Specialises in authentication of product, @fake_education
What are the things you look for first when authenticating sneakers?
Ultimately it always comes down to craftsmanship, detail and the material used. The counterfeit industry is going to get as close as possible to the original materials, but they cut corners and use inferior products. Stitching is usually a big thing to check across the board, whether it is a hoodie or a pair of shoes.
What are some of the biggest differences between real and fake sneakers?
A common difference amongst real from fakes is usually on inside size tags of sneakers, as well as on the box labels. The font style is 99.9 percent different, always. On Yeezys, for example, since they are some of the most counterfeited items I see, I look at the stitching; build structure; wherever it says “boost”; the font style; and the box.
On eBay, some users will post photos of the real shoes but then send counterfeit ones. How do you know you are not getting scammed?
I personally do not use eBay. Why I started @fake_education was by getting scammed on eBay.
What about people with good ratings?
Buy from somebody credible, from somebody reputable that has a reputation to uphold. To be 100 percent certain, buy from somewhere that has a return policy. Somewhere that if it gets out that they sold a fake, that it’s going to tarnish the image.
What are the top counterfeit items that you see?
Anything made by Adidas: the Yeezys, NMD, Ultraboost. They’re selling off demand as well. For example, a general release NMD or an Ultraboost shoe holds almost no resale value, but that’s some of the most popular replicas on the market, because people are not even thinking that they’re buying a counterfeit. Whereas when it comes to Yeezys, they’re calling every lifeline possible to prove legitimacy. But when you come up to somebody with a pair that’s $180 in store and they’re giving it to you for, let’s say, $150, you just think you’re getting a good deal, right? Little do you know, they bought it for 60 bucks.
Co-founder, the Chicks With Kicks
How do you know when a sneaker will be an investment?
Now it’s a lot of hype. Kanye West drops something and all the kids are running, and a month or two months later, the price just drops. We don’t buy into the hype stuff. We buy stuff that held its value over time. We have sneaker patents. We have one-of-a-kind Yeezy samples. We specialise in prototype, samples, vintage, rare samples.
How do you know when something will generate hype?
Right now the market is all hype.
So your strategy is that you look for rare and unique sneakers that you know will hold value. What are some of the rarest pieces you have?
1985 Air Jordan 1s; we have the largest collection. That’s my favourite part of our collection, just because it holds so much history — it’s the first year of the Jordan. We have signed Julius Erving Converse sneakers. We have Yeezy samples, a few different colourways that have never been seen.
How many sneakers do you have in your collection?
My sisters and I have over 6,000 pairs, but we stopped counting. Our dad started the collection over 25 years ago, and we took it over about five or six years ago.
What are you looking for when buying sneakers?
It depends on the sneaker. Let’s say I were buying a 1985 Air Jordan: I would look at the yellowing, the cracking in the paint. If it’s metallic, that’s a big issue. You can use sneaker-cleaning products, and a lot of issues when it comes to yellowing just happen with age. So if you can get a dead stock pair from, like, ’85 or the ‘90s and it has no yellowing, the value is just astronomically more.
Tips for sneaker care?
We store our collection in an air-conditioned, no-humidity storage room. If it’s a collection piece, you want to keep it away from a lot of lights — they could yellow it.
Yu Ming Wu
Co-founder, Sneaker Con
What is your favourite sneaker?
The Nike Air Max 1. If we have to kind of go down to actual colourway, it would be the 2002 or 2003 Atmos colourway. It has a very safari, fun print to it.
You told me that you’ve waited years to find a pair of shoes. Which ones were they?
The Nike Air Max 1s in the Amsterdam colourway. I’ve probably spent now nine or 10 years looking for them. For the longest time, I refused to pay the high prices for them. I broke down this year.
$1,500. (Approximately S$1,990)
What is the most you would pay for sneakers?
Most recently I have been contemplating purchasing the real auto-lacing Nike Air Mags, the “Back to the Future” shoes which were released last year. Today they go for anywhere from $23,000 to about $60,000 (S$30,518 to S$79,614). I found a pair on eBay for $33,000 (S$43,787), and I talked them down to $27,000 (S$35,826). If I do get them, that will be the most expensive pair of shoes I will ever purchase in my life. The price of a nice decent car.
Tips for getting your hands on hard-to-get sneakers?
It’s tough. Today I try to be as safe as possible. I use eBay much more rarely. I am involved with the resell shop Stadium Goods here in New York City. I try to buy most of my shoes from there, just because they’re authenticated.
What are some tips for eBay?
I generally look at sellers that have excellent feedback on eBay. I always look at people who write their name.
How do you care for your sneakers?
I do sometimes use Mylar bags. For people who’ve collected comic books out there, they use Mylar bags to keep them from getting the acid air or whatever it is from boxes. I also sometimes take out the insoles and throw them in with my bleach cycle, or I also use vinegar. You wash your underwear and your socks, but you’d never wash insoles. Those guys get pretty nasty.
Senior brand activation manager, Adidas N.Y.C.
What are some of your tips for sneaker care?
Occasionally I just use a wipe. It could be a household wipe, a Crep Protect or a Jason Markk wipe. It’s pretty easy to take out the insole, and then I leave it out to air dry.
How do you know when a sneaker will be an investment?
That’s driven by supply and demand. I think kids are hip and know when things are limited, and that’s really the impetus for a reason to buy. Whenever a Yeezy 350 comes out, people know that quantity is quite limited, and that is a driving factor.
What the most you’ve paid for sneakers?
I’ve been in the footwear industry so long, I don’t think I have to have paid for sneakers in the last 15 years. It sounds like I’m spoiled, but I’ve been very fortunate to be in this industry where I haven’t had to pay for my own shoes. I pay for shoes for my son.
What is your son wearing?
He’s wearing Jordan 1s. He enjoys mixing them up, so he has one blue and one red. We bought two pairs to accomplish that.
What was you first pair of sneakers?
It was a Nike Jordan. I think seventh or eighth grade. My parents were very strict, so it was unheard-of to spend a hundred dollars for sneakers. Between birthday money, Christmas money, Chinese New Year money and rolling up quarters and coins, I scraped up enough money. They took me to New Jersey, because there it was tax-free. We went to some mall, and I think I bought it at the Athlete’s Foot over 20 years ago.