Buying and selling counterfeit clothing, bags and footwear is a booming global hustle that reaches far beyond, Bangkok, Thailand, where we first started our “Legit Check” series. No matter which city you visit; no matter the corner of the world, chances are, if you know who to ask you can (and will) find knockoff versions of your favorite brands.
This time we visited Jamaica’s capital city where we made our way to Kingston’s historic Coronation Market. The market was constructed after the accession of George VI in 1936, when Jamaica was still a British colony. Since then, it has become one of that largest and most frequented destinations in Kingston.
Located downtown just to the south of Spanish Town Road, the sprawling open-air shopping hub is also referred to as “Corrie” by locals, or sometimes “Duppy Market” because it shares real estate with an old graveyard that was once part of a now-disused railroad station. In 2014, more than 30 stalls were burned to the ground in a blaze that destroyed millions of Jamaican dollars worth of goods.
Since then, vendors seem to have all but bounced back. The market, for all intents and purposes, is back to being a destination for tourists and locals alike. We visited early on a Monday morning, around 9am, to avoid the usual congestion and the heat of the midday sun. After winding through an endless number of stalls and side roads, I came away with a few of the better looking knockoffs I’ve seen in awhile.
Here’s what I picked up: A faux pair of the recently released Nike x Supreme Air Force Ones and another Supreme fanny pack – they seem to be quite popular. I also discovered the newest Yeezy Boosts are already a hot commodity – several vendors were offering the 350 V2 in standard adidas colorways, and colors the company never made.
The total cost was about $98 (USD), plus an ice-cold Red Stripe, which I was prevailed upon to buy for a vendor who felt he’d given me too good of a bargain.
“Supreme x Nike” Air Force Ones = JMD 5000 or about $39
In terms of footwear, Coronation offered some of the most convincing fakes I’ve seen in a minute. The clothing on the other hand was much less well-made. One little touch that made a big difference was that this particular vendor had taken the trouble including a Supreme-branded Nike box. It was a stark difference from my shopping experience in Bangkok, where I given my purchases in black plastic bags. I will say the actual hand feel of the shoe was a bit of a giveaway – the leather quality was noticeably poorer, and up-close the stitch details and construction were mediocre.
“Supreme” Fanny Pack = JMD 2000 or about $16
I’m actually not too well-versed on Supreme’s fanny pack repertoire, so as an amateur I wouldn’t be able to tell if this was legit or not. Originally the vendor was trying to get me to pay about double the price we settled on. He claimed it was because it was far superior quality than the other fanny packs his neighbors were hawking. After a round of back-and-forth I managed to get him to come down to about $16. I still feel that I overpaid, but you win some and you lose some.
“Yeezy Boost” 350 V2 = JMD 5500 or about $43
These surprised me just as much as the Supreme x Nike Air Force Ones. First, because the Boosts I purchased in Bangkok were much less substantial and much easier to determine as knockoffs. I could bend them in half with little effort, whereas the sole on the above version is much harder. Second, the knit is actually a lot thicker than I expected; although if you’ve felt the real version you’d probably still be able to notice a difference. Lastly, the slight curve of the orange stripe isn’t present in Mr. West’s design, so it would probably be obvious to a true collector.
At the end of the day, one has to appreciate how hype culture somehow manages to prevail no matter where you end up.
See what went down at the annual Redemption Live Concert which celebrates Bob Marley’s legacy and birthday.
- Photographer: Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety.com