Red Wing is one of the best boots manufacturers in the world. The high standards that it uses in designing and crafting its boots have earned it a huge market share.
Unfortunately, as it’s always the case with good and loved things, Red Wing’s huge following has also attracted the entry of counterfeiters.
With the bootleggers becoming more and more skilled in imitating the real Red Wings, all shoppers-experienced and first-timers- have equal chances of being scammed for fake Red Wing boots.
Don’t trust those mega online stores E-bay and no-name e-commerce sites. It’s quite unfortunate that most counterfeiters pass their fake boots through them too.
How do you differentiate fake Red Wings from authentic ones?
One of the major indicators when purchasing any Red Wing boot is going to be the leather used. Red Wing is known for its exceptionally high-quality leather which may either be oil-tanned, roughout or nubuck leather.
Of course, it only takes an experienced person to differentiate between genuine and fake leather. Fortunately, there are a few telltales that might help you out here.
First, Red Wing is always proud to inform its clients that the material used in the boots is genuine leather. They may note this as either;
- Full grain leather
- Real leather
- Genuine leather or
- Made with animal products
For reasons best known to them, most fakers won’t disclose the type of material used on their boots. So, in case, the box or the tag on your boots has no information about the kind of leather used, the chances are that it’s not genuine.
Be warned, though! Some daring manufacturers will still label their boots as genuine leather when it’s not. Again, the manufacturer’s tag may also be displaced during shipment. As such, you need to know how to differentiate genuine leather from synthetic leather.
Learn how to differentiate genuine leather from faux leather
First, pay close attention to the surface grain
Genuine leather from animals always has little pebbles and pores that look like imperfections. These may appear like scratches or creases. On the other hand, faux leather has regular, extremely glossy lines since they are machined.
Besides looking at it, you can also try to press into the leather or fold it at the edges. This makes the wrinkles and creases in genuine leather more pronounced. Faux leather does not form wrinkles.
You can also tell real leather by the smell!
Do you know how real worked animal skin smells like? If you don’t, you might have to rush to a store near you that deals with genuine leather products.
Take a few items and smell them. Inquire whether they have a synthetic leather item and smell it as well. Real leather should have a natural, musty smell while synthetic leather has vinyl and chemical odors.
Check the inside part
This is one of the methods that I rely on most. If you take a closer look at the inside part of the boot, you’ll notice that genuine leather has some raised rough ‘hairs.’
On the other hand, synthetic leather is flat and smooth since it has a fabric treatment.
The water test
You may also test whether your boot’s leather is real using a drop of water on it. If the boots are waterproof, for instance, Red Wing Moc Toe 6’’, you’ll have to turn to the inside of the quarter.
Simply dip your finger in water and let a drop fall onto the leather. If it’s genuine, the water will be held for some seconds by the grainy surface. After a few seconds, the water starts to soak in and spreading all around where you dropped it.
On the other hand, if its synthetic leather, the water will puddle up and later run down quickly betraying its make.
Take a look at its edges
This is yet another way of differentiating real Red Wing boots from fake ones. With the Moc Toe 6’’ above, for instance, take a closer look at how rough the front edges of the collar are. Another place to look at is the edges of the back strap.
Again, check out the leather along the welt? Do you note the natural, irregular frays? Now, that’s a good pointer that it’s genuine.
Synthetic leather has clean cuts. Its edges do not have such strands mainly because they are made from plastics.
If you’ve had some experience with leather before, for instance with jackets, handbags, or wallets, you’ll tell that genuine leather products are damn expensive.
Red Wings are not exempted from this. They are, in fact, among the most expensive boots you could ever get.
While we all love to be given good prices when buying things, be on the lookout for prices that are just so good to be true. As an example, a genuine pair of Redwing Classic Moc 6″ Boot may cost you close to four hundred bucks depending on the size and the color.
Surprisingly, you could also get the replica of this boot at below 100 dollars elsewhere especially on aliexpress.com and eBay. What most fakers do is give you a slashed value of the boots to imply that you are getting the boots at a fantastic deal.
In most instances, genuine leather is sold at a fixed price. Take the product number of the boots and search for them on other e-tailers’ websites like Walmart.
A significant difference in price tags of over 50% should alert you of scammers. The only exception here is when the store has a clearance sale.
Try the boots on- Is the leather stiff?
Speaking of genuine leather, Red Wing boots are usually so stiff to wear comfortably for the first few days. My Moc Toe 6’’ took almost a whole week to break in completely. But that was because of the tough leather used to make them.
On the other hand, if you fall for synthetic leather boots especially those that fit you perfectly, you’ll realize that they have a rather soft feeling and do not require any breaking in.
This should raise your suspicions. Consequently, you should put the boots to a thorough test using the various techniques in this guide.
Check the SKU number
The SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) is a number used to keep the inventories of products. In shoes, the SKU tag may indicate things like the boot number, country of manufacture, and universal sizes.
This tag is usually inside the boot either on the tongue or side liner. The packaging box also has an exact duplicate of the tag inside the boots.
So, how does the SKU help in differentiating original Red Wing boots from fake boots?
First, the information displayed by the 2 tags should match. Here, you’ll have to pay attention to some small details like the serial code numbers and the sizing. In most instances, fake products portray wrong shoe sizes and serial codes.
Secondly, compare the displayed year of manufacture on the boot’s tag with the manufacturer’s date of manufacture of the exact product on their website. If you note some variations, know that there’s something wrong with your Red Wings.
Thirdly, check out how this tag is stitched into the boot. Red Wing is known for paying much attention to every detail. Very rarely will you find a poorly stitched tag on their boots. I’ve seen some Moc boots with tags that were almost falling out.
By the same vein, how is the box that the boots were packed in? Worth pointing out, most Red Wing boots are shipped in nicely designed original boxes.
So if yours came in a seemingly poor quality box that feels like it could fall apart anytime, know that you might be looking at some fake boots.
How is the stitching?
In my experience with Red Wing boots, I think one of the hardest things that fakers won’t replicate any time soon is the quality of stitch found on these shoes. Authentic Red Wing boots are professionally stitched and do not portray any flaw.
Again, most of Red Wing boots have this brand’s signature triple-stitch sewing pattern that sets it apart from most of its competitors. While most scammers could easily replicate this, the stitches in both shoes always have some irregularities and may even be coming out.
The weight factor
This is yet another huge giveaway. Red Wing boots are generally known to be hefty. So if yours feel extremely light, it could be plastic.
What do other purchasers say about the boot?
It also pays to find out what other previous buyers have to say about the boots. The customers’ reviews on eBay and other e-tailers are also quite resourceful.
However, you need to take some of those reviews with a pinch of salt since some buyers can’t tell the difference between fake and authentic shoes.
Again, others are ‘bribed’ to write positive reviews. You might also consider signing up for Reddit.com and get reliable remarks from other members too.
So, there are some of the ways that should help you differentiate between an authentic Red Wing boot from a fake one. If you intend to purchase the boots online, you’ll really need to research the prices and customer reviews and ratings between various websites.
A common complaint among a good percentage of the customers should raise some eyebrows. Now that you know what to look for, our full review of Red Wing Moc Toe boots and shoes might interest you.