timberland childrens shoes Counterfeit Yeezys and the booming sneaker black market
Kevin longed for a pair of Adidas black Yeezys, a charcoal colored edition of the ultra hip sneakers designed by rapper Kanye West.
But the 22 year old Riverside resident couldn just walk into a store and buy them. The limited production shoes sold out shortly after their release, and resellers online were charging upward of $1,500, seven and a half times the original retail price.
So the assistant high school football coach did what more and more collectors are doing to satisfy their Yeezy fix: He had a replica pair delivered to his doorstep from China.
I could readily buy a pair of Yeezys at the store right now I wouldn buy fake ones, said Kevin, who agreed to be interviewed on the condition his last name not be published to avoid jeopardizing his relationship with illegal sellers.
Kevin entr into the world of replica shoes was through the user generated website Reddit, where collectors share photos of copycat shoes and contact information for sellers. They coach counterfeiters on how to get minute details correct like the proper length of a sock liner or the right amount of fuzz on a suede patch. With each batch of bootlegs, the replicas become increasingly difficult to distinguish from their authentic counterparts.
pay over $1,000 for Yeezys when you can get a pair that looks the same for $120? he said. High end fake Yeezys may represent a tiny fraction of the $460 billion knockoff goods industry, but they provide a snapshot into how widespread counterfeiting has become in the digital age all to the delight of collectors who are so devoted to the shoes they willing to undermine the very brand that makes them.
The shadow sneaker trade shows the tools of globalization aren restricted to multinational brands. The replicas Kevin wears are re created expertly in China, marketed on social media, sold over reputable e commerce sites and delivered discreetly by international couriers. And customers are more than willing to pay more than $100 a pair for the fakes, knowing it often takes an expert to spot the difference.
I in the city I like to pay attention to what people have on their feet and I never seen more fakes ever in my life, said sneaker designer Jeff Staple, who has collaborated with brands such as Puma, New Balance and Nike, for which he created the riot inducing Dunks. no shame in the game anymore. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)Not since Michael Jordan left his imprimatur on a line of Nike high tops more than 30 years ago has a pair of sneakers had a bigger impact on popular culture or inspired more high end counterfeits.
With its recognizable fabric and chunky soles embedded with proprietary cushioning, the Yeezys have transcended the niche world of streetwear and crossed into celebrity territory thanks to the Kardashians, the Hadid sisters and, of course, West, one of the most closely followed musicians in the world. Hash tagged endlessly on social media platforms like Instagram, the Yeezys helped launch an improbable coup in the fashion world by making Adidas seem cooler than Nike. But that down from 39.5% the same time a year ago. Adidas, the second biggest brand, has seen its market share grow to 11.9% from 7.3% in that period.
Winning West endorsement was a victory for Adidas. The rapper originally worked with Nike to release his namesake shoes (Yeezy is a derivative of his nickname, Ye), but severed ties with the company in 2013. When Adidas put out its first pair of Yeezys in 2015, it sparked a frenzy that has contributed to the company share price nearly doubling since then.
Collectors and resellers camped out in front of specialty sneaker stores days before new Yeezy releases. Tech savvy buyers downloaded bots that would scan online retailers for Yeezys the moment they became available. The shoe success even inspired other pop star and clothing brand tie ups like Rihanna for Puma and Beyonce for Topshop.
are the ultimate; the top sneakers, said Riley Jones, a sneaker expert who has written for Footwear News, Sole Collector and Complex. lot has to do with the slow rate Adidas puts out a new style. It keeps people hungry. comparison, Nike decision to make more of its Jordans available dulled enthusiasm for the shoes.
anyone can walk into a Foot Locker and buy a pair of retro Jordans, said Josh Luber, co founder and CEO of StockX, a stock exchange and marketplace for collectible sneakers. only are they not selling out on the secondary market, they not selling out at retail. popularity of Yeezys and shoes like them has fostered the growth of an entire secondary sneaker industry that authenticates and resells hot shoes, led by StockX and Culver City GOAT, which has raised $37.6 million in venture capital. (The authentic Yeezys that appear with this story were provided by GOAT.)
But the clamor and high prices have also alienated a community of sneakerheads who don have the means or desire to pay Gucci prices. For them, the only alternative is getting replicas. And sooner or later, they find their way to a Reddit forum called Repsneakers.
When Kevin stumbled upon the Repsneakers forum in 2015, there were 3,000 subscribers. It has since ballooned to more than 56,000.
I started, there was only one post every few days, he said. you can keep up even if you wanted to. the past, those seeking counterfeit sneakers had to navigate a slew of foreign sites that inspired little confidence. Repsneakers emerged as a place to seek out and share the best on the market.
It a community buoyed by a sense of righteousness as if they turning the tables on a hype addled industry exploiting their addiction. Unlike ordinary sneakers, which are produced and sold in the millions, each Yeezy style is believed to amount to just 40,000 pairs. That scarcity fuels a secondary market, which is where members of the forum direct their scorn.
sneaker world in its current state is being controlled by people who [use] bots. These people aren buying to wear, they buying to make profit, which then drives the price up for people who genuinely want to buy to wear, said a Repsneakers subscriber named Spencelord. appreciate people are making a living from doing this, but I don want to support it. members of the forum take their business to China, the source of the majority of legitimate sneaker manufacturing as well as 85% of the world counterfeit goods. Sellers can be found on Instagram or on Repsneakers, where they go by names like Amy, David and Edith. Connections are forged over Skype, WhatsApp or WeChat, China dominant social media platform. Money moves through PayPal or Western Union. Buyers post pictures and reviews of their purchases for fellow subscribers to inspect.
right shoe curves looks much better than the left shoe, reads one particularly precise comment. The replica Yeezy review details how the shoes were packaged ( boxed with bubble wrap how they fit ( half size down and the quality of customer service ( is great posts deal with the stigma of wearing knockoff shoes and how to respond if caught, better known as being out. Like a support group, the Redditors tell each other to hold their heads high.
The holy grail for collectors is a perfect replica, known as a 1:1 in the parlance of Repsneakers. But the quest for that perfect ratio can elicit eye rolls too. One member felt compelled to write, stupid as this might sound, I feel the need to remind you guys that we’re buying replicas. subscriber uploaded a purported microscopic close up of a replica Yeezy with its primeknit fabric in disarray. The post turned out to be a hoax, but the point was made: Armchair experts need to stop nitpicking about their replicas and just enjoy wearing them.
Spotting the fake YeezyReplicating the highly coveted and commercially successful Adidas Yeezy has become so sophisticated that even some of the most astute fans can tell the difference between a well made fake and the real deal.
(Kyle Kim / Los Angeles Times)Kevin remembers begging his parents for a pair of Supra skate shoes in sixth grade. They weren cheap to the working class family, but he got them anyway. Ever since, the 6 foot, 250 pound former high school left tackle has had an unlikely interest in fashion. His first big splurge was a pair of Balenciaga sneakers and a Louis Vuitton belt he bought with a third of his $3,000 stipend for coaching youth football.
mom thought I was insane. Target and Kohl is where she shops, said Kevin, who often shows up to practice in designer glasses and ripped, tapered jeans. I come to a meeting and they ask, going to the club? dismissed replica shoes until about three years ago when he wanted a pair of Adidas Y 3 sneakers another designer offshoot for the German brand. As prices climbed to nearly $400, he began browsing knockoffs online.
A cursory search of Google images took him to popular Chinese sites like Taobao, AliExpress and DHgate, where crude counterfeits could be had for a little more than $20. But one image stuck out.
aren fakes, Kevin thought at the time. replicas. It looked like they were using the same materials as the retail shoes. clicked the link taking him to Repsneakers for the first time. There, he found a seller in China and placed an order using PayPal. Within weeks, the shoes were delivered by EMS, an international courier, in a shoebox no different from those used for authentic versions.
shoes overseas seemed like a scam, but it worked, said Kevin, who is versed in the law that buying counterfeit goods is not illegal, but selling them is.