Kappa AS Roma Fake Football Shirt Guide
One of the best things about Ebay is the ability to buy football shirts that aren't readily available in this country, and possibly get them on the cheap. However, there are literally hundreds of merchants peddling fake football shirts, mainly out of Asia, with Italy's AS Roma proving a popular target for the fakers. Given that Roma haven't actually won anything since season 2001/2002 and only boast one Superstar player on their books, however since Kappa implemented their slim fit designs, with Roma being one of the teams used to spearhead this new look (coincidentally around the time the team won Serie A) Roma shirts have remained popular for fashion reasons, with the team's next kit supplier Diadora following a similar path in terms of shirt design.
As someone who genuinely follows Roma, I always try to get my hands on at least one of their strips each season. However, finding shops that stock them isn't the easiest thing to do in Scotland, as they aren't even the third biggest club to hail from Italy (quite ironic this season seeing as the wake of the match fixing scandal has rendered them one of the title contenders) and I can't afford to fly to Rome every year just to buy a football shirt, so I've taken to browsing the Internet to fulfill my wants. While websites like Subside or Kitbag are very good sources of football gear, once again Roma aren't exactly a priority, so I've bought several shirts from less than trustworthy sources, some of them on this site.
Now, I'm not going to preach to you about not buying fake shirts because it 'hurts the club', we all know football strips are ridiculously overpriced, however, asides from the obvious factors that the fakers have a habit of getting details wrong, which means you could end up with a shirt that just makes you look silly to anyone who's seen the real thing, though this has been a factor reduced in importance drastically over the past few years, with these fake shirts being lightyears away from the tat they used to sell in markets on the continent, they feature stitching, similar materials, and in many cases could actually pass for the real deal to anyone who hasn't seen the real thing up close. However, these Roma, and any of the Kappa/Diadora fakes, have a certain drawback that your regular fake shirts don't. The 'Meryl' material they are made of actually has many uses practically for the person who intends to use their shirt to play in, none of which transfer onto their fakes. From personal experience I've always found these shirts to be light, yet warm, and easily the best at sweat absorbing, not to mention their stretchy material designed to allow movement even when the shirt is being pulled. I'll adress the differences later in the article, but first I thought I'd use some first hand experience and examples to try and help people spot the fakes.
Season 2002 - 2003
Now, these shirts were, and still are, icredibly popular due to their simplistic and smart design, and are often available for sale with or without the Mazda sponsor. However, alarm bells should start ringing when you see a seller selling a 'brand new' version of one of these shirts 3 years after they went out of production. It's worth noting a lot of the sellers will label the shirts whatever the current season is, though this doesn't necessarily indicate a fake, it can just be a seller trying to be smart. The way to spot a fake is all in the details.
Now, to all extents and purposes, this shirt looks convincingly real in a picture like this, doesn't it? (although it's also worth noting that many sellers from Asia have a very professional looking picture of the shirt on a dummy, I would actually be less trusting of a seller with such a picture) And given that this is the distance many pictures of shirts from your average seller is taken from, how can you tell? First of all, use the 'Ask Seller A Question' feature to ask for some pictures of specific areas.
It's stitched fairly nicely you might think, but compare it these badges, from the Home and Third shirts for that year, which features the same layout and design, only in different colours:
As you can see, the official badge (the one on the home shirt was purchased from the AS Roma shop in Rome) is far more complex in terms of stitching, feature 2 distinct textures and much larger ASR characters. Now, I'm fully aware that such things as B-Grade shirts exist, these are shirts which have a minor imperfection, and they often retail for around the same price as the fake shirts, they should not be confused with them. To clear up the badge issue, here is a picture of the badge from a B-Grade Roma Away Champions League shirt from the same year:
While not as easy to make out, there is a difference between this and the above badge, the stitching of the badge to the shirt. On the B-Grade it appears 'Stitched on' as opposed to 'stitched into'.
Shown here is the sponsor from the fake shirt, it's a heavier, fuzzier material that actually sticks out from the shirt. This may not raise many eyebrows on its own, given that this is a common way of applying sponsors to football shirts, however compare it to the one from the AS Roma shop purchased home shirt:
You'll notice that the sponsor is printed on with a thin plastic so that it almost seems one with the shirt. This makes the shirt noticably lighter and reduces sweating around the stomach area where the sponsor covers.
While it's impossible to show, and incredibly tough to tell at all via photographs, but the fake shirts aren't made of the same light, lycra derivative as the real shirts, meaning that not only don't they stretch, but they are heavier, and make you sweat more than absorb it as the Kappa shirts do so well. The only way of telling this, and this applies to many fake shirts in general, is to ask for pictures of the labels from inside the shirt. Very few actually have labels on the inside. What also helps in identifying fake Kappa shirts is a small label on the outside of the shirt which has the shirt's size written on one side and 'GARA' on the other. The fake shirt simply has 'GARA' written on both sides, and doesn't feature the shirt size anywhere.
I hope I've given those looking for Kappa AS Roma shirts on Ebay a good idea of what to look for when differentiating between fake and real, however I thought I'd finish with a list of general tips you might want to take in the search for real shirts:
- Don't trust sellers from Asia, especially Thailand. This one is obvious, even the press have picked up on this, buying from these countries is risky, so if you choose to do it you can't blame anyone else. It can be quite patent that some users feedback high feedback is achieved via less than honest means, so even such sellers with high feedback shouldn't be totally trusted
- If you see a seller offering a recent football shirt 'still tagged' for around £15-20 that is one popular amongst the fakers (Inter, Roma, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal etc) check his feedback to make sure he hasn't coincidentally purchased an identical item from Thailand in the weeks previous
- Beware of 'Limited Editions' such as the Anti-Racism Black/White halved shirts. These weren't put on general sale in Europe, where the teams who wore them are based, and I greatly doubt they were in Thailand either.
- Also, do some reasearch as to what the team's current kits are like. The other day I saw someone selling a 'New Arsenal Away Kit' that was actually an Inter shirt with an Arsenal badge and sponsor. It actually looked quite cool, but was about as real as Falkirk's chances of winning the Champions League this year (ie they aren't even in it)
- Likewise, if shopping at the start of a season, check official release dates.