Last weekend, Nike treated fans in the Boston area to an exclusive launch of Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Air Force 1 Low “Lemonade” through the brand’s SNKRS app. The shoes, designed to coincide with Abloh’s ICA Boston “Figures of Speech” exhibit, follow the tonal color theme laid out by his previous museum-exclusive AF1 designs, including a black pair for the MoMA and a university blue for MCA Chicago. This new university gold, or as Abloh dubbed it, “Lemonade,” version dropped on July 10 through a feature Nike calls SNKRS Stash. This allows people who are within a certain proximity (usually in key cities or event venues) to unlock access to the shoes. The limited stock is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and only users who are nearby are able to participate in the Stash—or at least that’s how it’s intended to work.
Similar to the sneaker bot phenomenon, collectors and resellers have found loopholes to get their hands on SNKRS Stash releases without being in the area. Sometimes, like in the case of one buyer Complex spoke with under the condition of anonymity, they’re on the other side of the country. By faking, or as it’s widely known, spoofing, one’s location with special software, they can make the app think they’re in the targeted range, order the shoes, and get them without stepping foot out of their house. While the buyer says it wasn’t particularly difficult to pull off, it’s not a foolproof method.
“Location spoof can be a toss up,” the Off-White x AF1 owner says. “Depends if they have Bluetooth beacons setup to verify you’re physically there. As long as you have the right tools and the right coordinates, it’s not that hard. Having the right coordinates is key when you’re spoofing. You have to be within a certain distance from the Stash in order for it to unlock and allow you to try to purchase the shoe.”
Like botting, people spoofing their locations in attempt to buy sneakers they couldn’t otherwise get isn’t a new thing, but it’s especially eye-opening to see it affect a release of this extent.
The spoofer, who says they plan to wear the shoes since they were able to get their size, doesn’t feel that there’s any moral issues at play and instead chalks it up to how hyped things have gotten.
“Everyone is looking for the advantage,” they said. “This has resulted in bots, spoofing, people bringing their families to lineups. It’s harder for everyone to get exclusive shoes, not just people in Boston.”