The Sneaker Scene: Real and Fake
November 1, 2021
The sneaker industry has been a turbulent, ever-changing market throughout the years. In recent times, it has evolved—devolved perhaps—into a relative free-for-all.
Long gone are the days of making the trip to your favorite sporting goods stores in order to get your hands on the pair of sneakers you had been saving up your money for. Roughly 20 years ago, shoes hardly ever sold out on the day of release. The supply of shoes slowly lowered, they were made in a limited amount of colorways, and the sneaker culture appealed to a much smaller audience.
The new age of technology has ushered in a world of online shopping, and even if you did venture out to a local store, the chances are slim that they have the exact size and pair you are searching for.
These chances become even slimmer if the pair of sneakers you’re after have built up any sort of popularity or value in the industry. If this is the case, it is likely that all of these shoes have sold out from the retail seller for the original price, and now your only alternative is paying significantly higher prices on the secondary market through websites such as StockX, GOAT, or Grailed.
However, an alternative method has arisen to circumvent the extreme prices offered on the resale market; the replica sneaker business. According to GQ Magazine, “Counterfeit sneakers are a $450 billion market.” This is astounding proof of how popular this method of buying shoes has become.
These replicas are predominantly manufactured in Asian countries like China, and then shipped to the customers, most commonly U.S. citizens. Manufacturing of them has become more and more accurate over the years, the average replica sneaker being practically a 1:1 copy of the authentic pair.
A very cost-efficient way to acquire popular, expensive sneakers, the replica sneaker market has become very appealing to me. I assume it would also be to any other high school student who cares at all about what they wear on their feet, and doesn’t have hundreds to thousands of dollars to throw at a single pair.
Through my experience, I have pinned down a few consistent sellers from which I have received perfect replicas every time I have ordered. I have found that the more well known and sought after the sneaker is, the more variety of sellers there are, and the better quality the shoe will be. For example, Yeezys have been a very popular brand of sneakers for over ten years; as a result, there is an incredible variety of sellers with fake pairs, the majority of which boast near-perfect quality compared to the originals.
This is not always the case, though. The famous idiom of ‘you get what you pay for’ occasionally still holds true. Around a year ago, I was on the hunt for a pair of Jordan 1’s, specifically in the Retro UNC colorway. I began the search on my most reliable website for replica shoes, and narrowed it down to the pair with the lowest price that I thought would also retain good quality.
However, the pair of shoes I received did not exactly fit this description. The authentic pair is made mostly out of leather, and the 60 dollars I paid for them was clearly not enough to ensure that the fake leather would be relatively high quality. It felt very soft to the touch, and the shoe was definitely flimsier than I imagined.
In sum, buying the authentic pair of sneakers will undoubtedly ensure you receive a very high quality shoe. Depending on your own financial situation, and the current price of the sneaker, a replica pair might be a better fit for you. As a disclaimer, if you choose to go this route, make sure that the website in which you order them is completely safe and trustworthy, and that reviews back up the fact that you are purchasing a well-made product.