There’s nothing that annoys a true sneakerhead in the world more than falling for fake kicks. And the worst part? Since these phonies are so professional, it takes quite a long time to realize you’ve been tricked. While the most brilliant minds in the field are still thinking of a way to beat the crooks, we asked the creators of YankeeKicks for some thumb rules on the difference between real and fake, or as they call it: cop vs. copy.

It wasn’t easy to get them to sit down and talk to us (virtually, of course. Still taking COVID-19 precautions). From maintaining the selection in their online store to making sure their Instagram page is up to date, it seems like they haven’t got a second to breathe – and that’s even before we talk about their new project, SnkrsDen (more on that to come, don’t worry). Eventually, we managed to get hold of them and get some good tips that will surely save you the trouble of being a victim of the counterfeit industry.

The YankeeKicks guide to spotting phony sneakers

The first thing we learned is that every shoe (and, therefore, every phony shoe) is different when it comes to spotting the fakes. There are, however, a few things that are usually worth looking out for. 

  1. The color is not something that applies to every sneaker, but more for the ones that come in bright, ‘screaming’ colors. The fake ones usually have lower quality fabric, and the color is less shiny. Can you see on these Dunk Lows how the left one seems a bit glossier?

Real vs. fake – the color yankee no opener noreferrerSource:

Real vs. fake – the color Yankee

2. The soles – good sneakers are known for their unique soles with different patents for keeping the foot stable. These Yeezy 700s, for example, are famous for their cushioning and the way it is spread. While fake sneakers usually do a good job of imitating the look of real kicks, they can’t really imitate the feeling well. Look down below, and don’t be afraid to touch the shoe before buying.

Real vs. fake – the sole noopener noreferrer

Real vs. fake – the sole

3. The stitches – here’s something you need to be really careful about. Big sneaker brands invest a lot in quality stems and stitches, but it can’t always be seen. The phonies, on the other hand, don’t. See a loose piece of string? One stitch where a double stitch should be? It’s probably because the shoe is fake.

Real vs. fake – the spelling

Real Vs Fake: adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Yeezreel”

Real vs. fake – the stitches

4. The spelling – if there’s one thing that phony sneaker makers are really bad at, it’s English. Check out these Nike SB Dunk Low Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Dunky and see how many spelling mistakes you can find. We found 2 just at first glance – can you spot them?

Real vs Fake: Nike SB Dunk x Ben & Jerry’s ‘Chunky Dunky’

Real vs. fake – the spelling

5. The price – if it’s way too cheap, it’s a phony for sure. Sometimes, however, the crooks manage to sell fake shoes for high prices. You can check how much the sneakers are supposed to cost and use your good judgment. If the price you are offered is 4% off of the regular price, it is borderline. If there’s a 15% discount – start being suspicious.

OK, we get the problem. What’s the solution?

These four examples are just a drop in the bucket of signs that a sneaker may be counterfeit. Sadly, most of the signs can only be noticed after using the shoe for a while: color fading, stitches falling apart, etc. That’s why the people of YankeeKicks came up with SnkrsDen, an online platform where sneakerheads can buy and sell kicks. Due to being released in December, the app will let buyers and sellers interact directly – that way; you know exactly who you’re buying your shoes from (and have less of a chance of being scammed).

Why should the seller take part in it, though? Well, they have their reputation to gain from it. Once you buy a pair of sneakers from someone you trust, the chances are that you’ll want to make another purchase in the future from them – or that you’ll recommend them to other people—a win-win situation for both sides, overall.