You must know that many high-quality imitation branded shoes come from China, such as Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Gucci, and BALENCIAGA. And their main production hub is in the city I’m about to introduce to you today—Putian.

1. What is the Putian Shoes?

‘Putian shoes’ typically refers to counterfeit shoes produced in Putian city, China. Among the many manufacturing cities in China, Putian stands out as a special one. It’s renowned for producing counterfeit shoes and is even called the “Capital of Fake Shoes”.

Putian City, located on the southern coast of China

Putian City is home to over 4,200 shoe companies and around 500,000 workers. Many factories and small workshops in Putian specialize in making knockoff versions of international brands like Nike and Adidas. 

Originally priced at thousands or even tens of thousands of yuan, these shoes from Putian sell for just a few hundred yuan. What’s remarkable is that not only do they look identical to the genuine ones, but their quality is also comparable. That’s why, despite the production of counterfeit shoes being illegal in China, Putian’s fake shoe orders continue to pour in. Many fake sneakers websites are also popular.

2. Why does Putian produce so many fake shoes?

Before being dubbed as the less-than-flattering “Capital of Counterfeit Shoes,” Putian City was long known as a key manufacturing hub for international sports brands like Nike (and still is).


In 1997, the outbreak of the financial crisis led to a significant reduction in orders for Putian’s manufacturing factories, making their survival increasingly difficult. Consequently, Putian embarked on the path of producing counterfeit shoes. They decided to utilize existing production lines to directly mimic the products of top brands. Many local factories or workshops also resorted to bribing employees in the manufacturing factories to obtain samples or design drawings, and then purchased cheap materials to produce imitations.

Initially, the quality of these knockoffs was not high. However, after years of development, Putian shoes have reached a level where they can easily pass off as authentic. These high-quality replicas, available at low prices, have gained immense popularity in both the Chinese and international markets. Many people even specifically seek out these high-quality replicas because they believe their quality surpasses that of genuine products.

3. How is the quality of Putian shoes?

There are three grades of counterfeit shoes produced in Putian, with significant differences in quality and price from the lowest to the highest grade. The highest-grade knockoffs are nearly identical to genuine products in terms of quality and appearance. Without the expertise of an authenticator or specialized equipment, the average person can hardly spot the difference, and they’re often priced much lower than the genuine articles.

So, unless you’re a die-hard fan of Nike or Adidas, many people don’t mind wearing high-quality knockoffs from Putian, as long as they obviously don’t look like cheap imitations and the shoes themselves are of good quality. This is a key reason for their popularity in the market.

Here are the three grades of Putian shoes with different qualities:

Lower Grade Shoes

Lower-grade shoes are the cheapest and lowest-quality among Putian knockoffs, ranging in retail price from $7 to $28. They’re typically produced by small private workshops, which usually employ only a few dozen workers. These workshops lack strict quality control of regular factories, resulting in inferior-quality shoes.

Putian shoes in street stalls

Lower-grade shoes are only about 50% similar to genuine products. They use cheap materials and often feel stiff and uncomfortable on the feet. Most people can easily tell they’re not authentic just by a quick look or touch. There are noticeable differences in the leather quality, craftsmanship, logo clarity, shoe shape, and sole compared to genuine products.

These products have a large presence in the market and can be found in night markets and street stalls, mainly exported to regions like Southeast Asia and Africa.

Superior Grade Shoes

Superior-grade shoes can achieve about 80% to 90% similarity to genuine products and are priced between $28 and $56. For example, a pair of high-quality knockoff Nike Dunks can be so close to the real deal that it’s hard to tell the difference upon close inspection. They not only excel in craftsmanship, pattern clarity, and shoe shape compared to lower-grade shoes but also use mostly top-grain leather, which is superior to the split leather or pigskin used in lower-grade shoes.

A blogger compares the superior grade with the top grade shoes.
Superior Grade vs Top Grade
Superior Grade vs Top Grade

Of course, upon actual touch, you might still notice some differences from genuine products, especially in less obvious areas like the texture of the materials on the collar and tongue or the feel of the sole material, which might not match the quality of genuine products.

Top Grade Shoes(Shoes Using Molds from Genuine Factories)

Top-grade shoes are usually produced by large factories or the original factories that have previously manufactured products for brands. They are almost identical to genuine products in terms of shoe shape, materials, patterns, craftsmanship, and everything else. They usually cost between 75 and 150 dollars.

Putian Nike shoes (Top Grade)
Putian Nike shoes (Top Grade)

Top-grade shoes are made using the same molds as genuine ones. Factories often disassemble genuine shoes, carefully record their size, materials, stitching, and then reproduce knockoffs exactly according to these specifications. These replicas are highly popular in countries like Europe and the United States.


It’s worth noting that if you’re planning to buy or wholesale Putian shoes, don’t just take the seller’s word for it. Even if they claim it’s top-grade, what you actually get might be just superior-grade or lower, and the quality of top-grade shoes can vary among different manufacturers.

So, it’s important to carefully inspect the shoes when you receive them, feel the materials, and pay close attention to the insoles. Many lower-grade Putian shoes use cheap insoles or soles, which can make your feet feel stuffy and uncomfortable when walking, whereas genuine ones are much better in quality.

4. How to find shoe manufacturers in Putian?

Regardless of the quality of these counterfeit products, it’s important to note that they are all prohibited by law. We do not advocate anyone purchasing infringing products. As a purchaser, importing these counterfeit shoes also poses significant risks, as you may face legal consequences.

It’s undeniable that Putian’s OEM factories have excellent shoemaking capabilities. Every year, these factories receive a huge number of orders from brands like AJ, Adidas, Under Armour, and Vans. The athletic and casual shoes they produce are sold in many countries including Europe, America, Japan, and Korea. Besides the large OEM factories, the smaller ones here also have strong shoemaking abilities. So, if you’re looking to import shoes from China, regardless of whether your order is big or small, choosing Putian isn’t a bad option.

How to order large quantities of shoes from Putian?

You can start by Googling the contact information of Putian factories. For instance, searching “Putian shoes factory” will bring up many webpages of Putian factories. But be sure to carefully vet them.

You can also search on Alibaba, but don’t search for Nike or Adidas, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Instead, search for “Putian shoes” or “Putian shoe factory”, and you’ll find plenty of Putian shoe listings. In the product boxes, you’ll see the names and links of suppliers. Click on the link to view the supplier’s specific information and contact them.

Find the supplier's link and click on it

However, relying solely on online searches isn’t entirely reliable. It’s best to do some on-site investigation. Many small to medium-sized factories in Putian may not even list their contact information online, so it’s often necessary to get recommendations from locals. This is because many factories here also produce counterfeit shoes and may not operate entirely legally. They often have their own established distributors and can be cautious when dealing with external buyers.

As an importer unfamiliar with the local situation, it’s usually a good idea to enlist the help of a local purchasing agent to connect you with factories or recommend contacts. Purchasing agents have their own network of contacts and are more familiar with local factories and specific sources. They can help you determine which factories produce good-quality products, which ones don’t, and how to communicate with them. The situation in Putian’s shoe industry is complex, and if you’re not familiar with the local situation, there’s a significant risk in directly engaging in procurement.

5. How to Get to Putian?

Putian is located in Fujian Province on the southern coast of China. If you’re traveling from another country to Putian, you can first take a flight to Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport, which is the closest airport to Putian. From there, you can then take a private car or bus to reach Putian.

There is no airport in Putian, you can take a flight from Jinjiang Airport.

Alternatively, you can fly or take a high-speed train to Xiamen in China first, and then take a high-speed train from “Xiamen North” station to reach Putian.

From "Xiamen North" station to Putian Station
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