If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, counterfeiting must square the equation. Vibram’s Five Fingers shoes have been the hottest thing in outdoor footwear for the last couple of years, and counterfeiters have added the funky minimalist style to their list. But Vibram is fighting back hard and it recently fired a shot across the bow of ripoff artists with a clever advertisement in trade magazines. Who needs words when you have fingers?
Counterfeiting is big business and footwear comprises a huge percentage of it. A Nike employee estimated there’s one counterfeit Nike shoe for every two real ones, according to a lengthy piece by the New York Times called “Inside the Knockoff Tennis Shoe Factory”. The United States seized $260 million worth of fake goods in the last fiscal year, 40 percent of which was footwear. Of course, that’s likely to be a fraction of the total counterfeit goods sold.