Stockholm-based fashion brand Acne Studios has been embroiled in some controversy, after Vice magazine noticed last week that the brand’s “Oline” shoe style very closely resembled a pair of sandals from The Shoe That Grows, a nonprofit organization behind the creation of a sandal design that adjusts over the years for growing children.
The Shoe That Grows 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, which has been around since 2013, is expandable so that children don’t need to buy new shoes every time they grow, and it features button closures on the sides. The organization sells the sandals to the public for $50, and every pair sold provides two pairs to children in need.
Acne’s pair retails for more than $500, and after Vice pointed out the similarities, Acne removed the style from its website. The brand told Footwear News that the similarities in design were not intentional but that they did recognize those similarities.
Today, Acne shared this additional statement with FN:
“We at Acne Studios take pride in creating unique designs. To us the similarities between the shoes are not acceptable. With the utmost respect for the organization and the work that they do, we have decided to immediately withdraw the shoe from our stores. We are now in contact with The Shoe That Grows to make a donation based on the profit from our store sales of the ‘Oline’ shoes.”
The Shoe That Grows has not made a public statement on the issue.