For a number of years now Premiership football fans have had to be careful when purchasing replica kit online.

A number of websites offering superb deals exist and you can snap up the current shirts of Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona et al for as little as £8. (no Weymouth ones surprisingly...)

They are of course fakes, but I dont neccessarily have a problem with the concept per se. Most Premiership clubs are happy to biring out three shirts per season and most fans cannot afford £40 x 3 every year.

To keep up with trends, why not pay a fraction of that price for something with such a limited shelf life? It doesnt matter if it only lasts a year, thats all it is meant too? 

I will let you google "replica soccer jersey" for yourself to avoid posting links that could get road.cc into trouble. Most sites are identifiable by only stocking sizes M and XL.

There was a series of articles doing the rounds though exposing a seedier side to this trade. Child labour (although a number of the genuine brands have no room to talk on that subject), money for drug cartels and even funding for terrorism have been alleged as results from fake football shirt trading.

The practice has been compared to buying a fake Gucci handbag or something from a market whilst on holiday abroad... (see picture of stall I saw on honeymoon!) 

Well, now it looks as though cycling is being targeted as the next sport in vogue.

A popular internet bidding site has had a number of bits of cycling kit that have looked slightly different  to those in shops, so I have been off to do some research.

On one of these sites (and again I will let you google it for yourself) you can get a full Team Sky kit (jersey and bibs) delivered from the far east for a good £10 less than any UK retailer ( Evans, Wiggle, Rutland Cycling) has the jersey alone.

So please be careful people! I know someone who bought some kit for a price that seemed "too good to be true". And it was, the jersey was ill fitting and had a poor zip. It clearly wasn't the real deal.

Having said that, if you are just keen to ride in your favourite teams colours and are not willing to pay full price for the authentic stuff then you might be in luck. You just have to rationalise with the moral paragraph above.

£21 for this seasons HTC/Columbia jersey might be within your budget whereas £55 for the real deal might not.

What does everyone think? 

James has been blogging for road.cc for 5 years and racing bicycles (averagely) for 20 years. 


JC [159 posts] 7 years ago

I bought a 'Pearl Izumi' kit from Ebay - I knew/ guessed it might not be the real deal - as it was very cheap.
However I though I woudl give it a go.
When it arrived (from China) it was very poor.
Ill fitting, poor zip, poor fabrics, poor pad, nasty seams, etc, etc
I didn't expect it to be that bad...  14
However I did get a good repsosne from the seller - sent it back and got a full refund.
Now I just stick to UK sellers on Ebay - usually 2nd hand kit - often in very good condition.  3

gazzaputt [232 posts] 7 years ago

I really don't think you can pass comment on football clubs when cycling teams have a new kit yearly which is far more expensive than a football kit.

James Warrener [1086 posts] 7 years ago

Maybe that is the gap in the market the fakers are exploiting then?

mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 7 years ago

The whole situation is really just the result of open competition.

It will never be possible for football or cycling teams to stamp out this sort of trade completely - and on the flip-side if the imports are of seriously dodgy quality then their business will never be particularly lucrative.

One (or possibly both) of two things can happen to ease the situation

1. The official kit becomes a bit cheaper - reducing the incentive to "settle" for a knock-off

2. The knock-off products will improve in quality somewhat (already seeing this for footie strips) making it less of an issue if you're going to go that route

Either way the gap in the market will close by itself due to market forces - leave it alone.

Simon_MacMichael [2509 posts] 7 years ago
mad_scot_rider wrote:

The whole situation is really just the result of open competition...

... Either way the gap in the market will close by itself due to market forces - leave it alone.

I think it's a bit more complicated than that, and the issues are as much ethical as economic.

There is pressure on brands these days to ensure that products are traceable all the way back along the supply chain with factories certified to demonstrate that there are decent working conditions, no use of child labour etc. Obviously, that's an assurance you're not going to get with fake gear.

Moreover, certainly when it comes to knock-off designer handbags, links have been made between the gangs controlling that side of the counterfeit industry and organised crime and international terrorism.

French and Italian authorities in particular have been trying to crack down, including fining tourists who haven't been able to resist being a "Louis Vuitton" handbag on a street corner. I'm not saying they're about to impose fines on people turning up at a sportive in a knock-off Nalini top, but you never know.

Finally, by going for the knock-offs, purchasers are taking money out of the cycling industry - whether that be the companies producing the kit, the distributors, the retailers, or the teams who license the product in the first place.

That's leaving aside the question of the quality of the garments that others have mentioned.

I'm assuming no-one here would knowingly buy fake bike components from an apparently dodgy online source (and there's a lot out there), primarily for safety reasons, but for the other factors I've mentioned above, I think it's equally wise to steer clear of other knock-offs, whatever product it may be.

Just my two (genuine Royal Mint) pence worth.

stevevfr [46 posts] 7 years ago

I've got to say that I have never had any interest in buying knock-off clothes or designer gear. I like the look of a nice watch or pair of jeans as much as the next man, but if I can't afford the real deal then I don't bother.

I apply this thought process to my cycling gear, I can't afford 50-70 quid on a Jersey just now, so I have to make do with cheaper options from those discount European supermarkets which we are all familiar with! Now, I admitt I don't know much about their origins or manufacturing processes, but I feel more comfortable wearing an item which is sold as a cheap alternative to the team shirts rather than a cheap copy!

End of my Waffling, thanks for reading  1

James Warrener [1086 posts] 7 years ago


I enjoyed it matey  4