How Nike Protects Air Jordans From Counterfeiters

Over at the sneaker-crazy Sole Collector, there’s a great round-up of some of the hidden design details found on various Air Jordan releases. From the 14 Jumpmen symbols hidden all over 1999’s Air Jordan 14s, to the handwritten midsole texture on the Air Jordan 2010’s, Nike’s Tinker Hatfield and crew put a lot more work into the designs of these shoes than first meets the eye.

For my money, though, the best design detail Sole Collector calls attention to is the awesome anti-counterfeiting measures Nike built into the Air Jordan 4 re-release back in 2012, which actually solves a real problem: knock-offs dragging down the prestige of the brand.

The effort to combat counterfeit Air Jordans may seem futile, but Jordan Brand has taken steps to at least make things harder on the counterfeiters. Every Air Jordan 4 Retro released in 2012 (the 23rd anniversary of the model) features an embossed “TWENTYTWELVE” on the lateral side of the tongue, just below the mesh, and out of view when worn. This detail was conspicuously missing from all of the early release pairs – presumably because the counterfeiters didn’t know it was there.

Check out Sole Collector’s full list of Air Jordan design details here.