Nigerians are Spending a Lot on Sneakers, Fake Sneakers Sadly

We know you’re buying sneakers but, are you buying authentic ones?

There’s a growing trend of street-style fashion in Nigeria, and coincidentally, that has led to the increase in the number of businesses and people leveraging on this trend to make money. Thanks to e-commerce and the advancement in mobile technology, people can order anything online from food to clothes and have it delivered to their door mouth within hours.

However, for countries like Nigeria where most commodities are imported and standardization and checks are often bypassed, consumer protection becomes almost non-existent.

One fashion item that has seen a rapid increase in demand is designer sneakers. From Nike to Adidas, Off White, Puma, and Fila, Nigerians are going crazy over these comfortable casual shoes. Two things have mainly contributed to the fashion trend, gym and social media culture. However, a significant chunk of those investments goes to the purchase of fake sneakers.

How are they fake?

Designer sneakers typically range from 120 USD up to a thousand dollars and more on retail stores such as Farfetch, eBay, Amazon, BestBuy, StockX, and brand sell out stores. Different shoes and different version of shoes have varying costs, but across many online retailing Nigerian businesses, such shoes have a flat rate of 25,000 NGN to 50 NGN.

The Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro is a good example of a shoe with different models- all having their own unique selling point. The original ones typically start selling from a 180 USD, up to a 1000 plus for the more expensive ones.

Meanwhile, these highly coveted shoes inspired by legendary NBA player Michael Jordan sell for an average of 35,000 NGN on Nigerian online stores. They’re replicas, but only highly sneaker savvy individuals know and can tell the difference between fake and original sneakers. The replicas are that good.

Trust is the basis of online shopping. Successful retail stores are the ones who have built a reputation of delivering on their word and being honest with their customers. StockX is a good example of an online retail store with a reputation of selling original sneakers.

Whereas e-Bay, although can feature most lower quality shoes, a closer look in the item description would immediately inform the intending buyer on the kind and quality of product they would be getting. This kind of honesty and trust does not exist in many online Nigerian businesses.

How did we know?

We conducted an experiment using 10 online brand-new sneaker retailing stores in Nigeria- all 10 of them on Instagram where they’ve made their home for advertisement. We messaged them, requesting for the ‘Original’ Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro SE 95 Neon. 9 of them returned positive feedback, confirming the shoe was in stock.

Two sent pictures of it; none of the pictures were live photographs- both had been either downloaded or sent to them by people overseas. We went further by requesting for information on the asking price and only 8 of them responded. The highest quoted price was 40,000 NGN which is about 80 USD if you apply a USD to NGN exchange rate of 1:500.

Notwithstanding knowing that the shoes they offered were likely to be replicas, we asked them to confirm specifically that they were selling the original shoes. Out of the 8 who had sent quotes only 4 responded; three of them were adamant they were selling us authentic Jordan 4s and the last seller revealed they were actually replica shoes.

Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro SE 95 Neon.

The thing is, the Nike Air Jordan 4 Retro SE 95 Neon is one of the cheapest Jordans to ever hit the streets. But even at that, it doesn’t sell below 250 USD on StockX for instance for an authentic brand-new pair. That’s about 62,500 NGN when applying the same conversion rate we applied earlier and that doesn’t include shipping and customs costs.

Yet there are Jordan’s more expensive than the SE Neon selling for the same average prices on Nigerian retail stores. We didn’t bother proceeding to pay and have the shoes delivered for proper investigation. Because to sell at the prices they quoted, they had to be either stolen or part of a giveaway and neither was the case.

The problem

The problem is that while Nigerians have rapidly come to appreciate these high-end casual shoes, the designers do not consider the country a good market for their products yet given the high income imbalance. Hence they have no legitimate or recognised retailers here in the country. Nike for instance doesn’t have a single outlet in Nigeria. New Balance and Adidas have a few, but they’re not enough to meet the rapidly growing demands.

Sneaker lover? How to escape buying fake/replica shoes

Of course, if you don’t run on a lean budget like the average Nigerian, you can have your shoes shipped from authentic outlets overseas, not minding the cost. But if you’re often shopping on a budget, the best thing is to go for cheaper designer kicks like New Balance, with their original outlet located in Lagos and some other renowned malls across the country. Another solution is to shop used sneakers or patronise thrift stores.

There’s always a special feeling attached to rocking authentic designer clothing and they are often ageless. Some of them become more fashionable over time even, depending on how well they’re maintained. Thrift stores usually sell authentic stuff and if you’re lucky to land first grade items, you’d be left feeling like you landed a jackpot.

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