How to authenticate designer bags and clothes

Christina Sylvester ·

The fake designer market is worth billions. We explain how to authenticate designer clothes and all you need to know about designer bag authentication.

When you buy designer bags and clothes you are hoping for an investment, as well as a gorgeous piece you’ve coveted for a while. With genuine items, their value can rise over time. However, with a fake, that’s not what happens at all. You certainly can’t resell fake designer bags and clothes. Designer bag and clothes authentication is therefore essential.

Astoundingly, the fake designer market is worth billions. Loads and loads of manufacturers and retailers are trying to cash in on the excellence that is attached to a designer name. The aim is to create pieces which look very much like the original designer piece, but undercut the price by a large margin.

Leaving aside the morals and legalities for the moment – as a consumer, that’s okay if you know that you are getting a fake and have taken the decision to wear the replica, knowing it isn’t authentic but liking it anyway. It’s not okay if you don’t know you’re buying something which isn’t genuine. You can feel taken advantage of, ripped off, and frustrated.

So, let’s take you through how to authenticate designer clothes and everything you need to know about designer bag authentication.

Ways to authenticate designer bags and clothes

1. The workmanship

With designer bags and clothes you should get outstanding quality. With both clothes and bags, there is one tell-tale area to look at: the seams. A designer piece will have flawless seams that are secure. One of the easiest ways to cut costs in counterfeit pieces is to create basic seams which show immediate signs of wear.

Beyond the strength of the seam, a designer item will be meticulous with the structure of the seam. For example, with Louis Vuitton bags, you’ll discover the fabric’s pattern always lines up perfectly at the seams. This level of care and detail simply doesn’t happen with counterfeit pieces.

When you choose designer, you’re choosing quality. Look for this first and foremost. Beyond the seams, also look at the materials used and their nature. Then look to the workmanship to spot factors like symmetry and straight lines.

2. The logos and labels

It’s the designer logo and label that often forms the groundwork for basic authentication. After all, with many designer pieces, you want the logo to be on display and you want it to be the focal point.

There are often obvious things to look for with the logo. Usually, fake producers won’t go for a straight copy, fearing legal repercussions. As such, there may be a slight alteration to the logo, perhaps using a slightly different font, and often a tweaked name. Make sure you are familiar with the usual designer logo so that you can spot the fake easily.

However, it’s the logo that really sells a designer piece. As such, it’s often used liberally. You should expect there to be evidence of the logo further than just on the label itself. Look at zipper pulls, pocket tags, name plates and even the soles or fixtures of designer shoes.

Then look a little more carefully. It’s easy for fakers to create a stamp to use across the fake product. It’s much harder for them to use embossing and engraving.

3. The price

Unsurprisingly, a real give-away is often the price. Certainly, if a designer bag or item of clothing is being sold (usually new), at a bargain price, then the chances are that it isn't genuine.

The reality is that designer pieces have hefty price tags to reflect the quality and the investment nature. However, don’t be fooled into thinking a high price tag definitely means the real deal. Unfortunately, there are some very unscrupulous producers of fake items and they will create a higher-than-average quality piece, and try to sell it at a higher price. These pieces can be harder to spot.

4. Location, location, location

Location matters in two ways: where you are buying the item from, and any labels telling you where the item was made.

Firstly, let’s look at where you’re buying the piece from. Generally speaking, if the piece is new, you should be buying it from a reputable retailer – either from the designer directly or authorised detailers (for example, a department store).

That’s not to say you can’t get authentic second-hand designer items. You’ll need to choose platforms, like us here at Reliked, who take authentication seriously. Wherever possible, we get written confirmation that goods are authentic, obtain original receipts, check serial numbers, and, where necessary, use a third party independent authenticator.

Secondly, there’s also another location clue which is often a giveaway. If there is a label on the item saying it was made outside of Europe, there is a very high chance that this is a counterfeit piece. Look up where your chosen designer actually makes their pieces and expect the label to match this. If this isn’t overly obvious, look at where your chosen item is being sent from if being bought online. Individuals are never authorised dealers.

5. The documentation

Designers care that their buyers know that they are getting an authentic piece. As such, you can expect a designer piece, especially a designer bag, to come with authentication documentation. In addition, you should expect quality designer-branded packaging from shoe and bag boxes, not random plastic bags!

6. Numbers

Designer items are limited. There aren’t countless numbers made and a market flooded with a piece means it’s probably fake. In reality, any seller that has loads of the same piece to sell, or seems to constantly have new stock, or unrealistic numbers of colour choice, is probably selling counterfeit pieces. Designer pieces are exclusive and this should be reflected in the numbers available for sale.

Be sure about your choice

At the end of the day, we believe that you shouldn’t have any doubts about the authenticity of the piece you are buying, whether that’s a bag or a piece of clothing. Authentication should bring you peace of mind. If you’re in doubt, the chances are that you’re picking up on something which tells you it’s counterfeit.

Take extra care when buying second hand and use a reputable platform for designer pre-loved pieces, such as Reliked.

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