Saturday, 1 September 2012

Does Louboutin own the rights to the red sole?

Christian Louboutin Isolde sandals. Photo courtesy of Net-a-Porter

What do you think when you see a a red-soled shoe? My guess would be that 99.99% of you would answer - 'Bitch! She can afford Christian Louboutin heels!'

YSL Tribtoo suede pumps. Photo courtesy of Net-a-Porter

However, a battle over the red sole has been dragging on between YSL and Louboutin. YSL argue that Louboutin does not own any trademark rights to the red sole, and that preventing designers from using the China Red colour on the soles of their shoes hampers their creativity. Louboutin, on the other hand, staunchly defends its current registered trademark, stating that the red sole is a brand identifier.

I am absolutely in favour of Louboutin. They only own the exclusive right to the specific colour of red seen on their soles. Moreover, I have noticed so many bloggers commenting that the red soles of their cheap shoes are 'so Louboutin' or 'Louboutin-y'. Those who know fashion know what the red sole means.

Tribeca Lola boots. Photo courtesy of Tribeca Shoes

One such cheap shoe retailer is Tribeca shoes. Many of their shoes feature a red sole. I contacted them for a comment. They argue that:

"Christian Louboutin have lost several court cases trying to uphold their trademark on their red soles which we totally agree with as trademarking a colour on a shoe is not fair. And again we are merely retailing these items and not responsible for choosing the colour of the sole or copying any designs."

My response to their argument is - why red? If the colour of the sole is a matter of creativity, why not make it blue or green or dark purple? I think this is a clear flaw in the argument that the red sole is not a brand identifier.

(On a side note, two out of the three Judges deciding the outcome of this case have no clue about fashion. But I'm not going to get in to that just now, as it's a whole other discussion!)

What do you think?

Much love, Bemsy x

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