- We visited luxury consignment shop The RealReal in Los Angeles to chat with sneaker and streetwear expert Sean Conway.
- Sean and INSIDER’s Caroline Aghajanian go through real and fake pairs of sneakers and determine which ones are the counterfeit shoe.
- Some of the shoes include Balenciaga Triple S, Adidas Yeezy Boost, Gucci Major Tiger Leather High Tops, Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard 2.0, and Nike “The Ten” Air Presto x Off-White.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Sean: You are correct.
Caroline: Yay, awesome, awesome. Sean: Yes, yes, you are correct.
Sean: My name is Sean Conway. I am the sneaker and streetwear expert for TheRealReal. I started out collecting sneakers when I was around 15 years old because of my love for skateboarding and basketball. Here at the company, I authenticate and price all of the high-value items that come through our luxury consignment office. We receive knockoffs every day. Very often that customers don’t really, or consignors, don’t know exactly what they have because they’re bought from third parties or from websites that don’t authenticate their goods.
Caroline: We are here with all of the sneakers. We have some real ones and the fake ones, and I’m gonna try to tell them apart. You said the first step is the box.
Sean: Yeah, so when I first get the sneakers, the first thing I do is look at the box, and I look at whether the box is damaged, whether it’s intact, and certain telltale signs that you can tell from the sticker and other things. The only difference in the two boxes is if we turn them around, you’ll see on this one there’s like a WP stamp, which should not be on this sticker. I mean, that would make me question it.
Sean: I wouldn’t say these are fake, but that’s like my first red flag.
Caroline: So these are the Yeezys. This one’s definitely been worn. There’s some, like, wear inside, which makes me think that it’s real. The fabric feels a little soft, good. I think this one is the real pair, and this one is the fake pair.
Sean: You are correct.
Caroline: Yay, awesome, awesome.
Sean: Yes, yes, you are correct. The most counterfeited shoe is the Yeezy Adidas. It’s not that hard because it’s just a knit material on, like, a Boost sole. They have gotten pretty good at imitating the Boost technology, and so there’s really good knockoffs. We use weight tests, we use black light tests, and so there’s a lot of different ways to kind of figure out whether they’re not authentic. If you’re looking for a counterfeit, you want to be looking for any excessive glue stains around the midsole. When you look at the faux pair, you’ll see all these different spots that show up that shouldn’t be there. So on the inside of the shoe where the size tag is, you’ll see some numbers, and the last number on the very bottom of the tag on the right and left shoe, the last four digits of those numbers should be different. And if you look at the faux pair, tell me what you see there.
Caroline: It is 0749.
Sean: And it’s 0749 on this one, so they’re the same, and so you never want to see that.
Caroline: This is I think a little harder to tell apart than the Yeezys. This one has more of like a clear tip. Ooh, this is more comfortable, this heel. I don’t know. OK, I’m going to say I thought this was the real one, but now I think this is the real one. And my final answer’s gonna be this one.
Sean: This is the real pair.
Caroline: Oh, OK, I should have gone with my original instinct. OK wait, why? ‘Cause this has, like, a cushion.
Sean: Honestly, the first thing I would look at with these is just the overall construction and quality of materials. This is more of a hairy suede. It’s supposed to be more of a smooth nubuck.
Caroline: Oh, that’s true.
Sean: And also you can see the difference in the two colours, like the red is a little bit darker on this faux pair. If you just look at the back of these two shoes, look at the finishing on the heel tab. Caroline: Right over here, kind of sloppy. Sean: Right, it wouldn’t have passed through quality control at Nike standards. Caroline: Wow. Sean: If you look at the two insoles next to each other, you’ll see that a lot of the font and stuff is more spaced out and bigger on this pair than it is on the faux pair, and technically this is a bigger size, so this should technically have bigger font as well, and if you look at these, the size tag should be attached to the bottom of the insole.
Caroline: Oh, OK, that gives it away, very cool.
Sean: And so that’s always gonna be there, and you can see this is a little bit off-centered. Just like the overall weight is wrong, like this is a lot heavier and stiffer, this is a lot more flimsy. On the real pair, it should say, “champion athletes throughout the world,” and on the faux pair you’ll see that they missed that. It just says, “champion athletes,” and they’re missing “throughout the world.”
Caroline: Oh, it’s one extra line, guys, you could’ve gotten that right.
Sean: Well, they’re probably watching this video, and then be like,
Caroline: I know.
Sean: they’re gonna change it.
Caroline: Yeah, all the shoes are gonna say “throughout the world” now. Caroline: So now we have I believe these are Gucci sneakers?
Caroline: OK, and these are popular shoes?
Sean: Oh, for sure. I mean, it’s reminiscent of a Converse Chuck Taylor, which is like a classic style that will stay timeless throughout our generation, but Gucci and other companies, obviously, try to do a similar style.
Caroline: Just by feeling this, this definitely has a softer leather. I feel like it will be more comfortable on your foot. It kind of maybe wouldn’t move with your foot, whereas this one is a little stiffer. Yeah, and I don’t think it will be very comfortable, and I also feel like this tag is just a little more polished. Maybe that’s how Gucci is supposed to be, but I feel like the unpolished tag is gonna be the one. So I’m gonna go with these are the reals, and these are the fakes.
Sean: You are right.
Caroline: Yes, yes.
Sean: Yes, yes, you got this one right. What to do when I pick these up, obviously, is like I said, I look at the materials. You’ll see that this is kind of just, it almost feels a little bit wrong. Moving in closer, you’ll see this little fishing wire that is kind of sewn all the way around the edge of the patch.
Caroline: Yeah, it’s like the cheap wiring.
Sean: And you would never see that in an authentic pair. Obviously, the rubber they used to make this midsole was just an inferior rubber, and so throughout time it started to oxidize, and the colour is starting to change, so that just shows inferior quality as well. When you look inside, you’ll see you some inconsistencies.
Caroline: Oh, ew, yeah.
Sean: You’ll see the GG monogram throughout the interior of this shoe, whereas on the faux shoe, you’ll see nothing, and the stitching is also really messy. Caroline: Oh, it’s so messy. It’s like glue.
Sean: And they also did glue it, so normally they don’t glue it. Gucci doesn’t glue their insoles. So if you have any glue stains, or if it’s like excessive, the red flag is up, and, yeah.
Caroline: Yeah, then you know it’s fake.
Sean: Start questioning it.
Caroline: The glue gives it away.
Sean: I would say the hardest to knock off are the higher-end, like Christian Louboutin, even Louis Vuitton, Gucci, because of their quality of materials and the craftsmanship that goes into producing them. You’ll find that the knockoffs are just inferior in quality.
Caroline: So their brand is going through something right now, Gucci is going through some controversy. Does that devalue the shoe?
Sean: Of course, of course. You’ll see consignors starting to bring in stuff when a designer is going through some controversy. We saw it with Dolce & Gabbana when Stefano Gabbana was doing some crazy stuff on Instagram. And then with Gucci, you’ll see that as well because of their latest controversy, yeah. Value tends to drop a little bit, but not really, honestly, because there’s customers worldwide that are shopping the brand all the time.
Caroline: How much were these shoes originally, and how much do they sell for now?
Sean: Originally, these shoes released for $US160. Now, depending on condition, they could sell anywhere from like $US1,000 to $US1,600. Caroline: Oh wow, so these are like good collectibles to have. Sean: Yeah, these are good ones, yeah. They were designed by Virgil Abloh, the creative designer of Louis Vuitton.
Caroline: For this one the sole is very stiff, and this one is just, like, there’s more flexibility. Nike usually makes pretty good soles, and so, I wear Nikes. So they have good flexibility. I feel like this is the real sign on this shoe. This one just feels a little, like, bubbly.
Sean: OK, yeah.
Caroline: Like you can poke through it, that’s what I’m doing. I think this is real, and this is fake.
Sean: You are correct.
Caroline: Yes, wow.
Sean: Yes, again. So on this pair, you’ll see that the “AIR” is a little bit too raised and rubberised, whereas on this one, it’s more of a matte finish, and it’s printed on. On the bottom of the shoes, you’ll see two little rubber nods. Right here, at the bottom of the A and the R, and “AIR” on the outsole, and if you look at the faux pair, you won’t see the two nods. You’ll see one, but they didn’t get it right.
Caroline: I feel like they even got the colour of the stitching right, though. Like this one, the left pair is white. Oh, no, I’m wrong.
Sean: There you go. You did it.
Caroline: I’m totally wrong, wow. So the inside stitching of the left pair is like a silver stitching, and the right is red, and then these two are both red.
Sean: They’re both red, yeah, yeah.
Caroline: Ooh, does Nike always have two different coloured stitching?
Sean: No, not necessarily, but for this pair they did.
Caroline: They did. Wow, that’s a major giveaway. I can’t believe I missed that, well, for a little bit.
Sean: One last thing, obviously, to look at is the printing, the way that the off-white printing has been printed on the shoe. If you look at the real pair, it’s never gonna be super clean, but you should at least see consistency throughout. So you’ll see the letters are all white, and they have been printed on the shoe, whereas on the faux pair, they’re almost grey, and it’s very faded. The Balenciaga Triple S, they call it the Triple S because it’s supposed to be three outsoles glued on top of each other. So one, two, and three.
Caroline: At first I thought this was the real pair, but the material on this seems a little softer, so maybe this might be the real pair. But, and I’m looking at the writing, and this one seems really perfect, and this one kind of seems very spread out, and I feel like you have to know the text that Balenciaga writes with to get this one apart because… Sean: That’s a big telltale sign.
Caroline: Yeah, it’s two different fonts. I’m not familiar with it, but I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go with this as the real and this as the fake.
Sean: You are right.
Caroline: Yes, yes. Sean: With the stitching here, you’ll see that it’s really messy, the word is almost, it’s not straight, it’s kind of moving, and you’ll see, like, the B on this shoe is bigger than the B on this shoe. The letters are thicker on this shoe than on this shoe. This flexes all the way back. It shouldn’t. The overall construction is a little bit poor, but you can just see some spacing and some inconsistencies that you wouldn’t normally see. There’s a lot of videos out there for real versus fake that all of these counterfeiters are watching daily. You know what I mean? So they’re trying to figure out what people are noticing and trying to adapt and fix that as soon as possible. So yeah, we’re always trying to stay ahead, and they’re always trying to play catchup.
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