How to Spot Fake Bags: 5 Ways to Tell Real Designer Purses

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It might be tempting to grab that “on-sale” designer bag online, but make sure you can trust the retailer before clicking the buy button.

Since counterfeiting designer bags is very rampant nowadays, it’s best to only buy from trusted retailers so that you won’t be ripped off.

Christmas window display at the Louis Vuitton flagship store on Avenue Champs-Elysées in ParisChristmas window display at the Louis Vuitton flagship store on Avenue Champs-Elysées in Paris, France (Credit: WENN)

In April 2016, CNN reported that the business of fakes and counterfeit goods is worth as much as $461 billion.

While buying a fake handbag may seem harmless on the surface, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development warns that it is “a significant economic threat that undermines innovation and hampers economic growth.”

Because of their widespread popularity, Louis Vuitton and Chanel are two of the most common bags that are being copied. In April 2019, 5,000 counterfeit items were seized at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The products included 1,242 counterfeit Gucci belts, 678 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes, 531 counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags, 500 counterfeit Samsung adaptors, 502 counterfeit Gucci fanny packs, 230 counterfeit Hermes handbags, 192 counterfeit Casio Shock watches, 144 counterfeit Ferragamo belts, 100 counterfeit Versace belts, and 119 counterfeit Fendi shorts.

If you’ve been thinking about getting your hands on a designer bag, take some time to do a little inspection first, especially if it is a second-hand or pre-loved item from an online retailer.

Read on below for hints on how to spot fake designer bags.

1. Expect the price to be on the heftier side

Designer handbags are expensive for a reason. There is a great deal that happens during the production of these purses.

If you are being offered a “designer bag” for just $250 but it normally retails in the market for $2,500, chances are it’s fake. If the price of a purse sounds too good to be true, the bag is most likely not authentic.

Even if the bag is pre-loved, a genuine designer purse will never be extremely cheap. In November 2019, CNBC reported that many purses sold on The RealReal, an online luxury consignment store, are fakes.

2. The hardware quality should be consistent

Unless it’s a special edition, the hardware of designer bags should all have the same color and finish. If the zipper is gold, all hardware should be the same.

An exception would be Chloe bags as this brand actually makes bags with mixed hardware.

Counterfeit bags usually don't have the same high-quality hardware as real handbagsCounterfeit bags usually don’t have the same high-quality hardware as real handbags

Also, check that the zippers can open and close smoothly. Most brands put a brand stamp on their hardware, which should match the actual logo of the brand.

3. The stitching should be even and of good quality thread

Oftentimes, the stitching on the bags is a dead giveaway. Fake purses might copy the style and look of popular designer goods, but if you look at them closely, there will usually be obvious signs.

Expect perfection when it comes to the stitching on a designer bagExpect perfection when it comes to the stitching on a designer bag

The stitching on fake bags is uneven, sloppy, slanted, and even frayed. Cheap bags are also often just glued at the seams instead of stitched. Genuine designer bags have even and high-quality stitching all throughout.

4. Know your genuine leather

Leather can never be faked. Designer knockoffs typically use cheap leather for their bags, but this material has a different feel, look, and smell from genuine leather. Fake leather can feel very sticky, rough, and some look really shiny like plastic.

The below Hermès ‘Birkin’ bag is crafted in genuine crocodile leather with gold hardware. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), it can take the skins of four crocodiles to make a single bag.

Hermes 35cm Black Porosus Crocodile BirkinHermes 35cm Black Porosus Crocodile Birkin

High-quality leather, no matter how old, remains soft and dry to the touch. After some time, real leather oxidizes and turns into a rich, honeyed color. This is most common in Louis Vuitton bags.

5. Study packaging and authenticity cards

Other small details that you should pay attention to include the bag’s label, packaging (box and dust bag), and authenticity cards.

While a lot of counterfeiters are now copying even small details like these, the real deal should display perfectly stamped, printed, or embossed labels. To be sure, head over to the brand’s official website and compare the details.

The video below can help you identify a fake LV bag from a genuine one.

Celebrities Toting Genuine Designer Bags

Kim Kardashian steps with her classic Hermés "Birkin" bagKim Kardashian steps with her classic Hermés “Birkin” bag (Credit: WENN)

Gigi Hadid and Khloe Kardashian rock all-black looks with their black handbagsGigi Hadid and Khloe Kardashian rock all-black looks with their black handbags (Credit: WENN)

Sisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner experiment with green totesSisters Kylie and Kendall Jenner experiment with green totes (Credit: WENN)

Bella Hadid values quality, style and function with her Givenchy "Lucrezia" duffelBella Hadid values quality, style, and function with her Givenchy “Lucrezia” duffel (Credit: WENN)

Meghan Markle, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez show off their personal taste in designer bagsMeghan Markle, Taylor Swift, and Selena Gomez show off their personal taste in designer bags (Credit: WENN)

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