Stockholm-based fashion brand Acne Studios has found itself in some hot water since last week.
Online magazine Vice noticed that a pair of Acne’s pre-fall ’16 sandals bore a close resemblance to a pair of sandals from The Shoe That Grows, a nonprofit organization that created a sandal design that adjusts over the years for growing children. Founder Kenton Lee came up with the idea after working at an orphanage in Kenya, where many children go without shoes.
The Shoe That Grows’ sandal has been around since 2013, ahead of when Acne would have been designing for its pre-fall ’16 collection. The sandals are expandable so that children don’t need to buy new shoes every time they grow, and they feature button closures on the sides.
Acne’s similar “Oline” style retails for more than $500 in the U.S., with a snakeskin-embossed pair originally priced at $590. After Vice pointed out the similarities to Acne, the brand subsequently removed the style from its website.
Acne shared this statement with Footwear News: “The similarities in design was not intentional but we do see them, therefore we have decided to stop selling the shoes for further investigation.”
The brand said that an “investigation is still ongoing” and would share details on how it plans to proceed at a later date. The latest version of The Shoe That Grows did away with the buttons and instead has Velcro closures on the sides. The brand sells the shoes to the public for $50, and every pair sold provides two pairs to children in need.
The Shoe That Grows has not made a statement regarding the controversy. Acne has amassed celebrities as fans including Kendall Jenner, Kanye West and Miranda Kerr.