discussions of increasing heel height peeked near the end of 2009, and declined after that. “Key trend-watching bloggers between 2008 and 2009 wrote consistently about heels from five to eight inches,” says an IBM summary of its research.  “By mid 2011 they were writing about the return of the kitchen heel and the perfect flat from Jimmy Choo and Louboutin.”

While heels on many women’s shoes are still high, the social networking analysis suggests a change in trend.

“This time something different is happening,” says Dr. Davis about the current economic problems many shoppers face. “Perhaps a mood of long term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings.”

IBM says its new research, “highlights the predictive capacities of social media analysis as a source of valuable insights” for businesses interested in market trends and planning future products.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Reebok to Pay $25 Million in False Advertising Settlement

The FTC(WASHINGTON) -- There's more to getting a great body than buying a pair of shoes. If, like millions of others, you bought into Reebok's promise that its toning sneakers would "make your legs and butt look great," you’re in for a refund.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that Reebok has agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges it misled consumers with false claims about EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes. Ads for Reebok’s toning shoes boasted lab tests proved the shoe's special design would help lead to a more perfect body.

"It’s the shoe proven to work your hamstrings and calves up to 11 percent harder and tones your butt up to 28 percent more than regular sneakers," a narrator said in one such TV ad. "Just by walking."

But in settlement papers filed Wednesday in a federal court, the FTC says the claims are false.

"In truth and in fact," the settlement agreement reads, "laboratory tests do not show that, when compared to walking in a typical walking shoe, walking in EasyTone footwear will improve muscle tone and strength by 28% in the gluteus maximus, 11% in the hamstrings, and 11% in the calves."

"The consumers expected to get a workout. Not to get worked over," David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, told reporters. "Advertisers cannot make claims about their products, particularly not objective claims like this, without having some basis for it. That's the law."

The ads ran in 2009 and 2010 but Reebok pulled them off the air and out of magazines after the FTC began its investigation.

After it's approved by the court, the $25 million will go into a pot for consumer refunds. Consumers can file online to receive a refund at: http://ftc.gov/reebok

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun242011

Target Recalls 51,700 Children's Sandals

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- Target is recalling approximately 51,700 pairs of children’s sandals that the company says can pose a choking hazard to young kids.

Circo Aloma Infant Girls Sandals have a decorative plastic flower that can detach from the shoe, the company said. Target warns that a child could choke if the piece is inserted into his or her mouth.

Consumers have reported at least eight cases of detached flowers.

No injuries have been reported in relation to the recall, the company said.

The shoes, sold exclusively at Target stores and on the company’s website, are white and were sold in infant girls’ sizes 2 through 5.

Consumers can return the shoes to Target for a full refund.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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