Katsushige Kamamoto, owner of SKIT, talks fake fashion culture (Part 2)

Last time we had Mr. Kamamoto give us a glimpse into the world of fake culture. When it comes to sneakers, he tells us that this is a world ‘that will never really end’, and tells us about what could happen when people keep on owning fakes and the heaviness of the responsibility that goes with that fact. All he does is for everyone to have a more enjoyable fashion life. Please do lend an ear to his feelings.

SKIT Kichijoji
SKIT Kichijoji

---Last time, you told us that there are more fake sneakers compared to clothes, and that it’s harder to differentiate between real and fake; what reasons do you think are there to explain this?

“One is, as I said last time, the difference between how difficult it is to make the items. Another reason is that clothes are not often sold for premium prices, like several times the original prize. If not for a special reason like a collaboration between LOUIS VUITTON and Supreme which will probably never happen again, or as a secondary effect of a boom, the prices won’t go up that easily. They drop much faster as well. Sometimes the prices have dropped to rock bottom before the fake items are even finished, so it’s hard to make a move on those items. Finally, this is probably a characteristic particular to the Japanese with people putting much emphasis on brands, but mostly when it comes to high-end brands, consumers have the desire to buy these items in a directly managed store; I think aside from people trying to buy archive items there won’t be many people going to resale shops or second-hand stores. It would be best if people bought their sneakers in a directly managed store or a distributor store as well, of course. It’s the fact that you have to line up for these items to buy them before they sell out and also that the 90’s are a trend these days; because of these reasons the people who really wanted a pair but weren’t able to buy them have no other choice but to buy at resale stores. It also helps that it’s simply much easier to buy at these stores.”

---So in other words, there might be a lot of people wanting these shoes, even if they know they’re fake.

“There’s definitely always been people like that. To people who buy these items knowing they’re fake, I would like them to think about the question ‘Where do you think the money you paid is being used?’. Behind the companies and people making these fake items you can always find some negative influences, so I’d like them to realize that by buying they are indirectly contributing to those kinds of people. Maybe putting it like that will make people think twice before they take a fake item into their hands, and perhaps they would even leave it alone even though they really want the item.”

DB model of the Jordan IV
DB model of the Jordan IV

---I hear the best example of that effect is this model.

“That’s right. This is the DB model of the Jordan IVs; DB refers to a charity project organized by the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and NIKE has been continuously doing a sneaker project for this event. These sneakers have been designed by the afro-haired kid printed on the shoes (who was hospitalized there at the time) and all the money made from these shoes is donated to Doernbecher’s. They also acquired the rights to use the Superman logo on the shoes from the official owner, and because they were only sold in America, they’ve become a rare model. Of course, the shoes were sold out in the blink of an eye, and the prices went up to several times the original price; at the same time, fakes started making the rounds. I think this was around the time of the 2011 model. Even with sneakers made for a charity project like this, people in the resale business went all the way to America to buy up the shoes. Of course, they do buy the shoes normally so the money goes to the charity fund, but when you think about the fact that the items were bought to sell them in Japan and other foreign countries for a premium price, it becomes much harder to rejoice about that fact. These sneakers were sold for the second time for prices like 100.000 yen (about 930 dollars), which is more than five times the original price. When people in the fake business see prices like this, they see business and decide to start making fake sneakers.”

DB model of the Jordan IV
DB model of the Jordan IV

“But fake items are not made for charity. These people are trying to make money as individuals using items that were made by NIKE for a project out of good will. The money that was meant to go into charity funds then instead flows into organized crime, and these organizations use this money to import weapons into warzones. If you think of it like that, it makes me want to say to those people buying fakes knowingly ‘Do you know you might be contributing to terrorism?’. That’s not hypocrisy, that’s just a simple fact. Maybe you should just put off buying those sneakers, is what I’d like to tell them. If you simply want the sneakers, I would recommend them to just buy them at an established store or a resale store you can trust.”

---That of course means it’s even more important to be able to tell the difference between real and fake.

“Naturally, no one wants to be contributing to terrorism. If you bought the sneakers unknowingly, that’s unfortunate but not your fault. The problem is the fact that there are fake items being sold in the first place. But because we find ourselves in this situation where fakes sell well, I would like to tell people using OR NOT that it’s important to have ample knowledge prior to buying sneakers.”

---What specific points are there to look for to differentiate items of this model?

“The easiest way of recognizing fakes is the size of the logo of the afro-haired kid. Sometimes the logo is bigger, sometimes slightly smaller than the real thing. But this is also something you cannot realize if you’ve never seen the real item. The important thing is to find resale stores and users you can trust, and being skeptical when it comes to individual sales.”

DB model of the Jordan IV
DB model of the Jordan IV

---How do people react when you tell them ‘This is a fake’ after an appraisal?

“This isn’t always the case, but oftentimes people will knowingly bring in fakes. There are also people who ask thoroughly which part of the shoe told me it was fake. It feels like there’s more and more people doing appraisals of items for a living. So there’s more people these days who will bring in fakes knowing these points in an attempt to raise their own skills.”

---You could say that the fact that there’s more and more people in the industry doing appraisals of items to find out whether they’re real of fake is a sign of the fact that fake culture is a booming business.

“That’s definitely true. Because for us this is how we make a living, I can’t just go and tell everyone what specific points they should look at, but to a certain degree I think that not only some people, but everyone should be able to access this knowledge, which is the reason I decided to take this opportunity to share my thoughts. If everyone could share this knowledge, perhaps the number of fake items would decrease. Some people might be thinking “If it’s fake, even I can buy a popular item for a low price”. I can understand the thought, but if you think of the fact that the money will be used for negative things, I think none of us would want to contribute to that kind of business. Just by the fact that fake items come into existence, the money used to buy these items will never be used in a good way. I would like to take better care of sneaker culture, and because I think this kind of culture is also something special to Japan, I believe it’s important we share it and make it a better thing together. I keep on saying this, but the best place to buy these items is not an auction or a resale store, but simply buying them fair and square at an official store. This is probably not something I should be saying as the owner of a resale sneaker store, but it’s important enough that I do so either way.”

“I want to collect”, “There’s this model I really want”; sneakers are popular because they charm fashionistas into thinking these thoughts. Because of the rise of superfakes and the flourishing of individual sales through the internet community, we’ve arrived in a period where fakes are easy to obtain. That is exactly why we should consider the current situation once more. The feeling of “I’m not sure whether the item is real, but I really wanted it so I’ll buy it anyways’ carries with it the possibility of unwillingly contributing to organized crime. The money we paid with might be headed into a bad direction we cannot even fathom. “These are such big words9 that it’s hard to even imagine, but I would like people to reconsider war and terrorism as things that are actually closer to oneself than we think. And more than everything, I want everyone to enjoy the feeling of not compromising and buying fakes but going on a limb to buy the real thing.”; Mr. Kamamoto’s words helped me to reconsider my feelings about fake items.


SKIT Kichijoji

Business hours: 11:00~20:00
Address: Tokyo, Musashino, Kichijoji Minamicho, 1 Chome−18−1 D-ASSET Kichijoji 1F
Phone: 0422-47-6671

Katsushige Kamamoto

Born in 1978 in Aomori Prefecture.
Owner of sneaker shop “SKIT”. Currently has four locations in Japan.
Carrying rare items at reasonable prices,
SKIT is being noticed by sneakerheads from all over the world.