Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to tell a genuine Louis Vuitton from a fake

They are all over the internet: "Louis Vuitton Outlet", "Pre-owned Louis Vuitton bags"... Many websites claim to sell authentic, secondhand Louis Vuitton luggage bags and wallets. Some even say they are authorized Louis Vuitton wholesalers or resellers. They operate in the United States, China and Japan. The photos on these websites are beautifully presented, and prices attractive: $270 for a Louis Vuitton keepall sounds like a good deal. But are the bags real or fake?

While we our store does not carry Louis Vuitton (genuine or knock off) at all, we believe it's helpful to create a special presentation on how to spot a counterfeit item.

Can you tell a fake Louis Vuitton from a real one?

One of my clients almost got duped by an eBay scam artist. He was attracted to an eBay listing. It was a classic Louis Vuitton keepall duffel, asking for $250. The package came with a dust bag, a Louis Vuitton lock and key, and the original receipt and paper bag. He thought it was a great deal - The original would have cost way over $1,000. It was almost too good to be true, so knowing my history in the business he wanted me to have a look. After carefully studying the pictures, I had to break the bad news to him "The bag isn't real."

Just because it comes with a dust bag, paper bag and receipt doesn't guarantee an item to be real. You can actually buy a fake Louis Vuitton dust bags and paper bags in the black market, for about US$2-5 each! We are approached constantly by wholesaler agents who wish we would order some of the knockoffs they manufactured. While we turn them down every time, we got the opportunity to be shown how real some of these items are. When we told them we were not interested in selling any fake items, those enterprising and eager con men actually pitched to us more LV, Armani, Gucci and Dior dust bags, paper bags and receipts. "They look so real, other online retailers are making big money selling (fake) handbags with those, they made them look even more genuine!"  They told us. See photos below:

Wow, you might think. We have to admit these were really professionally manufactured. If we haven't been working in luxury retail and luggage bags for so long we probably would have been fooled too. So don't let others fool you into spending hundreds of dollars on a piece of counterfeit junk.

Different websites have written about how to tell a real Louis Vuitton from a fake. There are several things you should look for when considering a LV bag:

  • The"LV" monograms would never be in a stitch. Real Louis Vuitton handbags are carefully manufactured. 
  • The color of the stitching - authentic Louis Vuitton monogrammed bags have mustard color stitching, the fake ones usually have bright yellow.
  • The color of the hardware - real Louis Vuitton bags have darker color brassware, it is because the real brass oxidizes over time. Fake LV bags have a bright gold color that never turns dark.
  • Date stamps / coding. Genuine Louis Vuitton bags have date codings - a mixture of numbers and letters - inside the bag.
  • The shape of the "LV" Monogram. You should pay extra attention to the shape of "LV" - go study on the Louis Vuitton official site. Many lower quality replicas have monograms that look quite funny and different from the original ones. 
  • Real Louis Vuitton bags have zipper pull that is monogrammed with the logo.
  • Real Louis Vuitton bags have excellent interiors and a embossing patch that looks expensive and classy. Counterfeit ones have either no patch or lousy looking interior that does not match its look.
  • Do not rely on "dust bags" "receipts" or "smell of leather" as a sign of authenticity. There are plenty of fakes that come with those, even the leather smell - there's some spray ons manufacturers sell that can imitate the smell of high quality leather.

What you get when you buy from "Louis Vuitton Outlet"

Designer labels love to say counterfeits cheapen the brand image. It actually does more than that. It also cheapens the image of the person who uses it. Generally speaking, unless you have already owned many genuine designer items or have worked in the luxury industry for years, it is indeed a bit difficult to spot a fake designer bag at first glance. However, the public is becoming more aware of fake items - especially for popular labels such as Gucci, Coach and Louis Vuitton. People are increasingly aware of counterfeit items and how their looks differ from the genuine ones. Lower quality counterfeits are easily exposed under closer scrutiny as people know more about this. It is really embarrassing to be caught using a fake Hermes Berkin bag or a knock off Louis Vuitton when you try so hard to impress.

Some buyers are fully aware that those bags sold on "Louis Vuitton Outlets" are fake, but they don't mind spending say $200 for an expensive looking handbag or men's bag so they can show off to their friends / frenemies. The problem is, true to their character, those scam artists who run online "Louis Vuitton Outlet Stores" won't sell you knockoffs that remotely resemble the pictures they posted on the website. Those beautiful, professional taken pictures look so good and real because they are real. These pictures were downloaded from original designer label websites - what you get however, is a rather obvious fake. Simply put, what you get in the mail don't resemble what you see on the web.

"AAA" or "1:1", as the seller called the highest quality fakes, don't usually appear on eBays. They cost almost 30% of the originals (pretty steep for a knockoff) and were sold exclusively through middlemen to retailers and secondhand shops. They are then passed as genuine to unsuspecting shoppers. It's another long story, I'll get into the details next time.

Where to buy expensive looking goods without having to use counterfeits

We all want to feel and look wealthy and trendy. Instead of running the risk of being caught using a fake and be embarrassed, why not explore some other better options? We have a lot of trendy looking men's bags that are brand new and authentic, they can give you the Fifth Avenue look without the Fifth Avenue price. And they are real.