In a continuation of our brand specific fake guide, we’re turning our attention to German giants adidas.
Given the three stripes immense footprint on the football world, you’ll almost certainly have come across dozens of fake adidas shirts during your travels. In fact, like Nike, the problem of fake adi gear goes far beyond the relatively small realm of kits, and many of the most popular fake trainers, jackets and trakcsuits will be emblazoned with a hastily recreated version (or sometimes, fair interpretation!) of the famous adidas logo.
As before, we’ll be referring to pictures to help us identify what sorts of things to look out for when trying to sniff out dodgy adidas kits. Many of these pictures have been provided by members of the community, so thanks to those who helped out and provided content!
How to spot fake football shirts by brand
The adidas logo
We’ll start with the adidas logo.
Since it’s full scale adoption in the late 90s, the current iteration of the adidas logo has grown to become one of the most recognisable marks in the world. Though the original trefoil logo does occasionally make an appearance, the majority of football shirts this side of the millennium have featured the same, iconic adidas design.
Below are a couple of photos showing what a genuine adidas logo looks like, on both a replica and player issue. Notice details like the fact the wordmark portion of the logo touches the bottom of the stripes, and the consistent kerning (spacing between characters).
Now let’s take a look at some fakes. The vast majority of fakes slip up in the area of the adi logo, and before long you’ll probably be able to distinguish between a genuine shirt and a counterfeit on this area alone.
For the first picture (blue logo on white shirt), notice how there’s a trailing stitch between the letters of the logo. The typeface is also too thin, and the adidas stripes are slightly wonky. There are similar issues with the second picture (Ajax away), with the additional telltale sign of the logo pulling the surrounding areas of the shirt together.
Finally, notice how the logo on this third example (Liverpool home) sees both ‘d’s of adidas joined to the corner of the three stripes in a peculiar way. The biggest stripe even has a trailing corner, this simply isn’t the adidas logo.
adidas product code
Product codes are simply invaluable when trying to identify a fake shirt. Though the quality of fake kits has risen considerably over the years, I’ve never come across a fake that’s used the correct product code.
Like their rivals Nike, adidas do a good job of providing an easily accessible code across all their shirts. The code (also known as an International Article Number), found on a small tag usually on the inside of the collar, is 6 digits long consisting of 2 letters and 4 numbers.
Here’s an example of a real product code for a Club Universidad de Chile shirt. If you Google the code DP2644, you’ll see some results of the shirt. Because this particular shirt is relatively rare, there aren’t many pictures, but ultimately the main thing you want to avoid is pictures of another completely different adidas shirt.
The two labels below come from fakes, and a quick search confirms that the product code has no connection to the shirt it’s attached to.
For the first example, a shirt pretending to be the 2019 Ajax away shirt brings up a random selection of adidas kits and crucially, nothing Ajax related. The second code is on a label which is in itself a warning sign due to the fact it’s upside down on the collar, but a search for “CW1526” confirms suspicions with results for the Colombia 2018 shirt (a favourite for fake producers) instead of the Juventus shirt it’s supposed to be.
If the shirt you’re looking at has tags (and a lot of fakes ‘pride’ themselves on being BNWT!), a simple check can be made to the writing on the tag.
Genuine shirts will have some sort of abbreviation for the club or country the shirt is from, like the picture below for an LAFC shirt.
If you see a generic term like “ADIDAS JSY” instead on a tag, it’s most likely a fake. The only exception would be if the shirt isn’t team specific, but rather some sort of blank template.
adidas authenticity tag/jock tag
Finally, a word of authenticity tags/jock tags. The bottom right or left of the front of the shirt will usually contain some sort of authenticity tag or a tag detailing the material type, but be warned! The look of these tags has changed considerably over time, and some adidas shirts don’t include the standardised authenticity tag at all. Typically replicas are more likely to be missing an obvious authenticity patch on the front, as opposed to player issue shirts (see the bottom left of the Germany away shirts below, with the replica on the left and the PI on the right).
These photos from a replica LAFC shirt show an application detail on the bottom right, and no authenticity tag on the left but the material type tag instead. The shirt is genuine, as confirmed by the details of the shirt, the product code and the original tags, so bear that in mind.
The best thing to do is try and find official pictures of the shirt in question, ideally on adidas’ site or a club site, and compare details with the one you’re weighing up.
How to spot fake football shirts by brand
As always, there are a number of other general checks you can make when identifying whether a shirt is fake or not. Do the colour match with pictures of the real shirt (accounting for things like edgy lighting on promo shots!)? Is the listing simply too cheap considering the age and value of a shirt? You’re not going to find a 90s Fiorentina shirt for £25 in multiple sizes!
Thanks again to those who helped by providing pictures for this article. Stay tuned for more brand specific fake spotting guides in the coming weeks.