Target’s Designer Shoe Knock-Offs: Too Good to Be True?

It used to be that when you went to a discount store like Target or Kmart, all you could expect to find in the shoe aisle would be cheap synthetics that would fall apart in less than a year. Think Payless Shoes, without the convenience and selection. If you wanted a quality shoe, you’d have to go to a department store, or a brand-name reseller like Burlington Coat Factory or Marshall’s.

But that was then, and this is now. Target has paired up with designers like Isaac Mizrahi to make less expensive versions of high end designer shoes, and the results are great for footwear fashion.

Good wide calf boots are particularly hard to find, and particularly in demand for the fall season. With that in mind, Target has taken a stylish Isaac Mizrahi boot, and added a stretch panel for wide calves, offering the Chiara Extended-Calf Boot. This boot is reported to fit up to a 17″ calf and sells for only $37. And it’s not just black-it comes in stone too.

The Steve Madden version of the pointy-toed black dress skimmer will run you about $80 retail, but Target is offering a delightful version by Mossimo with a leather upper for only $20 . And this isn’t the only Steve Madden designer shoe knock-off that Target is offering in their shoe department. Steve Madden’s darling pointed-toe Sybel pump will cost you about $65 retail, but Target offers a near exact copy for $20.

Then there’s the ubiquitous jeweled Steven Madden Rios sandal, seen everywhere this summer-a cross between bohemia and gladiator-chic. The real version is still selling for almost $60 even at the end of the season, but Target’s duplicate is only $25.

The quality detailing of these designer knock-offs is remarkable, though sometimes the originals seem to have been copied a little too closely. Steve Madden’s Rios sandals ran on the small side, and so did Target’s designer knock-off version. The Sybel pump caused women anguish by being too cute to return, but too painful to wear. The Target designer shoe knock-off is an exact duplicate, right down to the pain.

Target perhaps does better when it follows trends instead of making carbon-copies. Target kept up with the metallic trend this summer by designing a number of unique designer-like shoes that weren’t exact copies. This fall, they seem poised to take advantage of similar trends without necessarily duplicating the shoe right down to the toe-scrunching detail.
For example, Yellow Box sells a gorgeous low-profile designer flat with unique low-cut sides for about $60. Target didn’t duplicate this shoe exactly, but rather, mimicked the shape with their Cherokee Bella Cutout Flats for $20.

Pelle Moda has a hot animal print ballet skimmer priced at $113, ideal for jeans and skirts. But Target’s version has a wider foot-bed, a larger bow, and visible stitching. Now, it’s true that Pelle Moda’s version is made with real animal hair, but since Target is only charging $30 bucks for their stylish leopard flat, are you really going to complain?

And taking advantage of a trend towards lower-profile athletic shoes now being hawked by manufacturers like Puma, Target is offering the lightweight Xhiliaration Sydney Track-Style shoe for $18.

In the end, it isn’t just the low price of these faux designer shoes that make them worth a look. It’s that real effort is being made to bring designer shoe aesthetics to the masses. Target is onto something, and for the sake of our feet and our wallets, we wish them the best.

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