The counterfeit sneaker market booms with the desire for Yeezys
In an L.A. Times study published September 5, the paper claimed the dearth of Yeezy sneakers – now made by Adidas– is contributing greatly to the booming counterfeit market for designer sneakers. Other highly knocked off athletic shoes - Puma, New Balance, Nike – don’t come close to the market for Yeezys, created by Kanye West.
Yeezys “pirate black” style, a charcoal knit edition, was manufactured in a limited run of about 40,000, then released in August 2015 for two hundred dollars retail. Now they’re hyped on secondary markets like The RealReal and Vestiaire for over a thousand, even fifteen hundred – seven and a half times the retail price.
Many luxury brands use scarceness as a marketing tool – which contributes to price gauging in the resale market. This now leads Yeezy and many designer sneaker fans to order them online from special replica sites in China, market them on social media – then sell them on reputable e-commerce sites. Customers are now more than willing to pay more than $100 a pair for fakes, since even experts can no longer spot the replica from the real.
Yeezys are the most coveted – and knocked off – sneakers in 30 years, since Michael Jordan Nike high-tops. Their knit fabric and proximity to the Kardashian sisters and West himself provides endless Instagram coverage. And they’ve made Adidas appear cooler than Nike. Nike’s still dominant in U.S. athletic footwear with 37.7% of the industry’s share in July, according to NPD Group. But that’s down from 39.5% from last year. Adidas, in that period, has grown to 11.9% market share from 7.3%.
The most popular way of finding the best brand replicas is the Reddit forum called Repsneakers, which now has 56,000 subscribers. Scarcity of top brands fuels this secondary market, which is centered in Putian, in China’s coastal Fujian province, China’s sneaker manufacturing capital for decades. Helped by Repsneakers, it’s now the center of the counterfeit shoe industry. Illicit factories often obtain samples of new styles directly from Adidas’ two factories in China. The moles are also responsible for photos of proto Yeezys leaking online before Adidas announces their release. Yes, there are constant crackdowns on these factories, and they shut down for a few days, according to the Times. But soon after business resumes. The now $460-billion knockoff goods industry proves how widespread counterfeiting of desired goods has become in the digital age.
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