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Can you tell which authentic jersey is the fake one?
Can you tell which authentic jersey is the fake one?
Fake "authentic" jerseys, like the one on the left, is big business.
Fake "authentic" jerseys, like the one on the left, is big business.
One way to tell a fake jersey is by examining the official league logo's. (The fake is on the right).
One way to tell a fake jersey is by examining the official league logo's. (The fake is on the right).

Real or fake? Many don't prefer the real thing

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Real, or fake?

That is the question most often put to sports fans.

Real, of course, is the best. Who wouldn’t want it? But … fake is cheaper. More easily accessible. It comes right to your house! You don’t even have to leave the couch.

And, on game day, no one really cares.

This is why there is such a proliferation of fake "authentic" sports jerseys. It’s why you can find them "off a truck" or online or outside any stadium for a third of the cost of the real thing in the official team shop.

Sports fans love supporting their team. They love wearing the jerseys, and they want it to be "authentic" – just like the pro’s wear. Yet – no one really wants to spend around $200 for that Robin Yount throwback, or that Ryan Braun road jersey.

Get it for $35 from God knows where online? Done.

I own a fake jersey and I own a real one. One was a gift, bought online for $40. One was retail – but on clearance – for $85. I could immediately tell the difference. The sizing was wrong on the fake one, the stitching began popping out almost immediately and the NFL logo wasn’t right.

But you know what – I didn’t care. Not one bit. And if I wore it out, no one else would, either.

It’s an odd part of fashion, even sports fashion. Usually, you want "name brand." You want to pay as much as you can and show off that you did. You want to "wear what the pro’s wear." But not in this case. Not with jerseys.

Honestly, $200 or more is just too much. It’s too much at $100. Then, if your guy changes teams, you may never want to wear it out again. Yet, we want everything stitched on. We want the special patches. Silk-screen? That’s … cheap.

Some fake jerseys are really well done, and I’ve never come across a true horror story in terms of misspelled team or player names or the wrong number. I’ve heard of them, though.

People can tell, though – even if you’d like to think they can’t.

"I know guys who know jerseys too and they go to the ball park and they say 75 percent of the jerseys you see are knockoffs," said Mick Pavlovich, owner of Stadium Sports Stuff off Bluemound Road in Milwaukee.

"I’ll see pictures in the paper, like a Packers game with the Lambeau Leap where they jump in the stands and all these guys are hugging him I go there’s a knockoff jersey. I can tell by the thickness of the numbers and the trim on the sleeves."

He laughed, but only for a minute.

The fake jerseys cut into his business. The leagues work with the United States government to stop the importation of such material, but it’s nearly impossible to stop. As long as people want fake jerseys, they’ll get them. And then guys with local shops like Pavlovich suffer the consequences.

But, he understands it. Completely.

"They buy the knockoffs off the internet and they’ll get them for half the price for what we can sell them here, even less sometimes," he said. "Some of those knockoffs are horrible looking but some of them are pretty good. I go, well, who am I? I’m poor myself so I figure I can’t blame a guy if he can get a jersey and he’s happy with it and he pays $40 for it rather than playing $80 – who am I to say? I don’t know his financial situation. But that’s really hurt us."

Real, or fake? Chances are I know which way you’ll go when you’re looking to buy that next "authentic" sports jersey. But if you go fake, head over to your local sports retailer and pick up a hat or a T-shirt, too – chances are you saved enough money on the front end to do that.

Talkbacks

Photodavie | May 20, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. (report)

36366 There is a HUGE difference between "replica" jerseys (MLB replicas run about $100) and fake jerseys. Replicas look authentic to 99% of fans and cost about 35% what an authentic jersey costs. Fakes or knock-offs look fake. There are usually more than a couple things off about a fake (to avoid lawsuits). Just as most women can tell the difference between a coach purse and a cheap knock-off, men can tell the difference between a replica and a fake jersey. Wait for the replica you want to go on sale and do it right. Do be cheap and get a knock-off.

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MilwaukeeCity | May 17, 2013 at 9:14 p.m. (report)

34661 This is just a response to the market, you can get a replica official MLB jersey for $100 or and official one stitched letters and everything for $250. Here is the truth with Coach bags and Sports Jersey's, why spend $250 when you only need to spend $30. It seems everyone knows a "jersey guy", hey $30 bucks and I can get you any jersey you want guy. Needs will respond to the market, if price is too high even for a official replica then screw it I'll get a almost the same jersey for $30 bucks. Want people to stop buying fake purses and jersey's? lower price, that's it!

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