A History of Christian Louboutin: Stilettos to Sneakers
The red-soled women's designer shoes come as a staple of Christian Louboutin. Louboutin's creations have graced red carpets to music videos, giving a signature style to often flamboyant women's footwear fashion. But Louboutin has gone well beyond women's styles, adding plenty of sneaker choices in recent years.
Christian Louboutin, a French-born designer, wasn't much for school as a youngster, but he was sketching shoe designs from an early age. He says his fascination with shoes started when he saw a museum sign not permitting high heel shoes. The concept of high heels was new to him, and soon he was filling sketchbooks with his own take on the concept.
When his schooling ended at age 16, Louboutin landed work at a cabaret in Paris. It was there he was first able to cobble together some of his footwear designs for the intrigued dancers. His love of footwear grew, and he was working with Charles Jourdan by the 1980s before starting his own Paris-based business in the early 1990s, using Italian craftsmanship to create his designs.
The red-soled shoes started as a seasonal twist, first in 1993. But fans of the young brand clamored for more — it certainly didn't hurt that Princess Caroline of Monaco was an early fan of Louboutin offerings — and soon, the red soles were a staple of all Christian Louboutin handiwork.
Louboutin then branched out beyond women's shoes, adding handbags, fragrances and accessories, and his first collection of men's shoes launched in the 2010s.
Christian Louboutin's Most Popular Styles
While Christian Louboutin may be best known for the stiletto — he was a fan of Roger Vivier — that doesn't mean he doesn't have a mixture of sneaker styles to offer menswear a fresh perspective continually.
- The Red Runner from Christian Louboutin brings the designer's famed red sole to sneakers. A $1,195 athletic low-top inspired by retro basketball shoes of the 1980s, the shoe features calfskin leather on the toe and back counters and a mix of materials on the sides and top, such as velour. Add in a signature red sole, and the design takes Louboutin signatures to sneakers.
- The Louis Flat stands as one of the key models in the Christian Louboutin collection. Expect to find a white rubber sole with a calfskin suede upper in varying colors and patterns. A mix of patent calfskin leather, a grosgrain finish and embroidery bring this high-top a range of designs.
- The Spike-Sock borrows design lines from 1960s skate shoes but uses a single piece of leather to showcase the clean lines. Adding spikes on the upper, a key signature of many of the Louboutin sneakers, gives the Spike-Sock something singular.
- Using a serrated sole to stand out from the crowd and an upper with inspiration derived from classic running designs, the Loubishark Flat mixes calfskin and metallic spikes to set it off.
- For fans of the classic Vans Old Skool, the Louboutin Happyrui Spikes Flat may bring some similarities to play. With additional inspiration from a chunky '90s-styled sole, spikes aplenty on the toebox and multi-piece upper construction, Louboutin has called this one of his personal favorites. And at $795, it's one of the more affordable Louboutin offerings.
- The Louis Orlato Flat, both in a Junior low-top and a regular high-top, merges the graphic style of tennis on a white rubber outsole. Expect spike versions and ambitious patterns and colorings.
Christian Louboutin Sneakers: Collectibility and Value
With retail price tags running from $795 to $1,295 or more, the resale market can push values even higher for some of the most popular styles. Take a pair of Spike-Sock shoes in his popular Black-Red design — originally retailing at $1,295, it's now valued at or above its list price. Two of the most popular models on the resale market are the Louis Flat and Louis Orlato Flat, a high-top. Expect these shoes to fetch around $1,400 on eBay in some of the most popular colorways.
Key Christian Louboutin Collaborations
Christian Louboutin has worked with many of the major names in luxury fashion, from Alexander McQueen to Roland Mouret and Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent. For his sneakers, expect to find Christian Louboutin designing on his own — along with the spikes he often adds to the designs — instead of moving toward collaborations.
Christian Louboutin in Popular Culture
Not many brands have success with color the way Christian Louboutin has enjoyed with his red-soled designs, which he's even tried to protect legally. Sold through boutiques and department stores the world over, often for thousands of dollars, the celebrity draw has proven endless — first with Princess Caroline of Monaco, then with Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, Madonna, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Tina Turner, Bella Hadid, Zendaya and Nicki Minaj — and the list goes on. In just a few decades, the red sole has grown to signify luxurious footwear design.