Christian Louboutin is the red sole shoe designer. The Louboutin brand is synonymous with the red sole, whether it’s crawling up the inside of a giant spiked heel or gracing a perfect little–and very expensive–flat. It’s Louboutin’s trademark in more that just a figurative sense, too. The French design house successfully registered its red-lacquered outsole as a trademark in 2008, 16 years after Louboutin introduced the red sole shoe as his signature.
So you might think if you want a red-soled shoe this Valentine’s Day, you’re limited to Louboutin’s many variations on the style. But that’s only true if you want your red just on the sole. In 2012, Yves St. Laurent successfully defended itself against a Louboutin lawsuit when it came to producing red sole shoes–as long as the entire shoe was red. The US federal appeals court–using your tax dollars–determined that it’s the contrast between the red sole of Louboutin and the rest of the Louboutin shoe that’s protected by trademark. So YSL and others are free to put red soles on their shoes if they want, as long as the shoe uppers are red. Or as YSL’s lawyers said at the time: “will continue to produce monochromatic shoes with red outsoles.”