Real or Fake? How To Spot Phony Fashion Items

Real or Fake? How To Spot Phony Fashion Items

It used to be obvious when something was a bootleg. These days, it's hard to tell the difference. Fortunately, our tips will help you spot phony fashion.

Back in the day, it was easy to tell a bootleg from the real deal. Counterfeit items would look awful, feel awful, and make you the laughingstock of any party. These days, technology has improved, and so have bootleggers’ lying game. So how do we tell if an item is real or fake? Our tips will teach you how to spot phony fashion items from a mile away.

General Tips

There are different tricks for spotting fakes depending on what kind of fashion item you’re talking about. But some tricks work for everything from purses to sneakers.


There’s a reason people buy brand-name products. They just feel legit. If you’re shopping in a store for something, look at the material. Is there weight to it? Does it feel comfortable or sturdy? If it does, it’s probably the real deal. But if it doesn’t, or you notice that it’s damaged already, put it back.

By the way, all that glitters is not gold. Quality isn’t the same as “shiny.” People who make a living spotting fakes will tell you that bootleggers often make the mistake of making metal tags and zippers shinier than the original. The color is a paint that peels off easily.


Logos are powerful in the fashion world. They elevate your look and give you all the swagger that the brand deserves. Because logos are so iconic, they’re the easiest place to start when you’re trying to decide if you’re looking at a bootleg.

Logo errors are often subtle. The colors won’t be as vibrant, the stitching isn’t as deep, or the font is slightly off. Sometimes the issue is more obvious. The logo may be in the wrong spot or the wrong color completely. Make sure you have a photo of the logo so you can compare them before buying.


After we check to make sure we’ve got the right size, we typically forget about the tags on our clothes. Like with logos, there are subtle differences on tags that can help you spot phony fashion items. Even if they have the logo spelled right, there may be typos on the tag. And even if it’s spelled correctly, the font may be the wrong size or thickness.

But we’re not just talking about the tag that tells you your Gucci wallet was made in Italy. We’re also talking about the price tag. It’s like mama always said: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Remember: the real deal is made with better quality, and that’s why it costs so much. It’s not impossible to run into a deal online, but just make sure you double-check the supplier and look at reviews if the prices are really low.

Tips for Fashion Items

Now we’re moving on from the general tips and getting into the different types of clothes and accessories. Like we said, bootlegs are pretty legit now. When we say you have to look at the specifics on your clothes, we mean really specific.

Shirts, Sweatshirts, and Jackets

Buttons and Zippers

You thought we were playing about the specifics. You can tell whether clothes are bootlegs or not just based on the type of button or the engraving on the zipper. Check our Rockstar denim jackets. If you look closely, we rep our brand name on the buttons of a lot of our jackets, like our Cayman logo bombers. If you see someone wearing a Rockstar Original with plain buttons, it’s not Rockstar and it’s not original.



When it comes to jeans, pockets aren’t just a place to put your wallet. Bootleg jean pockets often fall into the trap of being the wrong shape. Again, pull up a picture of the real jeans and compare them before buying them. Some jeans will even put a certificate of authenticity on the inside of the pocket.


The Box

After purses and watches, shoes have got to be the most popular items to bootleg. It takes an expert’s eye to spot the difference between the shape of a real shoe and a counterfeit. If you’re having trouble telling whether the bend of the toe is right or not, try looking at the box. It seems simple, but even authenticators at SneakerCon look at the box’s style and quality to help them decide if sneakers are real.

The Smell

Before you leave this page in disgust, hear us out. There is a reason why you want to smell a pair of new sneakers before you buy them. Fake companies sometimes use toxic glue on their shoes. Nike, Adidas, and the other big dogs of the sneaker world don’t. If the shoes smell toxic, then you know to walk away from them. If they don’t, you’re usually ok. If they’re used, do yourself a favor and keep them away from your face.


Authenticity Number

When items get bootlegged as much as purses do, an authentication number becomes a necessity. Having a tag with a number like this in your purse allows you to call up the company to confirm that the bag is real before you spend your money on it. Sometimes, other luxury items will have an authenticity number on them too, like clothes, shoes, and watches.


Sound and Movement

Watches are one of the few items on this list that are also machinery. If you’re thinking about buying a watch, take a minute and look at it quietly. See if the hands look like they’re struggling to move around the face. Listen to see if the ticks are quiet or loud. A bootlegger will focus less on making a watch that works well and more on making a watch that looks good. If it’s smooth and quiet, you have a keeper.

The fashion world has always put forward the idea of “Let the Buyer Beware.” The best way for you to beware is to buy directly from the source. That way, you don’t have to worry about phony merchandise. And if you shop with us, you always know that you’re getting the real deal.

Real or Fake? How To Spot Phony Fashion Items inforgraphic

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