The rich, red soles of the coveted shoes not only serve as a status symbol and fashion statement for women worldwide, they are protected by a trademark. Authorities say it's being ripped off by counterfeiters out of China.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection import specialists seized a total of five shipments from China on Aug. 14 and July 27 containing 20,457 pairs of women's shoes - specifically counterfeit Christian Louboutins. The shoes carried a domestic value of $57,490 and an estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price of $18 million.
For the Louboutin brand, it's not just money at stake - but the company's reputation. Anyone who purchases fakes is not getting nearly the same quality as the original.
"It's lost revenue and a lot of the brand quality. Consumers, if they get a fake, perhaps may get a bad impression about the quality of that trademark," said Ann Maricich with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
To experts, it's easy to see the counterfeit shoes are cheap knockoffs - the detailing and product quality is just not there. A big giveaway for customs officials was where the shoes were coming from. Authentic Louboutins are made in Europe, whereas the fakes were being shipped from China.
While some may still be willing to wear a pair and pass them off as the real deal, they won't get the chance. The seized knockoffs will be destroyed.