‘Inside the Knockoff-Tennis-Shoe Factory’ by NY Times

August 21, 2010 BY / 0

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“The profits are high while the penalties are low.”

That’s the central point around the reason behind counterfeiting kicks; fakes bring in the cash and getting caught will get you a slap on the wrist. Nicholas Schmidle, a journalist for the New York Times, embarked on an investigative journey digging into the importation and manufacturing of the world’s most counterfeited item – the sneaker. Schmidle visited a fake-factory in Putian, China, managed by a man named Lin, who in the eyes of sneakerheads, reads like one of the many Bernie Madoffs of the footwear industry. According to Lin, as long as the demand for sneakers is there, the demand for fakes will follow suit. The counterfeiting business – while illegal – is viewed as an everyday job in Putian; wanted-ads are posted publicly and people accept the jobs fully aware of the nature of the employment.

How does Lin and all other factory managers make counterfeits so well? Nike employees in its China-based factories were bribed for sample models or blueprints, and some went as far as throwing a fresh pair over the Nike factory wall, into the hands of a counterfeiter looking to make a few-thousand pairs of Air Force 1s or Tiempos or shoes that haven’t even released yet. With heightened security and penalty for such infractions, the factory managers simply walk into a store and buy a single pair of the newest items, only to be taken apart and relentlessly cloned into a lower-quality product. There’s a lot more to read so check out the full feature on NYTimes and check out the real vs. fake comparison shots after the jump.

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