Being a buzzy up-and-comer in the fashion industry can be both a blessing and a curse; sure, you're getting lots of placements in editorials and street style shots, but you're also an easy target for companies looking to make a quick and easy buck knocking off smaller companies that lack legal resources.
It's a pain Brother Vellies has been feeling a lot lately. Last August, Zara offered a $50 copy of the brand's signature Dhara sandal, which retails for $715. Now, chronic copycat Steve Madden is offering not one, but two takes on Brother Vellies styles. The first is also a knock-off of the Dhara, swapping the original fur and leather for suede or velvet and feathers, ringing in at $99.95.
The second is a take on Brother Vellies' fun furry slides, the Lamu. The fluffy pink sandals, which retail for $285, have been all over editors' Instagrams — which means it was only a matter of time before they were knocked off. Steve Madden's version offers a feather upper with a "man-made" sole for $79.95. Neither style features the commitment to ethical and sustainable manufacturing that is the foundation of the Brother Vellies styles.
Steve Madden has been the defendant in many a lawsuit regarding its habitual knockoffs. For a small, new company like Brother Vellies, though, lawsuits can prove prohibitively costly. But what Brother Vellies may lack in legal resources it more than makes up for in social-media support. Fellow designers Charles Youssef, Ben Ritter of Chromat and the designers of K/LLER jewelry have commented on Steve Madden's Instagram posts calling out the copies in support of Aurora James.