Sneaker Culture…. Variant Culture…. Two very different ends of the Nike footwear merchandise world. One wears fake sneakers because of the low prices and the other will spend their last dime to get a pair of limited edition Nike Air force One Shoes, Retro Air Jordans, Nike Air Max 90s, Nike Air Flights, or Nike Dunk SBs
Believe it or not, it’s all done in the name of image. We love to wear something that will break a neck of passer-byers, as if we were an animal on national geographic pushing out our most colorful feathers during mating season. Could it just be the human nature?
SoJones, well aware of both cultures, wanted to go in depth with a successful Nike variant retailer to see what drove them to sell the fake Nike Air Force One, Nike Retro Air Jordans, and Dunk SBs. We also wanted to give an inside opinion at the most debated black market industry involving footwear.
This is the Lifestyles of the Sneaker World’s Most Infamous Variant Dealers. The first of a series of interviews with different fake Nike retail monsters.
[ SoJones ] Greetings, let’s get into this underworld of variant/fake Sneakers. Many sites formerly dealt in advertising variant sites but discontinued because of the realization of what fake Nike products were. Also, many discontinued because site visitors were losing awareness of what they were buying. Many sites were like this including AllHipHop, HipHopGame, and many other major sites which I shall bypass in discussion. And through my time on-line, I’m well aware of who you are, and how well you did with sneakers. Tell us about where you first saw variant sneakers and did you think there was anything wrong with selling the fakes?
[ The Variant Dealer “Mr Nike Air Force One” ] I first came across variant sneakers on a web site known as wwww.nycurbanfashion.com or something like that. I had no idea that any of the products on that web site were fake. They were selling Burberry and Gucci Air Force Ones, Jordans, and Timberlands.
I was actually trying to hook up a fit with a Burberry jacket that they were also selling. That type of stuff was popular back then.
Altogether, the price was around $320 for the jacket and air forces. Obviously, there’s no way the merchandise was authentic. Nike does not put designer fabrics on their shoes and Burberry isn’t selling jackets for $200 on a cheaply built urban fashion web site that also sells Air Force Ones and Jordan shoes. I didn’t realize that at the time. I just saw the products and I liked them. Not to mention, a lot of celebrities were seen wearing these particular products.
Back then, I was willing to pay $320 for the complete outfit and $120 for the shoes because variant prices were high during mid-late 90s. People were selling the shoes for over a hundred dollars, usually making 100%+ profit on every order. As times changed, so did the prices. The variant business slowly became a buyer’s market and prices dropped to as low as $60 a pair. This happened mainly because a lot of young kids started opening web sites because it was so easy to profit from these products. They’d be like, well as long as I make a few bucks a week, I’m good. That slowly destroyed the enormous profits that were easily made in this business.
[ SoJones ] Back at the beginning of the variant era, I remember a lot of people purchased the sneakers because Nike was not putting out creative color ways and retro jordans in flamboyant colors. Some purchased the fake Nikes because they did not want to pay the rising prices Nike was giving. Did you feel a lot of your customers were buying knowing what they were getting?
[ The Variant Dealer “Mr Nike Air Force One” ] Most variant shoe customers don’t know much about sneaker culture. They don’t know what shoes and color ways have actually been produced and released. They’ll see some Sponge Bob Dub Zeros and they’ll actually think that Nike and Jordan collaborated with Nickelodeon and released some special limited collection of Sponge Bob shoes. You can make it very clear all over your web site that the shoes are fake and they just don’t read it. Don’t ask me how or why, but it seems like variant customers simply shop with pictures and read no text. You try and tell them, the shoes you are buying are fake. Then they bring up another variant site like, “Well, these aren’t.” And it’s the same shoes, same price, and different web site. Most variant consumers just don’t know much about shoes. They buy what they like without really knowing exactly what they are purchasing. If you told them to check out SoJones forums, NikeTalk, or InStyleShoes, they’d probably think differently. Instead of doing that, now a days, most people who know about sneaker culture just laugh at people they see in variants.
Then there are the people who simply do not want to pay the high prices. These customers usually know they’re buying fake shoes and they try to purchase the high quality shoes that look exactly like the authentic versions. Only a real sneaker head could tell the difference.
Personally, I feel that 90% of all variant customers do not know that they are purchasing fake shoes. You can make it as clear as possible on your web site that you do not sell authentic merchandise and they still don’t catch on.
[ SoJones ] What’s probably some of the most expensive trips you’ve had shopping and what’s the most expensive thing you have purchased from your ‘hay days’?
[ The Variant Dealer “Mr Nike Air Force One” ] I’ve had big enough shopping trips to be escorted with security and I’ve had some shopping sprees where I couldn’t even carry all the bags back to the car and we even had a tough time fitting them in the car when we made it outside.
Onto the question about the most expensive thing that I have purchased, I wouldn’t say that the most expensive thing that I have purchased was purchased with money directly made from selling fake shoes because it was purchased awhile after closing my web site, but I purchased a home for my family. It wouldn’t be hard to purchase all of that with variant money if you stay in the business long enough.
However, altogether it was purchased with money from the variants and other more legitimate ventures that took place after choosing to move on from the variant business. If I never started the variant web site, I probably wouldn’t have what I have now, nor would I be able to do what I do right now. It would’ve taken a lot longer to achieve what I have achieved right now. I recommend to anyone that is trying to do something legitimate, stick with it. It takes a little more time, but the pay out is worth it in the end.
Don’t think that you need to sell fake shoes to make money. I’m not trying to inspire others to do exactly what I did.
[ SoJones ] I hear a few dealers out there are sitting on more than enough money to retire and the connects over in Asia are all sitting on multi-millions. Do you think those rumors are true?
[ The Variant Dealer “Mr Nike Air Force One” ] I don’t really specifically know a whole lot about the connections in Asia, but I do know that factory owners out there are definitely making millions. More than any sellers in the United States, that’s obvious. The business itself is huge and it definitely gets deeper than a few web sites in the United States. Remember that the variant business is worldwide.
I’ve always wondered how they get exact copies of shoes before they are released. It seems hard to copy a shoe like the Jordan 22s months before they even get released to the public, but somehow they manage to do it to every release. The answer to how they do it will probably never even be known by the people who sell them, even the ones selling them overseas. I once asked a supplier how they did it; he said “I think they steal them.”
All in all, I really can’t confirm or deny any rumors.
[ SoJones ] Well, SoJones has asked enough here. We know a lot of eyes will be wanting more but time is limited, so they will have to wait for a second interview from another seller. If there’s anything you could say about the variant game that many people probably are not aware of today, that would shock readers, what would you say before this ending?
[ The Variant Dealer “Mr Nike Air Force One” ] I don’t have much else to say besides know exactly what you are buying and to educate yourself before buying things online. Remember, “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” I hope to have opened some eyes with this interview and possibly educated a few people who were buying fake shoes when they thought they were authentic shoes
[ SoJones ] Thanks for taking the time on the interview! Those SoJones are the Hip Hop fashion trend setters and this is definitely an interview about that’s hitting the mainstream Hip Hop Culture of America, like it or not. The Lifestyle of an infamous Nike Variant dealer! More stories coming soon.