In the age of first copies, how difficult is it to score the real deal? Pearl Mathias guides you through the world of shopping for designer labels in our counterfeit culture
You haven’t bought a new handbag in ages, but you’ve been putting aside money from your monthly allowance to splurge on that gorgeous Hermès bag you’ve been eyeing. We understand the need to own a classic French luxury designer bag and strutting around with it feeling like you have it all together, even on the worst of days. Well, as straightforward as it may seem to save and splurge on the real deal, it’s often quite tempting to give in to our stingy nature when we spot a good deal online. After all, you’ll save a ton of money as well as end up with a luxurious addition to your wardrobe. Or, will you?
The thing about unbelievable online offers is that you open yourself up to counterfeits that are being sold the world over. Well, if you’re not overly brand conscious and simply love the design of your new handbag, even if it has “Luis Vitton” on it, we won’t burst your bubble. But, if you’ve been waiting a while to bag the real deal, here are a few things you should look for when purchasing a luxury commodity.
It’s easy to spot a Louis Vuitton, one of the most counterfeited brands out there, in a luxe mall as well as while street shopping. So, it’s essential to train yourself to look for certain defining marks. If you’ve visited a boutique or an authorised dealer, you may have noticed the main Louis Vuitton logo on the handbag you’ve set your sights on. Pay close attention to the lettering on the stamp, which is very peculiar and can be used to easily tell products apart. Look carefully at the letters L, O and T. In an original piece, the L has a very short tail, the O is very rounded and bigger than the L, and the horizontal lines of the Ts are almost touching each other.
However, in the world of counterfeiting, it’s easy to replicate this logo, and looking at the letters alone may not be enough to spot a fake. In such cases, check the material, which is supposed to be coated canvas with a leather trim. There should be no signs of loose threads or sloppy construction on a genuine piece, and bear in mind that a company like Louis Vuitton will not devalue its logo by dividing it in the seams. Another catch is the colour of their bags, which should be the exact same classic brown toile background you’ve seen in boutiques.
There’s no doubt that the Chanel design follows closely behind Louis Vuitton. It isn’t rare to spot bags, purses and belts proudly bearing this famous logo. Although it’s difficult for the average shopper to pick out an authentic a Chanel piece, there are a few telltale signs which will tell you whether a piece is genuine or not. First and foremost, focus your gaze on the “CC” lock, which can be either raised or flat. The C on the right should cross over the one on the left at the top and the C on the left should cross over the one on the right at the bottom.
Another thing to check for is the stamp (Chanel’s bags that are made in France) at the back of the lock. However, not all bags and purses may feature it — some are made in Italy. When gauging the authenticity of a bag, look for the rounded edges of replicas, which are far removed from the genuine square-shaped bags that typify the brand. An important feature to check is the bag’s lining, which falls flat against the material without creating bumps.
If you’re planning to buy a Gucci bag or watch, you’re definitely looking to add a touch of luxe to your apparel. But, you wouldn’t want the monogrammed bag for which you just paid a hefty sum to turn out to be a counterfeit. In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen, look closely at the zipper used on the bags. The leather is usually the same colour as the leather trims. The thread used for stitching the trims should be the same colour as the bag. The only exception to this rule is the Gucci Emily Chain bag in antique rose, which features stitching in a contrasting colour. Another important detail is that the colour of the lining matches the dominant colour of the bag; anything else you get hold of is a fake.
If you’re on the lookout for a Gucci timepiece, check for the ‘Swiss-made’ tagline on the bottom centre of the face below the 6 o’clock position. The hands of the watch use Swiss quartz movement, which is visibly smooth — their timepieces don’t tick like normal watches. More importantly, most of the authentic pieces have the model number displayed on the back of the watch. If they don’t, it’s an obvious fake.
We’re not sure about the devil wearing Prada, but we’re sure he sells a few pieces that aren’t exactly up to the mark. Apart from the obvious fakes that are available, there are also ‘very good fakes’, which are rightly termed because they come so close to the real thing that it becomes extremely difficult for a layman to tell the difference. But, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the zipper pulls, hooks and locks are made of brass or polished steel. However, if it’s dull and lacks shine, you can instantly tell it apart. Fakes, even the very good kind, can’t match up to Prada’s signature Tessuto and Vela fabrics, and the nylon fabrics (with a touch of leather) that is used by fakes is easy to detect.
Another thing to spot is the high-quality lining of the bag, which has the Prada logo embroidered all over it. Apart from the white dustbag with the logo printed in black and a label that reads ‘Cotton made in Italy’, an original bag will also have a metal tag (as opposed to a plastic or fabric tag) that reads ‘Prada made in Italy’.
DOLCE & GABBANA
By now you may have realised that things like the logo, material, lining and hardware signal a lot about whether a designer piece is real or fake. But, as much as you’d want to own a pricey accessory from the Italian designer duo’s collection, there are several things to look out for to spot a fake, starting with the logo. The ‘Dolce & Gabbana’ or ‘D&G’ logo is the first thing you should keep an eye out for. Apart from checking the spelling in the full form, there’s no space between the letters in the shortened version, with the ampersand symbol dropping lower than the letters.
It’s important to feel the quality of leather. It should be smooth and there should be no bumps on the surface. Also, the threading should be the same colour as that of your handbag and the D&G emblem will be prominent on the zipper and hardware. Anything else should be considered a knock-off. Feel the bag properly and you’ll be able to tell if it’s the real deal. But, a label that reads ‘Made in China’ should be a good indication of its authenticity.