Shoe Reps – Everything to know before buying

shoe reps

Replica shoes, also called  “shoe reps,” are shoes that try their best to replicate the look of the original. When you see shoes labelled as “reps,” they are essentially replica shoes. Shoe reps are by no means authentic. They are just made to look as close to the original as possible.

Knockoffs, clones, and replicas are used interchangeably for shoes that are made to imitate their originals. Only some of them are not really “knockoffs” per se. A new category of clones has taken the world by storm, known as 1:1 reps, and are made with the same premium materials, to the same exacting standards, down to the same factories in countries that made the originals.

Today, ShoeHarbour will be breaking down the whole stigma that surrounds shoe reps and everything you need to know before buying them (please don’t!).  So stay tuned for today’s article, Shoe Reps – Everything to Know Before Buying!

Check out our write-up on the hottest pair of sneakers right now, the Asic’s Japan S!

shoe rep

How Big is the Shoe Rep(lica) Industry?

shoe rep

The annual turnover of the shoe replica industry for just the sneakers segment alone is estimated at a whopping US$72.72 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow annually by about 7.95% year over year

The sneakers segment is one of the most affected industries by counterfeits, coming in at 22% of the total value of customs-seized counterfeit goods. Among the most counterfeited brands are luxury brands such as Michael Kors, Gucci, or Louis Vuitton as well as mass-market brands such as Nike, Levi’s and Adidas. 

This begs the question, Why is there such a booming market for shoe reps?

Why do people buy Shoe Reps?

Let’s take a case in point on why shoe replicas have seen such a meteoric rise in popularity: the Nike Chunky Dunkys, a highly sought-after sneaker that commands a resale value of more than $1,000.

The real Chunky Dunky pair was originally sold for $100, a collaboration between Nike and ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s that features Nike’s signature Swoosh in yellow and a cow skin pattern, a homage to the bovine face on the ice cream maker’s packaging.

shoe rep

The Chunky Dunky sold out immediately after its release and is retailing for an average sale price of $1,609 on StockX. Brands can kill off the replica shoe market almost immediately by producing enough units to cater to everyone, but will they? 

Over the past years, brands like Nike and Adidas have been releasing “limited edition” sneakers and only “dropping” them in batches of a couple of hundred with the sole reason of maintaining hype around the shoe. 

For as long as this culture of “feeding the hypebeasts” is here to stay, the shoe replica industry will be there to profit from it.

The different grades of Shoe Reps

Believe it or not, shoe reps have different grade levels to them, and the higher it is, the better its quality. Typically, there are five primary grade levels: AAA, SP, SMP, 1:1 and UA

1. AAA
Grade AAA is the worst and lowest quality shoe rep out there that you can find.

Made from the cheapest materials and very bad craftsmanship, they are usually referred to as “super fakes.”

They can be recognized as replicas from just a casual glance and are often stiff, uncomfortable, and even painful to wear

2. Super Perfect (SP)
Even though coined as Super Perfect, this grade of shoe rep is only just a step up from grade AAA.

Often known as low-quality replicas, the SP grade is a little bit better than grade AAA in terms of comfort and durability, but you will still be able to spot its many flaws when you inspect the shoes closely. 

3. Super Max Perfect (SMP)
The Super Max Perfect (SMP) is a mid-grade quality replica shoe.

These shoes are a big improvement from the earlier-mentioned grades with fewer noticeable flaws and are made from better materials and good craftsmanship.

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Though still far from the “real thing,” SMP grades can be passed off as a good shoe rep for the undiscerned eye. 

4. 1:1 (one-to-one)
As its name implies, 1:1 shoe reps are the closest to the real thing. They use the exact same materials (i.e., high-quality materials) and best manufacturing techniques, with some minor flaws intentionally  put in by manufacturers to prevent lawsuits.

One-to-one replicas are made to last and cost significantly more than the earlier few grades and are pretty close in authenticity to the real deal.

5. Unauthorized Authentic (UA)
The highest-quality shoe rep available, the Unauthorized Authentic (UA) is as much as the real deal as possible.

These shoes are made at the same manufacturing location, use the same materials and craftsmanship, and have features that the exact shoe has.

The only difference that UAs have with the originals is that this grade of reps is not authorized by the brand due to a failed QC check (being one of the many reasons).

A UA pair is very hard to spot, and only a shoe specialist or someone who examines it very closely can tell that it’s a replica.

How do I spot shoe reps?

shoe rep

There are a couple of tried and tested ways to be able to spot shoe reps from originals. Here’s how:

1. Check the source
Buying a pair of new kicks off a social media account with 2 followers and 3 pictures? Probably a fake.

ALWAYS check if the website that you are buying from has the option of paying with PayPal as PayPal is in the business of making money, not losing it. They have a great security team that sniffs out schemers, and PayPal themselves would have to foot the bill.

2. Check the box
The packaging and tags of the shoe are usually  what replicas neglect. Take the time to compare your box, item stickers, fonts, and retail tag of the packaging.

Big brands DO NOT make mistakes with their boxes, and flaws in your shoes’ packaging is usually the first sign of a rep.

Most brands have the below information printed on their shoe box, so check yours to see if they are all there:

  • The model name or number of the shoe
  • Place of manufacture
  • SKU code
  • Size of the shoe
  • Barcode

3. SKU code
Check the SKU code of your shoes. SKU, which stands for stock keeping unit, can be found on the sticker of your shoe box or on the tag inside your shoes.

Typically consisting of just numbers, or sometimes a combination of letters, numbers, and a hyphen, the SKU code is unique for each color design of each individual model of branded shoes.

Using this, you can find out on the internet whether the SKU code on your shoes matches the ordered pair.

4. Inside tag
Original shoes will always have an inside tag that tells you the information of the shoe. Located at the tongue of the shoe or sometimes at the ankle, the tag contains information such as the brand name, model name, place of manufacture, and size.

Match this information from the tag with the shoe box to check for any discrepancies.

If your shoes does not have an inside tag or the information doesn’t match, chances are you are likely to be looking at a pair of replicas. 

5. Smell your shoes
As funny as it sounds, smelling your shoes can actually tell you whether  they are replicas or authentic!

Shoe reps are usually made from low-quality material and held together using subpar adhesives.

So if your shoes give off a chemical and toxic smell, there is a high chance that they are fake.

How can you tell if your Common Projects are fake?

Check the sole

The soles of Common Projects are made out of thick rubber and have a well-patched undersole. For most reps of Common Projects, the rubber soles might not have the right quality and might not be thick.

Check the stitchings

The stitching of the Common Projects are usually deeply embedded and match the color of the sole. On replicas, however, the stitching is  regular on all sides, and if the color of the stitching does not match the soles, you are looking at a fake!

Check the laces

The laces of Common Projects are made flat and skinnier and match the color of the shoes or its soles. If the laces seem fatter, chances are the Common Project pair that you are looking at is a fake!

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Know the price

The Common Projects sneakers are Limited Edition runs and are quite expensive. They usually go for upwards of $300. So if the shoes are priced between $20 to $50, those are not originals!

Should I be wearing shoe reps?

Honestly, no. If you are looking for shoes that look and feel exactly like the real thing, shoe reps are not for you. With shoe reps, you are sacrificing both quality and durability, all for the sake of saving a couple of bucks.

Do keep in mind that shoe reps are not as comfortable as the originals as well! 

Which is why, in this next section, we will be sharing 6 authentic shoes that look just like their counterparts yet are much more affordable!

6 Sneakers that look like the Yeezy 350 - But Way Cheaper AND Original

The Yeezy 350 which retails at $350 is a steep price for a sneaker

Authentic Brands that are NOT Shoe Reps

Addidas Alphabounce

Adidas Pureboost

Reebok Workout Plus

Nike Free RN Flyknit

Adidas Pureboost DPR

Nike Free RN

Reviews

Adidas Alphabounce

Patrick Booth
Patrick Booth
Top Among "Bang for the Buck Shoes" (Versatile, constructed well, comfy, offers a stylish yet not over the top look)
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I have had the Alphabounce Beyond for just over a month or so now and felt that myself enough time to write on honest review. I will start off with the pros and cons for folks who want a summary and then write a detailed review/observation log below. Pros: - Serious bang for the buck (among the best compared to shoes in the same category/price point) - Materials feel premium for such a price point, something Adidas has been generous with for many recent models - Versatile use whether it be for daily tasks/work or exercising - Strong variety in color options as well as an appealing look that seems to feel appropriate for many occasions - Comfortably wide, will accommodate many foot shapes, fits true to size -Easy to clean with a cloth towel and water (light soap if needed)
Haddie
Haddie
Favorite Tennis Shoes!! *** SIZES RUN DIFFERENT THAN TYPICAL TENNIS SHOES***
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BE AWARE THAT SIZES RUN SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT. I always wear a 7.5 in tennis shoes but wear a 7 in these. They fit perfectly. I love that these are slightly wider so they don't squeeze my feet too hard (like Nike's sometimes can). They can take a little bit of time to stretch out but fit amazingly once they do. I already have a pair of the all black Adidas Alphabounce & I love them so much I had to get a gray pair as well! They're high quality & I've gotten lots of compliments on them. Pictures were taken after a month & a half of use & they still look brand new, they're awesome shoes!
TamilynS
TamilynS
5 STAR Comfort and support
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First, I am a woman and a nurse. I had surgery for non-responsive plantar fasciitis last year. I'm definitely not 100% and my operative foot swells every day. Pre-op I wore Hoka One One, but those don't work now in r/t to ankle rolling. I wear alegria(grandma shoes) if I have to *dress up* but wanted something for outdoor hikes too. LOVE THESE, comfortable at work...flat surfaces 3-6 miles/day. But also awesome hiking. I notoriously roll my ankles, even more so postop, but these keep my foot stable.
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Adidas Pureboost

W.Anderson
W.Anderson
great if you have a sensitive achilles area
Read More
This is my third DPR, and at first was not sure, then I got a second pair after I wore out the other ones. Then I realized these are great. I used them for weight pack rucking and I have not complains. The hear support is perfect, as it's more support on the sides, rather then the back (which relieves any achilles irritation). I wish Adidas would update, but I guess that is not the case.
NewEnglandComrade
NewEnglandComrade
Compared to Brooks PureFlow, On Cloud, and Asics Gel-33/Nimbus, this is the best shoes.
Read More
I paid only ~$85 for these shoes, and they're excellent after you break them in. I also love On-Cloud, but they're typically $125, so these are a much better value. I love that they don't use vanity sizing. My size 10 fits well. For On-Cloud and Brooks, you have to order an entire size upwards.
W.
W.
Always Awesome
Read More
I now own 6 pairs because they are the best running shoe/every day shoe I’ve ever walked/ran in. I asked a really fat guy once how they feel with all his weight. He swore by them. I’m never going back.
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Reebok Workout Plus

Rich Chavez
Rich Chavez
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST DAD SHOES ON MARKET!
Read More
Perfect for grillin', chasing your kids around the store and slamming crispy boyz with the neighbors. ***Please note: your wife may be jealous of your drip and extra attention from the cute blonde down the street.
Nathan ONeal
Nathan ONeal
Their white
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Best purchase yet on Amazon. You wouldn’t believe how many people commented on these British Knights. Random people in elevators commenting, friends, and even the jealous fashionista said “I’d get them dirty wearing them to work” which really meant Damn, I won’t be getting as much attention today.
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They also are extremely comfortable. I work all day long on concrete floors and have had to wear special orthopedic shoes. No problem. Went shopping in the mall for hours with my girl. No problem. My sister saw me in my work out pants and jabbed at me calling me Euro. Which really meant you look good, I’m feeling insecure… No problem. I said thank you. It’s a compliment. Their great.
David E.Morris
David E.Morris
Just like they were originally
Read More
Had these many years ago and wore them out and couldn't find them again. Am glad they came back out. Ordered them a full size larger than what I normally wear based on the reviews and could've done with a half size larger but all is well. Received them yesterday and am happy with the purchase as there are no issues to report. If anything changes I'll update my review but, do not think that will be required.
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Nike Free RN Flyknit

	Louis Kokernak
Louis Kokernak
Great All Around Lightweight Shoe with Sleek Design
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This shoe is one step up from minimalist...but it's just right for me. Not much of a drop from back to front. I use it as a trainer. Sleek simple design and, of course, lightweight. The soles will trap little pebbles. Not an issue, however. Perhaps I would avoid using it on an indoor track after training outdoors. This is the third pair I've purchased. Put my previous pairs in the clothes washer a few times with no ill effect. Note that I reached back to this 2018 model in late 2021. That's a pretty serious commitment.
E
E
Light and durable
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Great shoes for a run or walking. Not comfortable for sitting still for long periods of time due to their form fit around the foot. The lightness is surprising comforting when walking, and I find these shoes to be very maneuverable. Highly recommend these shoes for active wear. Personally, I love the minimalist design.
skim15
skim15
Great for traveling
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I bought these shoes specifically for travelling. I like to run while I am on the road for work and needed a pair that were both comfortable to run with, but also lightweight and most importantly could be squished down very flat for easy carry-on packing. I have been very happy so far with these shoes. They are pretty stylish, very comfortable to run in, and most importantly extremely light and compact.
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Final Verdict

Missing out on the latest drop of a pair of limited edition Yeezys only to later find that the price of that exact pair is 10 times its original by scalpers/resellers is a feeling that nearly all of us shoe enthusiasts has come to terms with

But that doesn’t mean that we should go out of our way to get shoe reps to satisfy our appetite for limited editions! There are plenty of authentic shoes out there such as those we mentioned above that deserve as much hype in their own rights.

Check out this article for everything you need to know about the Nike Air and Air Jordan!

Leave us a comment below if you would like us to explore more of these look-alikes!

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