In the early days of the Predators, a jersey was a jersey. If you saw it for sale, odds were it was a good deal. Since then, however, the increasing popularity of the team combined with the boom of e-commerce has thrust the Preds right into the thick of the knockoff market. You like knockoffs? You do you, my friend. But if you'd rather not get duped into thinking you got the real thing, here are some guidelines that can help you identify a knockoff from the real thing. Because prior years' jerseys are so seldom faked, we'll be concentrating on the big three: The Gold-Era Reebok, The Adidas, and the ever-popular Navy Alternate.
A genuine Reebok Premier (replica jersey)
Reebok and Adidas Jerseys
The collar is one of the easiest places to spot a fake, because nearly every knockoff does them so poorly. To begin, the NHL Shield should fill the entire gold (or white) section of material. Chinese jerseys often put an embarrassingly tiny emblem in place.
Second, the jersey's body, including the material upon which the emblem is sewn, is one continuous piece. China often adds the section between the collars as a separate swathe of material. Finally if the piano keys look more like a bar code than an instrument, you're out of luck.
Clean and properly proportioned
Deflated and lumpy
The shield fills the collar 'tab'
What is this - a shield for ants?? It should be at least...3 times as big!
Customization may vary, and not look exactly like the professional job on the left. Leigitimate jerseys may have sublimated numbers sewn to the back, or they can be a cheaper, heat-pressed material - but none will look like the example to the right.
No genuine jersey will have embroidered guitar strings (those dotted lines), nor should they be a lighter shade of blue than the rest of the jersey. Fakes with these numbers stick out like a sore thumb...often on a television broadcast. Also, keep an eye on lumpy material. It should never lump.
If you're not looking carefully, this one can slip by you, but many of the knockoffs on the market are using an embroidered crest that looks almost like it has been both horizontally stretched and vertically flattened. Knockoff crests also have a bit of a '3D' type of effect, as they tend to use a material that is bubbly in appearance.
Not every knockoff has this flaw, but many of them do, so keep your eyes peeled when purchasing. The new generation of Adidas knockoffs has this issue, too, on occasion, but not as often.
A proper, professional customization
If the lines are dotted, a fake's been spotted
As a basic rule, nameplates will never be rounded. This is an easy red flag for identifying a fake. It is possible someone could take a legitimate replica or authentic and poorly customize it with a rounded plate, but I've never seen that before. Proper nameplates will always be squared off at the edges.
FYI, the only "Predators" jersey you'll see that have legitimate rounded nameplates are All-Star Game jerseys.
Could actually withstand a fight
Could possibly withstand shipping
Rectangular and spectangular
Round and frowned (upon)
Not all jerseys have fight straps. In fact, if you've got a replica (Reebok Premier), it should never have a fight strap. If your jersey is labeled by size (S, M, L, XL, etc.) and it has a strap, it's a knockoff. Authentics, are sized by number and do have fight straps.
The example to the left is a proper example of a legitimate fight strap. Note that the base of the strap is twice as wide as the strap itself and reinforced multiple times over. It will take superhuman strength to remove that from the jersey. Knockoffs, seemingly without fail, have puny straps with very little reinforcement at the base. This is a huge telltale sign.
Part of the material, correct spacing
Embroidered? No. Uneven spacing? No.
The neck, both front and back is an excellent place for identifying knockoffs, because there are so many little deails to mess up on. The rear has 'Nashville' written across the back, and it's easy to spot a fake.
A legitmate jersey will either have the words sublimated right into the fabric, or heat pressed onto the back with a smooth and even font that seems to curve with the collar.
The words will never be embroidered (lower right), nor will you see the words 'NASH VILLE' (upper right) on the real thing, but they're common on knockoffs.
Over the course of the last several years, fans looking for the cheapest option have paid for cheap jerseys from multiple sites believing they're receiving a product that looks like the real thing. At a casual glance, it's easy to be fooled, but place a genuine jersey side by side with a knockoff and the issues become much more obvious. Here are the things that I look for the most when determining the legitimacy of a jersey up for sale:
The items above, for the most part apply to Reebok knockoffs just as easily as the newer Adidas knockoffs, however, with the new look, there are some specific issues you can look for to help identify a fake Adidas in the marketplace, and they're fairly easy to spot - which is a good thing! If you see the following issues, avoid like the plague, or at the very least know what you're buying.
Adidas jerseys have a branded patch on the back of the neck area, which is sewn to a separate piece of fabric. For this reason, the inside of the collar will show no evidence of the stitching, and will only have the word 'Climalite' discreetly placed in silver lettering on the interior.
Using lower quality construction, knockoffs often only use one layer and the embroidery - that's right, NOT a patch will be visible from the inside. Easy to spot and a telltale sign of a knockoff jersey. I've only encountered this on Adidas jerseys thus far. Don't be fooled
Clean and genuine. No threads here.
Cutting corners, branding visible inside
An almost bell-like shape. Genuine.
More straight up & down. Knockoff.
Adidas revolutionized the look of their jerseys in many ways, but most significantly in changing the cut of their jerseys. Gone are the days of the straight-up boxy CCM's, and the slightly slimmer and more angular Reebok Edges. Adidas jerseys have an almost bell-shaped cut, as seen in the image to the left. Those with beer guts rejoice! These jerseys are perfect.
Many knockoff manufacturers haven't caught up to this design change, and still design boxier jerseys. The knockoff in the photo is a better looking fake, to be sure, but several of the signs are still there. Shape is one.
The Navy Alternate is easily a fan-favorite and one of the most celebrated jerseys in the franchise's history. Sadly, and somewhat due to its relative rarity on the open market, there are many knockoffs of the Navy Alternate being made and bought today. Don't get suckered into thinking you've bought the real thing. Here are some comparisons of the real thing and the Chinese fakes out there, with side-by-sides of the easiest identifiers.
The Navy Alternate
Simple, elegant, and all you'd want from a replica
Really wants you to believe its an authentic, for $43...new with tags
The crest on most navy alternate knockoffs is usualy all you'll need to see to make an easy assessment of the jersey's authenticity. The vast majority of them are a bit misshapen, tilted, and otherwise poorly colored facsimilies of the ones found on the real thing.
The most commonly missed detail on a knockoff is the coloring around the edges of the crest. Not only is there an outline of navy blue immediately around the edges, but another outer layer of baby blue that encircles the entire crest. If you see these on your jersey, you're likely in pretty good shape. Be sure to look for this any time you're considering a purchase
Outer layers of dark blue, then baby blue
Also has a layer of...material
One of these things is not like the other. When the Preds revealed the Navy Alternate, part of its appeal was its understated features. That includes thin white stripes through the sleeves and hemline, and very subtle checker-boarding navy and black squares in between. Chinese knockoffs can often be as subtle as a sledgehammer.
Look for lines often twice as thick as the real thing when identifying a knockoff. Thankfully, producers of these things aren't sticklers for details, and 'close enough' usually leaves easy evidence like this. Also, think twice if the checkered pattern is bright and vivid. It's intentionally supposed to be an understated, low contrast feature.
Thinner, more subtle lines
China lays them on thick
I'm just surprised this one is spelled right
Very little contrast from navy and black
Risking sounding like a broken record, remember that the sign of a genuine Navy Alternate jersey is subtlety. The checkerboard patterns found throughout are not immediately obvious, but the patches on knockoff jerseys play up the checkerboard pattern like it's the main feature. Check out the boldness of the pattern on the knockoff to the right, and the lightness of the blue. That's a giveaway this isn't genuine.
The legitimate patch on the left on a Reebok Premier replica gives only a hint of the pattern. It will be a tad more obvious on the embroidered patches that adorn authentics and game-worn Navy Alternates.
1. The Crest
3. The Numbers
5. Fight Strap
2. Cut & Fit
1. The Crest
2. The Stripes
Still having a hard time figuring out if your jersey, or one you're looking at is legit? Send me a message at PredsThreads@gmail.com, or on Twitter at @PredsThreads