There’s no reason to be upset about fake kicks in 2023

March 20, 2023

It has been a lot of head scratching on social media — ranging from “I guess that makes sense” to “I’m calling the police.” But this declaration, officer, has to be one of the most heinous I have seen. This NFT-loving user posted on Twitter, “You date a guy who wears fake sneakers, and you expect him to be real. Exactly how can he be real with you if he can’t be real with himself?”

That makes sense to me. This is out of pocket in the era of social media “realness.” It may be ironic, but let’s assume for a moment that they are dead serious. Contrary to popular belief, buying counterfeit clothes does not correlate with the value of a person, their disposable income, or their willingness to spend.

The stigmatization of people who wear fake designer gear can be considered a form of classism. Sometimes it’s done with a sense of humor, like when a counterfeit is so shoddily done that comments can’t be avoided, but that’s more about aesthetics than morals. With knockoffs becoming more convincing, is it really justified to pay overinflated prices for the official stamp of approval of a brand?

Replica sneakers are not as taboo as you might think.

Some of you may be already storming towards the comment section to lecture me on why counterfeits are terrible and defending them makes me a terrible person, but honestly: who cares?

I concede that fake goods are probably inferior to their legitimate counterparts: a replica Saint Laurent leather jacket mass-produced in China is not going to compare to one handmade in Paris, but they are made in two different ways. Is there really a difference between the two if they’re both mass produced?

Even down to tiny engravings of the brand’s name on pieces of metal that sit on the arm hinge, my snide Céline sunglasses look like a genuine pair.

The lenses are too dark, and their quality is questionable, but they can be changed. Other than that, the body is made entirely of injection-molded plastic. Anyone with the right equipment can produce that. Despite the fact that there are different qualities of plastic with different finishes, they are still plastic, and only a pedant could tell them apart.

They’ve worn out a bit after two and a half years, but having paid less than a third of the retail price of the original pair, I can’t complain too much.

Anyone who gets high and mighty about people wearing fake sneakers needs to question their priorities in life. Referring back to the imbecilic tweet at the top of this article.

Is it worth it to buy replica shoes?

My current rotation of footwear is all made in south-east Asia, most likely in sweatshops with child labor to keep costs as low as possible.

Conditions in the Western world are not much different from those in the Eastern world. As reported by the New York Times, Chinese-owned factories are found in Tuscany, the Italian garment capital where “Chinese workers make low-end clothes, shoes, and accessories at 3,200 businesses around the clock, It is often made with materials imported from China and sold at midprice and low-price retailers worldwide. Italian (as well as American and German) law may require that a product be planned, packaged, and manufactured in Italy to qualify for the “Made in Italy” label, but that doesn’t mean what it used to.

I have been wearing my Air Max 97s sporadically for a few months, but they are already starting to strain, so they can’t be considered high-quality, artisanal products like English brogues.

Considering that counterfeits are often made in similar circumstances and sometimes even in the same factories, I find it difficult to imagine how they could be worse (if at all). According to collectors of replica sneakers quoted in this Complex article, many believe that a brand like Nike or adidas contracts a factory for a certain number of sneakers, and provides the materials necessary.

Despite running out of materials, the factory still has the pattern. According to replica collectors, the factory contracts with counterfeit buyers to produce an unauthorized run of the sneaker with substitute materials.”

In my research, I haven’t found any evidence that supports or contradicts this explanation, although it is worth noting that I haven’t found anything that contradicts it either.

However, the New York Times reported several years ago that counterfeits are usually made either by disassembling and reverse engineering an original pair, which obviously results in mixed results, or by simply bribing factories that brands have officially commissioned to make their stock to hand over the blueprints and samples.

This results in indistinguishable designs, with the only difference being the materials. It’s likely, however, that counterfeiters have pretty easy access to the same or similar sources brands use, given that 60 percent of chemical and synthetic fibers are made in China. So, once again, it’s basically the same, and scrolling through countless Instagram accounts that compare and contrast legit sneakers with snide sneakers, the differences are rarely noticeable.

In a video test, even Hypebeast employees could only correctly identify whether a pair of sneakers was legit 64 percent of the time.

In light of all this, I can’t think of a single reason why I should ever buy original sneakers again. The truth is, when you buy something directly from Nike or adidas, you’re spending most of your money on imagined value and a feeling of prestige that only exists in your head. Consumer capitalism tells us that what we buy reflects how much we’re winning (or losing) in life.

There is a widespread belief that this is the case, but it is subjective, and I tend to believe that it is complete nonsense. Brands’ bank accounts are fattened by a marketing Ponzi scheme abetted by willful ignorance.

Even though I understand the moral argument against counterfeiting: I understand that it constitutes theft, violates intellectual property rights, etc., but I find it hard to sympathize with companies that use cheap, exploitative labor to maximize profits. These global conglomerates don’t seem to be particularly concerned about the human cost of their practices.

The counterfeiting industry makes copious amounts of cash despite the trickery: Nike, for example, generates more revenue than all five top-tier European football leagues combined. Here, the key word is combined. I feel no guilt about endorsing fakes since they have more money than they need, deserve, or can justify.

It’s also convenient for brands to ignore their own role in fostering counterfeits. Through advertising, consumerism actively manufactures desire. In order to make us lust after a brand’s product, marketers push our mental triggers. Even if you don’t earn a lot of money, you’re still exposed to consumeristic stimuli, through both marketing and the shared values of a society where spending and consumption are viewed as sacred. As a result, the poor are still conditioned to have that desire, but do not have the means to achieve it.

Fundamentally, this is what creates the counterfeit market. It’s also important to note that Supreme’s tactic of creating limited stock to increase exclusivity plays a role: people who are willing to pay retail rates for a pair of YEEZYs are forced to buy knockoffs since they can’t afford the real thing. Do not shed a tear for brands so adored that they become targets for counterfeiters – the truth is that they have brought it upon themselves.

Here are the most common fake sneakers authenticators catch.

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