Christian Louboutin’s trademark red-bottomed shoes have become iconic. Beyoncé wore a custom pair of boots for her Coachella performance, and Cardi B slipped on a pair of “bloody shoes” for her “Bodak Yellow” music video.
But why do these heels cost hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars?
Besides production costs and the use of pricey materials, Louboutins are the ultimate status symbol.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: What makes these shoes worth almost $800? Christian Louboutin is the mastermind behind these iconic red-bottomed shoes. It’s safe to say his footwear has stepped into the mainstream. Celebrities all over the world wear them.
“You know the ones with the high heels and the red bottoms?”
Song lyrics: “These expensive. / These is red bottoms. / These is bloody shoes.”
Narrator: Louboutin even had the red bottoms trademarked. The signature Louboutin pumps start at $695, the most expensive pair nearly $6,000. So how did this craze start?
Christian Louboutin had the idea for red soles in 1993. An employee was painting her nails red. Louboutin snagged the bottle and painted the soles of a prototype shoe. Just like that, the red soles were born.
So, what makes these shoes worth the cost?
In 2013, when The New York Times asked Louboutin why his shoes were so expensive, he blamed production costs. Louboutin said, “It’s expensive to make shoes in Europe.”
From 2008 to 2013, he said his company’s production costs had doubled as the euro strengthened against the dollar, and competition increased for quality materials from factories in Asia.
David Mesquita, the co-owner of Leather Spa, says craftsmanship also plays a part in the shoes’ high price tag. His company works directly with Louboutin to repair its shoes, repainting and replacing the red soles.
David Mesquita: I mean, there’s a lot of things that go into the design of a shoe and the making of a shoe. Most important, I think is, who’s designing it, who’s manufacturing it, and also what materials they’re using to make the shoes.
Whether you’re talking about feathers, rhinestones, or exotic materials, there’s so much attention to detail that they put into their manufacturing and designing of their shoes. Narrator: For instance, these $3,595 Louboutins are embellished with Swarovski Crystals. And these raccoon-fur boots cost $1,995.
When it all comes down to it, people are paying for the status symbol.
Narrator: Producer Spencer Alben bought a pair of Louboutins for her wedding.
Spencer Alben: It makes me sound so stuck up, but I love the red soles because it’s such, like, a fashion-icon symbol. There’s something about them that when you see them in a picture, you instantly know what those are. So it’s like a status symbol I guess, which makes me sound terrible.
They were over $1,000, which, when I say that now, is insane for one pair of shoes that you’re probably never going to wear again. It’s like something that everyone knows, so the second you see the red bottoms, it’s like, I know what those are, I know what those cost.
And it’s so superficial that we care about that, but it really is something that is universal.
You see that and you instantly know what those are, and it’s something special. So I think, something as silly as the color of the sole on the shoe, makes them so special, because it’s universally identifiable.
Narrator: Would you drop $1,000 for red-bottomed shoes?