A new designer bag is a joy; discovering it’s a fake is not. If you’re in the market for a designer bag, this article will help you spot replicas, fakes, and genuine designer bags.
- A genuine designer bag is made by the original well-known designer; it can also be made by a less-known designer but the main focus is on high-end designers. The bag’s logo, charms, attachments, etc., are all part of the original design down to the exact positioning and number of such features. Tags, signatures or marks stating the designer’s name form an integral part of the bag’s overall design and authenticity. Price is determined by what the consumer is prepared to pay for a designer label.
- A legal knock-off/imitation is “designer-inspired” but not a direct copy. Provided such a bag does not claim to be the original designer’s bag and does not attempt to use the trademarked symbols, logos, or features. In most cases, it can legally imitate the style and colors of an authentic designer bag while taking care of any defining features deviate in evident ways in order to avoid copyright. Although it may suggest the bag’s similarities to the brand that it’s inspired by, it won’t claim to be an actual designer bag. Without close inspection, the additions can be easily mistaken for the real thing, sometimes causing you to spend too much on it in the belief of the original designer’s bag. However, if you know what to look for, you should be able to spot the differences.
- Illegal, fake bags put themselves across as being the genuine designer’s bag, right down to the very last logo, tag, charms, etc. Fakes copy everything about the designer bag, and pass themselves off as the original brand with no attempt to distinguish themselves as look-alike. Prices for fakes can vary considerably from cheap to trying to sell the bag for high amounts. It is illegal to make fake merchandise, and while buying it, doing so supports illegal activity.
- Be aware that designer-inspired bags can carry the blessing of the original high-end designer where adequate compensation has been paid and contracts exchanged allowing for lower-end knock-offs in chain retailers, etc. Usually the store will proudly say something along the lines of “as licensed by X brand for our store”.
- Assume that any designer bag being sold at a flea market or street vendor is suspect. Designer labels do not authorize street vendors to sell designer bags or purses. It would be a rare occasional find to have a cheap designer bag being thrown out at a flea market; it’s possible but improbable.
- Know all you can about designer bags if you’re purchasing from estate sales, thrift stores, online auction sites, etc. Apply the following steps to any purchases of designer bags made at such places.
- Ask trusted fashionistas you know where they purchase their designer bags from. They’ll be wise to the good stores.
- If you do buy legal knock-offs, be sure you don’t pay much and double check the quality!
- Ask if you can return it if it’s faulty or fake. Naturally, don’t expect street vendors to agree to this!
- Ask if there are any certificates of authenticity accompanying the bag.
- The stitching: Look closely at the stitching of the bag. Sloppy, slanted, and uneven stitching is a sign of a poorly made, and therefore, a fake bag. Designer bags will always have quality stitching because it is part of the designer’s reputation to produce a quality item.
- Check the tags or labels. Check the inside tags – are they stamped into leather or hand-stitched? An obvious fake will have no name on the inside tag. Check outside tags as well because many designers include authenticity labels on the outside of the bag.
- Check the material. If it’s leather, it should smell like leather. If it’s supposed to be durable canvas, it should be strong and well stitched. The material can tell you a lot about the bag’s quality. If the real bag normally has a pattern inside then the fake bags with mainly have just one colour throughout the inside.
- Check the logo. Logos are often a slip-up area for copies. They may have spelled the name slightly differently, such as Carter instead of Cartier. And, the more popular the “knocked off” bag, the greater the need to be careful because it’s easy to be taken advantage of. When you look at the stitching on the sides and you see the “LV” it should be continued onto the other side of the bag and this also goes for the other symbols on the bag. And most knockoff Chanel bags have interlocking Os instead of Cs, which actually makes it legal to sell but is, of course, a fake. They snip it to make it look real when it comes out of a dust bag.
- Look for a serial number. This is a stamp inside that says the brand (it may not be in all bags). Often times the serial number is still fake, but will look different and be a different font.
- Check the lining. If the interior sounds like paper rubbing together, then it’s not the real thing. A real designer bag will be lined, and often with leather. Again, check the stitching of the lining if relevant, and observe if it is double stitching ( not always the case).
- Look for color variations. Although some variations will be blatant, others may be very subtle. Be sure to have a close inspection.
- Notice wear break-in. Although this is post-purchase, how your bag wears in can be a sign of its authenticity. For example, the leather on the handle, after a few weeks, should look like a good worn leather jacket does. It should have an “aged look”. Stitching should stay intact and not begin to fray. Zipper handles that fall off early on indicate a fake.
- Look for young, up-and-coming designers whose designs show incredible promise but aren’t yet fetching huge prices. They may be selling online through a site such as Etsy, on consignment in a quality clothing or gift store, or in a local craft market, etc. Learn how to spot quality and style and support a new designer.