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23rd May 2024 EDT FEATURES

Fake vs. Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

A collaborative effort between X-ray tech & expert appraisers to ensure you get authentic kicks, every time!

Fake vs. Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic
Fake vs. Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Ever dreamt of owning a pair of limited-edition Jordans, only to find out they’re phonies? Don’t get fooled! Navigating the sneaker world can be tricky, especially with counterfeits lurking around every corner. But fear not, this guide will reveal the logic our experts deploy to confidently identify fake from real sneakers.

Introducing SNKRDUNK’s Sneaker Authentication A-Team: Masters of Legit Checks

We’ve all heard the horror stories of people getting scammed with fake sneakers. But we take authenticity seriously at SNKRDUNK, a leading sneaker marketplace in Japan and globally. SNKRDUNK’s secret weapon? A dream team of appraisers with a passion for sneakers and an eagle eye for detail.

Meet Mr. Murashima, the Authentication Sensei

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Leading the charge is Mr. Murashima, a sneaker aficionado since his university days. He’s honed his skills by appraising thousands of sneakers and has seen it all when it comes to fakes. But how does SNKRDUNK train their appraisers to become real vs. fake ninjas?

We interviewed Mr. Murashima, the leader of SNKRDUNK’s sneaker appraisal team, about their previously secret authentication process, the appraiser training program, and the cutting-edge technology unique to SNKRDUNK. Below are the questions about the sneaker authenticity verification process and his insights.

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Hi Mr. Murashima! Could you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Sure! My passion for sneakers started way back in my university days. Back then, finding genuine sneakers was a hobby for me. Before joining SNKRDUNK, I worked as an appraiser at MONOKABU.

When SNKRDUNK and MONOKABU merged, I became the leader of the entire sneaker appraisal team here. At SNKRDUNK, our appraisers handle hundreds of sneakers for authentication every single day. This high volume has definitely given me a wealth of experience in spotting fakes.

The Training System for Developing Sneaker Appraisers at SNKRDUNK

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Can you walk us through the typical duties of a sneaker appraiser at SNKRDUNK?

Sure! To ensure our customers can shop confidently and safely, every sneaker purchased on the SNKRDUNK reselling platform, first arrives at SNKRDUNK Base, where we meticulously authenticate each pair. This involves inspecting not just the shoes, but also the box, any YCM stickers, wrapping paper, accessories, and anything else included.

What kind of background do you look for when hiring appraisers?

We primarily target individuals with experience in the secondary sneaker market. A strong understanding of sneaker construction is crucial, so during interviews, we might ask about specific parts of a shoe, the inspiration behind a certain model, or the years of reprints to assess their expertise.

I understand there’s a ranking system for SNKRDUNK appraisers. Can you elaborate on that?

Yes, we have a ranking system. All sneaker appraisers start as apprentices, each assigned a mentor for training. We categorize sneakers by authentication level and periodically administer tests for each level.

How long does it typically take for an apprentice to become a full-fledged appraiser?

It takes about a year. You can learn the process flow in about a month to a month and a half, but becoming proficient at authentication requires more time. To expedite this, we conduct monthly appraisal tests and provide continuous training with individual mentors.

Reference image: An example of a sneaker appraiser’s authenticity test

I looked at the sneaker appraisal test beforehand and thought it was not easy even for sneaker enthusiasts.

Even if you love sneakers, many people struggle to authenticate them. Both fake and real sneakers have their specific characteristics, and our tests assess a deep understanding of these nuances. Beyond choosing an answer, we also require justification for each selection, explaining why they judged a shoe to be real or fake. This approach helps solidify knowledge and identify areas for improvement.

Tailoring Authentication to the Threat: SNKRDUNK’s Multi-Tiered System

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

(Left) Real (Right) Fake

It seems the prevalence of fakes varies depending on a shoe’s popularity and resale value. Does SNKRDUNK adjust its authentication process for different models?

Absolutely! At SNKRDUNK, we have set five levels of authenticity for each sneaker model. The number of fakes in circulation heavily influences this ranking. Sneakers in authenticity levels 1 and 2 are handled by apprentice appraisers working alongside mentors. Authenticity levels 3 to 4 sneakers require mid-level or higher appraisers.

Finally, Level 5 mandates an investigation by a seasoned professional, regardless of the initial assessments. Even if a model passes our initial tests, it still needs final approval from our team leader for Level 5 verification. Additionally, any model an appraiser feels unsure about gets more thorough checks by experts, no matter the assigned level.

Can you give some examples? What kind of sneakers fall under Level 1 verification, where fakes are less common?

Typically, Level 1 applies to recently released inline models that haven’t sold out yet. However, we constantly monitor both the secondary(resale) market and the fake sneaker landscape. We update the authenticity appraisal level daily based on whether the product is registered and if there has been fake distribution in the past.

What models require Level 5 authentication, where there are many fakes?

Level 5 includes models like collaboration sneakers with Travis Scott, the recently hyped released Tiffany Air Force 1, or any shoe with a high resale value and a history of being counterfeited fall under Level 5. Additionally, even models with lower resale prices, such as the ‘Panda Dunks’ and ‘Vintage Navy’ are set to Level 5 due to the prevalence of fakes for these popular styles.

Key Points of Authentication: “Authenticity Verification Materials” and “X-Ray Technology”

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Can you walk us through the typical sneaker appraisal process at SNKRDUNK?

Sure! Everything starts with receiving the sneakers from the seller. Once they arrive, a dedicated terminal scans a unique barcode linked to the transaction. This pulls up all the details of the traded product on a tablet.

We begin by verifying the product number and size match the order. We first check if the product number and size match, then proceed to authenticate the box, wrapping paper, main unit, and accessories from the outside in.

We then leverage a powerful tool—our ever-growing database of authentication materials. Each SKU* has its own entry on the tablet, containing a comprehensive list of reference images showcasing both genuine and counterfeit features. Apprentice appraisers use these side-by-side comparisons to meticulously evaluate the sneakers with their mentor’s guidance.

*SKU: Abbreviation for Stock Keeping Unit, used for inventory management purposes.

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

That sounds thorough! How do you build this extensive database of authentication verification materials?

It’s a continuous effort! Whenever a fake sneaker is identified during the appraisal process, our team members meticulously document it. We also actively gather intel on fakes circulating elsewhere, constantly updating our materials before new shipments even arrive. In fact, we create over 600 authentication documents every year—a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of counterfeits.

That’s impressive! But surely, not all sneakers are created equal when it comes to fakes. How do you account for such variations within authentic pairs?

With the vast volume of sneakers we handle at SNKRDUNK, we’ve accumulated a wealth of data on natural variations within authentic SKUs. This information is documented, allowing appraisers to use the tablet’s barcode scanner to instantly check if a particular variation falls within the expected range or if it might be a cause for concern.

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

Traditional sneaker authentication relies on experience-based checks like box color, printing font, and material texture. Does SNKRDUNK incorporate technology into the process? How?

Absolutely! We go beyond the traditional approach and leverage data and cutting-edge technology for our appraisals. A prime example is our use of X-ray machines to analyze a sneaker’s internal structure, something invisible to the naked eye.

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

How exactly does analyzing the internal structure help identify fakes?

It’s particularly useful for established models with consistent designs. Take the Air Jordan 1 for instance. The internal air pocket shape hasn’t changed significantly in over a decade.

This consistency allows us to X-ray new models and compare their internal structure with our extensive database of authentic Air Jordan 1s. Any deviations raise a red flag. When a new model arrives for the first time, it always undergoes an X-ray scan for comparison with our existing authentication materials.

That’s fascinating! It seems like a lot of fakes circulate before a shoe’s official release. Is that true?

Whether before or after release, fake sneakers arrive at SNKRDUNK making up less than 1% of the total products we receive here. Fake sneaker sellers create their first batches based on leaked images, so it’s common for models arriving before release to be fake.

For example, we received fake Travis Scott’s Reverse Mocha and Black Phantom sneakers before their official release. Generally, pre-release fakes are of poor quality, with inferior box materials and wrapping paper. However, the quality of fakes tends to improve over time.

Japan’s Only Cutting-Edge Technology x Our Passion for Appraisals

Fake Vs Real Sneakers: How SNKRDUNK Legit Checks if Sneakers Are Authentic

To wrap up, Mr. Murashima, could you share a message for SNKRDUNK users?

It’s frustrating for me personally, but I can’t make the details of our authentication materials and points public because fake companies could exploit that information. However, our unwavering passion lies in ensuring everyone enjoys secure transactions.

That’s why SNKRDUNK is the only platform leveraging cutting-edge technology like X-rays and constantly updated, model-specific authenticity verification materials. We’re committed to providing the ultimate peace of mind for our users.

Thank you, Mr. Murashima! This has been incredibly insightful.

Additionally, for our readers interested in learning more, we’ll have more series on sneakers, streetwear, and TCG authentication, including guides to identifying genuine sneakers.

In the meantime, check out these links and features below for more information about SNKRDUNK Base, our state-of-the-art authentication, logistics, and appraisal facility.

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How SNKRDUNK Authenticates TCG Products
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How SNKRDUNK Authenticates Sneakers
How SNKRDUNK Authenticates TCG and Spots Re-Shrinked Box Sets