No matter where you go in the world, there is no doubt that you can find fake streetwear just about anywhere. Whether you’re exploring the depths of Southeast Asia in Thailand’s Rot Fai Market or stumbling upon Kingston’s biggest market, Coronation, you can find everything from (fake) Supreme to YEEZY.
Lagos, like these two cities, has its own unique market located in a suburb close to University of Lagos. This makes it a hotspot for young students and local buyers looking for anything from sneakers to house utilities. The space buzzes with music and the sounds of shop owners persuading local buyers.
As soon as you arrive at the market, you’re greeted by store owners who try to get your attention through whistling, settle calls and compliments about your attire. For them, foot traffic is how they boost their sales and they aren’t afraid to let you know that your visit is valuable.
When it comes to footwear, Yaba Market has an enormous supply of sneakers, but it was a lot more limited in terms of streetwear and clothing. Based on my conversations with store owners, a lot of the shoes are sourced from China or replicated in the region.
I was able to pick up a few pairs of sneakers including Nike Air Max, adidas NMDs and a pair of Nike Sock Darts. The total cost came to $113, which may have been a bit higher than what they would generally charge local shoppers – they can pretty much smell foreigners from a mile away and my dual citizenship didn’t come in handy.
While I saw many authentic-looking pieces, the pieces I bought from Lagos were on the low-quality side. Some, though, were passable. The Nike Air Max, for example, were some of the better replicas in the bunch. At a glance, the shoe may even look real to the uneducated eye. The shoes are noticeably lighter than the originals, though, and most of the mistakes come from incorrect placement of the Air Max sign and the Nike swoosh.
The Sock Darts were another replica that lacked execution. The silhouette of the shoe was wrong and didn’t elevate at the tip like the original. There was also a missing Swoosh on the inner side of the shoe and the material of the sneakers seemed more like jersey than shoe material. Another major difference was that the embroidery on the back of the shoe was very crooked and incorrectly made. The strap on the shoe was already yellowed even though it was supposedly bought “brand new.”
Lastly, the very popular adidas NMD were a pretty hot commodity in the Lagos streets. The pair I got in particular was not very convincing, and the quality was one of the lowest in the bunch. To start, the sole was made of plastic, instead of adidas signature Boost foam.
The bottom was sloppily hand-painted with black paint, and only a quick glance will tell you that this shoe is counterfeit. The material on the upper was also not as thick as the original NMD and the adidas logo on the midsole was off-center and too large.
Overall, Nigeria’s Yaba Market was unforgettable and showed how vastly different copping a pair of sneakers is for a person in one place compared to another. Although the shopping experience is different in Lagos, the interest in certain styles is similar. “The culture” is very much alive in the street of Lagos, as it is in any other major city.
Earlier this month we caught up with Waffles and Cream, Nigeria’s first skate crew. Check it out here.
- Photography: Aamarchi Nwosu / Highsnobiety.com