How to Recognize an Authentic Designer Handbag

How to Recognize an Authentic Designer Handbag

Finally, it’s time...You’ve been coveting this purse from the store window for ages, and you’ve finally decided it’s time to buy it!

This purchase will cost you a pretty penny, which is why you want to make absolutely sure you’re getting the real deal. Luckily, we’ve got some tips for you on how to make sure you aren’t getting a fake replica handbag!

Know the Difference

Before we get to recognizing the difference, you have to know what the difference is between a true designer handbag and a fake knockoff. Firstly, there’s a genuine designer bag. This is the real deal, honest-to-goodness original design made by a designer. Then, there’s a legal imitation bag. This is a bag that attempts to look like the real thing—and may indeed look just like it— but nonetheless has no tags bearing the original designer’s name or trademark. Lastly, there are illegal knockoff bags that have every detail down to match the original design, but are poor quality and not authentic. Sometimes they may be cheap to make you think you’re getting a great deal; other times they may be exorbitantly priced to make you think you’re getting the genuine article, but don’t be fooled.

Be Smart

You have to buy in the right places. Major fashion houses are—surprise!—very image conscious. They can be very picky about who is allowed to sell their bags—and even pickier about who is allowed to discount those bags. Have you ever noticed all the fine print when a big department store announces a sale? That’s because many top designers don’t permit any discounts on new merchandise. Don’t expect to get a real designer bag from a street vendor selling it on the cheap. A good boutique, department store, or brand-name designer bag store are all good calls on where to look. Otherwise, you never know if you’re getting a knockoff. In fact, often street vendors are not licensed to sell designer handbags, so if they are selling them, they are most likely fakes.

Be Realistic

If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is, I’m sorry to say. Miracles are hard to come by. Don’t lose hope! Used bags can be found in consignment and thrift stores and online on sites such as eBay. These will be far cheaper than a brand new designer bag.

Know the Signs

A true designer handbag will be a quality product by its nature. Major designers don’t permit “factory seconds,” preferring to destroy or recycle bags rather than allow a poor-quality bag to diminish the brand. Anything less than top quality could lead to the possibility that the bag is fake. One tell-tale sign is sub-par stitching. Also check both inside and outside for authenticity tags. If a bag purports to be made of leather, it should smell like leather. Make sure the logo is spelled or designed correctly, because this is often where fakes slip up. Don’t forget to check the hardware for a good solid weight.

Ask the Vendor

Use common sense, first and foremost. Reputable sellers know their suppliers and are often proud of their relationships with designers. If you choose to ask the seller, and the seller seems to avoid all your questions, then you’ve got your answer. That being said, you can’t always trust the response you get. Again, common sense is most important here. If something smells fishy, it probably is.

Ask the Manufacturer

Sound crazy? It isn’t. The fashion industry takes knock-offs and counterfeiting very seriously. Most handbag designers have pages on their websites designed to help buyers just like you spot fakes and buy with confidence. If you’re still in doubt, call them and ask.  

We’ve pulled together some tips for each manufacturer of what you should look for as proof of authenticity, from serial numbers and certificates to packaging.


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