Spotting Fake Bags 101
Spotting Phony Handbag Basics
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ßelow is entry level, rule of thumb guideline for deciphering the authenticity of a handbag. It is always helpful to get an idea of the fundemental process involved. A more detailed guideline is available in our UhBad filter, or with our brand specific guides in the far left navigation column.
1. Price: This is fundemental 101 info: If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is. This rule alone will protect you from a majority of the fake handbags on the market. For the rest, more detail is needed.
2. Stitching: Sloppy stitching is a dead giveaway. A bag with crooked or unravelling stitch lines (especially in the less visible areas) is a red flag. Stitching on the underside of the bag and inside pockets are details to scrutinize immediately. Also take notice of the stitch per inch [SpI]. Quality designers usually have more stitches per inch than their fake counterparts. Authentic handbags are meticulously crafted. They are built with much more complexity and therefore cost more. Counterfeit handbags do not boast the quality construction of an authentic handbag.
Fake Louis Vuitton:
† If the stitching looks sloppy, it's likely to be a fake handbag. In the stitching example on the left, the stitches on this fake Louis Vuitton handbag are already coming undone. You can clearly identify the unevenness of the stitch lines in accordance with the edge of the leather.
3. Materials: Many counterfeit handbags feel stiff and may have some discoloration. Make certain the leather does not have an uneven look that is inconsistent with the natural wear and tear. However, some fakes are made with reasonably good leather, even lambskin. But even still, the leather will generally not be the same quality as the leather Prada, Louis Vuitton, or Chanel (etc) would utilize.
Fake Louis Vuitton:
† If the leather feels cheap, too stiff, smells funny or looks discolored, itís likely to be a fake. Further detail on leather handbag material here.
†† The leather on the fake Louis Vuitton bag on the left was unpleasantly stiff. The interior was also lined, the real ones are not.
4. The Label: Fake labels are generally cheaply made, unclear in impression, and have poor quality stitching and framing. Search for misspellings on label and the tags. In any quality product, the label is stitched in, but in some counterfeits, the counterfeiters will simply throw on a cheap hangtag around the handle. Or they may even use a cheap sticker label. Study the labels of authentic handbags and it will be much easier to spot the fakes.
Fake Coach label:
† If the label is cheaply made with unclear impressions, has poor quality stitching, misspellings and is not attached to the bag, it is probably a fake.
†† On the left is a photo of a label inside a fake Coach handbag. Notice the words on the interior label. Note the misspelling: "commitmen". Also, a number of words crunch together: "superiorcraftsmanship", and "thefinestmaterials." And in a final example of poor craftmanship, we have a misspelling combined with a word crunch: "ourcommitmen."
Real Coach label:
† The image on the left is a label inside a real Coach handbag. Notice the words, are spaced, they are spelled correctly, and the impressions are deap and clear. Even the Coach logo on the top of the label is more clearly stamped.
5. Packaging: Top luxury designers put an enormous amount of care into packaging their products. Including: Tissues, wrapping paper, shopping bags, dust bags, etc. Look for items that have their original packaging. It's important that the box or bag the item comes in is neither too big nor too small, and is of the same brand. Luxury designers do not stuff their merchandise into small boxes or flimsy dust bags. Luxury dust bags are made of thicker, soft cotton or flannel and will always have the logo on the bag. (Small items like wristlets or wallets usually come in boxes.)
* If the dust bag or the packaging is cheap, flimsy, the wrong size or does not showcase the designerís logo, then itís probably a fake.
(i) The above images are examples of authentic Versace packaging. A Versace box, Versace dustbag, and the Versace tag. Notice the quality and detail on the Versace tag. It is not a simple laser print out, it is a raised gold seal with texture and detail. The sticker in the next image (to the right) displays the original Italian outlet's barcode sticker. The Italian phrasing on the sticker is very clear, which was partially covered up by the current US outlet sticker. The current US outlet's original retail sticker can be found on the other side of the box (lower image in second row). These are clues to the origination of the handbag, and its pathway to the US. The various outlet stickers act as stamps on a passport. The sticker mapping informs us the bag originated in a factory in Italy and ended up at an outlet in the US. [For a further example of this distribution chain go here].
(ii) on Care books: Many of the care booklets that accompany the bags have misspellings. Several of these care guides are written by foreign counterfeiters, thus the grammer in these booklets may be incorrect. They'll have typo's and/or misspellings out of sequence wording, and other common English problems: [they're, there, their | its, it's] etc. A quick skim through the care book should illuminate any of these errors and quickly indicate that the bag is a fake.
(iii) A receipt is (sometimes) a good indicator of the handbag's authenticity. However...
[ Beware] Just because a seller claims to have a receipt, does not automatically indicate the bag is real. There are several ways to obtain authentic receipts (or copies of). A seller may buy an authentic bag from a retail store, copy the receipt and return the bag. And they may use the same receipt copy for more than one sale. Also, there are real receipts available for purchase by scammers on the web. So never consider the receipt a slam dunk tell. It is only one piece of the puzzle.
Gucci authenticity card (below): Similar to the feel of a credit card, with white areas for product information to be filled in on the back. The authenticity card should be written in Italian and English.
Beware: Authenticity cards alone will not tell you if the bag is real. Like packaging, authenticity cards are not part of the physical bag, it is just part of the package. All these packaging items can be faked too. Or real authenticity cards can be obtained and sold along with the fake handbags.
There is no substitution for a thorough inspection of the physical bag.
6. Details: It is the nested accumulation of the intricacy of threads, leathers, fabrics, buttons, zippers, lining and stamping that makes a luxury bag unique. Look for things like uneven handles or straps, zippers that are difficult to work, or snaps that don't match up.
Note: Look for the tiny designer details on zippers and buttons and other metal accents on the handbag. These may be some of the best tells that a handbag is fake.
Snaps and metal accents on authentic handbags (below): [From left to right: Coach snap, Gianfranco Ferre decorative button, and the metal tip on the end of a decorative leather strip on a Versace handbag.]
† Note: The quality impressions, and the detail in the logos
Below is an example of a snap on a fake Gucci handbag: The numbers and letters are markings of the originating factory in China.
† This is an example of an error detail [eD].
Fake Gucci hardware:
This concludes our fundamental 101 tutorial on spotting fake handbags. Arm yourself with these power points, and you should be able to weed out many of the fake handbags.
Note: These are basic 101 guidelines to follow. If you need more information with more detail on a specific brand, we have tutorials and links to expert guides on specific designer details in the left navigation box, or check out our UHbad filter.