There’s something about looping your arm through a well-made, attractive handle that makes everything seem right in the world, you know? Don’t get me wrong– I have plenty of cheap purses and thrift store totes– but I’ve been in the market for a designer bag. Because I’m not opposed to shopping secondhand, I’ve been doing some research to make sure I don’t get suckered into buying a knockoff bag, and I thought I’d be kind and share with you what I’ve learned! Here are five solid tips for recognizing a fake.
1. Ask for any papers or certificates that prove it’s the real deal.
If you come across the perfect bag on eBay but they can’t offer you any documents, receipts, or the original dust bag, there’s a chance that they just threw those things away… and there’s also a chance that they were hoping you were too dumb to ask for them.
2. Look closely at the stitching.
It’s a big deal to fork over a big chunk of your paycheck for an expensive bag, so make sure you’re getting the quality you’re paying for. If the stitching is awkward, out of line, coming undone, or in any way suspicious, don’t buy it. It’s either a cheap knockoff or a reject bag.
3. Thoroughly inspect the hardware.
Scratches and scrapes on any metal parts of the bag are a good indicator that someone else has owned it– or that it was made with cheap materials. Also, if the zippers don’t move smoothly and the latches are hard to maneuver, it’s not worth that three- or four-digit price tag.
4. Check out the lining fabric.
For one thing, it shouldn’t smell like plastic. For another thing, it’s good to memorize any patterns or colors that you see in the lining online. People who make knockoffs often skimp on making the inside look authentic because they don’t expect anyone to notice.
5. Give the logos a second look.
If you squint really hard, does that metal plate look like it says “Prado”? Is that Chanel symbol really two interlocking ovals? Is the leather tag blank where it ought to say, Coach? This stuff seems simple, but smart women have been duped before.
I hope these tips are able to help you the way they’ve helped me! Knockoffs are tempting from a price standpoint, but at the end of the day, those boxed doughnuts from the grocery store are not Krispy Kreme, no matter how decent they taste when you’re drunk. (And yes, this analogy is brought to you by the fact that I’m typing this with one hand and eating an original glazed with the other. Fashion blogging is exactly as glamorous as you’ve surely imagined.)
How To Recognize A Knockoff Purse Or Bag
I do all of my designer shopping online. I’ve only been duped once and it was a coat, not a bag, but I’ve become obsessive when it comes to checking things out before I commit. I usually go for used and not new (hello, Poshmark!), but I have some general designer shopping tips to add:
A seller should always be willing to take more photos for you. If the auction only has product images from the designer’s website and no photos of the actual item, no go! And look out for sellers that appear to be selling designer stuff in huge quantities. It wasn’t a bag, but I was almost duped by a designer dress that looked like an AMAZING deal until I noticed that the seller had tons of them in different sizes. If someone has 10 each of a bunch of Louis Vuitton styles, odds are they aren’t real. A lot of these sellers are based in Asia and have insanely high feedback ratings because they also sell things like USB cables. If a store has Prada bags and $2 iPhone covers, it’s a red flag.
There are some great websites that will help you authenticate bags before you buy them. There’s an extremely comprehensive guide to older Kate Spade styles. It hasn’t been updated since KS exploded in popularity, but it’s still a great guide to what the logo should look like and which prints/fabrics have actually been used for authentic pieces. If you’ve never seen a particular style/color and you can’t find another example of it anywhere online, it’s probably fake. Some people have had luck contacting designer shops directly to ask about old styles (“Did the __ ever come in lime green?”).
This isn’t knock-off related, but it’s also a good idea to look into whether the item is retail or outlet. Coach and Kate Spade outlets in particular sell completely different stuff from the retail shops. The price of these items is much cheaper, to begin with, and the quality isn’t as high-end. Make sure you’re actually getting a deal.
I only buy knock-offs because they usually aren’t made of real leather…
Photos via Shutterstock