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How to Spot Fake Sneakers: A Beginners Guide To Sneaker Authenticity

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If you are looking to dive into the sneaker resale game or cop a cool pair of kicks without getting scammed, this is the article for you. 

Over the past decade, sneaker empires like Nike and Adidas have been releasing limited-edition sneakers. The main point behind the ‘drop’ or release of the sneaker is maintaining a hype around the shoe. Brands know that they would no longer be rare or sought-after if they made a surplus of sneakers, therefore putting the resale market into extinction. 

As these brands continue to stay aware of the hypebeast culture, it is essential that sneakerheads and buyers alike know the multiple flaws of the sneaker resale market.

Circling the web is the one and only black sneaker market. This is where a multitude of fraudulent transactions take place. For multiple reasons, this occurs, and most specifically, the lack of knowledge on the industry. Seeing this as an issue, I decided to jump right into researching ways to properly join sneakerheads in collecting the hypest shoes in the game. 

Here is a beginner’s how-to spot fake sneakers guide—filled with tips, tricks, and insight on the world of sneaker authenticity.

1. Only purchase sneakers off of trustworthy websites that have detailed columns highlighting their ‘Sneaker Authenticity’ process.

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Now before you get click-happy because you just found that one pair of kicks you’ve been in search of for months on end, take a moment to understand what you might have just landed yourself on. Although it seems to be a legitimate website where purchasers often go - take precautions because that, my friends, is exactly how the black sneaker market lures you in. They create websites that make you believe it is too good to be true and boom, you enter your credit card information, and it’s game over from there. As you might think that a pair of fresh kicks is en route to your doorstep, there is now a high percent chance that could be the case. 

To avoid it's best for you only to use trustworthy websites. To date, StockX and GOAT are two of the most popular resale websites operated by sneakerheads - as they pride themselves on sneaker authentication. Brands like GOAT are so legit that they hire ‘Sneaker Authenticators’ to ensure authenticity and verify quality control measures are met. 

2. Research the original asking price of the sneaker, there is no need to get oversold and if you think you just hit the jackpot, you’re silly.

For sneakerheads and newcomers alike, the time of the drops can tend to be of high stress due to the demand and limited availability of the sneakers. 

Just recently, Nike dropped the newest colorway of the Sacai VaporWaffle sneakers. In minutes, they were sold out and being resold for 2x the original price of the kicks. To give you a rough estimate, these limited edition sneakers were originally listed for $180, now to get your hands on a pair, they start at $289. 

Keeping the hype in mind, be aware of the original asking price of the sneakers because there is no need to be paying more than necessary. Certain websites like StockX actually provide you with the retail place, resale low and high, and even the trade range, when you get to that point.

5. StockX is one of the only sneaker resellers that use a multi-step verification system.

The puzzle pieces are finally coming together as to why StockX is one of the most used sneaker resale websites to date. This platform uses a six pillar process that is guaranteed to verify authenticity. How it works, the item gets sent through each checkpoint: condition, construction, packaging, accessories, advanced technology, and quality assurance. If the product checks off each box, then it is good to go and ready to be sold.

6. Look to see the payment methods available for use on the websites.

If the website or vendor you are buying from uses PayPal as one of their purchasing methods, this is a huge green light in the authenticity world. PayPal provides all buyers with excellent protection - so much in fact that if the buyer is scammed, the company fronts the bill. 

7. The condition of the box will be advised prior to purchase - so keep an eye out.

When purchasing sneakers off of popular websites, they will inform you if the box is in new condition, lightly damaged, or there is no box provided. Regardless of the outcome, this does not have a significant effect on the authenticity of the sneakers, but it is something to keep in mind, especially when you are thinking of reselling the sneakers. The box does place a toll on the selling point of sneakers if you are in the big league market.  

8. Examine the SKU number and labels inside of the sneakers.

All authentic sneakers come with an SKU number. You can find the number on the labels inside the shoes. This number should match the one on the box. If these numbers are not identical, then there is a huge chance that you are looking at a fake pair of kicks. That being said, please make sure that you check the SKU number as soon as the item is received - big sneaker companies do not make any flaws on their packaging. 

9. Banking on the legitimacy of the Authenticity Card is not a great idea.

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Sneakers come with authenticity cards, which are great to have when you can resale a shoe. This is proof of authentication. Currently, there are not many ways to prove that the sheet of paper supplied to you is accurate. It is essential that you not only rely on getting an authenticity card with your sneakers.

10. Don’t rely too heavily on authentication apps.

Technology once again does not fail. CheckCheck and LEGIT APP are applications that give proof of authentication on sneakers. With years of industry expertise under their belt, the app is configured to use a two-step process. Step 1 is the AI scan. The database points out “potential discrepancies.” Step 2 is Co-Authentication where two experts review the sneakers, give them a pass, not pass, and cannot verify ratings. 

The one upsell of the application is the $1 USD fee for its service. Therefore, you could be better off using a reliable sneaker source - since it could take up to 30 minutes for the answer grade to be sent in.

11. Upon arrival, use your senses to analyze the sneakers.

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At first look - what do you see? Are they the proper colorway? Smell those babies, do they give off a toxic smell? Is the material of the sneaker seem right or is it a bit on the flimsy side? 

These are all the questions that you need to ask yourself to verify the authenticity of your newest copped sneakers. 

At first look - what do you see? Are they the proper colorway? 

Each pair of sneakers should be one of the same. That being said, the shoes' colorway will be the same as the original image on the brand’s website. If they seem to be off or a color patch is not correct, that is an instant red flag. 

Smell those babies, do they give off a toxic smell? 

Funny enough, if the sneakers are not real they will give off an exciting scent because of the cheaper materials used to configure the shoes. This is a major freebie on the sneaker authentication list. 

How does the material of the sneaker feel? Does the shoe look like it was pieced together last minute? 

Depending on the shoe - it is pretty easy to replicate a sneaker. As to many conclusions, the Yeezy Adidas sneaker is the most counterfeited shoe to date with the reasoning being quite simple. These popular kicks are made up of a concise equation of knit material and boost soles. With these items at hand, making the sneaker is a breeze like no other. Ways to check a shoe like the Yeezys would be to look at the shoe's sole and check to see if there is excess glue. If glue is overflowing it is likely these are fake sneakers. 

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