Buying a designer handbag, even if you're shopping secondhand, is always a big investment and should be a lifetime guarantee. The worst feeling in the world is discovering the designer handbag you bought is actually a counterfeit. Avoid that disappoint and follow these rules which will help you spot cheap handbags from miles away.
Do your research
I can't stress this enough! Before you decide on your statement luxury item, research the brand and product that you wish to purchase. This can save you a lot of time, hassle and money in the long run. Buying discount designer handbags is always a gamble. If a website or seller cannot guarantee authenticity, has no customer-service number and no returns policy, you should take your business elsewhere. Remember to read reviews and look at the history of the seller.
Certificate of Authenticity
Even if the handbag you're considering purchasing does have a certificate of authenticity, this does not always mean the handbag is real. If a handbag can be faked then so can a piece of paper. Always be wary of authenticity cards when buying outside of a brand's official store.
Fact: High-end brands such as Louis Vitton and Hermès do not have authenticity cards. Counterfeits will lure unassuming customers with them anyway.
Serial Numbers & Identification Stamps
This is where doing your research comes in handy. If the designer handbag you want to buy is supposed to have a serial number, find out what it is and where it should be.
Fact: Louis Vitton's identification stamp is on the inside (see photo above). The letters are code for the country it was made in and the numbers indicate when it was made. The second and fourth numbers make out the year the bag was made, and the first and third numbers stand for the week of that year.
Check the leather
If you're buying a high-end handbag which says it's made out of leather you need to check if it's authentic. Here are four ways to spot if the leather is real:
Press into the leather
Use your finger and press down onto the leather looking for any creases or wrinkles. Real leather will wrinkle, just like real skin. Synthetic materials will retain rigidity and shape.
Smell the leather
Leather has a distinct smell which is hard to miss. Don't be afraid to give your bag a good old sniff! You'll be able to tell if the handbag is made of real leather if you can smell a natural, musty smell rather than the smell of plastic or chemicals.
Check the surface grain
Imperfections in leather is actually a good thing. Real leather comes from animal skin, thus every piece will be random and unique like the animal it came from. Regular, even and similar grains are signs that indicate to the leather being machine made.
Coloured leather can be genuine. A bright orange leather handbag may not look natural, but that doesn't mean it isn't made from real leather. Dyes can be added to both real and synthetic leathers. When testing a leather handbags authenticity, ignore the colour and focus on the touch, smell and texture. This way you'll be able to easily spot real leather from a fake.
The stitching on any luxury handbag should be should be neat and tight. Beware of any loose ends, frays or if the thread changes colour (see photo below). Any back-and-forth stitching at the end of the seam is a sign of sloppy workmanship, a tell-tale sign of a cheap handbag.
Counterfeits normally work from photos of the handbag they are trying to replicate. This means they will rarely have a clear view of the inside of the bag. Go to a boutique and see the colour in person so you have an advantage.
Keep your eyes peeled for any spelling mistakes. Be sure to double-check all the labels and logos.
Check the details
Make sure to closely inspect the bag - giving it a once-over glance is no good. Common on fakes and rarely on designer handbags are features such as hangtags, a plastic sleeve on the handle, or masking tape on the feet.
Fact: Chanel place of manufacture logos should have the name of the brand above, the place of manufacture parallel below and must be straight. The photo on the left is real and the photo on the right is fake.
Place of manufacture
Research where your bag was manufactured. Counterfeits of Louis Vitton handbags routinely use "Made in France" as their go to place of manufacture but one line was made in Spain.
Counterfeits can easily get this detail wrong if they are working from photographs. Study where the pockets should be on your designer handbag carefully so you can notice any differences straight away.
Designer handbags are expensive, even if you're buying second-hand. If the retail price point is £3,000 and the price you've been offered is £200 you're most likely investing in a cheap designer handbag.
Check the hardware
Pay close attention to zippers, clasps and closures; these can be obvious factors to decipher if a handbag is authentic. Hardware on designer handbags should all match and have the same colour and finish. The exception to the rule would be a Chloé, which creates bags that use mixed hardware. All zips should open and close easily as well.
Fact: Prada only use Lampo, Ykk, Riri, Opti, and Ipi zips. These names will be embossed on the back side of the zipper.
Ask for the original receipt
If you're buying a second-hand designer handbag, always ask to see the original receipt or even the place of purchase so you can match this with your knowledge of the bag