A handbag is that one major accessory that can pull an outfit together. Personally, I always feel glam with a designer bag in tow even if I’m dressed down in leggings and a t-shirt. From casual wear like the current trend of athleisure or a tailored suit, a nice structured or recognizable designer handbag adds that extra appeal to finish your look. Yet for those who aren’t familiar with the workmanships of top designer bags, how can you spot a fake?
The counterfeit industry is worth $600 billion. Luckily, we have passed the stage of online handbag wholesalers; by now the vast majority knows that these online retailers handbags are knock-offs. As with time things change, the new norm is now consignment shops. They are local consignment shops and a growing number of online consignment shops selling pre-owned and allegedly authentic designer goods. Yet you still need to be aware that these stores may come across some counterfeit items and without thorough inspection, these purses can get passed as authentic instead of a fake.
If the price of luxury handbags in the store seems outrageous, or unattainable for you then consignment may be the way to acquire a nice piece. My recommendation is only to purchase handbags from a reputable consignment company that has been around for a while such as online consignment companies Buy, Borrow or Steal, The Real Real or Portero. Additionally, I would shop at consignment stores in affluent neighborhoods as the merchandise in theses stores are filled with items of the wealthy within the area.
Eliciting the help of Natalie Wyll and Alexa Ridolfi, sisters who run A Second Chance Resale, who have become experts in the authentication of designer bags; they will explain what to look for in Hermes and Louis Vuitton goods.
First, check out the label stamp on the top of the bag. “You can’t see too much of a difference here, but the stamp…is pretty high and close to the stitching” on the authentic Birkin (left), Ridolfi said. “If you see it in the middle” between the stitching and the lock, that’s a dead giveaway. Note how the stamp on the fake bag also appears to sit on top of the leather, while the authentic stamp is really a part of the fabric.
“You also want to make sure [the stamp] is straight, these are little details, but they make a difference.”
Next, undo the lock and pull back the arm to reveal the blind stamp. “Every Hermès bag is handmade by one artisan, so they put their own trademark [stamp] on it, along with the blind stamp,” which indicates the year it was made, Wyll explained. But the presence of the stamp alone might not distinguish a counterfeit. “This fake has a blind stamp and it has an artisan stamp. They knock off everything—serial numbers and all.” So in a case like this, look at the stamp’s quality. “It’s very deep like it was machine-stamped,” Ridolfi noticed the fake bag (top), and it’s a larger size than a real stamp. On the real bag (bottom, with close-ups of each stamp), it’s “much fainter,” Wyll pointed out. “You can hardly see it from where you’re standing.”
A big indicator is whether the bag has a proper identification stamp. The letters are code for the country in which the bag was made, while the numbers indicate when it was made. The second and fourth numbers stand for the year (so 2008, in this case), while the first and third numbers are for the week in that year (here, the eleventh week). Sometimes, the poor stitching isn’t even readily visible.
The bag above gives itself away as a fake by using a different color thread underneath this tab. “Counterfeiters hide it under there,” Wyll said. Added Ridolfi, “That’s just weird and inconsistent … [Louis Vuitton] wouldn’t pull in a different color thread for just two stitches.”
Louis Vuitton and Hermes bags don’t come with authenticity cards and counterfeiters also can produce fake cards. Authentic bags also do not come with plastic wrapped around them such as the handles, neither do they come with hang-tags or leather swatch tags.
When it comes to Chanel, counterfeit producers have gotten very crafty in making pretty much identical purses that the discerning eye may not catch. If the bag is quilted the stitches should be perfect, if there’s an outside pocket, the stitches should go seamlessly over the pocket.
Every serial number sticker is located inside the bag in a hologram form; the serial number on the sticker must match the numbers on the authenticity card. The interior label is print in foil and should always match the hardware color.
Here are some ways to check the other leading designer brands:
- Logo and design symmetry. Pattern elements should be identical on the fabric
- Stitches should be dead straight on the originals
- Details of the fonts spelling “GUCCI” on the inside label. There are some hard to repeat details there, and most counterfeiters do not dedicate effort into replicating subtle details of internal tags.
Of course, you won’t need to do these types of investigations when you purchase items from department stores, or brick and mortar stores, however, when you don’t– allow yourself to be aware of the intricacies of each brands workmanship before making an outside purchase.
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