Insider Tips on Trading Sneakers: Experts Reveal How to Spot Counterfeit Shoes & More

In the world of sneaker culture, trading sneakers is a common pastime, especially in the world of social media and instant communication. However, as cool as it may be to finally get your hands on that exclusive pair of Jordans you’ve been drooling over, trading can be tricky. As great as a deal it may seem, it’s all for naught if it turns out the kicks you just scored are actually knockoffs. FN has gathered the best tips, tricks and trading deals from some of the most passionate sneaker fans in the game.

How do you tell real sneakers from the fakes?

Andrew Raisman/CEO of Copdate: “Unless you’re prepared to dissect stitching patterns, serial numbers, branding placement, packaging materials or even the font used on the box sticker to the last millimeter, you’re better off leaving the authenticating to the experts.

“The chances of getting your hands on a pair of hype sneakers before the release date are basically zero. If you come across a random eBay listing offering ‘early’ or ‘prerelease’ access to a hype shoe, there’s a good possibility that the guy selling the shoes is the same guy who manufactured them.”

Bernie Gross, creative director of Extra Butter: “You can usually spot an authentic from a fake by comparing the overall quality: Is the overall shape consistent? Is stitching consistent and intact without fraying? Are all labels, branding applied on straight and even?”

Yu-Ming Wu, co-founder of Sneakercon: “Check packaging and check for irregularities in shape and fit. Most fake packaging comes damaged and has a lot of irregularities. Especially on big collabs, the big companies put a lot of effort into the production quality of their boxes. But counterfeiters are starting to put in the effort as well, so we’ll look further in the next few steps.

“Production quality is the No. 1 telltale sign in authentication, so we look at a small but important detail first. In the manufacturing process, the big companies will have perfected stitching throughout the shoe, so a lot of the counterfeits will have bad or crooked stitching.

“When possible, it’s best to take the same model to compare against for the correctness of the colors and materials used in the shoe.

“Most manufacturing no longer uses toxic glues, so we take a sniff test to see if there are any bad toxic smells.”

Do you have any unique techniques for authenticating sneakers?

Gross: “Legit checks are helpful; being able to upload photos of the actual shoes in question for other forum members to chime in with their validation whether its real or fake. Digital platforms have facilitated that community outsourcing for authentication. From posting on social media to get people’s comments on authenticity, and even apps like Goat and StockX are providing the service of having product sent to their facilities to legit check them first. The customer is so much more well-informed and equipped to combat scammers and fake sellers.”

What is the best way to get a good deal out of a sneaker trade?

Gross: “It’s about communication. Never be afraid to haggle to get the best deal. If the line of communication is open, likely the seller will give in to compromising.”

Raisman: “If you have to resort to buying on the secondary market, make sure to do business with a trusted and reputable reseller. Consignment shops like Stadium Goods and Flight Club take painstaking measures to authenticate the products before they sell them. Sites like Stock X also provide guaranteed authenticity.”

What was your best trading deal?

Gross: “My best trade-up was DS pair of Flip Jordan 3s and a pair of Purple Pigeons for the OG Atmos Air Max 1.”

Wu: “I met a guy on Instagram who really wanted a pair of sneakers I owned. We got the deal done in the lobby of a big bank on a busy street to keep things safe for the both of us. After, I noticed he was selling a lot of his shoes on Instagram and a lot of times at below market value. I eventually purchased a pair of sneakers from him at a significant discount off market value. The willingness to wait out the market has gotten me several good deals on older sneakers as well. Sometimes it’s right time, right place; other times it’s waiting several months to years for the right deal.”

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