How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag

These days, the secondhand clothing market has been positively exploding. From an uptick in local consignment shops to a rise in popularity for sites such as ThredUp and Tradesy, budget-conscious fashionistas who lived through the recession are more likely to give the secondhand world a whirl. Although this new way of purchasing clothing has been a great boon for those who want to look fantastic without paying outrageous prices, there are a few pitfalls.

For instance, one of the biggest drawbacks is that it can become a bit more difficult to spot fake designer pieces when you don’t have the benefit of the original packaging or a store receipt. This can become an even more perilous enterprise when you factor in the frequency of counterfeit designer bags on the market. Fortunately, there are many methods you can use to suss out what is real and what is not authentic.

When you’re examining a purported designer bag for the very first time, there are a few handy tips that should help you to figure out its authenticity as soon as possible. First, you will want to pay careful attention to the hardware. When you are picking it up, does it feel appropriately heavy for its appearance? If it feels light or hollow, you may have a fake on your hands.

As far as branding goes, it is easier than ever to see how the labels are supposed to read nowadays. Go online and examine other authenticated models to ensure that yours is consistent. More designer labeling doesn’t necessarily mean it’s authentic; in fact, counterfeiters will often include more labels in order to convey a false impression that a handbag is real. Although it may seem obvious, carefully check the spelling on the label. There is no such thing as being too vigilant.

If you can, take a peek at the lining of the purse you want to purchase. If it’s still at the store, it might be worthwhile to travel to Louis Vuitton or Gucci and look inside. Because this tends to be the one area that counterfeiters can’t get quite right, a bird’s eye view into a bag can provide immense benefits. Without the advantage of seeing the bag in person, fraudsters will often choose the wrong color for the liner cloth or get other details wrong. Similarly, pockets tend to be another tricky area for counterfeiters. If you notice zippers or other details where they are not supposed to be—or even a missing pocket—chances are that you are looking at a fake. Another telltale sign will be the stitching. If the seams of the bag appear crooked or don’t match, that’s definitely a red flag. If there is any paint on the bag, it would be a good idea to look closely at those sections in order to make sure the edges look proper.

When you’re examining a handbag for authenticity, you have to remember that it is often the very small details that give it away. Take your time with the bag, and don’t ever feel pressured to purchase it right away. Sometimes even experts take a long time to decide whether or not a bag actually passes the test. One factor you will want to consider is the “provenance” of the bag. Does it come from a source that seems legitimate, or does it seem unlikely that this source would own a designer bag? Leather swatch hangtags are an indicator that the bag isn’t real, as well as a very low price. In other words, the old anecdote is definitely true in this case. If it seems like it’s too good to be true, then it probably is!