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Shoes and Hues

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Red sole Louboutin shoes & neon yellow-green Nike Volt shoes

The power of the color of shoes made the news recently – and it left a historic mark on women's fashion and athletic gear.

Christian Louboutin just won trademark protection for its women's shoes with red soles while an appeals court also ruled the company can't trademark a design that is simply all red. In other words, they have exclusive rights to use the color red on the inner soles of their high-heeled shoes. It's like Tiffany's blue box and Cadbury's purple packaging — the red sole has been an iconic signature for these designer shoes for 20 years and they have the legal rights to it. Source

Red sole Louboutin shoes

However, this is about a precise red, used in a precise location. They have exclusive rights to red soles except when the shoe itself is red, according to a federal appeals court. French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent—which Louboutin had sued for trademark infringement—can keep selling its all-red shoes with matching soles.

In the meantime, red paint sales have sky-rocketed as women are DIYing the soles of their shoes to mimic the look of Louboutin. (A real pair of Louboutin heels will set you back anywhere from $600 to $4,000.)

Nike Volt Neon yellow-green shoes

In direct contrast to high fashion shoes, Nike's "Volt" with its vivid "neon-green-meets-highlighter-yellow" color was one of most iconic images of the 2012 Olympics. If you watched the Olympics, you couldn't help but notice this color whizzing by on the feet of over 400 Olympic athletes. Some say that Nike branded the Olympics with this neon hue.

While it's not a color trademark, the color of the shoe was a marketing masterpiece that ambushed IOC sponsor Adidas.

Martin Lotti, Nike's global creative director for the Olympics, had this to say: "The Volt is our signature color for Nike," he said. "It's our Tiffany Blue. Of course, it's no accident that we picked that color. The whole point of this was to create impact." The result was one of most iconic images of the 2012 Olympics." Source

More about color trademarks and branding at Color Matters:
Color & Branding
Color & Trademarks
Color Branding & Trademark Rights


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Jill is the author and designer of the Color Matters website. She's a color consultant who focuses on color psychology and brand identity. See "Who Is Color Matters" at this web site and for more information.


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