10 Ways To Tell Real Sneakers


Over the past five decades, Vans has gone from a SoCal skateboarding staple to a global powerhouse.

The company’s popularity has waned and waxed over the years. But today, especially with the ‘90s fashion revival, the skate shoe brand has become not just an iconic staple within the skating community, but also in the wardrobes of many sneakerheads.

Aside from the average joes, a lot of stylish celebrities are also fans of Vans’ classic cool design. Power couple Justin and Hailey Bieber, for instance, have been seen several times in various Vans sneakers.

Justin Bieber wears pink Vans Authentic sneakers, while Hailey Baldwin opts for Vans Sk8-Hi Check shoes while leaving a spa in Beverly Hills on May 16, 2019

Justin Bieber wears pink Vans Authentic sneakers, while Hailey Baldwin opts for Vans Sk8-Hi Check shoes while leaving a spa in Beverly Hills on May 16, 2019

Given the celebrity support as well as its timeless design, it’s not surprising that Vans has become one of the top-selling sneaker brands today.

Since it was acquired in 2004 by VF Corporation—the American apparel company behind famous brands such as Timberland and The North Face— Vans has grown into a $3 billion global lifestyle brand.

In an earnings report released in 2019, VF Corp said that it has gained a 35% increase in Vans sales globally, and it is planning to grow Vans’ revenue by $2 billion to achieve its $5 billion revenue target by the fiscal year 2023. VF Corp was recently been named Company of the Year by the footwear magazine Footwear News.

Vans Old Skool Sneakers

Vans Old Skool Sneakers

Despite the steady revenue growth, Vans has also suffered significant losses due to counterfeiting. One of their most copied styles is the Vans Old Skool. It was introduced in 1977 and it’s the first to feature the iconic side stripe.

There are many illegal manufacturers that produce exact replicas of Vans shoes, and it can be quite challenging to identify a genuine pair.

Vans Era Shoes

Vans Era Shoes

There are several ways to know if you’re buying the real deal. Before purchasing a pair of Vans, check out the tips below to avoid getting duped.

1. Check the dealer

With the thriving black market, you should carefully inspect the dealer you’re buying from. For online transactions, the first thing you must do is to check the ratings and feedback of the seller for reference.

If in doubt, buy directly from Vans’ official website or from established online retailers like Zappos, Nordstrom, Farfetch, DSW, and Amazon.

You can also check out the store locator to find authorized retailers near you.

2. Compare prices

Vans Old Skool shoes are priced at $60, while the Era, Slip-On, and Authentic sneakers usually start at $50. If the dealer is selling a pair for less than the said price tags, they are most likely a fake.

You can buy discounted Vans slip-on sneakers, high-tops, and skate shoes at Nordstrom Rack.

3. Inspect the packaging

The box should be sturdy and properly labeled. It should also have a locking mechanism, wherein the tab on top of the box is inserted on the inside of the box.

Aside from the logo prints, the box should also have a label on one side that displays the shoe size, style, color, and a barcode. You can scan it through your phone and it should correspond with the shoe details.

On the inside, there should be a logo-printed paper wrapping to protect the shoes. A paper tag sporting the logo should also be tied to the shoe. It’s usually a glossy sticker paper tag with fine color and neat logo printing.

4. Examine the trademarks

Every Vans shoe style has a red rectangular rubber tab with a white logo print (or white rubber tab with black logo) at the heel.

Genuine Vans trademark logo on the heel tab

Genuine Vans trademark logo on the heel tab

There should also be a nicely printed, easy-to-read trademark on the insoles.

Vans trademark printed on the insole

Vans trademark printed on the insole

Except for Old Skool and Sk8 styles, Vans sneakers usually have a rectangular strip of fabric with the brand’s logo on the lateral side of the shoe.

Most Vans shoes have trademark on the lateral side

Most Vans shoes have a trademark on the lateral side

The Sk8 style, whether mid or high, has a square Vans Off the Wall logo patch made of canvas fabric that is neatly sewn on the tip of the tongues.

Vans Sk8-Hi logo patch on the tongue

Vans Sk8-Hi logo patch on the tongue

The colors of the trademarks may vary depending on the shoe color, but these trademarks should be spelled correctly and done in the same font.

5. Check the rubber toe caps

Every Vans sneaker has re-enforced rubber toe guards that are neatly bonded to the shoe for protection against wear and tear. It should be textured, while the rest of the midsole should come smooth.

There should also be a slight gap between the rubber toe cap and the shoe fabric. Knockoffs usually have no gap, with the rubber collar extending to the fabric.

Vans sneakers' textured rubber toe caps

Vans sneakers’ textured rubber toe caps

The toe angle of authentic Vans shoes should point slightly upward. If it’s flat, then they are most likely fake.

Vans shoes should also be easy to bend, with the toes being able to touch the back end of the topline.

Vans shoes toes should slightly face upward

Vans shoes’ toes should slightly face upward

6. Check the padding

Aside from the logos, genuine Vans shoes are easily identifiable by the slightly rounded padded collar. The footbed is also padded for added comfort and superior shock absorption.

All genuine Vans shoes have padded collar and footbed

Genuine Vans shoes have padded collar and footbed

7. Examine the stitching

Carefully check the stitching. Fake Vans usually have loose or uneven stitching, while original pairs have straight, symmetric and solid stitching.

Vans sneakers' straight and even stitching

Vans sneakers’ straight and even stitching

8. Check the laces and eyelets

All authentic Vans shoelaces should be firm. Fake ones have poor quality soft and thin laces.

Vans shoes have neatly painted eyelets

Vans shoes have firm shoelaces and neatly painted eyelets

Except for the original Old Skool Vans, which only have raw shoelace holes, genuine Vans sneakers have neatly painted and properly aligned eyelets.

Vans Old Skool has raw eyelets

Vans Old Skool has raw eyelets

9. Check the outsoles

Authentic Vans shoes have vulcanized rubber waffle soles that come in rhomboid and diamond shapes.

There should also be a two or three letter country code embossed in the sole, which is a mark to determine the country of production. It should also match the code on the sticker inside the box.

Vans shoes have rubber waffle soles with a two or three-letter country code

Vans shoes have rubber waffle soles with a two or three letter country code

10. Feel the weight

Lastly, feel the weight of the Vans shoes that you’re about to purchase. Depending on the style, it should feel slightly heavy and should weigh anywhere between 0.75 (Vans Era) to 2.87 pounds (Vans Sk8-Hi Classics).

Celebrities Wearing Vans

Justin Bieber slips into Vans Classic slip-on shoes while walking in Central London with Hailey Bieber on September 17, 2018

Justin Bieber slips into Vans Classic slip-on shoes while walking in Central London with Hailey Bieber on September 17, 2018

Kristen Stewart in Vans Era sneakers outside Jimmy Kimmel Live Studio in Los Angeles on September 23, 2019

Kristen Stewart in Vans Era sneakers outside Jimmy Kimmel Live Studio in Los Angeles on September 23, 2019

Kourtney Kardashian in Vans Old Skool shoes while leaving Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills on December 13, 2016

Kourtney Kardashian in Vans Old Skool shoes while leaving Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills on December 13, 2016

Gigi Hadid at The Grove in Vans Old Skool shoes

Gigi Hadid at The Grove in Vans Old Skool shoes on July 22, 2015

Gwen Stefani sports Vans Sk8-Hi leather kicks at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London on July 24, 2014

Gwen Stefani sports Vans Sk8-Hi leather kicks at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London on July 24, 2014

Hailey Bieber wearing Vans Old Skool sneakers in Beverly Hills

Hailey Bieber wearing Vans Old Skool sneakers in Beverly Hills on May 26, 2019

Credit: Vans / Instar / Will Alexander/ Derek Jarvis / Mega / WENN



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