Fake Air Force 1: How To Spot Even The Best (2023)

Written by
Ch David
fake vs real nike air force 1
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Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by Ch David

You are in the right place if you wish to know how to spot the fake vs real Nike Air Force 1.

This is Nike‘s most popular shoe, so knowing how to tell a fake is important.

NOTE: This real vs fake Nike Air Force 1 guide applies to almost every colourway of the Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.

How you can know if Air Force 1s are authentic (or fake)

You can know if your Air Force 1 is original by looking at the size tag’s text (the label inside the shoes). Fake pairs always have very thick text and misplaced inscriptions. A real pair of Nike Air Force 1s has perfectly detailed inscriptions.

  • The second best way to spot fake Air Force 1 is to inspect the stitching and the “Nike AIR” text on the rear side of the sneakers
  • The rear side of the Nike AF1 sneakers is the most flawed of the whole sneakers in almost every case of fake AF1 pairs

Let’s see the steps we need to take to tell the difference between a real Nike Air Force 1 and a fake.

1. Rear details

The rear side of the Nike Air Force 1 sneakers is almost always the best spot to look at in order to spot fake Nike Air Force 1 pairs.

We’ll share the picture first, with the key explanations on how to authenticate Nike Air Force 1 pairs below.

air force 1 fake vs real guide
Fake Vs Real Nike Air Force 1 – Rear Details

Key points for learning how to spot fake AF1 pairs:

  • The Nike Swoosh logo is a lot longer than the logo on the authentic pair
  • This can be visible by looking at the rear side of the Nike Swoosh logo (where we have placed a hand-emoji pointer)
  • On the authentic sneakers, you can see how the Swoosh is looking smaller

Regarding the “A I R” logo:

  • Most of the time, the fake Nike Air Force 1 pairs will have the “A I R” text looking either too thick or too thin
  • The counterfeit Nike Air Force 1 pair’s “A I R” text is placed too high on the sneakers
  • It almost makes contact with the Swoosh logo above, and that’s something which you will never see on an authentic Nike Air Force 1 pair

Going to the edge of the patch:

  • You can see how the stitching on the middle side of the sneakers is looking less dense on the fake Nike Air Force 1 sneaker
  • On the other hand, on the legit pairs, the stitching is actually looking denser and it chants more quality
  • The fake Nike Air Force 1 sneakers have their stitching looking shorter than the lines of stitching on the legit Nike Air Force 1 pair


  • There are stitching lines on the midsole of the AF1 sneakers that fit into the midsole of both the real vs fake Nike Air Force 1 sneakers
  • The stitching lines are looking a lot longer, thinner and fit on the fake sneakers
  • The authentic Nike Air Force 1 sneakers’ midsole stitching shows better quality

2. Size tag

fake air force 1
Legit Check Air Force 1 – Size Tag

Let us explain the flaws of the fake vs real Air Force 1 size tag:

2.1. “VF”

  • This print may differ from one pair to another, but in this case, both the real vs fake Air Force 1 sneakers have the “VF” print
  • Most of the time, the print on the top right corner will be too thin on the fake sneakers
  • On the authentic ones, it is always looking a lot thicker

2.2. “BR”

Moving to the left side of the size tag, you will have to check the “BR” print.

  • Usually, the “BR” print is going to look the same as the “VF” text, and that is too thin

2.3. Country

  • The fake “FABRIQUE EN VIETNAM” text seems thinner than the text found on legit pairs
  • The inscription is, however, the same on both the real vs fake Air Force Ones
  • Therefore you’ll have to pay attention to the text’s thickness

Check out these other Nike legit check guides: Air Max 97, Air Max 90.

3. Swoosh

We are going to move to the side of the Nike sneakers, and we have to quickly analyse the shape of the Swoosh logo.

how to tell fake nike air force 1
Real Vs Fake Nike Air Force 1 – Swoosh Logo

Most of the time, the counterfeit Nike Air Force 1 sneakers will have their Nike Swoosh logo looking different at the frontal curving.

  • The fake Air Force 1 pairs will have their Swoosh logo curving looking more sharply
  • The authentic Swoosh’s curving is more “natural” and smoother

Then, on the rear side of the Nike Swoosh logo:

  • The problem is exactly reversed from the side of the logo
  • You can see how the fake Nike AF1 pair’s Swoosh is placed further away from the sock liner of the sneakers
  • On the authentic sneakers, the Swoosh is placed a lot closer to the sock liner of the shoes

4. Side holes

Next up, we are going to inspect the placement of the two holes on the side of the sneakers on both the real and fake Nike AF1 pairs.

fake vs real air force 1 guide
Nike Air Force 1 Legit Check – Side Perforations
  • On the fake sneakers, the two perforations on the side of the shoes are placed a lot lower than they have to be
  • On the authentic sneakers, the two holes on the side are placed a lot higher than the holes on the fake Nike Air Force 1 pair
  • In other words: the fake Nike Air Force 1 sneakers will have their holes placed too close to the midsole, just as the ones on the fake vs real Nike Air Force 1 image above

A quick mention:

  • The steps we’ve written so far are the BEST ways to authenticate this item
  • The next few steps are still reliable methods…
  • … but they apply to non-top-versions of replicas available for this item

If in doubt, we recommend double-checking the steps we’ve explained above this line.

5. Toe box + Sole

This time we’ll be looking at the front of the sneakers.

What we call the “toe box” is the area in which your toes fit inside the sneakers.

Most of the time, the fake toe box area on the Air Force 1 sneakers is either too big (over-inflated) or too small.

air force 1 real vs fake guide
How To Spot Fake Air Force 1 – Toe Box
  • The counterfeit AF1 pair’s toe box is looking a lot curvier and lifted up, while…
  • The authentic Nike sneakers’ toe box is less inflated, sitting lower

To make it clear, almost every time, the fake sneakers’ toe box will look over-inflated, which means that the fake shoes look too arched and curvy on the frontal area, while the authentic Nike AF1 sneakers look less arched and curvy.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve got fake Nikes, we’re here to help you decide.

Get our opinion

6. Perforations

You will have to flip your sneakers to the frontal area, but from a top-down view, in order to inspect them in a better way.

how to spot fake air force 1
How To See Fake Nike Air Force 1 – Perforations
  • Not only are these holes too big or too small (and in this case, too small)
  • … but they sometimes come in different shapes and sizes on the counterfeit Air Force 1 pairs

Besides, the fake Air Force 1 sneakers’ perforations seem to be, in most cases not fully perforated.

Thus we can deduce that lower-quality manufacturing equipment was used.

7. Box label

We’ll move on from the sneakers to the box, in order to verify the label that is glued to the box.

legit check air force 1
  • The counterfeit Air Force 1’s box label has the “AIR FORCE 1 ’07” text looking a lot thicker than the text on the legit label
  • The box label will never have scratches or worn-out issues if it wasn’t damaged already. Therefore, his flaw applies only to brand-new boxes
  • The colour of the box label will never be dark grey, as the one found on the fake label
  • The authentic box label has to be coloured light grey, as the one found on the authentic Air Force 1’s box label

Shortlist: Shortlist: How to legit check Air Force 1 in 60 seconds

  1. Check the Back of the Shoe: Usually, fake Air Force 1s will have a longer Swoosh symbol. You’ll also find that the ‘A I R’ text will be too thick and placed too close to the Swoosh. The stitching on the rear will also be too thin and small.
  2. Inspect the Size Tag: Make sure that the text on the size tag isn’t too thin, as fake Air Force 1s will have a thinner and lighter font.
  3. Make Sure the Side Holes are Positioned Correctly: Fake Air Force 1s will have their side holes placed too close to the Midsole, which is far too low.
  4. Look at the Swoosh Logo: The top of the Swoosh logo being too curvy is a telltale sign that you own fake Air Force 1s. The back of the logo will also be further away from the sock liner.
  5. Examine the Toe Box: If your Air Force 1s are fake, the toe box will be too curvy and elevated.
  6. Check the Perforations on the Toe Box: On fake Air Force 1s, the holes on the toe box will be too wide and large.
  7. Analyse the Box Label: A pair of fake Air Force 1s will have a box with a different coloured label than an authentic pair, which is usually light grey. The text can also be thinner than usual on a fake box label.

There are situations where you may be unable to go through each detailed step explained above when you need to authenticate your Nike Air Force 1 sneakers.

Or, you’d just need a quick recap.

That is why we have compiled this quick 60-second solution to authenticating your sneakers.

Below are the top 7 indicators that can help you determine if you have a fake pair of sneakers or original Nike-manufactured Air Force 1s.

If you’re still unsure about the authenticity of your Air Force 1s, get in touch with LegitCheck! Our quick service is a great way to be sure whether your shoes are real or fake, and is as simple as sending a few pictures. 

What are Nike Air Force 1s?

Nike Air Force 1s are an iconic pair of sneakers created by Nike in 1982. They were the first Nike Basketball shoe to use the ‘Nike Air’ technology and preceded the ever-popular Nike AirMaxes. 

These shoes are adored by resellers and collectors and have become an icon for the ‘Sneakerhead’ community due to the ubiquitous nature of the shoe. With Nike’s huge range of Air Force 1 variation, their resale value can vary anywhere from $100 to $10,000.

The original shoe isn’t as valuable as other Nike products due to the sheer volume produced throughout its original run. However, expensive variants such as the Playstation Air Force 1 Lows, can command asking prices upwards of $20,000. 

Even if you’re buying on the cheaper end of collectable shoes, you still want to make sure that what you’re buying is legit. After all, nobody likes being ripped off, and fake Air Force 1s aren’t going to be as high quality or durable as the real deal.

Is it easy to spot fake Air Force 1?

Sneaker counterfeiting is getting out of hand. Not only are fake Air Force 1s flooding the market, but they’re getting much harder to spot. 

This is especially true of the Air Force range, as there are multiple iterations of the sneaker.  This is why it’s crucial to ensure that you’ve got the knowledge to know if your sneakers are the real deal or not, or at least have access to a professional authentication service that can do all of that for you, like LegitCheck

At LegitCheck, we want to help you make sure that every product you’re buying is the real deal. Modern scams and fakes make it quite risky to buy products online.

Our service helps get rid of that worry. We offer a fast and expert authentication service, with which you can ensure that your collectable goods are real. We can even issue a forgery-proof Certificate of Authenticity or provide proof of non-authenticity if you want to fight for a refund.

In any case, making sure that you LegitCheck Air Force 1s as soon as you get them is crucial. Realising you have fake sneakers too late might make it difficult to get a refund from the vendor or seller you brought from. 

If you’re worried about purchasing fake goods or you don’t want to authenticate them, buying from Nike or a trusted reseller is a great way to ensure that the goods that you’re getting are real. You should still legit check every pair of sneakers you purchase, even from trusted sellers. Fakes can still fall through the cracks, so it’s always best to make sure.

Expert Air Force 1 authentication service

Authenticating your collectable sneakers is crucial to ensuring that you’re getting the product that you paid for. Whether to wear or to resell later on, you want to make sure your collectable goods are real.

LegitCheck is the best authentication service to ensure that your Air Force 1s and other collectables are genuine without stress and hassle. Our expert team will verify your goods and ensure that they’re all legitimate.

Our service is even able to issue a certificate of authenticity – this is great for reselling later on! 

If you’re an avid collector, the LegitCheck Club gives you more bang for your buck, with extra benefits and perks. You’ll be able to save money throughout our site and even have one free streetwear authentication per month. 

Get started with LegitCheck today!

Need our opinion on your item’s authenticity? It’s a service we provide.

Get a fully-detailed report for why you have a real or fake item. Takes less than 48 hours!

Alternatively, use our free resources: written guides and video tutorials.

Thank you for reading this,

Ch Daniel and Ch David

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About the Author

David is the co-founder and co-CEO of Legit Check By Ch. David's experience: 5+ years of creating educational content in the fashion industry. 6+ years of authenticating luxury items. Currently, David is the Head Editor of the LCBC Library, where 1,000,000+ words have been published, in free guides, for over 1,000 items.
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