I think it safe to say now that a vast proportion of Liverpool shirts on eBay are of a counterfeit nature. I'm sure that along with others, I am getting a little bit disheartened by the number of individuals purchasing, what they deem "authentic shirts" on eBay, maybe never realising that they are paying extortionate prices for replicas produced for a fraction of the prices paid. I have therefore compiled a little article to allow you to determine upon receipt, which shirts are authentic, and which are poor replicas. In a growing market, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to assess their authenticity, but having purchased and sold Liverpool shirts on eBay now for in excess of 8 years, I hope this article will be of some benefit.
1) Always look at the picture posted. Counterfeit items do not usually post the actual picture of the item, and even if they do…if they are selling multiple items, the same picture is posted. Always approach such listings with an element of scepticism.
2) In general, far-east replicas are counterfeit in nature. Although this may detract from few honest and trustworthy sellers, the vast proportion does not follow this trend. Remember, that although their feedback may be impeccable, it is easy to get around purchasers who are unsuspecting and do not have first hand information about how to discriminate an official from a counterfeit shirt.
3) Although not always a reliable indicator, the tags are usually attached on the inside neck of authentic shirts, and not the arms. Unfortunately this is becoming less reliable as a marker, as a lot of the shirts are now being manufactured in Thailand, as are the authentic shirts.
2004 and prior:
1) Of the older shirts (2004 and older), the easiest way to tell is from the material that the Carlsberg logo and Reebok logos are manufactures from. In an authentic shirt, these logos are made from exclusive felt, embossed onto the shirts. Counterfeit items generally tend to have a harder feel to them, and are generally not as flexible as the authentic shirts. Try flexing the material, and if this is not freely flexible along with the remainder of the material, you must show some suspicion.
2) Sizes: These were tell tale signs. Remembering that all size ranges in authentic shirts were in even values (38-40 = medium, 40-42 - large), it was immediately evident that the item was of a counterfeit nature when the sizes quoted were in even ranges i.e. 39-41 and 41-34
3) Detail: Of the patterned shirts produced, the detail also demonstrates counterfeit nature. Such an example was demonstrated by the Reebok away (yellow and black) shirt as worn by the team in the 2004/2005 season. The honeycomb pattern in an authentic shirt would always fade as it reached the bottom of the shirt, whereas counterfeit shirt patterns would cease abruptly.
4) I think it safe to say that in certain instances, as soon as you grasp the shirt, it is evident whether it is a counterfeit or not. The materials utilised for authentic shirts is of a far superior nature than the older counterfeits. Always bear in mind that the authentic shirts have an element of silk incorporated into the polyester material...so should always shine in certain lighting conditions. Although not always reliable as a marker, you would be surprised by how many these days utilise poor polyester only materials.
5) Liverpool Logo: Alot of the counterfeit shirts, despite being almost identical to the originals, still fall short when it comes to the meticulous detail of embroidery in the shirt. These shirts generally have the famous "You'll never walk alone" words extremely close together, and may in some instances even miss the apostrophe. It is thus really difficult to make out the words in the badge. This is one technique I have used to identify counterfeit shirts on numerous occasions.
6) Playdry and Reebok sub logo: Although small detail, the materials utilised for these logos are generally of a cheap rubber substitute. Authentic shirts use Teflon based print system, and these should be relatively immune to tugging/ stretch, whereas those of a counterfeit nature start peeling or even tearing when such force is applied.
There are numerous other signs that can be used, but unfortunately these are individual to the shirts produced, and thus would take a lifetime to document. Follow the above rules for any shirts, and you will rarely go wrong.
2004 and beyond:
This period marked a new era in the format and production of shirts both by Reebok and Adidas. The Carlsberg and club logos were now manufactured as plastic transfers. Although some would say this made things easier for the mass illegal producers, you would be wrong to make such an assumption. Despite having been introduced now for well over 4 years, the illegal producers have been as yet, unable to identify the composition of the material used in the transfers. It is thus probably easier to identify a recent counterfeit compared to one prior to this period. They have managed to master the meticulous detail of the shirts and designs, and even the embroidery in the recent Adidas badges…but this great detail is still evading them. The authentic transfers can be identified as follows:
1) Texture: Authentic shirts are produced from a Teflon/ rubber composition, thus providing a natural shine as well as resistance to stretch. Counterfeit shirts are formed from a rubber only material, are very much raised off the shirts (thicker material than the authentic shirts), and not as reflective due to their lack of Teflon.
2) The Liverpool logo in the Reebok transfers, when inspected carefully do not have watermarks on the white background in counterfeit shirts. This is difficult to discriminate unless you have good vision, but is a relative tell tale sign in such shirts.
3) When inspecting carefully, the transfers, an immediate comparison is obvious. Since the transfers on authentic shirts are thinner, it is easier to see the texture of the fabric from the shirt through the transfer, as it moulds to it when transferred with heat. Essentially you should be able to see the thread strands. If this is not visible, along with the above signs, you have a counterfeit item on your hands.
4) The playdry/ climacool logos should all demonstrate the above signs.
I hope I have gone significant way to aiding those unfortunate and unsuspecting buyers on this market place. If this article prevents just one individual from falling into such a trap, then it has done its job.