Whether you value the high fashion, the history, the craftsmanship, the symbolism, or something else, you know what an authentic designer handbag means to you. You also know that if a guy has a bunch of “Chanels” laid out on the sidewalk on a sheet, ready to pull them up and run if the cops come, it means they’re probably fakes. But what else do you know about fake handbags?
Dealing exclusively with pre-loved designer handbags and accessories, the Keeks team has had to develop rigorous expertise about both authentic and fake items. As the final step of the Keeks Guarantee, we send every luxury item we purchase to an expert 3rd party authentication service before we put it on our shelves. Before we even do that, though, we have in-house experts who examine every designer handbag first.
For this post, we chatted with one of those in-house experts–operations manager Robert Donnell–to get some of the facts about spotting fakes. Robert says, “It’s all in the details.” It’s usually not just one thing that will give a bag away or that will verify it as authentic, he goes on. It’s a combination of many different elements.
Here are just some of the things he looks at when determining the authenticity of a designer handbag:
(Note: all photos below are of authentic designer handbags for reference.)
Logos and Fonts
On a Louis Vuitton bag, for example, where is the signature “Louis Vuitton Paris” printed? As we noted in our Spotlight on Damier Azur, every Louis Vuitton bag goes through over 100 phases of meticulously detailed production processes to make sure that details like this are the same on every bag. A fake bag will often not use the exact font or have the placement perfectly centered.
Similarly, experts will look at the alignment and font of the style number on a Gucci bag. The leather tab on the inside of the bag will read, “Gucci,” perfectly centered and in a signature font. On the back of the tab, the style number will be stamped, and an expert should be able to tell if the stamp is done too deep or too light to be real.
Pattern alignment is another element authenticators look for. Fake handbags often fail to capture the symmetry on exactly where logos appear on an authentic bag. A Louis Vuitton Neverfull, for example, will always have the same alignment of logos, and the pattern will continue appropriately—even when crossing a seam.
Sometimes it’s something as simple as determining if a bag that should be leather is actually made of real leather. Other times it’s a matter of recognizing whether or not the zippers, zipper pulls, and clasp hardware are the right shape and are made by the appropriate manufacturer. This is certainly something that’s easier to do if you look at many of the same bags over time!
Similarly, authenticators will look at where the handles meet the bags—it should always be in the same place!
Additionally, many Louis Vuitton handles have a red glazing on the edges. If that glaze bleeds into other territory on the handle or appears on the top of the handle, the bag is probably a fake.
The stitching will always be uniform and precise on authentic handbags, too. When looking at Chanels, we want to see not only that the stitch counts per inch are the right number, but also that the stitches aren’t too light or too loose.
The Louis Vuitton Speedy or Neverfull, for instance, will always have the same number of stitches along the “V” where the handle connects to the bag. And although newer Speedies have elongated that shape, within this new style, the stitches are always the same.
If you’re thinking this is a lot…you’re right. That’s one of the reasons we’re proud to offer our customers some back up and peace of mind in this area. Authenticity and quality are key! We look at thousands of bags so you don’t have to.
The Silver Lining
There is one reason to love fake handbags, though, as mentioned in the recent Quartzy article, “What Aspirin, Chanel Bags, and Coke Bottles All Have in Common.” It’s something that Chanel instinctively knew: imitation is, as the saying goes, the sincerest form of flattery. Honestly, the existence of fakes and imposters is part of what makes having the real thing so special. So let the fakers fake it, and let us help you authenticate and hang onto the good stuff.