Highsnobiety

Buying and selling counterfeit clothing, bags and footwear is a booming global hustle that reaches far beyond Bangkok, Thailand, where Highsnobiety first started the “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 Dubai, a city crowned by sleek skyscrapers that rise from the surrounding desert like futuristic mirages. Known for its luxury shopping and plethora of premium experiences, the small-but-mighty emirate has cemented itself as a modern day capital of material excess.

Aside from being home to the current tallest building in the world, the only seven-star hotel in existence, and a 15-year-old who owns about 16,000 more pairs of shoes than the average person, Dubai still has a beating human heart that is neither diamond, platinum or gold.

Outside of well-traversed beacons for luxury acquisitions, such as the Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates, there are shopping centers that cater to those with less disposable incomes. One such place is Karama Market, a sprawling multiplex set in the heart of true residential Dubai.

Frequented by the city's vast immigrant population - over 83% of inhabitants identified as foreign-born as of 2016 - the market serves as an intersection of economy, culture and counterfeit goods. The latter proved especially easy to find once I'd met the plug.

On initial glance, Karama is exactly what it seems - a charming, slightly tumble-down row of storefronts where everything from jewelry to handbags, children's backpacks, suitcases and formal dresses can be found. For the most part, the store's main displays are comprised of a few brand name items alongside their unbranded, less-costly counterparts. However, before long my starry-eyed, tourist's gaze drew the attention of the market's other denizens - the middle-men who connect counterfeit sellers and buyers, that is.

"What are you looking for?" a portly, middle-aged man asks, his tone all business.

"Sneakers," I responded, pointing to my feet for extra emphasis.

"Real or imitation?"

"Imitation," I say.

He grins, "follow me." And like that, we were off. What quickly became apparent is that in Karama there is a market within a market if you know who to ask.

The Breakdown

adidas YEEZY Boost 350 V2 =  AED 240 or about $65 

Highsnobiety

 

Boosts seem to be one of the most frequently purchased counterfeits. Since starting the series, I've easily been able to find a pair in every country I've visited. This version holds up to the real thing quite well, perhaps even a bit better than the version I found in Jamaica. The material has a substantial hand-feel, and the soles are equally as hardwearing. Also, unlike the pair I bought in Kingston, the stripe doesn't curve up slightly which only adds to the authentic look.

Air Jordan 11 Retro Low = AED 230 or about $62

Highsnobiety

I'm sure a real collector would be able to spot the minute details that set this shoe apart from an actual pair of Jordans. I, however, am not one, and I've got to say these are pretty much a ringer for the real thing to my untrained eye. I'll admit, there are slight issues in quality - the insole is flimsy and the sole has been attached to the upper sloppily. Aside from that, it's hard to detect any real differences.

adidas Originals Stan Smith = AED 150 or about $40

Highsnobiety

I was probably most impressed by the quality of these. They were such a close match that we actually did a side-by-side comparison with an authentic pair of Stan Smiths. The only real differences were in material, color and the typeface. While an authentic pair is genuine leather, the above were obviously faux.

Additionally, the signature green was slightly brighter and less rich than an authentic pair. Lastly, the typeface was chunkier and less delicate which was likely the result of it being a literal copy of the branding on a real pair.

adidas x  mastermind JAPAN NMD = AED 160 or about $43

Highsnobiety

These are fairly convincing as well, but once again little details give them away. For instance, a closer look reveals slight issues with the sole structure, and the red patch on the bottom is a bit more pigmented than the original. Additionally, the actual construction, when closely inspected, looks a bit shoddier than what you might expect from an actual adidas shoe. Nevertheless, these could easily pass as real at first glance.

For more in this series, see what happened when we went shopping for fake streetwear in Kingston, Jamaica

We Recommend
  • adidas' KoRn-ified Nu Metal Sneaker Actually Bangs
    • Sneakers
  • The Best Basketball Shoes of the 2023-24 Season
    • Sneakers
  • How to Make "Sail" Jordan 4s Better? Add a Hint of Gold
    • Sneakers
  • Finally, adidas Is Selling Off Its Remaining YEEZY Sneakers
    • Sneakers
  • Your Feet Will Thank You for These Winter-Ready Sneakers
    • Sneakers
What To Read Next
  • Ronnie Fieg's Clarks Have Grilling Shoe Energy
    • Sneakers
  • The Miami F1 Grand Prix Was About Collaboration, Too
    • Sports
  • Apple's New iPad Pro Might Replace Your Laptop
    • Culture
  • District Vision's Beefy New Balance Shoes Are Now Twice as Nice
    • Sneakers
  • BMW's First-Ever Couture Car Is a Literal Supermodel
    • Culture
  • Reebok & Needles’ Beautiful Trek Shoe Is Back (& Now, a Clog)
    • Sneakers
*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titel Media GmbH (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titel Media GmbH strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titel Media GmbH tests, remediates and maintains the Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.