Nike is one of the most popular retailers of clothing, footwear, and sports accessories in the world. The brand sells more than 900 million items yearly (wow!). It only makes sense that due to the popularity of Nike’s sneakers many fakes of their best sellers are made, including one of Nike’s most popular shoes, the Air Force 1.
What is the difference between fake and real Air force 1s?
Fake Nike Air Force 1s and real Nike Air force 1s have differences in fabric, toe boxes, perforation holes, tongues, heels, and weight. Fake and real Nike Air Force 1s also have differences regarding their soles, midsoles, swoosh logos, metal tags, boxes, and country of fabrication.
If you bought a fresh new pair of AF1s online or from a suspicious looking retailer, and you’re curious whether or not you’ve received the real deal, here are 10 differences between real vs fake Air Force 1s…
*This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Learn More.
1. The Sneaker Fabric
Original and authentic Nike AF1s will have a high-quality sneaker upper. Aside from using only the most high-quality materials, Nike uses advanced technology to produce their shoes to create a comfortable yet stylish design.
Upon purchase, your Nike AF1s should feel and look like good-quality sneakers. Knock-off Nike AF1s may look real at first glance, but if you inspect their fabric closely, you’ll see cracks and creases due to the low-quality fabric used. They may also smell really bad, with a cheap plastic scent.
The real Air Force 1s sneaker fabric should look smooth, with an even distribution of color (or bright white if you have white AF1s like mine). As you can see in the above picture, the fake has a yellowish color when compared to the crisp white of the real thing.
The high quality materials the AF1s are made with are reflected in the price. Always Get your Air Force 1s from Nike’s official website Nike.com, and avoid any suspicious retailers with deals that look too good to be true.
Watch me compare the differences between real and fake AF1s in the below video, if you want a closer look:
2. The Toe-Box And Perforation Holes
When you look at the toe-box of an authentic Nike AF1 pair of shoes, you will notice it is much more narrow than the fake ones (as you can see in the below image), as fake ones have a more box-like shape, resulting in the sneaker looking cheap.
A fake pair’s toe box looks more lifted with a curvier overall shape, while an authentic pair of Nike AF1 sneakers will have a lower, less inflated-looking toe box.
The Perforation Holes
If you look at an authentic pair of Nike AF1s and compare it to fakes, you’ll see a significant difference in the size of the perforation holes.
A retail AF1 shoe will have much larger perforation holes than the replica. The replica pair’s holes will be punched much smaller, as you can see in the above image.
Take special note of the spacing between every perforation hole. Where an original pair will have consistent spacing between each hole, following a specific and noticeable pattern, a replica’s pattern will be more random and inconsistent spacing.
Additionally, take a closer look at the perforation hole on the lowest part of the AF1. You will see that the distance of the replica is placed much further away from the tip and stitching than the original.
3. The Tongue
When you take a look at the tongue of an authentic Nike AF1 sneaker, you’ll notice prominent stitches forming the Nike Air logo. Often, fakes will print this logo instead of stitching it onto the shoe’s tongue. Or they will have a totally different, fake looking logo.
However, keep in mind that not all replicas will print the logo, as some do a better job at fakes and try to stitch the logo. If you notice any distortions in the logo or uneven thickness of the stitching, you can be assured it’s a fake.
Additionally, original Nike AF1s will use double stitching on the tongue and down the laces, whereas most fake Nike AF1s won’t.
You may also like: Do Air Force 1s Run Big? ULTIMATE Guide (Photos)
4. The Heel
Authentic Nike AF1s will have the Nike AIR logo printed on their heel tab, but this logo will differ from the logo on the tongue. The Nike logo on the sneaker’s heel will have the Nike swoosh, with “Nike” printed above it and “AIR” printed under it, as pictured below.
Pay close attention to ensure all the letters are evenly printed and spaced. Fake Nike AF1s will have odd spacing or disorientated letters between the swoosh and “AIR.”
Keep in mind that Real Nike AF1s will have a flatter tongue heel at the top, which will dip sharply at a 45-degree angle. Replicas will most often have a more rounded heel tab, with the top being rounded instead of squared.
5. The Weight
Fake Nikes won’t only have distinctive visual differences, but you’ll also notice a significant difference in weight.
As you can see in the below image the real thing weigh 439g per shoe:
The fake only weigh 371g per shoe:
Because cheap and low-quality materials are used to make any fake product, these Nike replicas will have an impossible time when it comes to imitating the real feel and weight of an original pair of Nike AF1s. As you can see in the above images, there’s nearly 100g in difference between the weight of the real and fake sneakers.
Most of the time, a pair of fake Nike Afs will be much more rigid and lighter than an authentic pair. Original Nike AF1s are made to be sturdy, yet comfortable on your feet, resulting in a quality level of support.
For more info on the weight of AF1s, check out: How Much Do Air Force Ones Weigh? (Are They Heavy To Wear?)
6. The Soles And Midsoles
On a real pair of Nike AF1s, you’ll notice the soles having engraved details that consist of refined and exquisite details. A pair of fake Nike AF1s will completely lack these details on their soles. Some details on the original ones will be missing, with the measurements and shape not being accurate either.
The easiest place to spot whether your pair of Nike AF1s are original or fake would be to look at the Nike Logo. You will easily see the “R” on an authentic pair, whereas some replicas present this letter as a circle. Look for these details, and if you see a lack of details, the Nike AF1s are replicas.
You’ll see the midsoles of an authentic pair of Nike AF1s being glued instead of stitched. The midsoles consist of advanced ultra-light foam that will provide the wearer with cushioning and arch support.
Fake Nike AF1s are often stitched instead of glued, with their midsoles significantly thinner, resulting in a flat and unsupported look. Additionally, the swoosh, model name, and brand name will be printed on the inside of the midsole, which is rarely the case with replicas.
The midsoles tend to feature poor quality thin stitching on the fakes, as you can see in the below image.
The high quality midsoles make for excellent comfort, so you want to be sure you treat your feet to the real deal. Make sure you are always getting your AF1s from Nike.com, and don’t risk any strange looking retailers.
7. The Swoosh Logo
If you look at the Nike swoosh on an original pair of AF1s, you’ll notice it is much thicker than the swoosh on the replica, as the fakes are known for how thin their swoosh is.
Additionally, the tip of the swoosh will be pointed and straight. However, when it comes to a fake pair of AF1s, you’ll notice the crooked tip of the swoosh.
None of the stitching around the swoosh will have any depth in the case of a replica, where you’ll notice the stitching surrounding the swoosh being deeply sewn in, with some elevation.
The stitching will remain patterned and consistent on an original pair, which is not the case with a replica.
8. The Metal Tag’s Reflection
Both fake and real Nike AF1s will have a decorative metal tag right at the bottom of their laces. Regardless of the color of the pair of AF1s, the metal tag would be a thick metallic rectangle with “AF1” engraved into it.
You will find the same engraved tag on any shoe version, and if it is any other variation other than “AF1,” the pair of Nikes is a fake, as you can see in the below image. The tag is not only upside down, it also reads “AF-1.82” instead of simply “AF1” as it should.
Additionally, on an authentic pair of Nike AF1s, the metal will be much less reflective to light than the fake would be. An authentic tag will have a silver color, whereas the fake one will have a bronze edge to the color, as you can see in the above image.
However, it should be noted that different lighting will significantly change the reflectiveness of this metal tag, so keep this in mind when you check whether your AF1s are real or a replica.
9. The Box
Authentic Nike AF1s will always come in a high quality branded box with lining paper on the inner part of the box. The box will be branded on top, with the Nike logo and ‘Air Force 1’ printed on it, as pictured below.
Keep in mind that collabs, special releases, and limited edition AF1s will have a different box that would be unique to the range.
The paper should feel high quality, and be branded all over with an “AF1” pattern, as shown below.
Look for the information sticker on the box. This will include its country producer, size, and model number. The style number of an AF1 will be nine digits long, with the first six numbers symbolizing the shoe code, as pictured below.
The last three digits of the color code need to be repeated on the tongue of your AF1s.
You can also scan the bar code on the Nike box with a special app, and if it does not show the same model or redirects you to Nike’s website, it is a replica.
Here is an image of the shoebox the fake pair of Air Force 1s arrived in.
As you can see it isn’t branded at all and is of low quality.
10. Country Of Fabrication
If you look in an authentic pair of Nike AF1s, it will state “INDONESIA.” This word would be clear without the last word being cut off. You’ll notice the font’s spacing and thickness also being consistent.
However, on a fake pair of AF1s, this word will be “VIETNAM,” and the letter “M” will usually be cut off or visible. Additionally, the spacing of the letters between the “N” and “A” will be too close together when you take a look at the other letters.
Why Is The Fake Nike Industry So Successful?
Due to Nike’s high quality and fashionable shoes, it only makes sense that they are available at very high price tags.
Scammers then take advantage of Nike’s notoriety, and the Air Force 1s popularity in selling fakes at a massive scale is leading to hundreds of thousands of fake AF1 all over the world.
Fake Air Force 1s are knockoff Nike sneakers made with low-quality materials, fabric, and stitching. These counterfeit Nike shoes mimic the original Nike AF1 sneakers by trying to replicate the shoe’s style and Nike logo.
Nike Air Force 1s do not come cheap, which gives you enough reason to confirm that you’re getting the high quality and original shoe you have purchased.
When you purchase a pair of expensive Nike Air Force 1s, you would expect nothing less than to receive an authentic and high-quality pair of sneakers. With so many counterfeit options and resellers everywhere, it’s crucial to purchase your Nike AF1s from a trustworthy retailer and always know how to notice the warning signs before making your purchase!
For more on Air Force 1s, check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).