Style: Shops make off with the booty: Pricey designer footwear is having to compete with cheap high street copies, says Tamsin Blanchard

Cult shoes are vulnerable to copying. The Gucci loafer, for instance, was adapted by everyone, from Hobbs to Marks & Spencer. So, last summer, was the Gucci clog - and, in that case, the real thing was not as well made as the street versions (there were reports of heels breaking on the pounds 115 Gucci originals).

The Patrick Cox Diffusion line Wannabe loafer (pounds 95 for the mock-croc style in our picture below) has suffered the same fate.

Blatant copies, with their square toes and crepe soles, are everywhere. Cable & Co's is pounds 55, the Next version is pounds 36.99 and the ones at Ravel and Office are about pounds 49.99.

'Shop assistants are actually using the fact that they are copies of Wannabes as a selling point,' says Niahala Lashari of Patrick Cox.

Yet, at Office in Covent Garden, I was told tersely that the pair I was looking at were 'not Patrick Cox style' loafers.

I thought this strange since, when Wannabes first came out, both the originals and the copies were made by the same Italian factory. No wonder it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between the real thing and its cheaper imitations.

Just around the corner from Office is the highly selective Jones. As well as selling the Patrick Cox Wannabes, Jones offers footwear by the cutting-edge Belgian shoe and clothing designer, Dirk Bikkembergs.

This range is quite special and lacks the Wannabes' mass appeal. The shoes and boots, made for men and women, are of fine quality, worn-looking leather. They have a leather sole, and a chunky 1 1/2 in heel with a hole drilled through it.

The idea is ingeniously simple: a long leather lace wraps around the upper and threads through the hole, so that the foot is held securely.

The wistful shopper stops and holds the boot, longing to buy it. But even if she were the most die-hard fashion victim, she would still find the pounds 175 price tag beyond her. She is still thinking about that boot as she passes Bertie on Long Acre. Glancing in the window, she stops and stares - for there, in the front of the display, is a leather boot with a chunky sole and a heel with a hole drilled through it. The laces are wrapped around the boots and tied at the top.

The price? A more affordable pounds 85.

There are differences in quality: the Bikkembergs boot is cut more generously and leaves the Bertie boot, with its smaller lace hole and general skimping, in the shade - but the general idea is the same.

'They are copied all over the world,' says a spokesperson for Bikkembergs. 'I think there are more copies than originals.' Unlike Patrick Cox, however, Bikkembergs is trying to stop the copying by taking out a patent for its design. But it is a long and expensive process.

Those who wear real Patrick Coxes or real Bikkembergs would not even spit on a copy. For them, only the genuine article will do. As Naomi Smith, a fashion stylist says: 'People who know, know. It's just as bad as having a fake Chanel handbag. And the quality is never as good.'

Patrick Cox Wannabes, from pounds 85, available at: Patrick Cox, 8 Symons Street, SW3; Duffer of St George, Short's Gardens, WC2; Wade Smith, Mathew Street, Liverpool. Dirk Bikkembergs boots at Jones, 15 and 35 Floral Street, WC2. Cox 'copies' at Office, 60 Neal Street, WC2, and branches. Bikkembergs 'copies' at Bertie, 36 South Molton Street, W1, and branches; inquiries, 071-935 2002.

(Photographs omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there