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Scoring a designer knockoff used to involve heading to New York City’s Canal Street, being approached by people on the street corner muttering “want handbags?” and following one of them behind false walls or into basement warehouses underneath nondescript shops. No more! An increasing number of people are taking the do-it-yourself approach to their Christian Louboutin knock-offs.
Christian Louboutin heels are instantly recognizable by their bright red soles. Louboutin came up with the idea to give every shoe this partially hidden pop of color when in 1992 he found that one pair “lacked energy.” He used his assistant’s red nail polish to color the sole and his trademark was born. Well, if nail polish was good enough for Christian Louboutin, women all over Britain have decided that house paint is good enough for them.
British home improvement store Homebase has seen a 40% increase in sales of red paint over the same period last year. Since there is no red craze going on in home décor, the company believes that the soaring sales are due to women making their own Louboutin knock-offs. Peter Rooney, the manager of a Homebase location in London, said that "Many people tend to look at magazines to get the right paint color for walls and furniture, but we've noticed significant numbers of girls color-matching tester pots to pictures of designer shoes in fashion magazines.” These women aren’t just painting their bedrooms to match their designer shoes: "They have also asked staff for tips on how to paint on leather or rubber," said Rooney.
Apparently the wall paint works well. One woman the Telegraph spoke to fooled guests at her cousin’s wedding with her DIY Louboutin knockoffs. The project was so successful that she plans to make a few more pairs. Rooney reports that the tester pot provides enough paint for the sole of an average-sized shoe. Coming in at £1.59 ($2.47 US,) the paint tester is much more affordable that the real deal, which is more like £635 ($985 US). One concern is that the paint may make shoe soles slippery, so if you are planning to try this at home, you might want to skip the front of the shoe so you have some traction. That part is often on the ground and won’t be visible.
Others aren’t just making their own knockoffs, they’ve made a business out of helping others change up their sole colors. Tara Houghton, a teenager in Ireland, started a business called Rosso Solini in 2010. The company sells stick-on red soles (among other colors and patterns) to turn your heels into a wannabe Louboutins.
While Christian Louboutin may have sued Yves St. Laurent for his red-soled sandals in 2011, it’s unlikely that all of those British women painting their shoes will face legal trouble. So if you’ve always wanted to wear red-soled shoes but lacked funds, you can go to your local paint supply store and make your dream happen with a DIY project.