So, you’ve got a bit of cash burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re ready to splurge on a trendy designer handbag. You can choose to shop at a department store, but sky-high prices may lead you to settle for something that you’re not absolutely in love with. To score a bargain, you may decide to shop secondhand, either in a store or online. While this is certainly an excellent option, there is a greater risk for shoppers to be scammed. Fake designer bags are everywhere, and nowadays they can look nearly identical to the real thing. And although stores like Leo Hamel Boutique & Consignment Shop thoroughly inspect and authenticate their items before they’re sold, the same cannot be said for all sellers, especially those online.

Fortunately, designers have caught on to this phenomenon and have taken steps to counteract the counterfeiters. Most designer handbags feature several tiny trademarks that indicate whether the bag is genuine or fake. Each designer is different when it comes to the details they add to their handbags as a measure of authenticity. Some have opted for serial numbers, while others have chosen to be more tactful. For example, Prada is known to only use a specific brand of zippers for its bags, a fact that the everyday consumer may not know.

If you’re interested in purchasing a designer handbag, but want to be sure you’re getting the real deal, we’re here to steer you in the right direction! In this article, we’ll detail how to identify knockoff handbags trying to pass as your favorite designer brands.

Louis Vuitton

image of louis vuitton handbag fake designer bags

Louis Vuitton is one of the most replicated luxury brands in the world. Known for their signature LV monogram, the brand’s best-sellers include the popular Neverfull tote, and the charming Speedy bag, among others. Louis Vuitton has been crafting elegant handbags that exceed expectations of quality for more than a century, becoming the envy of men and women alike. Such strong demand has given way to a flourishing second hand market that can be tricky to navigate. Although Louis Vuitton includes date codes stamped on the inside of their bags, this is not a guarantee of authenticity as one may assume.

A true Louis Vuitton handbag will have flawless stitching that is precise—an Alma, Speedy, or Neverfull bag will have exactly five stitches securing the bag’s leather straps. Also be sure to take note of the leather straps. Louis Vuitton exclusively uses vachetta leather to design their handbag straps, a material that is untreated and therefore will deepen in color with time and wear. A pre-owned Louis Vuitton handbag should have straps that show evidence of this natural patina. If the leather looks suspiciously light and clean, you may want to check for other indicators of the bag’s authenticity.

Before you take the plunge and purchase a bag secondhand, do your homework to confirm it’s a style that Louis Vuitton does in fact produce. Counterfeiters are known to sell handbags with the LV logo, but that are not actually modeled after a real Louis Vuitton design. Though this may seem like a no brainer, it’s often where shoppers get easily caught up.

Some Louis Vuitton styles are made from one continuous piece of leather, such as the Speedy, Keepall, and Papillon bags. This is why you may have noticed the LV logo is upside down on certain handbags. If you spot any seams along the bottom of the bag, you might want to think twice before you buy.

Chanel

image of chanel handbag

There are few people who don’t instantly recognize Chanel’s trademark logo. The iconic brand is known for their handbags, particularly their popular quilted flap bags. Like Louis Vuitton, the market for counterfeit Chanel handbags is a thriving one, fueled by consumer desire and demand for these luxury leather goods. If you’re in the market for a pre-loved Chanel bag, there are some tricks to determining a bag’s authenticity before you buy.

One telltale sign of a true Chanel handbag is the quality of the leather. Chanel creates the majority of its bags with lambskin, which is noticeably smooth and supple. If the bag doesn’t feel buttery soft beneath your fingertips, it may in fact be an impostor. In addition to the leather, get a good look at the bag’s stitching. Chanel’s signature quilted pattern features eleven stitches along the edge of each panel, whereas a replica will have fewer stitches. Another giveaway of a fake Chanel bag is the interlocking C logo. Counterfeiters often stumble over this small detail, but the right C should overlap the left C at the top, and vice versa at the bottom.

While Chanel does issue authenticity cards with all of its handbags, these are not always available when you purchase second hand. And while these cards certainly help with the authentication process, they’re not any sort of guarantee. As a general guide, bags made between 1984 and 1986 will have a 6-digit code printed on the card, bags made between 1986 and 2004 will have 7 digits, and those from 2005 and on include 8 digits. Check that the number on the authenticity card matches what’s printed inside the bag.

When inspecting the details of a Chanel bag, look for indicators of the bag’s overall quality. Chanel only produces the best, so take note of things like the bag’s inner lining, which should be snug with no loose fabric or bumps. The bag should maintain its structure and quality, and should show few to no signs of wear, even after many uses.

Hermès

image of hermes handbag fake designer bags

The Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are some of the most exclusive in the world. These luxurious leather handbags often sell for six figures or more, making them highly attractive to collectors. Hermès handbags are ideal for counterfeiters to replicate, since the real thing can be difficult for the average shopper to get their hands on. When judging whether a Hermès bag is genuine or not, keep an eye out for a few telltale signs.

The most obvious indication will always be the price. An authentic Kelly or Birkin will not be cheap, even when purchased second hand. Consider that the resale value of these handbags is rumored to be around 16%, so they’re likely to sell for more rather than less.

One of the most beloved characteristics of a Birkin bag is its structured design. When sitting upright, the bag should hold its shape with no slouching or puckering. Keep in mind that all Birkin and Kelly bags are made by hand, not with a machine, so the level of quality should reflect this.

Hermès uses a variety of materials to craft their handbags, though Togo leather is most popular for Birkin and Kelly bags. The bag should feel soft and should have a noticeably rich aroma. Examine how the brand’s label is stamped into the leather. Letters that look as though they’re printed on top of the leather suggest the bag is a knockoff. The flap beneath the bag’s lock will also have a blind stamp placed there by the Hermès artisan who designed it. A blind stamp should be faintly visible, but not pressed too deeply into the leather.

Prada

image of prada handbag

Prada is a name that’s synonymous with lavish, couture fashion, and their handbags are no exception. What makes a Prada bag so desirable is more than just its style and quality. Authentic Prada handbags are a flawless blend of unique shapes, vibrant colors, and bold metal hardware. It’s no wonder Prada is one of the most sought-after designer brands out there. If you’re ready to shop for a pre-owned Prada handbag, save yourself from being swindled by taking note of some key things.

For starters, get a good look at the bag’s logo. The “R” in Prada should have a distinct dip or curve on the letter’s right leg. If this detail is missing, you definitely have a knockoff. Furthermore, check that the lettering is evenly spaced and that all fonts and colors match. The plaque’s background color will always match that of the rest of the bag, so steer clear of those that do not. Also check for an interior logo, made from either ceramic or leather, depending on the style of bag. A true Prada bag will not have plastic or fabric logos.

As we mentioned earlier, Prada exclusively uses Lampo, Ykk, Riri, Opti, and Ipi brand zippers, which are of the utmost quality. Check that the hardware opens and closes with ease. If you’re having to wrestle with a Prada bag’s zipper, it’s probably not genuine.

Just like any authentic designer handbag, Prada exceeds normal expectations of quality and craftsmanship. The bag’s stitching will be precise, the leather will feel velvety soft, and the lining will be perfectly printed. Absolutely no imperfection will have gone unnoticed, so if you spot something that seems out of the ordinary, definitely think twice before you buy.

Gucci

gucci trademarks for fake designer handbags

Gucci is one of the best-selling Italian luxury brands; their high-end designer goods are some of the finest in the world. Creative director Alessandro Michele was brought on board in 2015 and has since taken the brand to new heights. Gucci’s whimsical designs are particularly appealing to consumers under the age of 30 who find their bright colors, mesmerizing patterns, and unusual textures to be especially Instagram-able. Unfortunately, young adults are easier for frauds to fool than a seasoned collector. Before buying a pre-owned Gucci handbag, you can confirm its authenticity in just a few simple steps.

When inspecting a bag made from canvas, check that the double G logo is properly oriented. The left G should be facing forward, while the right G faces backwards. Each pair of G’s is connected with two tiny printed dots. The lettering should be slim and the curves of the G’s should be perfectly rounded. Take note of where the bag’s seams meet, the pattern should be consistent and line up perfectly. Gucci also uses a type of canvas with a slight sheen to it. If the bag’s material is dull and flat, it’s definitely not genuine.

The brand does issue serial numbers for each of its bags, which can be located on the back of the inner label. Each tiny number is hand stamped closely together, so if you notice the numbers look inadequately spaced, this may be a red flag. In addition to serial numbers, Gucci also issues what are known as Controllato cards. These cards tell a seller that the bag was inspected and passed Gucci’s standards of quality. Of course, just like an authenticity card, Controllato cards are often misplaced and not available to someone buying second hand. In these cases, don’t be too quick to dismiss the bag as a fake.

Find Incredible Deals on Designer Bags

Whether shopping for yourself or someone else, you’ll find exceptional deals on pre-owned designer handbags and more at Leo Hamel Boutique & Consignment Shop. Score one-of-a-kind items from these designers and many others. We thoroughly inspect all of our items before sale, so our customers never have to wonder if they’re getting the real deal.

Do you have a designer handbag you no longer love? Consign it at Leo’s, and we’ll happily find it a new home. And once your item sells, you’ll receive a check—it’s a win-win for everyone. Stop by our store on San Diego Avenue today to browse our continuously updated inventory of gorgeous designer duds!