They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery... but surely that doesn't hold true when a California-based brand decides to replicate designer luxury shoes and sells them for a small fraction of the original price.

It's one thing when knock-offs are sold in China, or even on eBay, but Jeffrey Campbell is sold online, in small boutiques and in highly established mega stores like Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters. It's a global brand with a massive reach and substantial customer base. There is no denying that many of JC's products are direct and obvious imitations. Funny then that they've include in the description of each item: 'A Jeffrey Campbell original.' Clearly the bar for originality is at an all time low. Please tell me I'm not the only one that finds this revolting...

Ph./details: Susie Bubble in Simone Rocha vs UpendDaphne Guinness in Natacha Marro vs Night WalkRumi Neely in Balenciaga vs Coltrane

p.s. LOVE the slightly surreal nature of each pair of these shoes.. I want to defy gravity like Daphne.

------------ UPDATE: 15/05/12 ------------

The reaction/comments* to this post got me thinking about inspiration generally and how the concept applies to the fashion world. Obviously there are a million things that could be discussed but let's try to stay focused on the issue of JC... a few immediate questions about the brand spring to mind. My rough online**  search has led me to the following conclusions...

1. How does JC present themselves? What do their stockists say about them? '

'Shoes with vintage inspiration and runway trends...' (Nordstrom) seems to be the general gist.

2. What's the connection with Solestruck?

On Solestruck there are over 800 JC shoes. A lot are sold out but the images/product listings are still available - it's like a little archive of JC designs.*** Under the' 'About Jeffrey Campbell tab' it states:

'Based in LA and just starting its 11th year as a company, Jeffrey Campbell has not only become a favorite of Solestruck shoppers but of fashionistas globally. A large collection and our top selling brand on the site, JC combines vintage elements, runway trends and completely original concepts to produce a crowd pleasing array of boots, shoes, flats, platforms and wedges. Stay tuned to spring 2011 as Jeffrey will offer many new shapes, fabrications and concepts within his collection---all coming your way right here on Oh and did we mention that team JC are like our best friends?'****

No way. I never would have guessed.

3. How does JC present themselves on their own website?

The site is pretty cool. It's engaging and has lot to offer customers - it's bright, it's punchy, it includes a blog and even a section called 'JC Girls'. Ooo, that's intriguing. There are 25 images that have all been sourced from LOOKBOOK.NU. Okay, how about the 'FAQ' part of the site? Quite succinct, it's the last three questions and their answers that I find most revealing.

4. What is their social media following like?

Facebook: 114K - Product/Services: '...truly America's Shoe Sweetheart...'

Twitter: 30,172 - 'GET IT GIRLL' seems to be one of their favorite expressions.

Summed up: JC and those affiliated with the site encourage the misguided belief that the designs sold are original and unique. The brand's online marketing strategy is targeted towards bloggers. It encourages them to engage with the brand and benefits from their influence - in terms of sales, legitimacy and influence. This is unacceptable.

Natacha Marro retweeted the post. Vin and Omi got engaged on Twitter and left a comment. Within a few hours of the post going live it had over 60 likes (normally I get a small handful). My stats were going a bit mental but that wasn't represented in the comments - some people were commenting but not that many. Why not? Are people uninterested? Do they not care? Are they afraid to say how they feel? These were the thoughts running through my head.

** Online because I've never received any press information about the brand so, at this stage, what's available online is all I have to go by.

*** Which makes the site perfect for playing my all time favourite game: guess the original designer. The rules, you ask?  Challenge whoever you can find (friends, partners, pet turtles...) to go through the archives and write down as many designer knock offs as you can spot. 1 point for each correct designer you can link to a pair of JC shoes - bonus points if you can name the collection it came from. Is it bad that I really want to hear how many you guys can get right?

**** 15/05/12 - bold bits added by me, duh.