Real vs. Fake Jordans: 7 Easy Ways to Spot Fake Nikes

If you're in the market for a new pair of Nike Air Jordans, cheaper isn't necessarily better. With so many counterfeiters at large, you might end up buying fakes.

Amanda Stoneman
Updated 26 May 2022
Real vs. Fake Jordans: 7 Easy Ways to Spot Fake Nikes
Sections on this page
  1. Red Flags of Real vs. Fake Jordans: The Listing
  2. Red Flags of Real vs. Fake Jordans: The Product
  3. Where Should You Buy Real Air Jordans?
  4. What to Do If You Accidentally Buy Fake Air Jordans
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have an eye on the Nike Air Jordan 1 for its rule-breaking swagger, the Air Jordan II for its elegant design, or the newest Air Jordan 35 for its storied legacy? Regardless of the style of Jordan shoes you desire, you should always be wary about counterfeit sneakers and know how to tell the difference between a pair of real vs. fake Jordans.

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Here are some common ways scammers try to trick you into buying counterfeit Air Jordans.

  • Using fake names on social media
  • Refusing to send tagged images
  • Refusing to show the shoe's interior tag
  • Posting inaccurate descriptions of Air Jordans
  • Creating fake social media accounts for business
  • Using the latest technology for fake retail sites
  • Offering incredibly low and unrealistic prices
  • Requesting money orders, money cards, or wire transfers
  • Pressuring you to make a purchase

Read more on what red flags to look for in the listing and on the shoe itself and what to do if you mistakenly buy fake Air Jordans.

Red Flags of Real vs. Fake Jordans: The Listing

In addition to tell-tale signs of an Air Jordan shoe itself, there are several red flags to look out for before you make the actual purchase. When buying these shoes online, follow these tips when looking at the online product listing.

Pay Attention to Detail

Counterfeit shoe scammers are becoming more and more intelligent. You have to outsmart the scammer, and one way to do that is to pay attention to detail. For instance, does the listing page for Air Jordans include spelling and grammatical errors? If so, it might not be a reputable dealer.

You'll also want to look for small details, such as a store without a physical location, phone number, or faulty social media links.

Keep an eye on how many products are in stock. Are all styles, sizes, and colors available? If so, that may be a sign of an unrealistic or fake listing for Air Jordans.

Complete and Accurate Product Information

A good seller or real listing will have all the information available that you need to verify the shoes' authenticity. For instance, does the seller list the release date, item code, style, material, etc.? If so, chances are the product is legit.

100% Authentic Label

You should always look for the label "100% authentic" when trying to buy a pair of real Air Jordans online. If a website lists the shoes as "authentic," you should be suspicious of the seller. You also want to avoid shoes listed as "custom," "sample," or "variant" because they're likely not commissioned by Nike.

High-Quality Imagery

When searching for authentic Air Jordans online, you'll want to make sure the images are clear and detailed. The listing should have multiple pictures of the product where details are clear. If there's a photo of the shoe's interior tag, but the style number is blurred, ask the seller to send one.

The internal tag is another great way to distinguish fake Jordans from an actual Air Jordan shoe. Authentic sellers will not try to hide such details from the listing.

You should be wary of stock photos, incredibly small images, or no photos at all. You'll want to avoid purchasing from these sites. If you feel the seller is legit, ask for better pictures before purchasing.

Overseas Sellers

You should refrain from purchasing Air Jordans from overseas sellers. Although Nike does import their shoes from their overseas factories, they ship shoes to consumers from their major hubs in the United States and Europe only.

In most cases, fake Jordans are manufactured in Asia. Your chances of falling victim to counterfeit shoe fraud increase exponentially when shoes are shipped from Asia. 

Check Seller Feedback

If you're buying shoes from a site like eBay, you should always search for established sellers with good feedback. However, keep in mind seller feedback can be fraudulent as well. So, use your best judgment.

You'll also want to dodge sellers with little or no customer reviews or feedback. In these instances, the merchandise is likely inauthentic. Again, always do your research and trust your gut. If you think a seller is sketchy, it's usually safer to avoid purchasing from them.

Red Flags of Real vs. Fake Jordans: The Product

Unfortunately, as time goes on, counterfeit shoemakers are becoming better at their craft. So, it's getting harder to spot whether a shoe is real or fake.

One of the best ways to avoid getting scammed when buying a pair of Air Jordan shoes online is to only buy from authorized retailers. If you decide to go after an older style or unique color, here are some ways you can tell whether you're someone is scamming you:

  • Unrealistic price point
  • Fake logos
  • Fake colorways
  • Inconsistent size tag

Unrealistic Price Point

You have to make sure the price is right when shopping for authentic Nike Air Jordan shoes online—cheaper doesn't necessarily mean a good deal. If you discover a rare pair or unique color of Air Jordans for an unbelievable price, chances are you're being roped into a counterfeit shoe scheme.

Being wary of unrealistic price points can make all the difference in saving you from purchasing fake, counterfeit, or illegally smuggled Nike shoes.

The average price point for most brands of sneakers is $110, while the average price point for new Air Jordan sneakers is about $145. If you're in the market for quality Air Jordans, keep these price points in mind. It's pretty rare to find Air Jordans for less than $100. Scammers entice you to buy counterfeit Jordans at low prices. 

Fake "Jumpman" Logo

One of the tell-tale signs of fake Air Jordan sneakers lies in the "Jumpman" logo, promoting the Air Jordan brand of basketball sneakers. The "Jumpman" logo should have four fingers on the man's free hand with the thumb pointed toward his body. You'll want to check the logo on the shoe and the shoebox, if possible.  

Real vs fake Air Jordans Jumpman logo
There are inconsistencies and missing details in fake Air Jordans within the Jumpman logo. (Source: 8&9 Clothing Co.)
In the shoe's tongue, the "Jumpman" logo should showcase high-quality embroidery vs. vinyl or poor-quality embroidery. The Jordan "Jumpman" logo on the tongue and the outside of the shoe should have a very clean edge with a more pristine appearance rather than a fuzzy logo with loose threads.

Search for the correct model and colorway of the Jordan shoes you want because the logo may come in different colors and placements on the shoe. Compare images from the original retailer with pictures from the distributor site to ensure the "Jumpman" logo has the right color and placement.

You'll want to use your best judgment when determining if the logo is the right size or proportion. You can also look for any subtle differences in the man's arms, legs, shoes, etc.

Air Jordan "Wings" Logo

Another way you might spot real vs. fake Jordan shoes is to look at the "wings" logo. Can you tell whether the artwork on the shoe is correct by its image? Can you determine whether the logo is embossed more deeply into the leather? These differences may be hard to spot in an online listing.

Genuine Air Jordans don't have any stitching guides to help the stitchers locate the panels during assembly. Although common for most shoes, Nike doesn't use them on Jordans, so this could be a giveaway if you look closely.

Real vs fake Air Jordans size tag
Compare the "Wings" logo on your Air Jordans against the real version to find a fake. (Source: The Sneaker Factory)


Check the Nike Logo Also

The Nike logo (aka the Nike swoosh) is somewhat easier for counterfeiters to copy, but you may also notice errors in the "swoosh" on a pair of fake Air Jordan shoes. A fake Nike logo will often be distorted or be skinnier or fatter than usual4.


Inauthentic Colorways

Before buying a pair of Air Jordans, first, research the known colorways (unique color combinations) of the style you're interested in. You can visit Nike's website or a reputable dealer to see the authentic colorways, which are updated with each new pair released. Occasionally, there are special edition colorways but check the actual shoes.

If a site or individual seller has a colorway not listed on any direct Nike supplier site, the chances are high that it's a counterfeit product. You'll want to refrain from purchasing.

Nike Air Jordan colorways
Here are just some colorways used on Nike Air Jordans. (Source: KicksCrew)

Inaccurate "Jumpman" Under the Tongue

Before purchasing a pair of Air Jordan sneakers online, you'll want to examine the tongue tag. The tongue tag should have the words "greatest player ever" embroidered on the inside on real Jordans. The embroidery will be of high quality with white text. The content should be easy to read and look professional.

Any inconsistencies with the Jumpman logo are signs of a fake Jordan shoe.

Fake Size Tag

You can easily spot a fake pair of Air Jordans by examining the size tag on the shoe. Many sellers might not have this tag displayed in the photos on the retail listing. If that's the case, ask the seller for a picture of the size tag. Then, you can determine whether the tag is consistent. 

Real vs fake Jordans size tag
Look for small errors in font and alignment within the size tag of Air Jordans. (Source: Sole Collector)
All text should be the same font-weight and style. Additionally, the text should be positioned correctly and evenly aligned.

Further, you'll want to check the tag's colorway and product ID code, which you can typically find at the top right corner of the size tag. If this is missing, you have a pair of fake shoes on your hands.

The Box

New Air Jordans will come in the original box. The Air Jordan shoe box and style number are some of the main ways you can spot an authentic pair compared to a pair of fake Air Jordan shoes from authentic Jordans. In addition, the box should be sturdy, the shoes should fit tightly, and you shouldn't see unnecessary gaps.

Air Jordan boxes usually have a manufacturing sticker on the side and a nine-digit style number. You can ask the seller for an image of the box when purchasing online. We recommend that if the shoes you want don't come in a box, don't buy them.

Real vs fake Jordans box
There are tell-tale signs of a fake within the box of Air Jordans also. (Source: SoleInsider)

Where Should You Buy Real Air Jordans?

Reputable dealers of Air Jordan shoes include:

  • Nike
  • Foot Locker
  • StockX
  • Stadium Goods
  • GOAT
  • NBA Store
  • East Bay
  • Jimmy Jazz
  • Finish Line
  • Champs Sports
  • Footaction

While you can find genuine Air Jordans from private sellers on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace, you'll likely see more fakes among the listings, so it's always better to buy directly from Nike.

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What to Do If You Accidentally Buy Fake Air Jordans

If you mistakenly bought a pair of fake Air Jordans, you should do your part to prevent illegal trafficking and sale of these shoes in the future. You can report potential counterfeits by emailing [email protected]. Nike may request the item purchased and the name and location of the seller or their website address.

You can also report the scam to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB Scam Tracker allows you to report a business or offer that looks like an illegal scheme or fraud. You can also see and search for scams other users have reported across the globe.

Unfortunately, if you bought a fake pair of Air Jordan shoes from sites like eBay or Craigslist, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get your money back. However, it's essential to report the scam to the relevant site to prevent the scammers from continuing their business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to tell the difference between real vs. fake Jordans?

The quality of fake Nike Air Jordan shoes differs, so it's hard to say how easy it is to spot a fake. Some fakes can be very easy to spot if the counterfeiter didn't do a good job, while for others, you'll need to pay attention to detail and know exactly what you're looking for

Where is the safest place to buy authentic Nike Air Jordans?

The best place to buy a pair of Air Jordan sneakers (and other Nike shoes) is from Nike directly in-store or online. When purchasing from an official Nike store, you rest easy, knowing your Jordans will be 100% authentic. Other retailers such as Foot Locker and StockX are also safe places to buy Air Jordans.

Can I buy real Air Jordans for cheap?

You may be able to find a pair of authentic Air Jordan sneakers on the cheaper side if they're on sale, or you find a private seller who isn't looking to make money off the sale. However, be wary of buying Nike shoes from private sellers for cheap, as it's often a scam.


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