Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jerseys cleared for... ripoff

Fake jerseys hot sellers, but experts know they're shabby

  • Print

FAKE, fake, real, fake, real, fake, real, real, fake.

That's what's going through the minds of authentic hockey jersey connoisseurs as they walk through the concourse of the MTS Centre or sports bars during Winnipeg Jets games. League-approved jerseys have been flying off the shelves since they first became available back in September but counterfeit knock-offs have been big sellers, too -- even before the real ones were officially unveiled -- as fraudsters import them and sell them at a deep discount.

"You see the fakes all over the place," said Randy Tesluck, manager of Royal Sports on Pembina Highway. "I don't know if just anyone can notice them but anybody in our business definitely can. We can spot them a mile away."

So, what's the difference? If you were to stand in front of a mirror at home wearing a knock-off jersey, chances are you'd think you look pretty sharp.

But if your buddy stood beside you wearing the real McCoy, you'd immediately get an inferiority complex, experts say.

The fakes have a variety of telltale signs they're cheap imitations. The logos tend to be smaller, the colours are off, the material for the numbers on the back gives off a glare, the font for the numbers is different, the fight strap is small, the embroidery and stitching can be rough and jagged, trademark names can be misspelled and the fabric used is considerably lighter.

Zak Rubin, regional general manager of River City Sports, said there's no question the sheer number of counterfeit jerseys in the market is affecting the bottom lines of all sporting goods retailers. His staff members, however, are increasingly selling authentic jerseys to customers who want to replace their counterfeit ones.

"We're starting to see more people realizing that the fake ones are horrible and they're embarrassed to wear them. They're coming to us saying, 'I want the real thing,' " he said.

The trouble for both the authorities and retailers is that each successive generation of the knock-off jerseys gets better.

"The jerseys we seized initially were fairly rough," said RCMP spokesman Sgt. Miles Hiebert. "The later ones became more sophisticated and more accurate representations of the real jerseys."

Over the past three months, the RCMP have seized two batches of fake jerseys, 40 in August and 190 in October.

Even the untrained eye can pick out perhaps the most obvious sign of fakery -- the price. The on-ice jerseys retail for about $300 -- getting a number and name stitched on is extra -- while "replica" jerseys sell for about $129.

"If someone is offering to sell you an NHL jersey for $50, you can be pretty confident it's counterfeit," Hiebert said.

The fakes can also be distinguished by how they're sold -- predominantly online but they've also been peddled out of the back of people's cars or in beer-league hockey dressing rooms. Some Internet retailers market the jerseys with a picture of a real one on their site but mail out counterfeits to their customers.

Hiebert said most hockey fans who are buying counterfeit jerseys are simply trying to get the best deal possible to support their team. Ironically, however, they're not only taking money out of the tills of local retailers and manufacturers, they're supporting criminal organizations.

"Counterfeiting is an illegal activity," he said.

"The fines for this kind of offence can be as high as $50,000."

A spokesperson from the Winnipeg Jets was not available for comment.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 2, 2011 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


I Dream of Diesel at Rachel Brown Theatre scene preview

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google