The sneakerhead community is quite the lucrative market if targeted right—but as with any market, there’s piracy involved. Sure, a lot of these dupes come from the same factories that manufacture authentic pairs, but in order to keep costs down and prices low, fake shoe manufacturers sacrifice good materials and craftsmanship. Some dupes come close, but they just aren’t what a legit pair is like at all. Here's how to legit check your latest cop.
You just copped a new pair from an Instagram reseller. They just arrived at your doorstep after days of anticipation. You open the package up, the shoebox seems taken care of save for some creases from shipping. There's that new sneaker scent and the shoes themselves are exactly what they felt like when you held them at a retail store, but you can’t shake that awful stinking gut feeling…are they dupes? The pair was suspiciously cheap as is, the shoelaces feel off. Evil is afoot (pun intended).
GH specials are pretty good nowadays
Check the box itself
The first sign of a dupe pair can be seen even before opening the box. Does the box even follow the branding of the shoes you bought? Does it say “Balenciano” instead of “Balenciaga” on the box? Does the branding (typography, color palette, overall aesthetic) check out? Do the shoes even fit perfectly in the box? Is there even a box to begin with? Packaging irregularities are often your first clues. Of course, it’s considerable that your seller decided to replace the original box with what happened to be a fake’s box or a box of a different brand so it may not always apply—but, in general, no box for a brand new pair should be a red flag.
Sniff the shoe
Sometimes, it takes a good clean inhale. Smell that shoe. Dupes are made with lower quality materials that will just reek of strong chemicals like cheap glue and fake-as-hell leather. It might help that whenever you’re in a shoe store that you trust, to smell the shoes. You’ll look like an idiot doing it, but it’s a good way to get familiarized with an authentic pair’s smell.
Check the tags
Another relatively easy way is to check the shoe’s inside tags—brands like Nike, for instance, include the shoe’s SKU number (which stands for “stock keeping unit”) in the inner tag. If those ID numbers aren’t there or don’t match with each other, that’s another high chance that the pair you’re flexing on Instagram Stories with are fakes. Along with the inside tag may also be the production date. Check if that date makes sense. You can’t own a pair of shoes manufactured in 2018 if those are OGs that were supposedly released in 2012 or a different year.
Use the internet, but don't mindlessly ask “pa-legit check po sirs” online
Unless you have a hardcore sneakerhead with an extremely keen eye for details and deep knowledge about sneakers at your disposal, an ideal option is always the internet. And no, we don’t mean posting “pa-legit check po sirs” in Facebook groups centered around shoes—trust us, half the people who call “legit” on shoes don’t know what they’re talking about either and unless you know how to take proper photos of your pairs, it'll be like trying to legit check while looking at them through a screen door. Instead, look for quality reference material instead—there are countless YouTube videos catering specifically to almost any particular brand/pair/colorway. “How to Spot Fake Yeezys” for example are some of the most viewed. Why? Yeezys are some of the most pirated, of course.
If the pair you’re thinking about while reading this is some kind of only-one-pair-ever-released pair, this part of the article might make you feel left out, because it’s about the easiest way to spot a fake—and it’s literally to put it right next to a real pair. You can consider this as your last resort. The goal is to not need to get to this point, but there’s no shame in it at all when you just want to be sure you spent money on something authentic. Look up photos, just make sure your reference photos are coming from a legit source itself. Does the Nike swoosh look the same? Is the adidas typeface properly printed/stitched/engraved? If Google can't quite find a pic of the detail that's tickling your sketchy bone, there’s nothing wrong with taking photos of shoes in retail stores to compare to the one you have at home.
Practice safe buying in the first place
The best method is prevention (yup, that’s what she said). The best way to not end up purchasing dupes is to only make purchases from trusted sellers—and those are commonly retail stores, factory outlet stores, or trusted resellers like Sole Academy or Capital. As far as Instagram goes, most fake sellers usually admit that they sell fakes. Don't be afraid to ask—politically worded as “Class A,” "overrun," “unauthorized authentic,” "1:1" or any variation of the term is. And even if they don’t openly admit to selling fakes, we hope we’ve given you enough knowledge to avoid falling for a trap.