Balenciaga v. Steve Madden: LEGO-Fashion Smackdown

Balenciaga Original Steve Madden Knockoff

On December 18, 2009, Balenciaga sued Steve Madden.  Balenciaga claims Steve Madden “intentionally copied” it’s multicolor LEGO heels from it’s fall 2007 collection.  (Though the shoes are officially named Closed Front Cage Sandals with Ankle Pads, they have been nicknamed LEGO Heels for obvious reasons).

The original Balenciaga pair sold for $4,175; the Steven Madden knockoffs sold for $99.95.

What took Balenciaga so long to sue?  As noted by, it looks like Alexander McQueen’s lawsuit has inspired other designers to go after Steve Madden for stealing their designs. (For those who may not remember, Alexander McQueen sued Steve Madden two months ago for copying his little Goth booties.  Once again, mainstream follows the Goth trend.  Who will be the next to sue?)

Perhaps if enough designers continue to challenge Steve Madden, he will finally change his ways.

For more LEGO fashion click here.

Bonus Track:

~ by siouxsielaw on December 21, 2009.

8 Responses to “Balenciaga v. Steve Madden: LEGO-Fashion Smackdown”

  1. It upsets me more when it’s a little designer that gets ripped off by a larger company. Case in point, Louise Black, whose cameo corsets Lip Service has ripped off. (I just happened to write about this issue too 🙂 I don’t think she’d have the money to take on LS in a court case though :/

    • So true. And not only is it too expensive for a small designer to sue when their designs are knocked off, the law makes it more difficult for them to win. The designers need to show that their clothes are so popular or so well known, that their particular design is associated with them. This is much more realistic for famous designers who are featured in major magazines or who have celebrities wearing and endorsing their clothes, but not much help to designers like Louise Black (at least not yet).

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought Lip Service’s design looked eerily similar to Louise Black’s.

        The one difference here though, even though copying is wrong, is that Louise’s corsets were reasonably priced for what you were getting and it is easy in my mind to justify the price she charged (and even the slightly elevated prices she charged post Project Runway). In that case I as a consumer would rather save up and just get the real thing. With the Stave Madden Shoes (uncomfortable as they are) they are extremely cheaper than the designed he knocks off. I and most consumers would never in their wildest dreams be able to purchase the original Alexander McQueen or Balenciaga shoes. While that does not make what Steve Madden routinely does right, I think it does set Madden apart from what Lip Service did just a little bit. Either way though, I find Madden’s shoes so uncomfortable that I would not buy them anyways.

  2. There are mixed feelings in the blogging world about knock-offs. I am totally against them –

    But not everyone agrees. I think, big or small, no designer should be blatently ripped off.

    • Thanks for the link; and, great post on the issue of knockoffs.

      For whatever reason, clothing designers don’t have much recourse when their works are ripped off. While trademark law protects designers from their logos or names being copied, there is nothing to protect a designers’ ideas. So designers have to argue that their works are protected under trade dress law. But that is pretty hard to do — designers have to show that the public associates the particular design with them. A pretty high hurdle.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with these two Steve Madden cases. Hopefully, if some check is placed on these copycat companies, they will start turning to inspiration rather than imitation.

  3. To my shame I saw these Steve Madden’s on eBay and was sorely tempted to bid for them. Is is worse for a copyright lawyer to encourage plagiarism?

  4. In all fairness, the Steve Madden shoes are pretty hot too. So no shame. And technically every artist is a thief.

  5. […] 1.  Balenciaga sues Steve Madden over Lego fashion.  The link to that post is here. […]

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