Now, fakes are so good (and expensive) that you simply can't tell the difference.
So how do you know what's real and what's not?
- The price. A new Louis Vuitton handbag for £100 is not authentic. The real thing often sells for £700 to well over £1000. Same thing for Prada and Gucci.
- Where it's being sold. Authorized dealers for Chanel, LV, etc. do not sell handbags out of the trunk of a car. Nor do they sell them at online auctions or at home parties.
- Point of origin tag. Designer apparel or leather goods with a "Made in Taiwan" tag are not authentic.
So what if you are shopping online and come across a great deal on designer apparel or accessories? How do you know you're getting the real thing?
Read the fine print.
Some Retailers or items for sale in an auction will lure you in with words that you're likely to search for like Chanel or Gucci. Many sites also use overkill -- "authentic," "genuine" and other enticing adjectives -- to describe their fashion items.
It's only by reading carefully through the descriptions will you see comments like "Inspired by..." to let you know that the merchandise isn't an exact copy (which the Retailers claim gives them immunity from trademark infringement.)
Only buy the goods from an authorized dealer (a department store or a company outlet). Many labels sell directly to the public on company-owned sites such as Gucci.com, eLuxury.com (Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, etc.) and Coach.com.
If in doubt about an outlet, contact the designer directly and ask if you're buying from an authorized dealer.