I remember in the early 90's I got my first pair of Reebok Pumps, which were the envy of my third grade classmates. I remember my Dad having some too, which looked great with his fanny pack and spandex shorts. 😬
Now I'm not really a "sneakerhead", but my understanding of the situation is that Reebok launched their Pumps to compete with the iconic Air Jordan's, which launched a number of years earlier in the mid 80's and arguably marked the start of the sneaker enthusiast movement that we know today.
It's safe the say the scene has changed a little, for the better perhaps, because now sneaker enthusiasts around the world can find their next pair with the click of a button thanks to online marketplace sites like Goat.
Sadly though, there's also a massive market of counterfeit goods and people get duped on the daily when they're sold fake sneakers that are being passed off as legit, authentic sneakers.
So the question here is, does Goat sell fake shoes, or are they legit?
Let's explore the platform a little deeper so you can understand how it works.
How Does Goat Work?
Goat is a marketplace that acts as a middle-man, allowing sellers from around the globe to sell their authentic sneakers, apparel, and accessories.
This isn't any old marketplace, however. It's not like eBay where you can simply list any old product and flip them for a profit.
A quick browse on Goat.com will show you exactly what "style" of products they cater for.
Collectable. Rare. Designer. Iconic.
If your product doesn't resonate with one or more of these adjectives, it's probably not a good fit for Goat.
Unlike platforms like eBay, which is a peer-to-peer marketplace, Goat works on a consignment model. This means that sellers send their product to Goat rather than direct to buyers, and sellers only get their money after the products are successfully dispatched to the buyer.
Amazon is also a peer-to-peer model where sellers send products directly to buyers, but they do also have other hybrid-style fulfilment methods like Amazon FBA which are different again.
For Goat, the consignment model is what helps reduce the scam risk because they can authenticate the sneakers first, which is very important in the sneaker reselling world.
The consignment model is also very common amongst the likes of fashion giants like Thredup, who have coined the term "resale as a service" to describe their consignment model.
How Does Goat Authenticate Sneakers?
Goat sells a lot more than just sneakers nowadays but their main claim to fame, and probably their number one drawcard, is the sneakers they sell.
Accepted sellers can sell their sneakers on the marketplace freely, but there is a strict authentication process involved.
Goat claims to authenticate sneakers in the following ways:
Sellers' images need to be accepted when they list a product on Goat, and it's at that point that they are digitally authenticated to rule out any fake shoes from Goat listings.
Goat's assurance of authenticity policy states that they "have logged hundreds of thousands of data points on products to evaluate their authenticity".
When a sale is made on the platform, sellers need to ship their product in to Goat for the in-hand verification process to take place.
If the sold item turns out to be fake then the ordered is fulfilled from another seller, if the product is the same, or the order is canceled and the buyer is refunded their money.
It appears that order cancellations and refunds happen from to time, if the online reviews for Goat are anything to go by. We'll cover those further down in this article.
Does Goat Sell Fake Shoes, or is Goat Legit?
By all accounts, Goat is legit. Very legit.
The whole idea was started back in 2015 after Goat founder Daishin Sugano inadvertently bought a pair of Air Jordan 5 knock offs on eBay. Obviously, he did not intend to buy shoes that were a fake pair.
Even though Goat came from humble beginnings, they're not a backyard startup any longer. They were valued at $3.7billion in 2021 after their Series F round of fund raising.
Goat has more than 30 million members, which I can only assumes means "account holders", and over 600,000 sellers. The most recent figures show that Goat has sold billions worth of merchandise since its inception.
Goat Online Reviews
As with any business, those that are unhappiest seems to scream the loudest. And in Goat's case, this couldn't be more true. The fact is, even though they are legit, they have terrible reviews online.
Well, like I just mentioned, angry people shout the loudest and perhaps avid sneaker collectors are just so passionate that the first whiff of a bad experience drives them to voice their frustrations online.
Let's look at the Better Business Bureau for example. Goat has an appalling 1.12 out of 5 stars from a total of 623 reviews.
Their stats don't look much better on other review sites, either.
But if you scroll the reviews you'll see that many of the complaints relate to poor customer service, lack of communication and slow shipping.
Quite a few of their poor reviews also relate to orders being cancelled so buyers had to "pay more" to get the same shoes elsewhere.
Let's take a step back though, and look at how their process works:
Firstly, once the product sells the seller has to ship the product into Goat.
The pair of shoes then has to go through the authentication process to ensure not only the authenticity of the sneakers, but also the quality etc.
Once the in-hand authentication is complete, the product is packaged up and shipped out to the buyer, wherever they may be in the world.
This is a tedious and slow process. Maybe Goat needs to make this a little clearer for buyers upfront so they know to expect delays.
It's very clear that Goat needs to improve their customer service and communication.
I personally couldn't find any reports of people receiving fake sneakers, but I did find a few where customers had received the wrong pair of shoes which is concerning. But with any business doing major volume, mistakes happen.
Apart from reviewing their internal support processes, it sounds like Goat could also do with a nice dose of positive PR so all those happy buyers leave 5-star reviews, too.
Goat isn't the only sneaker marketplace on the internet, and they also weren't the first company to enter the scene. Here's a few alternatives that might take your fancy.
StockX is one of Goat's biggest competitors with a slightly higher number of sellers and a marginally higher valuation. StockX operates on a slightly different model, however. They are peer-to-peer, kind of like eBay, which means sellers send products directly to buyers.
Consignment models like Goat involves sellers sending products in to Goat for authentication before they are sent off to the buyer. This is a lengthier but higher perceived value service.
Flight Club is one of the OG's of the space, originating around 15 years ago in New York City. Flight Club has a number of brick and mortar stores and believe or not, they merged with Goat back in 2018.
They still operate independently to the Goat website but all listings on Flight Club are also published on Goat.
Grailed is another peer-to-peer marketplace that offers unique fashion and footwear items and believe it or not, they too are being absorbed by Goat. Their acquisition by Goat was announced in late 2022 but they still plan to operate as a separate platform.
More handbags, jewelry and watches than sneakers, The RealReal was a dining table startup in 2011 that's now grown to sell over 30 million items on both their websites and in their 12 US-based retail locations. Just like Goat, The RealReal specializes in consignment selling rather than peer-to-peer.
Sneakers and streetwear is Stadium Goods' game, and they've been leaders in the space since 2015. Operating on a consignment model, Stadium Goods are unique in the way that they only deal with new products, not used. So if you're only in the market for brand new shoes, Stadium Goods might be a great option.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, Goat does not sell fake sneakers. They specialize in selling new and used high end sneakers that are real shoes. Not knock offs.
Goat Clean is a unique program where Goat offered professionally cleaned and graded used sneakers.
The chances are incredibly low, but buyers should always use caution and common sense when buying online.
Yes, Goat offers next day shipping in certain circumstances. If a product is an "instant item" that has been pre verified by Goat and is in their possession, buyers located in the contiguous US may be eligible for next day shipping.
Goat Pros and Cons
They might be the GOAT, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. Here's the scoop on the pros and cons of using Goat.
Wrapping Up - is Goat Legit?
If you've read through this entire article you should be pretty convinced that Goat is in fact, legit. There's not reason to fear getting ripped off or sold a fake pair of sneakers if you're using Goat, or any of the alternatives mentioned for that matter.
Be prepared to wait for shipping and if you need any form of support from Goat, you might be slightly underwhelmed.
Ultimately, you're dealing with a top-notch company when it comes to offering legit sneakers, streetwear and other accessories that are rare or hard to find.
If you've had any personal, legitimate, dealings with Goat I'd love to hear your feedback.