How to Spot FAKE Nike Air Max Shoes


First released in 1987, the Nike Air Max helped launch the sneaker head movement. Sneaker heads are those who collect shoes from top manufacturers and designers.

There are even some who want to have a pair of Nike running shoes in every color and style every made. Even if you aren’t a collector, you still need to know how to spot a pair of Nike Air Max fakes.

The fakes won’t offer the support that your feet need and may even lead to foot pain and injuries when you wear a pair for a longer period of time or while working out. There are some simple things you can look for when shopping online or off that indicate a pair is fake.

Box Construction and Design


One of the first things you can look at is both the overall construction and design of the box. This is especially important when it comes to new shoes because Nike will almost never sell a pair without an official box.

The box should have the Nike logo on it. Many boxes come with images and designs patterned across the top and sides. If those images are not perfectly straight and aligned, it’s likely a fake.

Some vintage models and older designs may lack a box, especially those that the seller wore or purchased used.

Matching Labels

Companies that sell fakes will often mix and match boxes. You might get an authentic box a fake Nike Air Max pair. Others will make fake boxes but forget to match the label of the box with the label of the shoe.

Most Nike boxes come with a black label on the side that uses white printing or a white label with black printing. According to an eBay buying guide, the label will include the location of the manufacturing facility, the shoe size, design, color, style number and name. The information on the box label must match the label on the shoe.

Sole Design

Fake Black took a look at a pair of 2016 Nike Air Max running shoes and found that a key difference between fakes and authentic shoes was the design of the sole.

Nike spends a lot of money every year on its designs and does research on ways to improve those shoes. The Air Max for 2016 had a distinctive sole in translucent yellow with a molded yellow cushion inside.

Fakes often have a cushion that looks like it’s made of plastic. Some also have Air Max printed on the side in an unapproved font.

Logo Stitching


One of the best ways to spot any designer fake is with a look at the stitches used. According to Snapguide, authentic Air Max shoes will always have the Nike logo stitched onto the side of the shoe.

The stitching must use the same color of thread as the Nike swoosh and remain firmly affixed to the shoe. If you can peel that logo away from the shoe, or you see glue coming out from behind the logo, it’s most likely a fake.

Flexible Sole

Fans love wearing Nike Air Max designs because of the flexible sole. That sole flexes and moves as you bend and stretch your feet, making those shoes perfect for activities like running and playing basketball.

Many counterfeit designs feature a plastic sold that looks like the real thing but isn’t nearly as flexible. When buying a pair online, ask the seller for images of the shoes in action.

The soles on authentic pairs will bend and flex when the toe of the shoe is on a flat surface. If the shoe cannot bend and flex, it’s likely fake.

Air Max Printing


Nike produced the Air Max in a number of color combinations over the years. The one thing all pairs had in common was that the Air Max logo appeared printed on the side of the sole.

Nike always prints that logo in a color that is just a few shades lighter than the sole itself. If the sole is a dark shade of translucent blue, the logo should appear as a paler shade of blue.

The manufacturers of fakes will often print the Air Max logo in either black or white, which Nike never did.

SKU Number

As you examine the shoes, always check the SKU number. You can see this number on both the label on the box and the label on the inside of the shoe.

For newer pairs that Nike still sells, you can compare that number against the SKU number listed on the official website. If the numbers do not match, the shoes are fake.

Some counterfeit sellers will even leave the SKU number off completely to keep buyers from verifying that the shoes are authentic. Others will use an SKU that corresponds to another product sold by Nike or a different type of shoe.

Final Verdict

Real pairs of Nike running shoes offer the support that you need for running a marathon, playing hoops with your friends, working out at the gym or even walking for your job. Only buy authentic pairs to ensure that you get the support you need.


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