Every year, the world of counterfeit goods amasses another $500 billion in wealth. Shoes make up a whopping 22% of that number, making shoes the hottest product on the counterfeit market. Brands like Louboutin, Adidas, Nike, and UGG are frequent victims of the counterfeit scheme. To this day, much of the counterfeit fashion world remains a mystery. Consumers don’t know where their shoes came from, or even what their shoes are made out of. Some fakes are so convincing that to the untrained eye, there is no significant difference. Many people have inadvertently purchased counterfeit sneakers without even realizing they are doing so.

Sellers of counterfeit sneakers operate across all channels. They create websites which appear legitimate, they sell their counterfeit sneakers to third parties to distribute, they gather contacts and leads much in the same way that a regular business does. The major difference is that their business has no legitimate brand. In the best light, these shoes are rip offs. At worst, these shoes are plain theft.

Counterfeits Make Headlines

A recently unsealed court case sheds light on the massive industry that is counterfeit sneakers from China. China is nicknamed “the fake sneaker capital of the world”. It lives up to its name. Thanks to China, counterfeit sneakers comprise a whopping $450 billion market, surpassing all other kinds of counterfeit shoes.

Bringing fraudulent sneakers into the states is very similar to drug smuggling. Burner phones, coercion, law evasion, violence, and a system of individual importers all prop up the phony shoe business. In December of 2019, a kingpin in the phony shoe business by the name of Qing Fu Zeng was arrested after smuggling $472,000,000 worth of shoes into ports across the United States. Zeng, like other counterfeit businessmen, had obtained fraudulent business licenses in the United States. He also had developed an elaborate distribution system by creating fraudulent accounts and buying bulk amounts of self-storage facilities so he could store his shoes before selling them.

You may be wondering why it matters so much. Perhaps you are asking yourself how illegal sneakers could compare to illicit drugs. While the product is not as deadly, the criminal system which must be in place in order to obtain an illegal pair of shoes is vast and injurious. The damage is not only done to the brands the frauds are ripping off, but the problem truly lies in the fact that the money used to purchase counterfeit shoes is money given to transnational criminal organizations. That is inherently unethical. 

If you need more reasons to avoid buying counterfeit products, here are a just a few.

  • Many counterfeit products are contaminated with dangerous toxins because there is no regulation surrounding the production of the product.
  • Production facilities used to manufacture counterfeit goods are not environmentally friendly.
  • The product is not as quality. Not only are counterfeits potentially dangerous, they are also just not made as well.
  • Buying off the black market is like stealing money from taxpayers.
  • The purchase of cheaper counterfeit products ultimately raises the price of legitimate products, as the companies offset the price of combating counterfeits onto the consumer.
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