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The Most Commonly Knocked-Off Designer Bags — and How to Spot Them

The RealReal’s director of authentication shares his secrets.

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A street style shot featuring a Chanel handbag. Photo: Melanie Galea/The Street Muse/Trunk Archive

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It’s no surprise that luxury consignment site The RealReal prides itself on the authenticity of its designer merchandise — after all, it’s right there in the company’s name (twice)! But these days, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the genuine Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton handbags from the fakes. The word “knockoff” might conjure up images of the plasticky, obviously-faux purses that line Canal Street in New York City. But many of today’s counterfeit carryalls look shockingly close to the real deal, complete with mock serial tags and authenticity cards.

That’s where the company’s director of authentication Graham Wetzbarger comes in. With a decade of experience under his belt, Wetzbarger oversees the team that conducts multi-point inspections on every item the site sells. And while the most foolproof way to guarantee that your new 2.55 is the real deal is to have it checked at a Chanel store, Wetzbarger has a few tried-and-true tips for verifying the authenticity of three of the most widely knocked-off bags around.

Ever wonder how to tell a fake CHANEL, Hermès, or Louis Vuitton bag from the real deal? We're getting schooled by the pros at The RealReal!

Posted by Racked on Monday, December 5, 2016

Louis Vuitton Monogram Bag

- Don’t assume your bag is authentic just because the monogram looks correct; according to Wetzbarger, many counterfeit manufacturers have perfected the pattern at this point.

- Look for the date code on the inside of the bag, which should be stamped on a small leather tag and denotes when and where the piece was made.

- The vachetta leather Louis Vuitton uses for its straps and handles is untreated, which means it will develop a rich patina with regular wear. The synthetic materials used in many fakes don’t oxidize with time — a dead giveaway.

- All stitching should be impeccable, and zippers should be stamped with the brand name.

Chanel 2.55 Flap Bag

- Start with the double-C logo; the right-facing C should cross over the left-facing C at the top, and under the left-facing C on the bottom. On older bags, this metal logo might be stamped with an additional notation — but if it’s marked with an “R” enclosed in a circle, it’s fake.

- Those double Cs should be affixed to the flap with flathead screws (-) or six-sided star screws; on novelty bags where the hardware is made of resin or wood, Phillips head screws (+) are used instead.

- The underside of all hardware should be stamped with “Chanel Paris.”

- When looking at the bag head on, all quilting should line up perfectly on both the front and the back of the bag — yes, even over the back pocket.

- All authentic Chanel bags have a tiny hologram sticker inside that’s printed with two tiny Chanel logos and a seven- to eight-digit serial number; it’s often located at the bottom corner of the bag.

Hermès Birkin

- Hardware should be either gold or palladium, and the plates on the front belting should be nailed in at all four corners.

- The Hermès stamp at the top of the bag should be perfectly straight and match the hardware.

- The back of the belting should feature a very faint “blind stamp” denoting the year the bag was made and the artisan who made it.

Watch: The Difference Between Real and Fake Bags