Red Soles, In The Red?Monday, June 18, 2012
One of the most important fashion stories of last week was about globally famous designer Christian Louboutin losing a legal battle over his trademark red soled shoes to Zara in France. Louboutin had sued Zara for copying his Yo Yo slingbacks (see picture). But a French court ruled that there could be no confusion between Zara slingbacks priced at £49 versus Louboutin shoes priced at £490. Worse, Louboutin now stands to pay a £2,500 as compensation to Zara. Popularly known as the first designer to think of women's shoes (especially the killer stilettos) with red soles, Louboutin's red soles, a big favourite with some of the world's most watched female celebrities have inspired many non-branded shoe makers despite their original maker having acquired a Red Sole Trademark. Look at this picture I found in Delhi's Lajpat Nagar market!!
Louboutin's publicity division sent out a formal press release to journalists all over the world, including India where he retails now. “We would like to clarify that what has been disputed and canceled is only one French registration of said Red sole Trademark. Christian Louboutin continues to own valid and enforceable trademark rights in its Red Sole Trademark, including in France itself as well as throughout the world. A number of court decisions have recognized the strong association between Christian Louboutin and the Red Sole Trademark, including in France.
Christian Louboutin will continue to protect and enforce its rights to its Red Sole Trademark which has been its iconic signature for the past 20 years,” read the release.
Maybe. But the Zara Vs. Louboutin wrangle can't even be imagined in India where plagiarism is played out in many seamier aspects in the Indian fashion and retail market. Copyright issues are completely up for a toss. Fakes of designs of Suneet Varma and Sabyasachi, two of India's most plagiarised designers can be found in every city from middle range to premium stores to high street ethnic brands. Both Suneet and Sabyasachi have been so frustrated over the years that they have almost given up on it shrugging it as flattery. But the lingering question is: can a fake actually imitate the real or come close? If you go by the French court's verdict, apparently not. It expects consumers to distinguish quality of make, that must be based on a knowledgeable decision informed by price. But isn't price the very reason why a customer settles for a fake?
A model walks the ramp in a Rimzim Dadu design during the WIFW 2012. Indian Express photo: Oinam Anand