Fake shoes, replicas, variants, B grades, counterfeit goods… are not unfamiliar terms for anyone in modern sports shoe culture. In the past ten years, the business of counterfeit sports shoes has made great strides. According to Brand Monitor, the value of the counterfeit industry is as high as $1.2B, and it seems that it will only increase.
If you have spent some time on TikTok sneakers, you may already have that knot in your stomach. There seems to be a storm of authentic support for sneaker replicas. It seems that Gen Z sneaker enthusiasts are becoming champions of ever-growing copy purchases and content.
This generation may have given up the trials and tribulations necessary to obtain shoes in recent years. To be honest, whether it’s a lottery, SNKRS or in-store lineup (COVID-safe lineup), it is more difficult to buy shoes than ever before. Not to mention that if you are a teenager, earning $1,200 in shoes on the aftermarket does not seem to be the ideal bi-weekly income.
Recently, it’s not just Gen Z — even Wal-Mart has provided a substitute for genuine products — recently, Kanye West has taken legal action against public imitations of these popular Yeezy Foam running shoes.
The interesting thing about this change is that the attitude of opposing the older generation has changed, and this change has established a culture of purity and gatekeeping. We all know that millennials will avoid anyone wearing fake shoes, especially those coveted things.
Personally, I have witnessed the legendary Toronto sneaker store where people laughed in the mid-2000s for wearing Jordan 1 mids, let alone replicas.
Ironically, the same generations should also be blamed for laying the foundation of this consumer culture. An old saying-“One to Rock, One to stock” shows the greed in the deep-rooted culture. The frustration of increasing resale value is not just a young mind experience. Collectors of all ages have questions about new values and desired circles. The reality is that resale has become the norm. How many times have you found yourself saying, “Well, I only paid twice”, “Everything is fine, at least not more than $1,000.”
The real question: is it acceptable? Can we live in a world where copies and originals can coexist? As the sports shoe subculture becomes more popular, this is an interesting assessment. Other industries such as art and furniture have experienced similar dynamics, but reproduction producers have found ways to legitimize themselves through transparency, licensing, and accessibility.
In the art world, this dynamic exists, but it is more complicated. Variations, prints, and public editions of the artist provide a different consumption model than shoes. Few dream shoes can get the right to a design sold at IKEA for a fraction of the price. Not to mention that in these cases, you are more aware of what you are buying than when buying sneakers on the secondary market.
Furthermore, in all areas of the art world, reproductions can be used as tax havens to devalue art and relative value gains. If you have ever watched the latest episode of HBO’s “Billions”, you will see Bobby Axelrod doing his best to showcase original art while secretly storing copies.
This also exists in the furniture industry, but it does not necessarily have the same stigma. Imitation furniture is also an amazing business, but it has never been labeled as black market or illegal. Iconic designs from legendary figures such as Eames can be sold as high-quality products in world-renowned furniture stores.
We have also seen a lot of content that can be identified as pirated. Now the notorious Warren Lotas (Warren Lotas) seems to be released once a week in addition to what seems to be the onslaught of Jordan 1 and Nike Dunk pirates.
The above companies and creators seem to have embarked on the path of copying furniture manufacturers. The main takeaway here is-if you know what you are buying without cheating-support and income can be achieved. However, the comparison between Kanye and Walmart and Nike and Warren Lotas shows that big brands are taking measures to protect their footprints. Nike recently applied for a patent for the Jordan 1 shoe model to prevent consecutive fouls.
The most important problem is: a lot of fakes are coming. This is not the 2004 product wall, it is full of Air Force units with Gucci prints and the blue-green, yellow and orange Jordan 11 you have never seen in your life. Counterfeiting and certification are becoming more and more challenging. StockX, GOAT and now eBay are all competing fiercely to provide customers with peace of mind.
KickWho is a leader in the field of fakes. They not only own a series of products; new, old and unreleased, but provide quality structure, quality assurance (that is, the ability to check multiple pairs of defects), and they are not shy about showing off. All the details of the product. Just look at the two pairs of fragment x Travis Scott x Air Jordan 1-leather… great? Did we even see sacai x Fragment confirmed?
Companies like Kick Who spare no effort to manufacture and repeat these fakes, so much so that they even have a lot of fakes-from some research on a series of websites-the coveted sneaker replica industry calls them ” “God Killer”—this sounds like a radical Dragon Ball Z reference—but analyzing a pair may give you a variety of feelings.
What is more worrying, however, is that the science of identifying fakes is losing its accuracy. An anonymous Instagram source explained to me their success rate of obtaining fakes through some of the above-mentioned resale services-claiming to be more than 70%.
In addition, we have also seen elsewhere. In 2018, industry-leading agency stores such as Round Two claimed that there were some fake shoe sales incidents, but everyone has the right to make some mistakes, right? If we are realistic, things may slip through the cracks.
It’s not just Nike, Yeezys or Jordan shoes. The designer’s space occupies a considerable share in improving counterfeits. There is a full subreddit titled “Quality Representative”, focusing on finding the best quality fakes in the game.
Archival/Avante Guard counterfeit manufacturer DAFT has produced some excellent quality Rick Owens Dunks, Guidi’s, and even more recently Visvim Christos. If you have been a fan of some of these styles, you might think, “How can I buy some rick Dunks when they are worth $10,000”, or “There is even a wearable pair on the market?” or “More Needless to say, I can’t find a match now.” They even sell retro versions for extra credibility.
Another worm, Nike does not have its own manufacturing plant to produce their shoes. A quick search on TikTok or YouTube can get you into the trap of counterfeit producers, who claim that the real pairs are produced in their factories and they are just making 1:1 copies of the books. In these extreme cases, are they even fakes?
This is definitely an inner contest that the leaders of the past generations have faced. Whether it is buying for yourself, questioning your peers, or guessing how the Instagram creator you suddenly followed makes every legendary SB look intact, we must not forget that the IG page of the individual or the self-proclaimed leaker is in Early pairing of friends and family before.
You can also argue that wearing expensive or impossible fake shoes is more pure and more in line with the love of games. This means that you don’t really care about other people’s thoughts, you will do anything to change an outline or a specific color scheme.
On the other hand, what is the morality of all this. Putting into work is a key element of becoming a collector or enthusiast of anything. Many collectors have put in years of hard work, saved money, and even traded property to get a real deal. Pure mindset is the cornerstone of subculture, so for those who work hard to be tested and authentic, it’s a bit like spitting.
Do you really need those inferior shoes that must be fakes? Sometimes it is better to exclude things from your own alliance, or it should be used as an incentive to better position yourself for an acquisition. Or you fake it until you succeed or…are you in debt for the real thing?
But as mentioned and summarized, it’s up to you. Wearing fakes (assuming you know they are fake) is ultimately a personal decision. You need to feel comfortable and confident. Thick skin can also help. Being called is reality to a large extent, but being called is also reality, shoes are real. Can you get rid of it? What scale? In your city? At a party? Suppose a post about your fake goes viral on the Internet? Maybe… you are far enough away from the camera, maybe you have the best gallery department denim or loose goods to hide some key details. Remember, you will consider it, real shoes will give you inner peace and eliminate social anxiety.