If there’s one aspect of the fashion industry more prone to knock-offs than purses, it’s shoes. And “counterfeit” shoes aren’t sold on a dirty corner of Canal Street. Instead, they’re found at your average mall retailers like Steve Madden or Aldo, where last season’s Louboutins are recreated in the under $100 price range. But in the strangest edition of This Thing Looks Like That Thing we’ve ever seen, Sketchers has knocked off philanthropic shoe brand TOMS.
Sketcher’s new line is called BOBS Shoes and features slip ons made of solid and striped canvas. The shoes run around $42 and according to the Sketchers website, for every shoe purchased, they’ll donate a pair to children in need, via an organization called Soles4Souls.
TOMS Shoes, if you aren’t familiar with the brand, was started by Blake Mycoskie in 2006. From their website:
In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.
Since then, TOMS has become a huge success and the canvas slip ons have been spotted on celebrities and hipsters alike. At the risk of being redundant, BOBS Shoes look identical to TOMS Shoes, down to the placement of the tag, the material, the design, and the all-caps, monosyllabic men’s name.
While we appreciate what Sketchers is trying to do — and according to a cursory scan of Soles4Souls’ website, the charity looks to be not only legitimate but extremely successful — we can’t understand why they had to knock off a design in the process? Why not apply the “Shoe for a Shoe” idea to a preexisting style or create something entirely new?
There’s no such thing as too much charity, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of someone else’s design. What do you think?