An independent group of advertising stakeholders in New Zealand has concluded that Skechers has been able to substantiate its claims that its Shape-ups toning footwear helps muscle tone, posture and weight loss, without misleading or deceiving customers. The New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority also noted that the Therapeutic Products Complaint Resolution Panel of Australia, a partnership of advertising stakeholders and the government, had dismissed complaints by two competitors about toning products. The ASA looked at four separate studies of Shape-ups as well as an independent report on the studies conducted by a biopharmaceutical research organization.

In the U.S., Skechers has been sued by two consumers in California claiming that its toning claims were false and misleading, and the action sent the company's share value down sharply, although it has recovered some ground lately. Sonia Stalker filed suit in a state court in California, but Skechers had the case transferred to a federal court. Tamara Grabowski filed suit in a federal court. Skechers says it will defend the claims vigorously, stating that they were baseless and pointing to its studies on the benefits of toning. The two women say that these were not legitimate clinical studies.

In its motion for removal, Skechers notes that the rocker bottom category of its product range had sales of $17 million in 2008, $145 million in 2009 and $252 million for the first four months of 2010. The 2009 figure represented an 80 percent share of the toning shoe market, the company said, probably referring to the U.S. alone.

The Los Angeles Business Journal has reported that Skechers hired Sitrick & Company, a public relations firm, to counter negative claims regarding its toning footwear. The firm joins two prominent attorneys, Anthony Glassman and Daniel Petrocelli, on Skechers' team.

In a related matter, Skechers was granted a utility patent on its Shape-ups midsole technology. The patent describes the benefits of the Shape-ups technology as ?muscle strengthening and toning, better posture, improved cardiovascular health, less stress on joints, and improved circulation.?

UBS Securities has released a report on toning footwear, citing data from NPD showing that prices charged for toning shoes have rebounded steadily since a July/August promotion by Skechers. While the average prices dropped to about $93 in late July, they had recovered to $98.50 by the week ending Aug. 21. The report points out that makers of toning footwear face some new challenges in the U.S. this autumn, including Nike's expected entry into the category; tougher comparison periods in October, the anniversary of the launch of the concept; and signs that the category has peaked in its penetration in national shoe chains.