How To Spot Real Off-White x Nike Sneakers
Every once in a while, someone comes along who completely changes the culture. In the 1980s, Nike was well-known for its running shoes, but they were struggling. Nike wanted to become recognized for outfitting the world’s biggest athletes. Then came basketball legend Michael Jordan. By working with Michael Jordan and developing the Jordan brand, Nike secured their place in sports and sneaker history; the Air Jordan 1 sneaker reportedly sold $70 million dollars worth of shoes one month after its release. In the ’80s, Nike, Michael Jordan and the Air Jordan 1 became a global phenomenon. And in the ’10s, fittingly, Nike did it again — this time with Virgil Abloh and the Off-White x Nike The Ten collaboration.
“The sneaker world hasn’t been the same since Virgil Abloh and Nike released The Ten,” says Steven Pinkerton, Sneaker & Streetwear Valuation Manager at The RealReal. “He was the first person to take Nike’s iconic sneakers and completely redesign them. After Off-White x Nike sneakers took off, Nike ventured on to other influential figures such as Travis Scott and Jerry Lorenzo for a similar level of hype.” Essentially, Abloh was the catalyst that reinvigorated today’s sneaker collab craze.
Off-White x Nike was revolutionary for Nike and the generation that grew up worshipping their shoes. This collection fused Nike’s dedication to athletic performance and cultural cachet with Abloh’s wit and forward-thinking vision. The Ten also brought together classic Nikes like the Air Force 1 and the Presto with shoes from Nike-owned brands Jordan and Converse. Abloh deconstructed and reconstructed each sneaker, pulling apart layers, revealing the foundations of the shoes beneath our feet and inking them with his signature air quotes. His redesigns became instantaneous hits.
Considering the buzz that surrounded The Ten’s release, there’s no denying that Off-White x Nike sneakers have become some of the most counterfeited shoes to date. So how can you guarantee your grail is genuine? Read on as Pinkerton devotes special attention to three styles from The Ten’s initial drop — the Air Jordan 1, the VaporMax and the Presto — while providing tips to authenticate any Off-White x Nike sneaker.
Off-White x Nike Sneakers: The Construction
Building an Off-White x Nike sneaker is like building a Nike sneaker, and Nike is known for their innovative athletic design and craftsmanship. “Nike’s quality control did not skip over The 10,” explains Pinkerton. “Off-White x Nike sneakers follow the same guidelines as every other Nike model and silhouette. In general, authentic Off-White x Nike pairs should not have too much toe-spring, meaning the toe box should not curl drastically upwards.”
The stitching on Off-White x Nike Air Jordans can immediately raise a red flag if implemented incorrectly. “Pay close attention to the bright orange stitching on the Nike appliqué swoosh,” says Pinkerton. “The orange stitching on the swoosh should not be too tight. Tight stitching on faux pairs can cause the swoosh to look crooked.”
The swoosh on another popular Off-White x Nike model — the VaporMax — can help determine a pair’s authenticity. “The swoosh on real VaporMaxes should have stitching that is used to attach the accent onto the actual shoe. On counterfeit pairs, the stitching will often only be on the swoosh and not threaded through the shoe.”
Peek inside your Off-White x Nike Jordans and pull out the sock liners. “The sock liners should include a grid of small raised pyramids, while the reverse side should include diagonal lines that are evenly spaced and slightly indented,” says Pinkerton. And if you see glue stains on your Off-White x Nike Jordans’ insoles, don’t be alarmed. “There can be diagonal glue stains on the bottom of the shoe’s insole, but these should go only three-fourths of the way up the shoe. Glue should not cover the whole insole.”
The Off-White x Nike Presto is identifiable by its cage accent, which coincidentally can help you authenticate it. “The cutouts on the Presto cage should be narrow and very sharp,” says Pinkerton. “Cutouts on faux pairs can be wide and have rounded edges.”
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Off-White x Nike Sneakers: The Materials
Similarly to the construction, the materials of Off-White x Nike sneakers don’t stray far from the materials of traditional Nike shoes. While some Off-White x Nike sneakers are made of 100% leather with rubber soles, others comprise combinations of suede, leather, nylon, polyester, foam and other synthetic materials for the shoes’ uppers and soles. When it comes to sussing out the real deal, though, it’s all about the details.
“On the now-iconic Off-White x Nike Air Jordan 1, take a close look at the exposed foam on the shoe’s tongue and ankle,” says Pinkerton. “On real pairs, there should be notches protruding from the end of the foam on the tongue, where the stitching is used to hold the Nike brand tag on.” The foam should look slightly distressed but may vary from pair to pair, especially in the secondary market.
Off-White x Nike VaporMaxes should include a matte orange tab by the swoosh. “The tab on authentic pairs should have a slightly unfinished feel to it,” explains Pinkerton. “It shouldn’t be shiny, like patent leather. The Flyknit uppers on real Off-White x Nike VaporMaxes should feel durable yet soft to the touch, and maintain resistance when pressed. Make sure to also inspect the VaporMax Air unit. This should be solid black and very difficult to shine a light through. Faux VaporMax Air units will often be more transparent and purple.”
The Off-White x Nike Presto cage is again a key component to spotting the real deal. “The cage on the Off-White x Nike Presto should be smooth to the touch and stand firm. Counterfeiters will often create versions with a weak, wobbly cage.”
Off-White x Nike Sneakers: The Branding
Virgil Abloh’s signature air-quote branding is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the entire Off-White x Nike collaboration. Abloh himself describes using air quotes as a tool to say two things at once and insert a touch of humor and humanity. “Most of the shoes in Off-White x Nike’s The 10 feature quoted text,” says Pinkerton. “Similarly to the orange tab, the air-quote branding on authentic pairs should have a matte finish. Counterfeit versions may use text that is too glossy.”
Depending on the style, this text can either speak to the materials (“VULCANIZED”, “FOAM”, “AIR”), the components (“SHOELACES”) and the branding itself (“LOGO”). “On all Off-White x Nike shoes, the bottom right leg of the R in the AIR text should finish straight and sharp,” notes Pinkerton. “On faux pairs, we often see the R with a rounded, almost wavy leg. And on Off-White x Nike VaporMax shoes specifically, the AIR branding on the side should not be placed too high above the actual Air unit.”
The text on the Off-White x Nike Air Jordan 1’s side can give more clues about the shoe’s authenticity. “The A of USA should intersect the stitching on authentic pairs and be situated between the two lines of stitching,” says Pinkerton. “The A on faux pairs may be placed lower down on the shoe. The text should also be smooth and not textured. If you run your hand across the text, it should not be raised.”
Though Off-White x Nike VaporMax shoes don’t have the Beaverton, Oregon text, sizing information at the shoe’s interior can provide more insight. “When looking at the interior tag and size number on VaporMaxes, ‘US’ should not be too high above the corresponding number. There should also not be an excessive amount of space between the country size indicators.”
If you remove your laces from the medial collar flap, you’ll find a hidden “85” within. Why 85? The shoe was created in anticipation of the 1985-86 basketball season, and was released in 1985. “The ‘85’ should be present on the reverse side of the flap featuring the embossed AIR JORDAN,” notes Pinkerton. “The text itself should be cleanly printed and like the other text it should be matte.”
Off-White x Nike Sneakers: The Packaging
If an Off-White x Nike sneaker includes its box and packaging, it can help determine if the shoe is real or faux. Though the red zip-tie is a notable aspect of the Off-White x Nike The 10’s branding, many consider it to be packaging and believe it should be removed before wearing. “The text on the red Off-White x Nike zip-tie should be white and very visible,” says Pinkerton. “Faux zip-ties frequently look faded and are hard to read with the naked eye.”
Many authentic Off-White x Nike boxes should be brown, like kraft paper. “The side stamp on these boxes should say ‘ “SHOEBOX” ’ and not the name of the shoe inside,” explains Pinkerton. “Also, look out for the ‘c.2017’ on the box — the font should be thick and bold, not thin.” And last but not least, remember that the box should not be the ultimate determining factor when authenticating Off-White x Nike Sneakers. Always be aware that a counterfeiter could place faux sneakers in an authentic box.