Have you accidentally picked up a fake Michael Kors handbag? Is that Chanel 2.55 the real deal? We consult the experts…
Obviously, if you want the care and customer service – not to mention shiny clean dust-bag and calligraphy adorned warranty – that one would expect when dropping a couple of grand on a handbag, then you really need to head straight to the mothership and buy new from a brand’s own store.
However, with price tags stretching up into the tens of thousands, it can be very, very tempting to buy second hand or at a concession price from an online retailer.
And while fashion rewards the thrifty, you don’t want to risk parting with a lot of money on a designer bag which turns out to be a fake.
We spoke to Sophie Hersan, Co-Founder and Product Director of Vestiaire Collective, an e-commerce site which specialises in the resale of designer items.
She gave us some super handy tips to use when rooting around for second hand designer replica handbags, be that online, at a thrift store or otherwise.
1) Can you tell the real deal by the weight of the product?
Yes, especially in jewellery and bag categories. Counterfeit products tend to be made of substitute fabrics, which are lighter than leather or precious metals. Most hardware will be made of metals like brass and gold, which won’t tarnish over a period of time. These metals will be heavier and shouldn’t show any imperfections.
Some counterfeits are becoming more and more sophisticated, though, and even use real materials such as gold and diamonds, so weight is not the only thing you should be looking out for.
But each brand will have a standard weight class or or average weight for each product – our teams are highly trained and know the weight standards of a brand.
2) What can the stitching tell you about your handbag?
Its really important to study the stitching.
Uneven or slanted stitching is a sign of a poorly made item and potentially a counterfeit.
Brands have their own stitching codes, which are a key indicator of authenticity and permit knowledgeable companies like ours to authenticate products.
For example, for Hermès, the famous stitches are ‘piqures sellier’, handmade by craftsman.
It’s intricate hand work, so we can find imperfections on the stitches. We are able to recognise some handmade irregularities, compared to a machine’s work.
It is worth noting that counterfeiters do know how to copy the ‘piqures sellier,’ but not as well as an Hermès artisan.
3) What about if you don’t know anything about stitching? Are there other ways to spot a fake immediately?
Yes, the logo is often a slip up area for copies, every brand includes unique details to ensure they can identify a genuine piece.
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The two main criteria you should look at are material quality and finishing.
For example if the material is supposed to be leather (though remember, not all real designer handbags are fully leather), it should smell and feel like leather – it should be supple, consistent in colour, shouldn’t be sticky, or have a plasticky smell unless you’re looking at something patent.
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You can tell if something has been surface dyed, versus fully aniline-dyed by looking carefully at the stitching – if you can see inside a needle hole that the leather is a different colour on the inside, as opposed to the outside colour of the bag, then it’s likely that your product has only been surface dyed.
In terms of linings, some bags are lined with a different fabric on the inside and some are not, but it is very unlikely that a genuine designer handbag would use a cheap fabric in its lining.
A quality bag is more likely to have a lining made of good canvas, cross-grain leather or microfiber suede, for example. You should also look for the lining to be well integrated with the bag, with no loose threads.
4) What if the fake is really convincing?
There are companies that offer to help you authenticate a bag you have already bought. Some of them claim to be able to authenticate your bag from a photograph that you send them.
Authentication by picture is very complicated, though, and we would always advise you to go to a trusted source. At Vestiaire Collective there are two steps to the authentication process: curation and physical authentication.
Our curation team have great knowledge on luxury products and how to spot a fake, they are trained by our internal experts. We are trained to know how to detect things like fake warranties, invoices, certificates and packaging.
The physical verification part of the process is really essential, our team is composed of experts who come from a luxury fashion background and auction houses with detailed training, in both contemporary and vintage collections, with specialised leather goods, jewellery, watches, clothes and accessories. The authentication team check every item sold with a meticulous expertise because it ‘s important to touch the quality, smell the leather, verify the engravings and stitches.