In the unpredictable ebb and flow of fashion, knockoffs are the one constant. They happen when fast-fashion brands take the best parts of a trending item and tweak them only slightly to deliver the look at a fraction of the original price; or when sketchy online dealers try to pass off straight-up rip-offs as the real deal. When Gucci debuted its fur-lined loafers in its fall show last season, we knew it was only a matter of time before a too-close-for-comfort version was made available to the masses. Well, folks — it's happened: Behold, the most blatant Gucci knockoffs possible, from L.A.-based online retailer Loéil.
Ringing in at $68 (compared to $995, or $2,500 if you fancy the crocodile version), there's not much that differs between these and the original, besides the material: The originals are lined with kangaroo fur while Loéil's are obviously faux. These are not homages, or different takes on the same trend, they're straight up clones, down to the horsebit buckle. But the mystery about how this shoe is even being sold doesn't stop there. The entire site requires one giant side-eye. The name of the site, Loéil, kind of means eye in French, but l'oeil is spelled without an accent over the E, which means it's either one of those meaningless stylistic touches, or just a genuine mistake. Also, take a look at the file names for each image (for example, these fur slippers read "gucci_fur_slippers_6_1.png"). And then there's the whole lineup of offerings. The entire site is filled with similar knockoffs that are so close to the originals, you have to look at them side-by-side to make sure you haven't just been staring at your screen for too long. But upon closer examination, most of the "indie" labels printed on the soles of these shoes have been completely Photoshopped out, and many others are illegible without a microscope (see: here and here). It's worth mentioning, however, that the knockoff machine doesn't always happen from top-down. Take Saint Laurent's $3,490 version of a $23 Forever21 dress that almost made a gigantic counterfeit hole in its customers' pockets. Or that time when Mansur Gavriel low-key copied Maryam Nassir Zadeh's suede mules earlier this season. We get it — these Gucci slides are flying off the shelves, but an entire site pretending to be a purveyor of up-and-coming indie designers that's actually just dedicated to ripping off other brands' designs (both establishment labels, like Gucci, and independents, like J.W.Anderson and Building Block) is a really brazen kind of shadiness.