Thomas Fulcher shows off exclusive sneakers from his collection in the trunk of his car. Many of his shoes, including the Yeezy Boost 350 v2 “Blue Tints” (far right) and the Nike Off-White black Prestos (second from left) were released in limited quantities and sold out quickly.

As exclusive sneakers such as Adidas’ Yeezy Boosts and Nike’s Off-White collection continue to gain popularity, reselling sneakers can be highly profitable, but replicators are producing counterfeits of high-demand sneakers that are circulating through the industry and could potentially fall in the hands of a reseller.

Jeremiah Temple, a sneaker reseller and authenticator at Memphis shoe store A1’s Nice Copps, said the sneaker market has evolved drastically since 2012. He said the market used to revolve around the Jordan brand and is now influenced by exclusive releases from streetwear brands, such as Vlone and Off-White.

“If you can get the new exclusive releases early, then more people will want to buy from you,” Temple said. “That’s the only shoe that they really want. They can’t just have basic Jordans and try to resell.”

The sneaker market is expected to reach more than $95 billion by 2025, according to a recent report titled “Athletic Footwear Market Worth $95.14 Billion By 2025” from Grand View Research, a business consulting firm that offers market research reports.

A1’s Nice Copps buys and resells authentic sneakers, clothes and designer accessories. Temple said he has encountered fake sneakers at the shop multiple times — some people knowingly were trying to resell replicas and others had no idea their shoes were fake.

Jerry Khammavong, the co-founder of Memphis sneaker convention SneakFest, an event where vendors are invited to resell their sneakers to attendees, said replica sneakers are becoming more readily available to consumers as the demand for exclusive models rises. He recalled a specific incident at SneakFest where a vendor was selling fake Yeezys and was banned from vending again at the event.

“As a seller, if you’re passing them off as real, and you know that they’re fake, I think it’s worse than just being the company that’s replicating the replicas because that’s just feeding into the hype, and they’re just trying to make money on their end,” Khammavong said.

Thomas Fulcher, a 20-year-old psychology major at the University of Memphis, said he learned how to authenticate his sneakers after being scammed for a fake pair of Yeezys during his freshman year and getting called out for them by another student. He said the best way to ensure shoes are authentic is to buy them on reliable sneaker reselling apps, such as StockX and GOAT.

“Nowadays, the Chinese factories are making such good reps [replicas],” Fulcher said. “Someone can order a pair of reps for $110 or $120 to their front door. It’s as easy as you buying that and then going to someone and trying to sell those on the market.”

Fulcher said he does not wear replicas and believes it is wrong for resellers to sell them as authentic. He also said he thinks there is nothing wrong with wearing them as long as the wearer does not act like they are authentic sneakers.

“I know some people that wear reps mixed in with some of their retail stuff,” Fulcher said. “I don’t think it’s really an issue, as long as you’re not bullying other people for something you have and they don’t, and I think that also applies if you have a real sneaker.”

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