Esha was looking into sourcing some some stuff from Alibaba, so I got to looking around the internet for how-to guides and insights. In my search I got sucked in to the world of fake shoes.
Chiefly, the repsneakers subreddit — these dudes scour Chinese websites and create detailed reviews examining every little detail, and how they compare to real shoes.
If you don’t know anything about this whole streetwear / sneakerhead thing — these brands release limited amounts of product and limit the amount an individual can buy. There’s a whole secondary market of waiting in line, buying, and reselling for profit. For instance, the hot shoe is Kanye’s YEEZY Boost 350. It retailed for $200, but is sold out and goes for nearly $1000 on Amazon.
The repheads develop relationships with the suppliers. “Did you see David’s 7th batch” “Is Jessie answering messages?” “Have you seen Eva’s new pics?” … they know there is no “David” but the supplier has taken on this handle and become their own mini-brand with distinct reputations. Some of them work with the suppliers to refine and develop the details on each new “batch.”
Insider lingo and acronyms:
- LC — Legit Check, having the group check to see if they’re getting ripped off by a reseller of retail sneakers
- QC — Quality Control photos … users ask Chinese suppliers to send them verified photos of the actual shoes they’ll be getting, usually via WhatsApp
- W2C — Wanted to Cop
- TD (turtledove), PB (pirate black), MR (moonrocks), OT (oxford tan) — the various colorways of Boost 350s
Ordering is reminiscent of the wild west days. You might get a confirmation number, it might work, you aren’t really sure when they’ll arrive, if they’ll get shredded by customs, or if there is any recourse if the shoes are messed up somehow. The anticipation of what will show up and when is half of the fun. People get pretty worked up about the customer service they’re receiving and how soon they’ll get their illegal shoes being shipped from the other side of the world, showing how much we’ve come to expect from e-commerce.
For the price, the shoes are fairly comfortable. I suspect the retail versions are a bit better, but not enough to justify the cost. I’ve only seen one other person wearing 350s in the wild. A few people on the street have asked me about my shoes, and I tell them they’re bootlegs. Most people have no idea what the shoes are in the first place, but my heart does race a little bit if I’m approaching a group of high-schoolers.
They seem like regular old shoes once you get them. Looking at the logos printed on the side really puts in to perspective that all things are hand made — by someone, somewhere. There’s no Adidas machine spitting these out. Now, if you so desire, you can have anything you wanted produced in a factory if you bother to send a few emails.
The fact that we’re now so connected that a high school kid in the suburbs can negotiate textile swatches with someone on the other side of the world over text message is a mind boggle for sure.