We gave you the heads up earlier in the year, and now it’s official. eBay Australia has linked up with Sneaker Con to authenticate the sneakers we’re buying and selling on the platform. The move increases our confidence in the buying process, and decreases our chances of getting stuck with some Karl Stefanovic Yeezys.
In phase one of the rollout, eBay Australia were offering authenticated product from the US. Now, phase two is in effect, and product is being verified locally. The local authentication couldn’t come soon enough on the booming reselling platforml someone in Australia buys a pair of sneakers every two minutes on eBay. And now, any pair of Nike, adidas, New Balance, Converse or Vans that goes for over $150 will be eligible for a Sneaker Con legit check.
While the move to incorporate the authentication has been met with open arms, questions still prevail in the minds of sneakerheads from Sydney to Scarborough Beach: Who is checking these sneakers? What are they doing to check them? How can we be sure they can differentiate the real from the fake? The lead in Sneaker Con AU’s Sydney-based operation is here to explain the process, flex her impressive credentials, and put all our minds at ease. Head authenticator Jasmine Habbouchi gives the story behind the legit checks.
How did you end up with this job?
It will come as no surprise that I am a huge sneakerhead – something that started as a child. I grew up in Western Sydney and was pretty much obsessed with sneakers when my parents bought me my first pair of Lynx sneakers in the nineties. Most of the sneakers I had were hand-me-downs from my older brother but as I got older I became inspired by stars like Missy Elliot – I love her adidas line. I have no idea how many pairs of sneakers I own now but it’s in the hundreds with my favourite pairs being the adidas Superstars and Yeezy 700 Bright Blue.
My experience is heavily intertwined with sneaker culture. I previously worked for adidas and before getting into authenticating sneakers professionally, I worked as an art curator, organising art and underground sneaker events in Sydney including KRVNM (an annual skull art exhibition since 2014) and MIDSÖLE (a sneaker art exhibition since 2018). I’m also part of the Stayfly Sydney group which transformed into an event for women who loved music and street art.
I saw the Sneaker Con Authenticator role advertised in my circles and knew I had to apply. And from the moment I met the team I knew this was what I wanted to do.
Is there a training process before you start authenticating sneakers? What does that entail?
The training is very in-depth and is something I’ve been doing for many months already, working with top Sneaker Con authenticators. It’s a technical process that requires thorough analysis of every shoe.
While I knew sneakers before, this role has opened my eyes to how much there is to know across all the many many drops of sneakers over the years. The main thing I now understand is that I’ll never stop learning in this job – especially as fakes get more sophisticated. I aim to keep training an extra hour a day in addition to performing my role to stay on top of the latest changes and releases.
Take me through a normal day in the life of a sneaker authenticator? Is there a step-by-step process you follow to authenticate?
While I can’t give away all the details, we use a strict data-driven process to inspect various aspects of each sneaker sold on eBay, including logo placement, stitching, leather quality and even smell.
The authentication process starts even before you even open the shoe box. The colour and any printed patterns on it are some of the most difficult details for counterfeiters to match so it’s a great place to start. Additionally, the box label itself has so much detail that is difficult to counterfeit such as matching fonts and spacing perfectly, the cut on the edges of the label and even the type of texture of the print. Counterfeiters often focus on the sneaker itself and don’t put in the effort or resources to match the packaging exactly.
We’re told a lot that smell can be an easy indication that a sneaker is or is not authentic – can you tell me more about that?
The smell of the sneaker is another tell-tale sign. If you smell enough authentic pairs, when a fake shows up you just know it. It’s that “brand new” smell everyone knows. You might not be able to pinpoint a specific scent but you’ll know you like the smell of newly manufactured leather, suede, plastic, rubber, etc. Each shoe is made up of a mixture of materials that give it a unique smell. Counterfeiters often cut production costs by using cheaper materials on the interior parts of the shoe (places most buyers wouldn’t notice) like the glue for binding a sole to the upper of a shoe, the insoles, and/or the inner lining. This is what makes fake shoes smell so different from authentic ones.
I have held, smelled and examined enough sneakers to say confidently that I won’t be duped by a fake. And I will use my knowledge and experience to ensure that no one purchasing on eBay will be duped either.
Do your friends hit you up to check sneakers from their collection?
Not yet but I’m sure they will! I can only provide proper authentication when I have all the equipment in front of me, but where possible I’ll try and help my friends. The beauty of the sneaker community is in how close knit it is. We always try to help each other.
Obviously the process of authenticating each sneaker is going to be quite different. But if someone out there has a pair they’re not sure about, be it a pair of Jordans, Yeezys or something else, what are some things to check for to put their mind at ease?
Unless you are buying from the retail locations authorised by the manufacturer, you can’t place 100% of your trust in an item unless it’s authenticated by a credible source – like those with the Authenticity Guarantee badge on eBay. But you can always start by checking the box details, smell, logo placement and quality of the leather. If any of those elements seem off, you should definitely question its authenticity.