Authenticity is a major concern for our clients. The bag brands we use to make our creations are among the most desired, and sadly, the most counterfeited. Counterfeit style is a multi-billion dollar per year business.
It’s not a straightforward process for sure, but there are always little tells. Let’s go over some things we look for when we examine a bag.
It’s all in the Details
The first thing we look at is to see if the bag’s look matches past images of that bag type. We look at past sales catalogs and verified images of the bag to see if there are any obvious errors. But this is just the first step.
Next, we look at the logo and codes. These vary between manufacturers and the era of the bag. The location and design of these two things can reveal whether a bag is counterfeit. There are many subtle things that a trained eye can pick up. For instance, a Louis Vuitton stamp has a distinct font with slim lines and an even embossing depth across the entire tag.
Some bag’s hardware is also often stamped, even interior hardware. In fact, interior hardware is one place a counterfeiter often makes mistakes. They may use the wrong materials or forget to stamp the inside buttons.
Codes and other identifying information on the bag are also telling. These codes are usually located inside the bag and might be hidden near a seam or a zipper. The codes must make sense and be accurate to the timeframe of the piece. Not all vintage bags have these codes!
If your bag is truly older, there are particular patterns of wear that reveal character and authenticity. Genuine leather ages in particular ways. Brass tarnishes into a patina can be quite difficult to fake. If a bag looks too new but someone says it’s vintage, that could be a trouble sign. Experience in how materials age is important for detecting fakes.
Another thing that cannot be faked is the level of quality and excellence in construction. Here are some key indicators to look for.
Every stitch on your handbag, belt, or other designer items must be even and accurate. The number of stitches, color of the thread, and evenness of the work are marks of authenticity. All seams should look symmetrical on both sides with even stitching.
- Beware of dealers that try to sell luxury goods at low prices due to a "manufacturer's defect." With authentic luxury brand items, there is no such thing. The reputation of the brand depends on their high level of quality and craftsmanship.
- Materials are also a dead giveaway. Luxury designers like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Coach insist that their bags and accessories are of the highest quality for design, materials, and workmanship. You can sense it in the feel or "hand" of the item. A genuine luxury bag will feel like nothing else that you have ever owned. The leather will be heavy, but never rough. It will have definite flexibility and will be almost buttery to the touch.
- Inspect the lining. A designer bag's inside liner will either match the exterior leather or a signature color for that brand. The material will always be of excellent quality and tends to be made from linen, cotton, or silk.
One of the best ways you can protect yourself from buying an inauthentic bag is to experience the real thing. If you can make it to a boutique or a vintage store that sells genuine bags, go on a slow day, and ask a salesperson to point out these marks of quality. You might even be able to hold one. Touch the material and try out the zippers and clasps. Look at the logos and tags too.