The semester starts tomorrow morning, and I am teaching Trademark Law this Fall.Â Happily for me, the NYTimes Magazine published this engaging review of the counterfeit sneaker industry in Putian, in China.Â Â The piece features this wonderful quote:
As one Chinese salesman selling counterfeits in Beijing told me: ‘The shoes are original. Itâ€™s just the brands that are fake.’
Reading the story, I also wondered about the word: sneakers, sometimes called “tennis shoes.” The “Online Etymology Dictionary” gives what I suspect is a standard account: rubber-soled shoes were noiseless. On a court, however, they are anything but. The word “sneakers” has an old-fashioned quality, one that suggests that when we buy shoes, we care mostly about their function. I wore adidas Stan Smiths for a decade when I was young; those really were tennis shoes.Â If Western consumers cared only about function, would Putian be such big business?
Bonus video: Sneakers trailer: