Authentic or knockoff — NHL sweaters

Attie Blacker
Authentic NHL sweaters can be hard to come by when looking at various marketplaces and classifieds in Utah. Though many descriptions may claim the jersey to be authentic, that is not always the case. (Addie Blacker)

There are plenty of jerseys floating around, waiting to be sold, as you sort through Facebook Marketplace, KSL Classifieds and Craigslist. Though many jerseys you will find there are listed as “authentic” or “official,” that is not always the case. When it comes to jerseys, there are subtle differences that distinguish the authentic from the knockoff.

Hockey sweaters seem to be some of the most prolific imitation jerseys that fill classifieds all over Utah County. The discussion of authentic vs. knockoff jerseys was only made more confusing when the NHL stepped away from its sponsorship with Reebok and moved over to a jersey deal with Adidas before the 2017-18 season. The updated on-ice authentic jerseys are sponsored through Adidas, but Fanatics also makes jerseys that are branded as “authentic.” The Fanatics jerseys are specific to the fans and are still licensed, but if you are looking for a 2019 on-ice authentic jersey then it needs to be an Adidas sweater.

Addie Blacker
The Adidas branding and jersey size can be found on the inside of the neckline of an authentic sweater, as well as small holes on and around the shoulders. The NHL logo on the center of the neck is also shown. (Addie Blacker)

One of the most obvious differences between an Adidas authentic and a knockoff jersey is the Adidas tag on the inside neckline of the sweater. If the jersey is authentic, the Adidas logo and side information will be printed right onto the neckline. If it is a knockoff, the logo will likely be on a tag that’s attached to the neckline. If you flip the jersey over, there will also be an Adidas logo on the back of the jersey. Authentic jerseys have the logo stitched onto the jersey, not heat pressed.

Dozens of small holes are cut on and around the shoulders of authentic Adidas jerseys for breathability, while knockoffs generally replace the holes with small indents. Centered on the front of the neckline of the authentic Adidas sweaters, there is a small, metallic NHL logo made of plastic with separate layers. Knockoff jerseys also have this logo, but they are generally a one-layered vinyl.

Attie Blacker
Authentic sweater have a stitched Adidas logo above the name bar. The letters of the players’ last name are stitched onto a name bar which is then stitched onto the jersey. Number stitching is also shown. (Addie Blacker)

Another easily observable difference is how names and numbers are stitched on the back of the sweater. Authentic jerseys have a name bar that is stitched onto the back of the jersey with the letters of the players’ last name stitched onto the name bar, not the jersey itself. The names and numbers also have several layers of stitching — two or three, depending on the team — rather than just one.

Stitching from the numbers and name bars will be visible as you look at the inside of an authentic jersey. There may be some discrepancy in the stitching because some jerseys come without stitching so that jerseys can be personalized or left blank. Authentic stitching will show the stitches on the inside, whereas some companies will heat press the names and numbers onto the jersey. Some companies prefer to heat press on their names and numbers, which ultimately decreases the cost. The physical look of heat pressed letters and numbers, so long as the letters and numbers are fabric and not a thin plastic, does not greatly vary.

Attie Blacker
NHL sweaters have a fight strap sewn on the inside. The fight strap is located right above the waistline. (Addie Blacker)

On an authentic Adidas sweater, there is a fight strap located on the inside of the jersey, near the bottom. This strap is white and sits vertically on the jersey. The strap is sewn onto a white piece of fabric that sits horizontally on the jersey and is sewn directly to the jersey. Though the strap itself hangs, the piece of fabric it is sewn to does not. The fight strap has a single snap-button near the top and two buttons on the bottom.

Lastly, there is usually an Adidas branded button on the bottom right of the front of the jersey. This button is black with a white Adidas logo, and it sits just above the waistline of the sweater. Not all sweaters have this branded button as it varies by team, but most do.

Attie Blacker
The Adidas branded button is shown on the bottom left of the jersey. The button is located near or directly above the waistline. (Addie Blacker)

Though Fanatics sells jerseys that are licensed, they are not the on-ice authentic sweaters. If you are looking to wear what the players wear, you must buy an Adidas jersey, otherwise buying a Fanatics jersey is also perfectly fine. Be careful when you are on local marketplaces or searching classifieds as knockoff jerseys often litter the search results.

If you are wanting to buy a knockoff jersey, they will cost you considerably less but also look considerably different. Keep in mind that just because a jersey says “official” or “authentic” on its tag does not mean it is an official NHL sweater.

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