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Philipp Plein

Philipp Plein, fashion's clown prince of cringe, continues doing what all great artists do: steal. It's not that he's out of ideas, mind you, it's that he never had any in the first place.

These $1,290 Philipp Plein leather sandals are admittedly not the first imitations of Birkenstock's classic Arizona sandal I've ever seen but they're certainly one of the more heinous examples.

Now, is Plein too ripe a target for lampooning, given his track record of cringeworthy stunts and legacy of dupe designs? Perhaps. But, as a Birkenstock ride-or-die, these clone slides really sent me.

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Printed to resemble crocodile skin, Plein's bootleg Arizona sandals sport the requisite dual forefoot straps, but also bump up the tackiness with a small silver version of his dumb skull n' crossbones emblem and buckles drenched in rhinestones.

Admittedly, these are hardly the biggest eyesores that Plein has ever created (have you seen his upsetting NFT collection?) but there's a special kind of horror elicited by taking the humble Arizona sandal to such gaudy heights.

It's also funny that Birkenstock's blinged-out Manolo Blahnik collab costs less than Plein's wannabe slides, despite being the genuine artifact — the Blannik-stocks cost a mere $810 at most, over $400 less than Plein's buffoonery.

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Perhaps it's the nappa leather footbed lining or inexplicable ridged outsole that Plein applied to his imitation shoes that bumps the price up past four figures, neither of which can soothe the sensation of wearing bootleg Birks.

But when you've made a career knocking off more successful designers with only a few lawsuits ever levied at you, why stop?

From copycat Jor-don'ts to Bottega Vene-terrible shoes to Fufu-ois Vuitton bags, Plein's a master of borrowed design.

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The above shirt is another good example: take Palm Angels's Teddy Bear shirt and Louis Vuitton's various plush toys, mash them up with painfully OTT graphic design and boom, instant crime against good taste.

Alternatively, slap the rectangular logo and Olde English text from a Chrome Hearts hat on an ugly pink dad hat for some reason.

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Bonus: notice how the sweater juxtaposes all-caps lettering against cartoon characters in a way not entirely dissimilar to some of Dior's artist collabs.

Not a direct rip, necessarily, but there are some clear similarities and when you're dealing with a pro imitator like Plein, no coincidence is too small.

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