words // Luis Sanchez

Over the past ten years, counterfeit footwear has dramatically changed in more ways than one. Shoes that were once incredibly easy to spot have now become nearly identical to their authentic counterparts, causing tons of confusion when it comes to purchasing shoes from anywhere that's not a major retailer. 

Just how good have fake sneakers become? Pretty darn good actually. 

The most obvious way fakes have changed over the years is just how close these illegal factories have gotten to identically recreating all of the most popular shoes. It wasn't too long ago that fakes were distinguishable because of the  colorways or low quality utilized, but they've now become better than ever by using materials that nearly match authentic pairs. We're also seeing much less distinctly fake colors or fabrics, with many only recreating authentic colorways that have actually been released. 

Nowadays, the only way to really spot a pair of fakes is by closely examining them side-by-side and looking for subtle differences such as missed stitches, irregular leather cuts or logo placement, along with even more subtle details such as the quality of accessories and packaging included with the kicks. With that said, these near-perfect fakes have made it almost impossible to guarantee you can confidently purchase an authentic pair of kicks if you missed them during your first shot on release day.

Over the past few years, with the influx of near-perfect counterfeit or 'Grey Market' shoes, we've also seen countless retailers accidentally selling these products. Knowingly or unknowingly, it's still one of the biggest issues caused by these new generation fakes. Pre-orders for shoes are offered a lot more often by retailers, both in-store and online, with some offering these early release shoes to their customers. And as previously mentioned, these well-made fakes have made it nearly impossible to tell them apart from authentic product, whether you are a retailer or a customer who's already purchased a pair.

Lastly, nearly every single Air Jordan release for the past few years has been unveiled to the world with images of grey market pairs from one of the many questionable early release sites on the web. The biggest issue with this is we lose the excitement of seeing all of these great shoes in the way brands intended. Shoes meant to be quickstrike releases are seen months in advance with below average quality images. Stories that are meant to be told with the unveiling of a shoe are left untold for months, leading to countess misinformed first impressions and incorrect nicknames on that particular shoe.

Overall, if you're aware of these fakes and the ways they've changed over the years, you shouldn't have any issues trying to avoid being fooled. On the other hand, with the community of sneakerheads growing faster than ever, these super fakes are still fooling plenty of people. Without the knowledge of just how good they've become, retailers unknowingly selling them and the fact that plenty of upcoming footwear is unveiled with fakes, there's a good chance all the new heads could fall for these fakes.

What's your stance on these new age fakes? Have they changed the game forever, or just how you approach your footwear purchases? What precautions do you now take to avoid these fakes? Hit the comment section below to let us know, and share all your thoughts on the state of fakes in today's fast-growing world of sneakers.