How to Spot Fake Vans Shoes

When I sat to write How to Spot Fake Vans Shoes, I aimed to help my readers and fans to easily and quickly distinguish genuine Vans shoes from the boatloads of knockoffs masquerading as authentic Vans Old Skool or Hi-top SK8 or any other shoe from this uber popular skate shoe brand.

If you’ll invest just a few minutes and read through this post, you’ll walk away knowing how to tell if your Vans are fake or authentic.

Vans Shoes Aren’t Cheap


When James Van Doren (died in 2011) of the California-based Van Doren Rubber company gave the world the first ever Vans canvas shoe for leisure, he didn’t know the whole fashion-loving world would go crazy. Then Sean Penn, an actor in Fast Times at Ridge Mount High, happened. In the movie, Penn wore a black/white checked Vans shoe. And that birthed a nation-wide fad around the release.

A lot’s happened since then, but lots of skateboarders, longboarders, mountain bikers, runners, and snowboarders continue to worship at the altar of Van’s innovation that continually honors the ingenuity and practicality of the past.

But vans shoes are expensive. So, who wants to hand over their hard-earned money only to get crap? No one!

I’m a great Vans fan, and I’ll share every teeny weenie bit of information I know about distinguishing original Vans from the tons of counterfeit shoes out there.

Now, I own one fake and several original Vans skate shoes. Having compared all the original Vans I own with the fake pair of shoes, I’ve learned a couple aspects to look out for so you won’t get screwed while shopping.

18 Easy Tips to Help You Know If Your Vans Shoes are Legit


From toe and sole design to the general feel, construction quality, company logo, and packaging, there’s lots of nifty ways to sniff out counterfeit Vans.

1. Flexibility vs Stiffness


The toes of authentic Vans shoes are usually remarkably flexible compared to knockoffs. If you bend the toe upwards or downward, you won’t face much resistance.

With an original shoe, the toe bends enough to touch the heel. Fake vans, on the other hand, tend to be stiff. You’ll experience noticeable resistance if you try to bend the toe.


2.The stitching of Fake Vs Authentic Vans Shoes


Counterfeit Vans feature sloppy, uneven, and sometimes loose stitching compared to the straight, even/symmetrical, tight, neat stitching that holds authentic Vans shoes together.

The horrible hell holes that produce knockoff Vans Old Skool or any other style from this brand have neither the technical know-how nor the patience to do anything right. Not even simple stitching!


3.General Feel


When you touch the upper of a real Vans shoe, it feels quite taut. In comparison, the upper of an imitation feels light-ish and supple. It seems like the producer used the worst possible material quality they could find!

Fake vs authentic vans


4.How is the Upper Attached to the Sole?


Vans shoe design experts and workers use strong, high-quality glue to attach the upper to the rubber sole. When the real manufacturer does the job, the final product comes out flawless.

But when those rudderless thugs try to unite the upper with the midsole, they’re so bad at it that they leave ugly glue marks around the join.

Look at my fake vs original vans shoes. The outsole for the fake pair detached from the upper after a week or so of riding my skateboard. A shoe repair guy re-stitched it to salvage it.

authentic vs fake vans sole thickness
The stitching the repair shop did to salvage the fake shoe.


5. Look at the Packaging/Box


box of genuine Vans shoes

Authentic Vans shoes arrive in a well-made, sturdy, nice-looking box with a properly working locking mechanism on top.Typically, fakes come in a poor-quality box, often without a properly working locking mechanism. Since nothing supports the top of the box, the top drapes over the bottom.

Also, there’s accurate labeling on the side along with a correct description of the product. You should see important information including style, size, color, and the barcode.

Confirm whether the barcode contains the right product details. How? Grab your smartphone and scan the barcode. Download and install a good barcode scanning app for your Android phone (from Google Play) or iPhone (from App Store). If it’s an original product, your phone should spit out details that match the description.


6.Glance at the wrapping inside the box


The wrapping protect the shoes from abrasion or other harm. Now, the cover should have the iconic Vans logo. And although this doesn’t apply to every Vans product, most boxes have the company’s trademark plastered on them.


7. Is That Vans Old Skool Too Cheap?


Authentic Vans shoes don’t come in dirt-cheap, whether that be Vans Old Skool, Vans Sk8 or any other option. But Vans typically aren’t budget shoes. Pairs of Vans shoes that cost under 40$ are likely imitations.

Think about it.

Why would any honest online or physical skate shop want to sell $100 Vans shoes for just $30? Altruism, huh? It’s almost always because they sourced their merchandise from some unscrupulous Chinese sweatshop that cranks out tons of crap and then passes it off as a dignified Vans Old Skool or some other equally cool shoe from this popular skate brand.


8.Inspect the Logo on the Insole


Many morally-bankrupt shoe makers based out in (usually) Asian countries keep copying other people’s ideas and pumping out useless knockoffs that may confuse even the most discerning of the victim’s fan base.

Since most Vans shoes are super cool and long-lasting, these crooked copycats can’t resist borrowing a design/style or two. Unfortunately for those scamming scoundrels, copying Van’s trademark proves to be a little tougher than they thought.

So, hold the shoe in your hand with its mouth facing upward. If it’s an original product, you should see a neatly shaped rectangle with the logo inscribed. Also, reading the trademarks shouldn’t be difficult.

authentic van shoe vs fakes
The knockoff pair didn’t come with the trademark, and I had to buy better insoles. In contrast, the real pair has had this neatly printed trademark for a long time.

9.Inspect the “Vans Off the Wall” Marking on the Heel


Every pair of Vans skateboarding shoes I’ve shredded came with the ultra-famous Vans Off the Wall logo on the heel. If the marking seems like poor quality or faded or smudges, the odds are those kicks are embarrassingly overpriced knockoffs. Also, if logo placement seems a little off center, that’s likely a counterfeit.


Vans Off the Wall Logo Color


What color should be the color of the”off the Wall” logo on the heel? While most of the Vans skating kicks I’ve seen and worn have a red logo, some are blue or other colors. Look at this original pair of Vans skate shoes. Would you believe I’ve skated them over the past 3 years and they still look as good as they do in the genuine Vans shoe picture below?

With fakes, you won’t normally get the trademark on the heel. And when you do, it doesn’t look anything like what you see on original Vans. In most cases, the trademark comes attached with weak glue and comes off after a while.

Look at this fake Vans shoe I got from some dubious online skate store. There’s no logo at the back, but that’s because it came off after 3 uses!

fake vans shoes vs original shoes
My knockoffs lack the off the wall logo while the authentic pair has it.

9. 3-Letter Country Code


Every authentic pair comes with a 3-character country code printed on the bottom of the sole. Fake vans have no such country code, and if they feature it, the code likely won’t correspond to the code found on the sticker inside the packaging. Here’s a picture of what the country code looks like.

country code fake vs original vas
The sole on the left carries a 3-letter country code while the one on the right doesn’t. Look carefully: the code sits in a diamond shape near the intersection between the diamonds and rhomboids section of the sole.


10. Weight Matters, Too


Holding the shoes in my hands instantly reveals the huge weight difference. Real Vans are almost always heavier than imitations mainly because they’re made using better-quality materials.  You want to compare a particular model with another product with the same style. My counterfeit Vans are extremely light in comparison. Also, fakes have thinner soles, another reason they’re lighter.


authentic vs fake vans sole thickness
real Van’s soles tend to be thicker than those for imitations

11. The Shapes on the Outsole


With real Vans, interlocking diamonds and rhomboids form a distinct pattern, the so-called waffle tread. But while my copied pair’s outsole features rhomboids and diamonds, it also includes herringbone patterns at the forefoot and heel.

waffle tread vs herringbone
Check out the herringbone pattern on the inauthentic item.


12. Laces and Eyelets Design and Quality


The laces of real vans are typically firm to the touch while those of inauthentic vans shoes have remarkably soft shoelaces. Additionally,  true Vans have neatly painted and aligned eyelets with the exception of the old Skool Vans that have raw eyelets.


13. Padding On the Shoe’s Collar


My real Vans pair features a padded collar while the counterfeit pair comes without padding. The padding adds comfort so the wearer can enjoy skating more.


14. Design of the Rubber Toe Cap


Vulcanized Vans shoes usually have a rubber cap at the toe with a noticeably rough texture. The rest of the rubber sole is smooth. But surprisingly, my inauthentic Vans look like the original in that respect!

Also, you should see a gap between the front of the toe box and the sole. With most fake Vans, the rubber and upper almost touch. Again, I can’t distinguish my true pair from the knockoff in this regard. They look more or less the same.


15. Who’s the Dealer?


Sometimes the product is as legit (or fake) as the dealer or retailer selling it. Credibility is critical especially when shopping online. So, read each store’s reviews and ratings before trusting anyone and handing over your credit card payment information.

For the most part, authorized dealers carry genuine Vans products., Vans’ official website, and a few other online locations also offer authentic products at great prices.


16. Trying too Hard to Sound Genuine?


Everyone on social media is successful, right? It’s because many people present a fake lifestyle fabricated to make everyone else believe the person lives an amazing life.

But how often do wealthy folks display their wealth and flaunt their successes on Facebook or Instagram? Almost never. The same goes for fake Vans vs authentic Vans shoes.

Manufacturers and marketers of counterfeits have the notoriety for describing heir offerings as genuine, original, real, best in the world, and authentic. So, if the product description seems to overuse a set of glowing adjectives, the shoes likely come from a bogus footwear company.


17. Overall Construction Quality


Authentic Vans shoes represent excellent workmanship/craftsmanship. The stitching is super solid, the tread perfectly designed, trademarks neatly printed and attached, and you won’t find loose threads or loose anything else. In comparison, the overall construction in inauthentic Vans shoes screams is average at best and poor at worst.


18. Check Out the Paper Tags


Every genuine Vans shoe I’ve seen has a neatly printed paper tag with the company’s unmistakable logo. Counterfeit kicks may or may not have a paper tag, and when they do, it’s usually larger and the printing is crappy or fading or smudgy. See the comparison picture below:

fake vans vs authentic vans
The imitation shoe lacks the paper tag while the real one has a small paper tag with the company logo.

Video Guide on How to Spot Fake Old Vans Old Skool


How to Spot Fake Vans Shoes: Final Word


When shopping at an authorized Vans dealer or a physical store, you can easily notice odd little things and decide if the product is genuine. But sniffing out counterfeits online may not be as easy. However, if you’re keen enough, you should still be able to spot knockoffs.

For example, Vans logos on the picture of an inauthentic shoe wouldn’t seem authentic. And examining 3D product images of Vans skate shoes easily reveals the trademark on the insole. You can also tell if the toe cap is smooth or textured. And of course, there’s the barcode which you can easily authenticate via phone.

I wish you luck on your shopping journey. With these tips, (hopefully) no one grabs your hard-earned money and sends you crap instead of authentic Vans Old Skool or whatever option you’re eyeing.