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Steve Madden Is Busy as Heck

With a Cardi B collab and an unrelated legal complaint from Allbirds.

Cardi B onstage, smiling and wearing a beaded silver dress. Photo: GP Images/Getty Images

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The holidays are such a crazy time of year, and just like the rest of us, the team at Steve Madden has a lot on its plate. In a frankly great marketing move, the shoe brand just dropped a “Curated by Cardi” collection of heels selected and modeled by Cardi B. The rapper and social media genius also made a series of videos for Steve Madden called “Daily Tips With Cardi B,” in which she explains the appeal of styles like “Foxy” and “Wifey.” Steve Madden was already doing well during a crappy retail year, and this collab — which Cardi has begun beaming out to her 14 million Instagram followers — stands a good chance of winning big with shoppers.

This all sounds like great news for the brand, right? Not quite. The startup Allbirds filed a complaint against Steve Madden yesterday, accusing the company of ripping off its signature “Wool Runner” shoe. (Steve Madden is no newbie to design infringement suits, of course.) The Steve Madden style in question is the women’s “Traveler” sneaker, which does bear a distinct resemblance to the Allbirds version.

Launched in 2015, Allbirds quickly built a following around its wool shoes, which are supposed to wick away sweat and keep foot odors at bay. (I can confirm that they are super comfortable, too.) Copycats are a pretty significant concern for the brand, because while it has expanded its business into children’s shoes, it still only sells two styles for men and women: the Wool Runner and the slip-on “Wool Lounger.” With so much business riding on each, a competitor cutting into sales of either would be bad news for the startup.

A rep for Steve Madden, reached this morning by Racked, declined to comment on the Allbirds complaint.