Skechers USA Inc will pay US$40 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission that the footwear company made unfounded claims that its Shape-ups shoes would help people lose weight and strengthen their butt, leg and stomach muscles.
The settlement, announced this week, also involves the company’s Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-ups shoes. Skechers made deceptive claims about those shoes, too, says the agency.
Consumers who bought the shoes will be eligible for refunds.
The commission settled similar charges with Reebok last year over its EasyTone walking shoes and RunTone running shoes. That $25 million agreement also provided customer refunds.
Skechers billed its Shape-ups as a fitness tool designed to promote weight loss and tone muscles with the shoe’s curved “rocker” or rolling bottom – saying it provides natural instability and causes the consumer to “use more energy with every step.” Shape-ups cost about US$100.
Ads for the Resistance Runner shoes claimed people who wear them could increase “muscle activation” by up to 85 per cent for posture-related muscles and 71 per cent for one of the muscles in the buttocks, said the FTC.
The commission says Skechers falsely represented that clinical studies backed up the company’s claims about its toning shoes. The settlement bars Skechers from misrepresenting any tests, studies or research on its shoes in the future.
In the court filing, Skechers disputed the charges and is pursuing additional studies.
The company, based in Manhattan Beach, California, will provide $40 million for customer refunds in the federal case and $5 million to the states.