What’s Behind Sneaker Shoppers’ ‘Hunger for Fakes’ — And the Brands They’re Searching For

It’s no secret that the internet is awash in counterfeits. Despite the ongoing efforts of many online marketplaces to stem the flow of fake goods, savvy shoppers don’t have to look far to find knockoff Nike sneakers or Louis Vuitton handbags.

According to new data from the marketing analytics company SEMrush earlier reported by WWD, the most-searched brand for counterfeits is Supreme — a slot the streetwear company also held for 2017 and 2018. The researchers looked at searches for brands’ names along with words such as “fake” and “replica” and found that Supreme garnered an average of nearly 14,000 monthly searches in the U.S. and nearly 29,000 globally.

California sneaker brand Vans took third place stateside (after Ray-Ban) and second place globally, with close to 17,000 monthly searches, while Ugg, Dr. Martens and Converse rounded out the shoe players in the top 15. Fashion labels such as Michael Kors, Hermès, Burberry, Kate Spade and Valentino were also popular targets.

“From shoes to accessories, be it casual brands or luxury labels, there is a hunger for fakes,” said SEMrush spokeswoman Jana Garanko in a statement.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported on the phenomenon of sneakerheads intentionally buying high-quality replicas of Nike Air Jordans and Adidas Yeezy Boosts at close to the retail price of the originals because bots and resellers have made it nearly impossible for even dedicated shoppers to purchase limited-edition styles. With coveted sneakers going for hundreds or even thousands of dollars on resale marketplaces like StockX, GOAT and Stadium Goods, some shoppers are opting to buy sophisticated counterfeits that only experts can identify as fakes.

Of the counterfeit goods U.S. customs seized in 2017, footwear was among the top three categories, according to a report from the Better Business Bureau. Earlier this month, customs officials in California intercepted 14,806 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes worth an estimated $2,247,680 in a shipment arriving from China — where, according to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, about 88% of the counterfeit goods in the U.S. originate.

SEMrush also measured the number of searches for brands’ original or authentic products and found that Vans came in first globally, at 33,411 average monthly searches, ahead of Converse (15,667 monthly searches), Nike (13,000) and Supreme (12,156).

A separate report from the brand protection technology firm Red Points found that 20% of online sneaker shoppers said they’d purchased fake shoes online in the past, and of those who had, nearly half were originally searching for the genuine product. Also potentially concerning for brands is that 69% of those who had bought a counterfeit (whether intentionally or not) were either very satisfied or quite satisfied with the product.

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