Since the first Air Jordans hit the shelves in the 1980s, Nike has released dozens of editions of the sneaker named after basketball legend Michael Jordan. It is a partnership that created the model other basketball stars would later follow.
Despite coming in many designs and colorways, Air Jordans are arguably the most recognizable and sought-after sneakers in the world. It soon emerged that almost anything that had the Jumpman logo drew the attention of sneakerheads and casual fashion enthusiasts everywhere.
But such massive success is not without cost. For Air Jordans, a major pain has been the proliferation of fakes. The manufacture and distribution of fake Air Jordans has become so elaborate over the years that it is increasingly harder for the average person to distinguish between what is real and what is not.
Fortunately, there are always telltale signs if you know where to look. Here is a look at how to spot fake or real Nike Air Jordan sneakers.
You get what you pay for. It is a universal principle that can help stay away from scammers in everyday life. Fake Air Jordans are no exception. It is extremely rare to find real Jordans selling for under $100.
Of course, original Jordans won’t be offered at the exact same price since each seller has to factor their unique business costs. Small differences in prices between retailers should not be an issue. However, If the price of the Jordan you are looking to buy seems unusually low when you compare it to the price on the market, you could be staring at fake Jordans.
Remember, the manufacturers of fake Air Jordan sneakers are often looking to slash their production costs so they can offer the shoe at a fraction of what an authentic Jordan would go for.
That being said, some sellers know that an ultra-low price will almost certainly raise eyebrows. They will therefore offer fake Jordans at the same price as the original. So price alone should never be the sole determinant of whether you are buying an authentic Jordan or not.
Air Jordans have become iconic because of their unforgettable silhouettes. While this may seem to be a fairly basic requirement of making a Jordan shoe, a surprising number of fake Jordan manufacturers fail to get it right.
Good thing is even if you don’t remember how a particular Jordan model looked, you can always get pictures of the shoe from Nike.com. To study the silhouette, some of the key places you should look at are the toe box, the heel and the midsole. Make sure they are of the correct form, angle, size and proportion.
Fake Jordans will often be a little too curved, too straight, too thin, too thick, too inflated, too bumpy, too irregular or other subtle discrepancy that makes their form different from the original.
Visit Nike.com to establish the authentic colorways for a specific Air Jordan model. Each Jordan sneaker is produced with a specific set of colorways that may be updated during retro releases. There may be special edition colorways too.
Fake Jordan manufacturers will sometimes combine random colors and create their own colorways. If an Air Jordan’s colorways are not listed on Nike.com, it is a fake product.
The Jumpman logo is an essential signature of Air Jordans. It should be one of the first things you look at to confirm whether the sneaker is legit. Other than its presence, there are several aspects of the logo itself you should check.
First, evaluate the logo for precision. Some fake Jordans will have slightly different legs and arms.
Second, check its proportionality. If it is too large or too small, it’s not authentic.
Third, is the logo in the right position? Confirm from a picture of the original model.
Fourth, what is the nature and quality of workmanship for the logo? The Jumpman on a real Jordan will be made of high-quality embroidery. Fakes will use vinyl. Even when they do use embroidery, it will be of noticeably low quality.
Quality of Construction
The quality of the Jumpman logo shouldn’t be the only quality indicator you should look at. An original Air Jordan is after all more expensive than the fake because of the quality of materials and workmanship that goes into producing it. So there will always be lower quality construction on a fake Jordan.
Start with detail on the laces. Are they straight? Are lace tabs the same shape and size? Are any spaces along each lace even?
Proceed to the shoe itself. Evaluate the quality of stitching around the heel. It is a fake if the stitching is uneven or frayed.
Check out the gloss. It will be less noticeable on fake Jordans.
Packaging, Labeling and Style Number
Real Jordans come in a sturdy box with the lid fitted tightly. There will be a Jumpman logo on the lid and on the side. Package colors and texture should appear uniform, consistent and with no fading.
Look for the manufacturer’s official tag on the inside of the shoe. It should have the shoe style, size, color and country of origin. Words should be evenly spaced out. Examine the text for spelling errors as well.
Below the tag section where it states the sneaker’s country of origin, you should see a nine-digit style number. This same number should be visible on the shoe box itself where you have the manufacturer’s label. The label will be on the side where you have the logo printed and should firmly attach to the box with no air bubbles beneath it.
Note down this number and check it against the product description on Nike’s official website to ensure they match.
Make no mistake. The people producing the fake Air Jordans are constantly evolving their design to make it a visually closer replica of the original. If consumer knowledge starts to threaten their sales, they will adopt accordingly to make their product even more similar to the authentic one.
That means while this list will help you identify fake Air Jordans, that might not always be the case. Your best bet is to purchase your sneaker from Nike.com, Jordan.com or official Nike stores.