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Identify Counterfeit Jerseys

Updated on April 16, 2012

The quantity of counterfeit sports jerseys sold worldwide has skyrocketed in the past decade. Black market manufacturers, generally located throughout the Asian continent, have been able to closely duplicate authentic jersey for every major sports team in the world, while undercutting the price of authentic jerseys. Companies like Adidas, Nike, and Puma supply jerseys to professional football, soccer, basketball and other sports teams. Their quality and anticounterfeit trademarks are difficult to perfectly replicate, and an educated consumer is able to spot differences between real and fake jerseys.

Cheap polyester mesh is thin and allows a lot of light to pass through the material.
Cheap polyester mesh is thin and allows a lot of light to pass through the material. | Source

Jersey Material

Inspect the material of the jersey. Authentic material feels durable and appropriate for the sport for which it's meant to be worn. Counterfeit jerseys have cheap polyester blends on the majority of the jersey. The material may also be a polyester mesh, common in football and basketball jerseys, but lacks durability and quality. Counterfeit Adidas soccer jerseys are notorious for using very thin polyester that doesn't incorporate moisture-wicking technology like authentic Adidas jerseys.

Stitching

Inspect the suspected counterfeit jersey's stitching. Authentic jerseys have meticulous stitch work that is strong, with even spacing between the stitches. A single line of stitching is also an indicator of a fake jersey. Logos and team emblems will not have any frayed thread on or surrounding the emblems. Badges are sewn, and not heat pressed. The stitching is also visible on the inside of authentic jerseys.

Serial tags generally have a hologram that is difficult to counterfeit.
Serial tags generally have a hologram that is difficult to counterfeit. | Source

Serial Tag

Inspect the serial tag on the jersey. All authentic jerseys have a serial code on the tag inside of the jersey. The tag and serial code are unique to each individual jersey. The tag may also feature a holographic serial number strip. Holographic serial strips have been very closely replicated in certain counterfeit jerseys, which doesn't make serial tags a sure-fire authentic identifier.

The paper backing was not fully removed by the black market manufacturer.
The paper backing was not fully removed by the black market manufacturer. | Source

Name & Numbering

Inspect the name and numbering material of the jersey. Football and basketball jerseys use durable patches that are sewn directly onto the body of the jersey. A cotton paperlike backing is used to apply the patches, but is removed by authentic manufacturers prior to shipping. Many counterfeit jerseys will have the backing still attached on the inside of the jersey. A material called Lextra is used for name and numbering on soccer jerseys of the English Premier League. This material has a soft felt surface that is thermally bonded onto the jersey. Lextra is very difficult to counterfeit, so many black market manufacturers use flimsy plastic numbers that are heat pressed onto the jersey.

Pricing

Get a good idea of the pricing of authentic jerseys. Do not purchase from online shops located in Asia that sell jerseys at "cheap, wholesale prices." Most of these sites sell counterfeit goods. Authentic jerseys will cost more than $30, and sometimes much more, depending on the sport. Many sites such as eBay have cracked down on counterfeit jersey sale, but illegitimate sellers still slip though.

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