How to Tell if Nikes Are Fakes: From Tags to the Stitching

Nike is one of the biggest brands targeted by counterfeiters and scammers—be extra careful with Nike products from non-official retailers as you could end up with a fake.

Gemma Davison
Updated 20 August 2021
How to Tell if Nikes Are Fakes: From Tags to the Stitching
Share to

United States Counterfeit Goods Statistics

$1.3 billion in counterfeit items seized each year
$200 billion yearly loss to businesses

$959 billion (estimated value of the counterfeit market by 2022)

Source: Library of U.S. Congress

Sections on this page
  1. How to Tell if Nikes are Fake: Product and Packaging
  2. How to Spot Fake Nike Goods: In the Listing
  3. Where to Buy Genuine Nike Products
  4. What to Do If You Buy Fake Nikes
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Who doesn’t want to get their hands on the latest Nike Air Jordans or Air Force Ones or the newest NFL jersey of your favorite team? Scammers are taking advantage of the popularity of the sportswear brand by producing convincing fake Nike products, which is bad news for sneakerheads, collectors, and sports fans, who may wonder how to tell if Nikes are fakes or not.

A counterfeit Nike scam usually looks like someone is selling authentic sneakers or sportswear on sites like eBay, Amazon, and other third-party selling platforms where it’s difficult to authenticate what is being sold. When fake Nikes are sold alongside the real thing, it’s even harder to know the difference between a great deal and a scam.

Nike Counterfeit Goods

In 2020, global sales losses from counterfeit clothing and footwear topped 26.3 billion euros. Moreover, 22% of all counterfeit goods seized are footwear, with Nike, Adidas, Louboutin, and Uggs the most common brands to be faked.

In Oct 2019, over 14,000 pairs of fake Nike shoes were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, worth more than $2 million.

How to Tell if Nikes are Fake: Product and Packaging

Nike is one of the most counterfeited brands globally, so it can be difficult to tell the difference between genuine Nike products and fakes as scammers take advantage of the brand’s popularity.

Official reseller site StockX found the most attempted fake Nikes in 2020 were:

  • Off White x Nike Air Jordan 1 “Chicago”
  • Off White x Nike Air Jordan 4 “Sail”
  • Travis Scott x Nike Air Jordan 1 High

All three are limited editions, which are sought after amongst collectors, making them lucrative business for scammers if they can produce convincing fakes.

Scammers have become pretty adept at faking Nike goods, so knowing the minor inconsistencies to look out for is crucial. 

Check the Packaging

All Nike shoes are packaged in a box that’s labeled and tagged correctly. The color and print of the box vary depending on style, but usually, the boxes are orange, red, and brown. Printed on the box should be the style, size, serial number and/or SKU, and barcode.

Scammers try to replicate these boxes, but they’ll lack the essential printed details. Scammers may also ship Nikes without any packaging, which is a big red flag. Ask the seller if the product comes with original packaging and tags/labels if you're unsure.

Note that sometimes scammers do a pretty good job with copying the real deal, so you'll need to pay close attention to little details like font size and layout.

Example of Nike shoe box: real vs fake
Example of real vs. fake Nike shoe box labels

Is the Style Right?

It’s always helpful to do some research before hitting the “Add to Cart” button. Visit the official Nike website and browse product photographs and the color combination of the products you’re interested in.

Counterfeiters will often sell popular Nike clothing and sneakers, but the color combinations and shades are different from the originals.

Nike Air Jordan colorways
Always check Nike's website to find which color combinations are genuine.

It’s All in the Details

The tell-tale signs of fake Nike products can often be seen in the small details. Look out for:

  • Crooked or uneven stitching
  • Unfinished seams
  • Misspelling in any of the small print, such as on the clothing label or the tongue
  • Mismatched fonts
  • The swoosh logo being the wrong size or facing the wrong direction
  • Poor quality embroidery on the logo or in other details.

Real vs fake Nike Air Force 1s
Look closely at the stitching on your Nike product. On this example of a real pair of Air Force 1s versus a fake pair, you can notice the swoosh isn't aligned properly and there is extra stitching between the letters.

Signs of Fake Nike Sneakers

Authentic Nike sneakers are made from high-quality materials using advanced technology to display comfort and style. If you’re suspicious about the quality of your sneakers, each part of the shoe can help determine if your Nikes are fake.

  • The upper should feature even stitching and quality finishing. The material should be soft and supple without any creasing, and there should be no overlapping colors.
  • The midsoles of genuine Nike sneakers are genuinely glued and not stitched. They should be made of quality foam and usually feature the swoosh logo and model name.
  • The outsole should be constructed of high-grade rubber that is light and flexible. Check that patterns and ridges are uniformly spaced and even and that the soles aren’t stiff or have a “plasticky” feeling.
  • The tongue of genuine Nike sneakers features the brand logo of the upper. On the inside of the tongue, the tag should show the product information, including the size and country of manufacture. There will also be a 9-digit serial number, which should match the code on the box.
  • The weight should feel light and balanced in your hand when you wear them. Counterfeiters have a problem imitating the real feel of Nikes, with the sole usually feeling clunky and heavy compared to the real thing.

How to Spot Fake Nike Goods: In the Listing

When shopping online, it’s tough to tell the difference between counterfeit Nike goods and genuine products. You can’t hold the sneakers or clothing in your hands to feel the quality of the materials, you can’t check the details close up, and you can’t try them on to see if the fit is right.

Plus, when you’re shopping on Amazon, eBay, or similar platforms, third-party sellers can list fraudulent products with relative ease. However, while some scammers are better at disguising their products as legitimate, there are a few red flags to look out for in a listing that point to a scam.

The Seller

Before committing to purchasing Nike products online, check the seller’s credentials, particularly if you’re shopping through stores like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. 

If you’re not buying from authorized retailers, read feedback and reviews from previous customers. They are a good indication of whether you’re getting a genuine product.

Bad Spelling and Grammar

Spelling errors and glaring grammar mistakes in the item description are common signs of a scam. Look for unusual wording, bad punctuation, and text that looks to have been through Google translate. If something seems off about the listing, it’s best avoided.

What a Deal!

One of the most obvious signs of a Nike scam is an unbelievably low price. If those Nike Air Jordans are super low-priced, they’re most likely to be fake. You should have reservations if the marked-down price is discounted by more than 50%.

Unless you’re purchasing from an unauthorized Nike seller and there is a clearance sale, big markdowns on Nike products are not common. When looking at Nike deals on online marketplaces, compare the seller’s price with the prices on the Nike website or authorized online stores. 

It’s also a warning sign if a marketplace seller has dozens of units of the same product up for sale at a “steal” of a price. Just ask yourself, how has the seller got their hands on so much product, and how can they afford to sell it so cheaply? It's likely because they are fake Nike products.

While you will get a better price for second-hand Nike products, it’s rare to find brand new Nike jerseys, Air Forces, or other sought-after items going cheap. Remember, not all discounted Nike products are fakes, but if a deal is too good to be true, it usually is. 

Where to Buy Genuine Nike Products

The best place to buy Nike products is from Nike itself, either online or at a store. This way, you can be sure you’re getting the real deal and not a counterfeit. 

You can also buy genuine Nike products from the brand’s official resellers, including:

Although you might find a great deal on classified websites like Craigslist and OfferUp, it’s best to avoid buying Nike items from these sites as you’re more prone to being scammed.

What to Do If You Buy Fake Nikes

Sadly, if you’ve been scammed with fake Nikes through an online marketplace, there isn’t a great deal you can do. Your first step should be to report the listing for selling counterfeit Nike products and leave a review detailing the scam to prevent others from buying.

Then get in touch with customer support and inform them of your situation, including as much detail as possible. You may be able to open a dispute and get your money back, but this is by no means guaranteed.

Contact Details


Phone: +1 (800) 344-6453
Contact page:

Verified Contact Details

It's important to verify links and contact details to beat imposters.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if Nikes are fake?

There are many tell-tale signs of fake Nikes. They include imperfections in the packaging and product and suspicious online listings with spelling errors, grammar mistakes, and bad reviews.

Where are fake Nikes sold?

Fake Nikes are usually sold on online auction sites and marketplace, where it’s hard to regulate what is being bought and sold. You may not know you’ve bought a fake product until you’ve paid and had them delivered.

Does Footlocker sell fake Nikes?

Absolutely not! Nike is Footlocker’s biggest brand partner, with two-thirds of its merchandise coming from the on-trend sportswear brand. Stores like Footlocker and Nordstrom are key partners for Nike, helping them reach shoppers who don’t want to shop online or live near a Nike store. If you want a guarantee your Nikes are genuine, Footlocker is a good place to shop.

Does Amazon sell fake Nikes?

For many years, Nike products sold on Amazon were mostly unofficial counterfeits sold by third-party vendors. Unfortunately, this meant they had little control over how items were listed and whether sellers were listing fakes. To combat this, Nike entered a partnership with Amazon in 2017 to sell their products and hopefully regain control over unscrupulous third-party sellers.

Unfortunately, the partnership ended in 2019 as eradicating the vendors selling fakes proved to be too difficult. They would simply pop up with a new store name once they had been deleted. Additionally, the official Nike products received fewer reviews and therefore were positioned lower than the fakes.

So, Nike no longer sells its products through an official store on Amazon, but plenty of third-party sellers do. However, this means that it’s inevitable some fake Nikes will be sold through Amazon. Therefore, it’s important to check the seller’s credentials and reviews to ensure you’re getting genuine Nikes.

About This Article

Share This Article to Help Others