This weekend, I had an opportunity to hold a side by side comparison between a pair of Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 "Pirate Black" purchased from an Adidas Store and a pair purchased on the Grey/Unauthorized/Fake/Whatever you wish to call it market. At first glance nothing stands out as being any different. Everything looks and feels legit. The materials and stitching look the same...heel tab same...midsole same...sole same... laces same. Almost every major feature of the sneaker looks and feels about the same but something seems a little off and without further inspection I can not quite put a pin on it just yet.
Anytime I time I buy a pair of sneakers not at a retail store I start by looking at the box. Usually this is a good indication of whether or not the sneakers were purchased from a retail store or not. I run a series of questions through my head before even looking at the sneaker. First, is this sneaker in the correct box? Does the label read the way it is supposed to? Do the fonts look the same? Sometimes these are tough questions to answer even for a veteran eye. If you want to be 100% sure the sneakers were purchased form a retail store doing a side by side in hand comparison is practically fail proof.
I am sure by now you are wondering which pair was purchased from the Adidas Store and which pair was not. If you guessed the size 13 as the pair purchased from Adidas then you are not paying close enough attention. The size 11 was purchased at Adidas and the size 12 was not. There are two characteristics on the box that differentiate. First the color. While it is not easy to tell by any means, if you look very closely the size 11 box is a shade lighter than the size 12. The second difference is the UPC/EAN number located under the barcode. The size 11 says UPC while the size 12 says EAN. After further inspection, the box reading either UPC/EAN is not a clear indication of whether or not the pair came from a retail store but it is something to look at. Most Yeezy Boost 350's released at retail stores here in the United States say UPC on the box (some European releases say EAN instead). With that said, I figured I will look at the actual sneaker and see if I could notice an other differences.
The one on the bottom is the pair purchased at Adidas Store. Again, at a first glance it is virtually impossible to tell a difference. Please keep in mind when you are looking at this photo, that it is zoomed in very close and is a much closer look than the naked eye. The first thing to look at is YZY. On the retail pair the font is thinner than the font on the other sneaker. Also, the suede seems to be a lighter shade of black on the retail pair.
The last thing that caught my eye was the size tag. For one, the production dates are different. The retail pair was manufactured in 06/15 while the other pair was manufactured in 07/15. Often times, grey market sneakers are manufactured at later times than the pairs sold in retail stores. Last and most certainly not least look at the UPC numbers written on the size tag and make sure it matches the UPC written on the box. On the retail pair (#112542903), the UPC number written on the front of the box and the UPC written on the size tag inside the shoe match. On the other pair, the numbers do not match.
Again, none of these characteristics scream out "Hey, look at me. I am a big phony". This is not a case similar to seeing an icy pair of Jordan 11 Space Jams without the pissy pods that your homie got for the low from his "plug". These are details so minute, without having a side by side comparison in hand it is nearly impossible to tell the difference.
Oh, the irony. The Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 "Pirate Black" is one of the most pirated sneakers on the market. These "pirated" Yeezy Boosts are popping up at an alarming rate and it is getting harder and harder to tell a difference. Sneakerheads are notorious for carefully inspecting others who are wearing/selling/stunting for the gram in their grails and often times, nothing gives them more pleasure than calling somebody else out for having a "fake" pair of shoes. So, if you are in the market for a pair of Yeezy Boost 350's please look at them very close. Like Homer Simpson close.
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