A genuine designer handbag will be made of the very best quality fabrics and finished to a very high standard. They have to pass a strict quality control test before even being allowed to be sold, so if you have a bag that doesn’t ooze quality, it’s time to investigate a little further.
Here's our top five tips for spotting those pesky fakes.
1 - Construction and fabric
Fake handbags are often poorly constructed which can result in the shape being compromised. This can result in the overall shape being different to the real thing as well as puckering of corners and sections not sitting flat or quite as they should.
The fakers will often focus heavily on the exterior of a handbag and usually skimp on internal features such as lining, therefore it’s good to really assess the inside and check if the fabric lies flat without visible lumps and bumps, it certainly should in a genuine handbag.
Remember it should ooze exceptional craftsmanship and materials, and you don’t have to be an expert to recognise quality.
Take note of the fabrics pattern and how it flows through the handbag. They should match at seams and through pockets and flaps as if there were no join at all and it was just a continuation of the fabrics design. This is a simple thing that can be quickly assessed and is something the fakers often fail to achieve.
Knowing the defining features of some commonly used fabrics can be a great tool at spotting a fake. The fakers often make silly mistakes when replicating details such as painting on what should be textured or making it larger or smaller than it should be.
Here's a list of popular fabrics and their defining characteristics.
Louis Vuitton Canvas
The canvas used by Louis Vuitton is very hard wearing and robust and comes in a Monogram or Damier pattern, there are multiple variations of this in different colours and finishes. The material is also very slightly textured and can have a purple undertone.
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather
Epi Leather used by Louis Vuitton is a very hard-wearing and textured fabric with a matt finish which is very popular. Fakers often paint on the textured look or sometimes it’s much more over emphasised than it should be.
Louis Vuitton Vachetta
Louis Vuitton use Vachetta which is a light beige, untreated Italian leather often used on the trim and handles. Due to being untreated it can age and go darker over time a process called Patina. This development of the leather is individual to each bag and no two will age in the same way. An old used LV with its trim or handles in perfect condition could be a sign that bag is fake.
Lambskin leather is very popular for Chanel and should feel soft to the touch and have a visibly smooth appearance. It is of superior quality and easy to distinguish from the feel and appearance which isn’t often achieved by the counterfeiters. If you are inspecting a lambskin leather bag, ensure it feels extremely soft to the touch.
Chanel Caviar Leather
Caviar leather is made from pebbled calf leather and is popular in Chanel handbags. It has a bubbly appearance and is textured. Its durable and less likely to scratch and mark than lambskin. When you run your hands over genuine caviar leather you should feel raised dimple. This is often over embellished by the fakers.
Exotic Skins should be purchased with the CITES which is a passport for the skin. There are certain characteristics that differentiate alligator and crocodile from ostrich and python. Faked exotic leathers are often made of embossed leather.
Louis Vuitton Canvas
Chanel Caviar Leather
Louis Vuitton Epi Leather
2 - Stitching
Most designer handbags are expertly sewn by machine except for the Hermes Kelly and Birkin that are sewn by hand. In all cases the stitching should be finished to an exceptionally high level inside and out with a high number of stitches used to maintain the shape and quality of a bag. A low number of stitches or stitching that is coming undone could be a sign of a fake.
An example of glue showing on a fake Chanel bag
A poor finish on a fake Gucci bag
There should be no signs of glue or loose threads and the presence of these should make you suspicious.
The number of stitches can be very important. The quilted fabric on a Chanel should feature between 8 to 11 stitches per side of each panel. The fakers often use a lower number of stitches to create the same look, so counting these can help spot a fake.
Quilted fabric on a genuine Chanel bag
A genuine vintage Chanel chain
A vintage Chanel with a chain should have one metal link without the leather threaded through. A modern version will feature one link with the leather folded back on itself and stitched through. This is a feature often missed by the fakers so check the chains, its easy and super quick to do.
3 - Serial Number
Serial numbers can tell you a great deal about a handbag and most designers use them except for some vintage models.
It can tell you the age and the location where the bag was made. Use this information to your advantage, If you are buying a pre-owned designer handbag and the seller says they purchased it in Paris in 2008, check that the number corresponds to this information.
The table below tells you where you would usually find the serial numbers of designer bags.
Inside the main compartment to the bottom left. The code is very securely attached, and these rarely come off.
Embossed on a tag or on the inside of a pocket. They can be a little tricky to find. Louis Vuitton do not come with authentically card. Some vintage models don’t have a code.
The serial code is embossed under the Gucci label inside of the bag.
Hermes bags don't have a serial number but they do have a letter to identify the date they were manufactured. This letter is usually embossed into the leather.
A fake Chanel serial number
A genuine Chanel serial number
A genuine Louis Vuitton serial number
Another genuine Louis Vuitton serial number
The lack of a serial number in a modern handbag should raise an alarm. When checking serial numbers yourself, check they follow the format listed in the table below.
Louis Vuitton 2007 - 2021
2 letters followed by 4 numbers. The first two letters represent the factory location. The first and third numbers represent the week of the year, and the second and forth numbers represent the year.
Louis Vuitton 1990 - 2006
2 letters followed by 4 numbers. The first two letters represent the factory location. The first and third numbers represent the month and the second and forth numbers represent the year.
Louis Vuitton 1980 - 1990
2 letters followed by three or four digits. The letters represent the factory location, and the first 2 numbers represent the year, and the 3rd number represents the month.
1984 - 1986
Serial number has 6 digits.
1986 - 2004
Serial number has 7 digits.
Serial number has 8 digits
4 - Packaging & Authenticity Cards
Not all authenticity cards are authentic!
A common characteristic seen in a fake Chanel authenticity card is an iridescent or rainbow effect. Chanel do not issue cards with this feature and Louis Vuitton and Hermes do not come with authenticity cards at all.
The packaging is another place where the fakers tend to focus less attention. Packaging should have the same luxurious high-quality finish as the original handbag. Check the logo is central, the handles of a bag should not come wrapped in plastic. Is the dust cover the correct colour? It should be mustard yellow for LV and white or black for Chanel.
Fake Chanel tags
A genuine Prada authenticity card
5 - The Hardware & Logos
The hardware should be excellent quality and smooth without rough edges. Clasps should work well and be good quality with no sharp edges.
Here are some classic characteristics you should see in real hardware.
The brand stamp should be in the correct style of font and quality of the stamp should be good. The fakers use a thinner font.
Inspect the CC lock closely it can feature either a raised or flat finish. The right C should overlap the left C at the top and the left C overlap the right C at the bottom. Replica locks generally feature minor mistakes such as the shape of the Cs, the placement of additional metal above the lock, and even the style of the interlocking Cs.
The lock stem itself is another feature worth checking. Authentic lock stems are made from 24K gold plate and even when used for a lengthy period will still maintain its condition. Replicas, however, are generally plated with gold which will peel off after use. When the lock is twisted open it should feel springy.
The real giveaway is the stamping mark on the back plate of the clasp. If you open the bag and look at the back of the turnstile lock you will see the back plate. Chanel attaches this using flat screws only alongside a clear font with even spacing. Replicas may use different type of screws and various other styles of lettering and font on the back plate.
The quality of the padlock should be excellent with the engraving clear and crisp. One notable detail is the use of the perfectly round O in Vuitton, and the L has a short tail with the top of the T’s almost touching.
Padlocks and Keys are made of brass or plated and are numbered, with the same number on the key. Look out for some numbers are used more commonly than others, such as 448.
The lock and Keys are normally numbered. Those beginning with 3 (3XX) were made before 2009 and those beginning with a 4 (4XX) were made after. Be aware that they have begun making padlocks with 3 again now so this should just be a guide. When dating a LV best to rely on the serial number.
The lock should read: Louis Vuitton – Made in France or Paris. A padlock saying Made in Paris is probably fake as ‘made in’ always is followed by a country not a city. It is predominately vintage handbags that say Made in France as more recently they started making bags in different countries, so they dropped this.
Genuine Louis Vuitton padlocks
Always assume a bag is fake and let your assessment prove you wrong.
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