2015 is a great time to be a sneakerhead. We're hot off the heels of a local sneaker renaissance, which means there are still a lot of cool shoes floating around in the market, both from retailers and resellers.
But as the demand for cool sneakers continues to grow, the black market for counterfeits follows suit. If you're looking to cop kicks from anywhere that clearly isn't an official retailer, best beware: fakes are getting better, closer than ever to the originals, at least at first sight.
If you don't want to end up paying out your ass for an imitation pair that will fall apart after a few months, heed these pieces of advice for spotting fake sneakers:
1) MIND THE SHAPE, KNOW THE COLORWAY
Image via Sneakersaddict.com
The first and easiest way to spot fake shoes is to observe the shape. Get to know how the real pair looks and feels like first, whether by searching official websites or by seeing them in the stores of official retailers. If you pay attention, you can spot fake colorways at first glance. With anything less than B-grade fakes, the proportions will always be off, and some colors will be out of place; but sometimes, it takes a double back to see the differences. Consider this your first line of defense.
2) THINK OUTSIDE, INSIDE, AND ALL AROUND THE BOX
Image via @fake_education on Instagram
Check out the box that your sneakers come in. Original makers will always pay more attention to the materials and quality of the packaging than fake ones. Even the best of A-grade fakes tend to come in lame cardboard boxes with shoddy construction and bad, misplaced logos. Observe the fonts on the box labels as well—they can be noticeably different from the boxes of the originals.
3) THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
Image via Solecollector.com
Next up, take a closer look. Take a damn magnifying glass up to the pair in question if you have to. Whether it's a slightly distorted logo, substandard stitching, uneven patterns, or even perforation, the tiny details could be the biggest red flags. For example, one of the best ways to tell fake Jordans from the real deal is to observe the Jumpman logo—pointed fingers and/or a beer belly are obvious signs.
If you're feeling extra meticulous, try checking the tag inside the shoe (usually under the tongue) and to see if the SKU number matches the one on the shoe box. It's an extra detail that not a lot of black market sneaker makers would pay attention to.
4) CONDUCT A BACKGROUND CHECK
Image via Giphy.com
If you're not already convinced that your pair is fake or real, look into the seller's background. Whether it's an online store, a brick-and-mortar shop, or an individual reseller, it isn't too difficult to look for signs that cast shadows of doubt.
As a general rule, if you're buying online from an individual reseller, always ask for a photo of the shoes with the seller's name written on a paper next to it. This is so you can make sure that the person you're dealing with actually has the shoes, and isn't just posting someone else's photo and slapping a "for sale" sign on it. Also, always be vigilant and on the lookout for signs that can vouch against the seller, like negative comments or ratings.
5) DON'T BE AFRAID TO CONSULT THE EXPERTS
Because each sneaker has its own set of red flags for fakes, you can never rely completely on your own research and intuition. Take to any of the big sneaker groups on Facebook or forums like NikeTalk for a proper legit check. Make sure to provide as many pictures of the shoe in question as you can—this will help all the experts take a good look at the pair.
A second, third, and fourth opinion wouldn't hurt, after all. A lot of them would even be quick to point out the more dubious details, and some might even be able to post their own pairs of original sneakers for comparison. Put yourself in touch with people who know. Follow people, like @fake_education on Instagram, with connections and insider information. A solid community can help you put the nail in the coffin of fake sneakers and save you from a bad case of buyer's regret.