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New jobs in fashion: sneaker authentication specialist

By Isabella Naef

Jul 12, 2019

FashionUnited publishes a series of interviews dedicated to the most requested professionals in the fashion industry, both by the brands and by companies active in fashion and luxury e-commerce. We decided to hear from fashion and e-commerce companies to understand the most popular roles, how much can be gained by those in these positions, what are the best training paths and attitudes required to find a job and make a career in fashion and luxury.

This week we interviewed Adriano Arpino, a sneaker authenticator who is responsible for verifying that the sneakers sold through Stockx, the platform for which he works at, are authentic and have never been used. A decidedly original profession in the fashion scene that, according to market quotations, earns about thirty thousand euros a year and has good prospects for growth in the company and career opportunities in a world where e-commerce is developing more and more.

What exactly is Stockx and how does it work?

Stockx, founded in Detroit in 2016, is the reselling platform where you can sell and buy luxury consumer goods such as sneakers and streetwear accessories using the same methods as the stock market. The site has over 11 million unique users per month, with a turnover of almost $2 million every day. The platform directly connects sellers and buyers with the same authentic, transparent and anonymous methods of the Stock Exchange, allowing you to bid with "bid and ask" transactions in real time. Buyers and sellers are thus able to see the prices of products in real time and can immediately buy or sell at the lowest list price or make an offer that can later be accepted.

And what role is your role as the sneaker authentication specialist?

All products, before being shipped to the buyer, are verified for quality and authenticity by an authorized Stockx authenticator. I, for example, check the sneakers. In this way, the platform guarantees 100 percent authenticity for every item purchased and sold on the site.

Do you work in the American office?

No, I work in London where, in October 2018-the platform opened the first European Authentication Centre to offer all consumers in Europe access to a wide range of products otherwise difficult to buy: ranging from popular brands such as Adidas Yeezy and Nike Jordan in the sneaker category; to Supreme, Palace and Kith in the streetwear category; to Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel bags.

How long have you been in this profession and what kind of training do you have?

I've been doing this job for about 6 months but I've always been interested in fashion. I know the market and the product well and especially sneakers because it's a personal passion of mine. I studied at university in a completely different way: I have a degree in geopolitics from the University of Hertfordshire.

But how do you distinguish a fake shoe from an authentic one, especially in a market where models and collections are constantly changing?

First of all, there is a period of training in the company both for the process that leads to authentication and for the verification of sizes. You have to check the measures actually correspond to those of the ad. Sneaker verification involves sight, smell and touch. First of all, you start from the box, this is also essential to verify whether it is an original or a fake. The smell is another wake-up call: fake shoes generally have a toxic smell, very strong due to the use of glues and other materials. Then there are models that if they are authentic have an unmistakable smell, such as Jordan Air 1, for example. The sole must also be checked both to ensure the authenticity of the product, both to see if it has been used, in this case, it can not be shipped.

How many shoes do you check out per hour and how do you keep up to date on the models?

I check about fifty shoes per hour. To keep up to date, I follow what has always been a passion of mine: I go to the shops, study the product, analyze the requests and try to understand if a particular model can acquire value or not.

The original version of this interview was published on May 30th, 2019 on FashionUnited Italy. The text has been translated and slightly abbreviated for an international audience.

Photos: Adriano Arpino and London's Authentication Centre in Stockx, from Stockx Press Office