Baring my fake Loubs: How to spot a pair of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes

These shoes are made for exploiting ... thanks for ABC News for this terrific shot of a man with a mission.
THE BIG news story of the day was not the GFC or the horrors in Syria, but the seizure of 20,000 pairs of fake Christian Louboutin (loo-boo-tan) shoes. In this  ABC News story you can see footage of a surly blue uniformed LA customs official handling a pair of screaming pink 6" heel pumps with rubber gloves and pronouncing them fit for the bonfire.

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
These Louboutins, one of those ankle-strappy jobs, were a tiny size 35. Being super small all my life and hard to fit, I've had this policy of "if I see a size 00 anything on special, I'm trying it on." The price? $250. Now for me, this is a Himalayan summit of money for a pair of new shoes, let alone pre-liked, so I passed.

Then, on opening a box on my birthday ... there they were!

Fake or not, they turn heads.
While very appreciative of the gift from my beau, I noted something which didn't make sense for such a vaunted shoe. First, the lining was stuck down and lifting, rather than sewn. Second, the printing on it was faded and uneven, which I put down to some model tottering in them in St Martin before they ended up in the charity bin. Hmmm.

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.
"They real, they're not fake," said a fashionisto behind the counter, in that typically affected artsy vox you tend to encounter in high end stores.

"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.
1. The 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." 
2. Lining 
  • 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

3. The trim
  • 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? 

4. The heel
  • 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.

4. The dustbag is thin, PJ-like flannelette and poorly printed. 

5. Most of all, they have never been 100% comfortable due to lack of cushioning on ball of foot. I've had to add a Footpetals innersole.

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

Shoe Shopping at DSW - a glimpse of this New York shoe emporium for the benefit of my galpals Downunder

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 ... 


Anonymous said…
Sorry to hear about the shoes. That's a loss you feel deep in your soles. (Sorry.) They are cute, though, so wear them out and throw them heedlessly away!
Jen b said…
Moral of story--buy your high end shoes at places like saks so if they are fake at least you can get your money back!
Terrible story. My sister in law's father used to investigate and close down fakes in chinatown for watch manufacturers.
My own tiny label has been copied thousands of times. It's very painful to see someone walking around with your design clearly not made by you. One of ourdesigns was copied by JDRF--and they made 9000 copies. Disgusting.
Good adticle.
Anonymous said…
How adorable though that your beau surprised you with them. JUST for that sentimental thought, in the words of Fashion Police STASH IT ;) haha
Anonymous said…
I daresay, I think those are a real pair. I don't have that particular style, but it isn't one that is commonly faked. The sole is that way because it's made of real leather.
Libby said…
^I agree, I am pretty sure those are real! I just thought you should know so that you can wear them with PRIDE!!!!! I am looking at a duster right now from one of my pairs and it looks EXACTLY like yours, right down to the "b" and "o" looking a bit messy. Besides that the soles are the same. However if the soles were ridged, not sure about that. I normally just take mine in to get them soled before I wear them and have never paid much attention. Also the duster is a flannel type material and most definitely not velvety. Also my soles are not sewn in either.

Anyways hope this helps and enjoy your shoes, what a wonderful present!! :)
Daisy said…
I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'd have to agree that these look very fake. Especially if they had a ridged sole, real Loubs never have that. And I've never seen that "vero cuiro" sign on the real deal either.

Another dead give-away: the colour of the insole. Real Louboutins wouldn't have an entirely golden insole, but a beige one, with gold just at the toe and at the heel. You can see this very easily in photos if you just google "Louboutin sandals".

That said, I wouldn't chuck them out just yet. After all, it was a lovely sentiment from your beau, and as long as they are not too uncomfortable, you can still wear them. Sad that he spent so much money on them though...
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Anonymous said…
the vero cuiro are only for those old models before 2012 i think. not sure what year it is, you can look it up. but latest models do not have it anymore.

but whatever it is,yeah they look fake.
personally i wil still wear till its worn out and just chuck it way. i mean its still bought with good money :) and really its the tjoughts that count
Anonymous said…
these shoes are def authentic. the ridge on the sole is from resoling or vibraming. when the leather soles gets worn down, a lot of ladies can choose to take the shoes to a cobbler to get rubber put on. this prolongs the life of the shoes. The style is fairly old hence the insole color. The people that says these are fake does not have enough experience with louboutins.
Anonymous said…
I know I'm late but these look real to me. I have several pairs with the vero cuoio stamp. It just means it was an older model. Fake soles are definitely not made of leather and it looks like there are little wrinkles on the sole from where there are creases in the leather. Fake soles are made of plastic and it's so obvious. At the end of the day, they're shoes and they will show some wear including lifting of the sole. I say these are real. I don't know why people are telling you they are fake. With enough experience sometimes you'll just know.
Anonymous said…
Fake loobs don't come in half sizes, they look real but old model
Loubi said…
I agree that those may be real, but outdated. While replicas are starting to come out in half sizes, they're done as '1/2' with the one on top of the two with a straight horizontal line in between. However, on your pair, it's just as the authentic ones where it's '1/2' just as its typed. Also, my real so kates have the heel edge wear where it looks like it would have to be glued on..

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