In 1991 Christian Louboutin sold 200 pairs of shoes in his Paris boutique. This year the brand will sell nearly a million pairs of red soles.
Louboutin only opened his salon in the early 90s but he spent the majority of the 80s as a freelance designer for top designers such as YSL and Gucci. After a break from the fashion industry, he opened his doors in 1991 with Princess Caroline of Monaco as his very first customer. Her praise of the shoes eventually grew into larger press and eventually international fashion outlets were learning about his designs.
By 2000, he was producing two thousand shoes. The same year, Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City debuted a pair onscreen and continued to wear his designs regularly for the next 3 seasons of the show. In 2009 Britney Spears wore a red pair in her "If You Seek Amy" music video a season before they were available for sale. The year after, Jennifer Lopez released a single entitled "Louboutins." Hollywood's fascination with his footwear have helped grow the brand. It is no wonder Louboutins are the most widely searched for shoes online.
But besides the trademarked red sole, what differentiates Louboutin from a variety of other shoe designers? His style is loud, daring and unapologetically sexy. His studded styles are his best-sellers and can be shocking and edgy. The brand's stilettos are dramatically high and comfort is something Christian admits he does not design for. Vibrate colors are often mixed with soft velvets, metallics or sleek patent. The finished product is a shoe that demands attention.
But these shoes are not for everyone. I can personally say that the shoes, while fashionable, are not something you would want to wear for more than hour or two. The iconic red heel will get scuffed quickly the very first time you wear them out of the store. And with most price tags at the $1000 mark, these shoes are regarded as an investment for most. If money is of no concern though, you can have the company make you a custom pair beginning at $4000.
And if you're looking for something beyond shoes, Louboutin has been growing their brand into other directions. Handbags and leather goods are beginning to take a bigger amount of sales space in the showrooms. One laptop sleeve particularly caught my eye the last time I was in a store. Also, Louboutin launched a line of nail polish in 2014 that can purchased at the boutiques and at select other retailers. Polish seems fitting since that is what painted the original red sole of his shoes.
One final note - I have had a Christian Louboutin wallet for the past 4 years. Though I cycle it with other wallets, it does get plenty of use. It has held up exceedingly well for the amount of wear its been through and I still today get daily compliments on it. There have been no issues with any of the studding and the leather shows on minor creasing. And the red interior is still bright and vivid. Often designers cut costs on items such as wallets and it is reassuring to know that Louboutin puts the same craftsmanship into all his goods.