August 2, 2018
By Noelani Piters
HOW TO SPOT REAL BALENCIAGA SHOESSHOP BALENCIAGA SNEAKERS
Orthopedic chic is a phrase that may never have come into existence without the dawn of the Balenciaga Triple S. Though a fashion revolution has long been underway since Phoebe Philo’s re-envisioned Birkenstocks at Céline in 2013, no one was ready for the iconoclastic cascade of ugly, practical and undeniably comfortable dad sneakers that shattered aesthetic norms and kindled ‘90s nostalgia industry-wide.
Though Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga Speed Trainer technically debuted first in November of 2016, it was arguably the Triple S – released the following year and worn daily by icons like Bella Hadid and Hailey Baldwin – that cemented the trend into the hearts and minds of the fashion masses. Inevitably, the trend has led to fake versions of both Balenciaga shoes popping up. To avoid the ultimate faux pas, our Chief Authenticator, Graham Wetzbarger, shares his tips for spotting the genuine article so you’re never caught wearing anything less than 100% authentic.
Balenciaga Speed Trainer Materials
The Balenciaga Speed Trainers come in a multitude of colors, but all are made of a nylon double-knit jersey upper and feature a sculpted rubber sole. “The rubber sole is created with the brand’s special memory sole technology, and inside you’ll find a sockliner that should be made of terry cloth,” notes Wetzbarger. “The terry cloth’s looped pile adds an extra level of comfort. If it’s made of anything else, that’s definitely a red flag.”
Balenciaga Speed Trainer Construction
“Depending on the year of manufacture, there will be variances to the Speed Trainers’ structure and shape,” says Wetzbarger. “On the 2018 versions, you’ll find a contrasting black accent at the sole and an updated Balenciaga font at the sock upper. Earlier versions, like the one pictured here, feature an older font and a single-colored sole.”
The shoe’s knit should be bonded extremely well to the rubber outsole. There should be no visible glue where it is bonded. “Also check the detailing in the contour of the shoe,” notes Wetzbarger. “It should tip forward at the toe box for an athletic aesthetic and functionality.”
Another key component of this engineered knit is a diagonal seam, delineating tighter and looser sections of the textile. “The knit at the back of the shoe is heavier to support the ankle, and the front is looser to add more mobility for the wearer,” adds Wetzbarger. “If the trainer’s knit is only one weight throughout with no seam or shaping at the back, this is a definite sign that the shoe is inauthentic.”
The Speed Trainers’ unique sole is also an important point of authentication. “Pay attention to the details, such as how the bottom outsole is stamped and cast,” says Wetzbarger. “There should be a circular tread and a smooth rubber finish, with different panels forming the outsole.”
Inside the shoe itself, look for two rows of stitches that hold an elastic strip — a knit abrasion guard — in place to cover the seams and prevent blisters. “This adds strength and durability to the knit, and can be found on every authentic Speed Trainer,” confirms Wetzbarger.
Look for the removable sockliner, which will feature a handwritten American size on the insole or a stamped French size. “Beneath the sockliner, the insole should reveal heavy hand stitching to attach it to the outsole,” says Wetzbarger. “If it feels flimsy or if the stitching is uneven and loose, that’s a sign that the shoe is fake.”
Balenciaga Speed Trainer Brand Identifiers
The Balenciaga Speed Trainers feature the signature logo in four places: on the knit upper, back counter, rubber outsole and sockliner. “The sizing of the font on the knit instep will be different on 2018 versions,” says Wetzbarger. “But pay special attention to the font itself, specifically the G, C and the pitch of the As to make sure they’re consistent with the brand’s logo. The As should also feature a flat top.”
The sockliner’s permanent laminated sticker will feature the logo, its French size and Made in Italy for its country of origin. “This may shift as Balenciaga begins to produce more of its pieces in China,” notes Wetzbarger, “but as of July 2018, the Speed Trainers are manufactured in Italy.”
Balenciaga Triple S Sneaker Materials
The Balenciaga Triple S’s upper comprises a patchwork of leather, mesh, jersey and, at the toe box, a proprietary reflective 3M material. “The architectural outsole, its most noteworthy feature, is a mold that remains consistent between its many colorways, injected with different hues for different versions,” notes Wetzbarger. “There are also a myriad of textures. Pummeled, chevron, cross-hatched, smooth and matte surfaces create a unique and distinctive appearance. If any of the many textures are not present on a version that typically features them, it means the shoe is not genuine.”
Another aspect that is consistent, regardless of colorway, is the hard, glossy plastic that cradles the outsole at the instep. It will always be printed with a raised Balenciaga logo, and will be surrounded with the shoe’s rubber treading.
Balenciaga Triple S Sneaker Construction
Some iterations of the Triple S will include a fabric pull tab at the shoe’s counter. “However,” notes Wetzbarger, “if the counter is leather and a newer version, it will instead be embossed with Balenciaga’s recently minted BB logo.” Earlier versions of the Triple S will also feature a tongue tag with a sateen finish, but newer tags are made of a matte, papery Tyvek material.
The Triple S’s sockliner is different than the Speed Trainers’, and more substantial since the shoe’s weight requires more support. “Its top fabric is bonded to a foam bottom, which should have a pattern of curvilinear lines running through it,” says Wetzbarger. “The sockliner may or may not have a brand logo and size stamp, which will vary by style of shoe. However, it still will have four lines at the heel of the foot.”
Balenciaga Triple S Sneaker Brand Identifiers
Similarly to the Balenciaga Speed Trainer, it’s imperative to examine all of the Balenciaga logo’s fonts throughout the shoe. “Another identifier we look for on certain versions is the embroidered European size on the toe box,” says Wetzbarger. “The font should be consistent, with a pointed 4 and not an open 4, or a rounded 3 if the shoe is a smaller size.” Ensure that the size on the toe matches the size printed on the sockliner and tongue tag, whether it is internal or external.
“Yes, believe it or not, most of these shoes are made in China,” says Wetzbarger. “Triple S sneakers that are made in Italy do exist, but they are rare. The technical skill to make a complicated performance sneaker in China is readily available, as opposed to in Italy, where artisans excel at creating leather shoes.” If the shoe is made in China, it will not be listed on the sockliner, likely just on the tongue tag or — on some versions — on an interior side tag.
Every style will say Balenciaga on the side profile of the shoe. While you should be wary of any inconsistencies in the font, the logo is embroidered on very firm leather, so there will be variances between shoes. “Make allowances for any subtle inconsistencies here, as the embroidery is not a reliable factor for authentication,” notes Wetzbarger. “Look to printed logos on the toe box, sock liner and outsole instep for assessing the shoe’s authenticity.”