How to Spot Fake Air Force 1s: 7 Signs of a Fake

If you're worried about accidentally buying a pair of fake Air Forces, buying some from the Nike store (whether online or at a store) is your best bet.


Jesse Sumrak
Updated 16 February 2022
How to Spot Fake Air Force 1s: 7 Signs of a Fake

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. What Are Fake Air Force 1 Nikes?
  2. Where Do Scammers Sell Fake Air Force 1 Nikes?
  3. Where to Buy Authentic Nike Air Force 1s
  4. Spot Fake Air Forces: In The Listing
  5. Spot Fake Nike Air Force 1s: The Product
  6. What to Do If You've Purchased Fake Air Force 1s
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Scammers are notorious for selling fake Air Force 1 (AF1) Nikes to unaware buyers. However, it's not always easy to differentiate high-quality fakes from authentic luxury shoes.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tell-tale signs that'll give you the assurance you need to spot the fakes. Below, we'll give you the know-how to buy Nike Air Force 1 shoes with confidence, whether they're online or from a local Craigslist listing.

What Are Fake Air Force 1 Nikes?

Fake Air Force 1s are knock-off Nike sneakers made with low-quality fabric, materials, and stitching. These counterfeit shoes mimic Nike AF1 sneakers by attempting to replicate the Nike logo and style of the shoe.

Scammers take advantage of Nike's notoriety and the AF1's popularity to sell fakes at scale leading to thousands of fake AF1s worldwide.

Nike Air Force 1 shoes aren't cheap, which gives you all the more reason to confirm you're getting the legitimate, high-quality shoe you purchased.

Where Do Scammers Sell Fake Air Force 1 Nikes?

Scammers sell fake AF1s across the internet, including local listings on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

Be wary when you're buying from individual sellers on Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and other e-commerce websites. Thousands of 5-star reviews are never a guarantee of a product's legitimacy—only buy from sellers you know and trust.

Scammers can sell fake Air Force 1s locally in person, too. It's less likely that someone will try to scam you when an encounter is required, but sellers find ways to avoid this with drop-offs, pick-ups, and shipping. Unfortunately, due to so many fake Air Force 1 Nikes, a legitimate seller may be selling you fakes without even realizing it.

Where to Buy Authentic Nike Air Force 1s

Nike recommends always buying their shoes from Nike.com, a Nike store, or a reputable and trusted retailer to avoid purchasing counterfeits. Here are a few secure places online you can trust:

Visit the Nike Store on Amazon
Visit the Nike Store on Amazon
  • Shop Nike Originals and Collections
  • Men's, women's, and kids
  • Free shipping and returns on eligible items

Great deals on shoes, apparel, and more!
Free shipping and returns on eligible items.

How Much Do They Cost?

The price of real AF1s will vary, but you'll likely spend around the following for a pair of new ones (at full price):

  • Men/Women: $100-$160
  • Boys/Girls: $75-$100
  • Baby: $38-$55

Of course, Nike and other retailers often have sales on these sneakers, so if you're lucky, you might be able to snag a pair of adult sneakers for $50 (or less). 

Spot Fake Air Forces: In The Listing

Spotting a fake Nike product is essential when buying online or in person, but recognizing scam listings is equally critical. Scam listings will often use authentic images of Air Force 1 Nikes—however, that's not the exact shoe you'll be receiving.

Fortunately, there are a few tell-tale signs that will help you spot fake sneakers from genuine Nikes:

  • Seller: Check the seller's name, location, and contact information to ensure it all checks out.
  • Reviews: Look at the user feedback on the product listing. Read bad reviews to see if they're selling fakes, and be wary of fake 5-star reviews.
  • Copy: Scammers often sell to various countries, leading them to make simple grammar mistakes in other language listings. Misspellings, haphazard commas, and other grammar errors in a product listing should be immediate red flags.
  • Images: Sellers should have pictures of the product that they've taken themselves—not from screenshots they've swiped from Nike's official website.

Spot Fake Nike Air Force 1s: The Product

Authentic AF1s and fakes have a lot in common, but you can find several product details to differentiate the two. Below, we'll walk through each indicator to help you buy with confidence.

Real vs. Fake Air Force 1 Metal Lace Tag

Original Nike AF1s have a metal tag on the bottom part of the laces. Regardless of your shoe's color scheme, this will be a thick metallic rectangle that says "AF1." You can find the same tag in all the shoe versions—any other variation other than "AF1" is a knock-off.

Metal tag on real vs fake Air Force 1s

High-Quality Tongue

Nike stitches the Nike Air logo on the tongue of authentic sneakers. Often, fakes will print rather than sew this logo onto the tongue. A stitched logo isn't a guarantee, though—look to see if there's an uneven thickness in the stitch or distortions in the logo. Real AF1s also use double stitching on the tongue and down the lacing, whereas most fakes don't.

Tongue on real vs fake Nike Air Force 1

Insole: Nike Air Force 1 Logo

Original Nike Air Force 1's feature a shoe-specific insole with the Nike Air Force 1 logo—not the generic Nike swoosh logo.

Outsole: Look for the "R"

Real Air Force 1 Nikes have the Nike logo and swoosh on the shoe's sole with "R" registered symbols. Fakes will often forget to include the logo or neglect to use the registered "Rs" along with it.

Fake Air Forces: Check the Heel

The Nike AIR logo is also printed on the heel tab, but this logo is slightly different. The Nike logo on the heel has the Nike swoosh with "Nike" above it and "A I R" beneath it. Check to make sure all the characters are correctly aligned and spaced. Fakes may have disoriented letters or odd spacing between the "A I R" and the swoosh.

Real AF1s also have a flat tongue heel tab across the top that then dips sharply (at around a 45-degree angle). Fakes often have a rounded heel tab with no squared top.

Real vs fake AF1 heel

Toe Box: Fake AF1s Have Missing Details

Fakes often use a mark on the center of the toe box to line up the fake perforations. You'll likely need a blacklight to find this indicator, but it's a tell-tale sign because real AF1s will never have the mark on the toe box.

Check to ensure the perforation holes' size is equal and follows the row pattern of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (starting from the bottom). Fakes often have uneven perforation holes that don't follow any particular pattern.

Fake Air Forces: Look for the Label

The label is usually the most obvious sign of any counterfeit product if you know what to look for. For example, authentic Nike Air Force 1s have the inside label stitched to the side of the inside of the shoe—not the tongue.

This label has the sizes as well as the Nike swoosh logo. Newer models include a QR code, too.

Real vs fake Air Force One tag

What to Do If You've Purchased Fake Air Force 1s

Recovering from buying a fake Air Force 1 will mostly depend on where you purchased the product. Different websites and e-commerce stores will have varying protections in place to protect you from scams, but there's no such assurance if you're buying off of Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if Air Force 1s are fake?

There are many tell-tale signs of fake Air Force 1 shoes, including sketchy tags, incorrect stitching, poorly designed in-soles.

Where can I buy real Nike Air Force Ones?

The best place to buy Air Force 1s is from Nike, either online or in-store. Other third-party retailers that sell legit AF1s include Footlocker and Dick's Sporting Goods.

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