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Skechers Shape-ups may not tone your butt but can fatten your wallet

Scott Hixson

Skechers settles FTC lawsuit over Shape-up advertisements

Skechers settles a false advertising lawsuit to the tune of $40 million

Skechers Shape-ups will cost most than $100 a pop, but not to the consumer. Skechers has agreed to settle a false advertising lawsuit to the tune of $40 million.

Skechers Shape-ups were advertised as an easy way for overweight Americans to watch the pounds simply melt away, all while firming and toning the legs and buttocks of the consumer, essentially creating a healthier lifestyle for those who chose to wear the rather prescription-looking shoes.

But, the Federal Trade Commission has said that the California-based shoemaker’s claims were unfounded and simply not true. According to the FTC, Skechers mislead consumers by making “unfounded claims that Shape-ups would help people lose weight and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles.”

David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, stated, “Skechers’ unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health.”

With advertisements featuring high-profile and already curvy celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke, it is no surprise consumers bought into the hype surrounding the shoes.

Skechers is not the only company capitalizing on the toning footwear market but has been noted by the FTC as the industry leader. Skechers introduced Shape-ups in 2009. Sales peaked a year later in 2010 with estimated sales industrywide near $1 billion.

Shape-ups are not the only shoe to be scrutinized. According to the FTC, Skechers also made false claims regarding other products including Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-up shoes.

Advertisements for Skechers Shape-up shoes featured an endorsement from chiropractor Dr. Steven Gautreau that cited an “independent” clinical study that tested the shoes’s benefits to one’s health; however, Skechers failed to make clear the fact that Gautreau is the spouse of a Skechers marketing executive and was also compensated for his endorsement.

The issue culminated Wednesday after a months-long investigation headed by the FTC and attorney generals from 44 states and the District of Columbia. According to Vladeck, “The FTC’s message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims.”

Skechers will still be able to market toner shoes but will not be able to claim they have the effects on health that they once did, unless substantiated by scientific evidence.

Skechers Shape-ups originally sold for between $60 and $100 a pair. Consumers who purchased the shoes will be eligible for a refund either directly from the FTC or through a court-approved class-action lawsuit, according to officials.

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