The Kicks You Wear, Vol. 24 — Those fakes are worth how much!?

I'm in the wrong business. Obviously.

Happy Friday and Happy New Year! Welcome back to the Kicks You Wear! Hope you’ve had an excellent holiday season — I certainly did. Got two straight W’s on SNKRS with the Off-Whites and the Rayguns. Don’t ask me how.

Today’s shoutout goes to former NBA commissioner David Stern who passed away earlier this week. He wasn’t perfect by any means but, as someone who has covered and operated around the league, it simply wouldn’t be the same without his touch. Rest in peace.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in.


Fake sneakers are still making real millions

(Photo by Kunal Nair on Unsplash)

It’s honestly unbelievable how much counterfeiters are making off of this stuff.

U.S. authorities intercepted a fake merchandise ring that was shipping hundreds of millions of dollars worth of fake kicks and other goods into the country, according to an unsealed federal complaint.

  • The complaint revealed details into the Department of Homeland Security’s investigation into this fake sneaker ring.

  • Authorities seized Nike and Louis Vuitton gear that would’ve been worth $472 million (!!!!!!!) if it were authentic. Bruh. Come on. That’s crazy money.

The story goes like this — The authorities were tracking a cell that used a network of fake company names, emails, burner phones and janky paper work to clear cargo going through customs into the country.

The paperwork claimed they were shipping “every day items” like home goods and shit like that. What they were actually doing was shipping fake shoes. And, instead of going to the addresses listed, the containers were going to self-storage facilities in New York where the fake goods were split up and sold.

The organization landed on the authorities’ radar in February 2012 but they didn’t seize the massive shipment of fakes until December 27 of last year. High Snobiety has more.

The network first appeared on law enforcement’s radar in February 2012. However, the breakthrough came in October 2018, when investigators where provided with the number for someone called “Ray.” He was subsequently identified as a Chinese national named Qingfu Zeng, the network’s ring-leader. Authorities monitored Ray’s communications, finally leading them to seize a shipment of fakes and on December 27, federal agents arrested Zeng.

This bust was bigger than usual. It all added up to being a total of 129 shipping containers over the length of the investigation — much larger than October’s bust of 14,806 pairs of Jordans that we talked about before.

This story is absolutely insane. We’ve talked before about how there’s a ton of money in trafficking fake goods — now you see it. You also see the repercussions of what happens when you’re caught doing it. But people continue to do it.

  • Counterfeiting is big business everywhere. Global knockoff goods sales reached $520 million last year, per Quartz, representing 3.3% of global trade.

  • It’s also very hard to track down and trap counterfeiters. It took authorities years to land these folks — that’s a lot of money and time spent.

Fakes suck and we absolutely do not condone them here. I’ve written about them extensively. It’s hard to fault people for buying them, but they have an overall negative effect on the market and the culture.

But, uh, that’s a lot of damn money. And where there’s a lot of money, there are going to be a lot of people trying to get at it. Legal or not.

It may get harder to pull off operations like this if the Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019 is passed, but they won’t stop trying. There’s too much money involved. Honestly? Can’t blame them.


All those executives are finally moving around

(Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash)

Remember all of that executive movement we talked about a few months ago? Well, it’s underway now since we hit 2020.

  • At Nike John Donahoe is taking the CEO seat on January 13 as Mark Parker steps down after his 13-year tenure as the company’s lead.

  • At Under Armour current COO Patrick Frisk has already taken over for Kevin Plank as the CEO of the company amid its struggle to recapture the magic it had in 2016.

  • Adidas is losing executive board member Eric Liedtke, who has played a big role in recruiting the brand’s big name celebrities like Kanye West and Beyonce. Meanwhile, Jon Wexler is reportedly taking over as GM of Yeezy.

We’re going to see a lot of new things to start off this decade. These executives are attempting to figure a lot of new things out for each of their respective brands.

Starting a decade off strong doesn’t necessarily mean a guaranteed success — Under Armour came on late last year and Nike had Kanye at the beginning of the 2010’s. But figuring out strategy early doesn’t hurt at all.

Between Nike, Adidas and Under Armour there are big projects set to take center stage to kick things off.

  • Nike is expanding the SNKRS experience into a social network, of sorts, that expands throughout other categories in the company and having influencers share experiences throughout the app.

  • Adidas is expanding their superstar rolodex with Beyonce and Ivy Park hitting the scene in a few weeks. Yeezy is also set to expand this year with Wexler as the GM.

  • Under Armour is leaning in on performance in an age where athleisure and lifestyle seem to dominate everything. They’re essentially starting back at square one with the company and trying to rebuild.

Oh, by the way, they’re jumping through these hurdles United States is potentially headed for another recession. It’s among the top concerns for CEO’s around the country, Footwear News’ Erin Clark writes. That seems to be part of the reason why execs are exiting their posts in record numbers.

All of this is to say that getting off to a good start in 2020 is a big deal and there are going to be a lot of new faces trying to navigate these waters from a business and cultural standpoints alike.

All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I’m not so jealous of a few billionaires…Nah, I lied. Give me all your problems. I’ll solve them for a billy — easy.


Sean Wotherspoon is working with Adidas now

Talk about things I never though I’d end up writing. Sean Wotherspoon, who blew up off of his Air Max 97/1 collaboration with Nike, is cooking up something with Adidas.

He posted this on Instagram and deleted it shortly after. It has his trademark flower logo underneath the Adidas trefoil logo.

(via Complex)

Wotherspoon said he was done working with Nike a while ago — which is sad because the 97/1s are a treat. He’s got an Asics collab on the way that feels a bit similar and will probably clear shelves, too.

Now, Adidas is his next partner — which is absolutely hilarious.

Fam lmao. He really said that. He was wylin’.

By the way, good on him for this. We’re going to get these jokes off, but he should absolutely take this deal. Time changes everything. When Adidas throws a bag at you, you take it. Brand loyalty be damned — when a check comes it comes.

He also really seems to like what Adidas is up to.

  • Wotherspoon says he’s into Adidas’ environmentally friendly materials and sustainability initiatives — that’s a road Nike hasn’t really crossed yet.

  • If that’s the case, good for him. Hopefully, he creates something that does the world some real good.

Still, though, this is absolutely hilarious. These jokes are going to fly, but whatever he works on with the Three Strips is probably going to be a hit.


Travis Scott might have some Dunks on the way

Y’all know how I feel about Dunks and y’all know how I feel about Travis Scott’s sneaker collabs (they’re mostly good…mostly).

Now, those worlds are coming together. Last week Scott pretty much leaked his own dunks when he debuted them in a JACKBOYS video after his group dropped a small project. Here’s what they look like up close.

(via Sneaker News)

I’ve still got to be sold on these. The creativity is there, but it still feels like these are missing something. The bandana print touch is amazing on the overlay along with that flannel pattern, but this just doesn’t feel classic enough.

Either way, Dunks being put back in the spotlight again. We need another great Dunk run. If Travis is the one to usher that in? Great.


#TheKicksWeWear

Thank y’all for tagging me and submitting all of the dope shoes you’re wearing over the holiday break! Got some great stuff to show off.

First of all, Zach LaVine is really rocking the Boost You Wear X 2.0’s in the middle of a game. I’m insanely jealous.

The homie T.J. McBride pointed me Buddy Hield in the Dark Knight Kobe 5’s — classics.

I also flexed a lil bit with these Off White Dunks. Sorry. I still haven’t made my mind up on keeping them or flipping them.

My OG Dre let me get a look at his Test Run Project 3.0’s. Y’all, these are heat. My man has the New Balance plug.

Thanks for sharing y’all! The heat is always so impressive.


That’s it for Friday, y’all! Thanks so much for reading! As always, I really appreciate y’all letting me get this off. You don’t know how much it means to me.

Speaking of, this is part one of a pretty dope announcement. We finally hit 400 subscribers — so close to 500! Thank y’all for getting me here. Once we get to 500 I’ll have something special for you. At the end of Monday’s newsletter, I’ll announce exactly what that something special is. It’s gonna be dope. Y’all are gonna love it. Stay tuned.

Love y’all. As always, peace and love. Be easy. Be kind. We’ll rap on Monday.

Signing off.

Sykes 💯