Real vs. Fake Vans: Easiest Ways to Tell the Difference

Unless you bought your Vans from an authorized retailer, you might have ended up with a fake. Here’s how to tell if your shoes are genuine or fake.
Updated 1 March 2022
Real vs. Fake Vans: Easiest Ways to Tell the Difference
Sections on this page
  1. What Are Fake Vans?
  2. Where Are Fake Vans Sold?
  3. 9 Ways to Spot a Pair of Fake Vans
  4. How to Spot Fake Vans Online (Before You Buy)
  5. Best Practices to Avoid Buying Fakes
  6. What to Do If You Buy Fake Vans
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Vans have become a favorite amongst skaters since it was founded in the 60s. Nowadays, they're no longer just a "skate" brand but a lifestyle brand, appealing to those of all ages, regardless of whether you can do a kickflip or not. Unfortunately, due to its popularity, counterfeiters sell fake Vans all over the place—online, in stores, on eBay, you name it. 

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When you pay for a pair of Vans—whether Vans Old Skool skate shoes or slip-ons—the last thing you want is to find out you've paid for a fake pair that should have cost you a fraction of the price. Unfortunately, you waste your money on a fake pair that is severely lacking in quality. For example, you likely won't get the comfy cushion that many Vans shoes are known for.

What Are Fake Vans?

Fake Vans shoes are counterfeit shoes made to trick you into thinking you're buying the real deal. They'll often:

  • Have the same or similar shoe designs of genuine Vans (although there are plenty of fake designs that Vans does not have)
  • Sport the Vans company logo (or something similar with minor differences)
  • Be missing specific details found on genuine Vans shoes
  • Be cheaper than authentic Vans
  • Be worse in quality (e.g., bad stitching, lower quality fabric)
  • Look like authentic Vans from afar

Where Are Fake Vans Sold?

Common places to find fake Vans shoes include:

  • Classified websites like Craigslist and eBay (where anyone can post items for sale)
  • International retail websites (non-authorized resellers)
  • Street markets in international destinations, such as China
  • Small, discreet retailers who order products from international destinations where Vans are made (usually China)

Note that the U.S. is cracking down on counterfeit items being sold in the country. When you look for Vans shoes online, it's expected that the seller will use "Vans" in the item name, but the description will clarify that they only "look like Vans shoes," but aren't the real deal. This is how they get away with selling them. 

9 Ways to Spot a Pair of Fake Vans

There are several ways to spot a pair of fake Vans if you know what to look for. You'll need a keen eye and will need to inspect the shoe in person, if possible. Unfortunately, if you bought the shoes online, you may end up with a dud, even though the photos looked legit. 

While there are several different ways to identify authentic vs. fake Vans shoes, some of them are very difficult. Here are some of the easiest ways to spot a real Vans vs. fake Vans. 

1. Look at the Box

Before you even start looking at the shoes themselves, you may be able to spot a fake by looking at the box the shoes come in. Real Vans shoes will come in a box that:

  • Has a locking mechanism via a tab on the top
  • Is adequately labeled, showing the shoe style, color, shoe size, and barcode

The shoes should be wrapped in paper within the box to protect the shoes.

Fake Vans shoebox

2. Feel the Weight

If you've owned a pair of Vans before, you'll know that they aren't light. Vans are known for being fairly heavy for a pair of shoes. They generally weigh anywhere between 0.75 - 2.87 pounds, depending on the shoe style. 

They're likely fake if they feel light, like a pair of running shoes. 

3. Check the Stripe on the Sole of the Shoe

Vans shoes have a signature stripe above the sole of the shoe. This stripe encircles the entire shoe. On genuine Vans shoes, the stripe is:

  • Molded into the shoe
  • High quality—straight with clean edges
  • Can't be rubbed off

On fake Vans shoes, the stripe is not molded but painted on. Therefore, it will not have clean lines like a genuine pair and may even have excess paint elsewhere. 

Fake Vans stripe on sole.

4. Look at the Outer Sole of the Shoe

On the outer sole of your Vans, you'll see a different texture or pattern around the toe area. On a genuine pair of Vans shoes, this detail is a separate piece of the sole that has been glued on.

If you look closely at the fake, you should see a separation of the two components. 
On a fake pair, this part is molded as one single piece. 

Fake Vans toe area on sole.

5. Check the Quality of the Stitching

Fake Vans shoes will usually have poor quality stitching. It may be difficult to tell unless you have a genuine pair to compare it to, but you can find some common stitching problems:

  • On the back of the shoe—fake Vans may peak at the back, while genuine Vans stay flat.
  • Around the edges of the fabric—the stitching on fake Vans may not be appropriately aligned or have inconsistent spacing. 
  • Along any of the stitch lines—fake Vans may have kinked stitching. 

6. Look at the Bottom of the Shoe

Vans shoes have a waffle base of the sole. Genuine Vans will have:

  • A country code (letter) hidden within one of the diamonds (fake Vans may also have this code). 
  • Clean lines around the perimeter of the sole, while fake Vans are usually messy, with the color of the sole bleeding into the white. 
  • A flat sole, while fake pairs won't be flat at the bottom of the waffle design. 

7. Try to Take Out the Footbed

If the footbed inside your Vans shoes comes out easily, I'm sorry to tell you that you have a fake. Genuine Vans come with the flatbed securely glued in. 

8. Check the Shoelaces

Genuine Vans shoes will come with flat shoelaces, while fake Vans may come with round shoelaces. This is a dead giveaway that you have a pair of fakes in your hands, but some counterfeiters are wise to this fact and will make flat shoelaces. 

9. Look at Other Details Very Closely

There are several other things you can check on the shoe to figure out if they're real or fake, but this requires a keen eye. You can check further details such as the following:

  • The print quality of the Vans logo inside the shoe
  • Tags on the shoe
  • Shoelace eyelets
  • Rubber Vans stamp on the heel of the shoe

How to Spot Fake Vans Online (Before You Buy)

Many fake Vans are sold online on sites like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and even shady websites that sell counterfeit items. If you're looking for a pair of Vans online, the best way to avoid ending up with a fake pair is to buy from Vans directly or an authorized retailer. 

Scammers Say Their Fake Vans Are Real

Don't trust online listing on sites like eBay and Craigslist. Just because they say they're authentic Vans shoes doesn't mean they are. Anyone can post items up for sale on these sites, making them a popular choice for scammers who want to sell counterfeit goods. 

When buying from a non-authorized dealer, pay attention to online listings and how the seller communicates with you—you should be able to spot a shady deal. You shouldn't go through with the transaction if:

  • The listing is vague and doesn't contain any images
  • There are photos on the listing, but they're all taken from the Vans site (i.e., the seller didn't take the pictures of the actual shoes they're selling)
  • The seller is being pushy, trying to get you to send money quickly
  • The seller is requesting payment via a weird method, like gift cards or wire transfer
  • The seller won't let you see the shoes in person first before you send the money

Best Practices to Avoid Buying Fakes

To avoid getting ripped off and ending up with a pair of fake Vans, you should:

  • Only buy Vans from authorized dealers and websites.
  • Check the returns/refund policy when purchasing Vans shoes.
  • Scrutinize the shoe first before buying it.
  • Not buy from sellers on sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, or eBay.
  • Not buy from street vendors or sellers that aren't official Vans dealers.
  • Pay with a credit card when possible, so you can dispute the charge if you end up with counterfeits.
  • Check the price—fake Vans are generally sold much cheaper than regular Vans.

How Much Do Genuine Vans Cost?

To give you an idea of how much your Vans should cost (so you can better spot a scam), here are the average prices of shoes at full retail prices:

  • Men's Vans shoes: $50 - $125
  • Women's Vans shoes: $50 - $110
  • Kids Vans shoes: $35 - $55

Note: The prices above do not include boots or slides. 

What to Do If You Buy Fake Vans

If you've been unfortunate enough to end up with a pair of fake Vans, you should take the following steps:

  • Report the seller to the website (if you bought it off a classified website).
  • Report the counterfeit Vans to the authorities.
  • Report the website (if you bought it from an e-commerce site) to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)—this may help you get your money back. 
  • Try to dispute or reverse your transaction—unfortunately, this is usually impossible if you paid by cash, wire transfer, or other untraceable methods. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Shoe Carnival sell fake Vans?

Shoe Carnival sells authentic Vans shoes as well as genuine shoes from other brands like Nike, Adidas, and Crocs. 

How do I tell if Vans are fake?

There are several things to look at to tell if your Vans are fake or not. Pay special attention to things such as the following:

  • Laces
  • Logos
  • Shoebox
  • Stitching
  • Sole

Is it illegal to buy fake Vans?

It's illegal to buy counterfeit goods and then resell them. However, if you buy counterfeit goods for personal use, it's legal, even if you are aware that they're fake. However, it's important to note that buying counterfeit Vans and other goods helps to fund criminals.


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