Is your authentic designer handbag really authentic?

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If you, like many women, want the real thing or nothing at all, listen up: we're about to reveal the subtle differences between real and replica purses.

Ever heard the saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"? Most designers would disagree, especially when it comes to premium purses. You see, most consumers can't really tell a good fake from the real thing.

Counterfeiting makes up five to seven per cent of global trade, or £450 to £500 billion. While any name brand is at risk for counterfeiting, the most commonly ripped-off labels include GUCCI,BURBERRY,FENDI,LOUIS VUITTON,DIOR,PRADA and KATE Spade.

So, how can you tell the difference? Experts say it's the small details that are often overlooked by manufacturers of designer knockoffs. All you need to do is take the time to pick apart the fakes to reveal their many flaws.

Watch for lining that isn't stitched in, but glued on. The same goes for labels.

The material used can also be a dead giveaway; if the signature plaid of a Burberry bag is even slightly askew, it's a fake.

Some knockoffs do take the time to stitch the lining into place; in these, look for threading that is pulling in spots. A real designer bag would have near-perfect threading.

Ask where the bag was made or look for a label. If you see "Made in China," you can pretty much pass on that purse. Do some research before you go shopping, so you know where the real thing is manufactured.

Arguably, the dominant force in designer purses is Louis Vuitton. If genuine Vuitton is what you're after, refer to  list of guidelines before you buy a "bona fide" bag.

Classic Louis Vuitton monogram bags run from £400 to upwards of £1,000. If you're paying any less, you're not getting the real deal. Fakes range in price from £20 to £180.

Real Louis Vuitton purse snaps are monogrammed. Manufacturers of replica Vuittons often skip that specific.

Legit Louis bags usually start out with light leather. Over time, the leather will wear and darken.

Take a close look at the handles, which should be made of an entire strip of natural leather. When first purchased, the handle is light tan in colour; over the course of a few weeks, it should oxidize and turn into a darker, cognac colour. Fake bags don't change colour like this because the handles are usually painted.

The stitching on the handles should be clean and consistent, and should use yellow thread. The sides of the handles should be a shiny, glazed red.

The zipper pull should be brass hardware, heavy to the touch. Look for a neatly imprinted "LV" symbol on it.

The canvas of the bag shouldn't be too soft or stiff, or "oily" or shiny.

The "LV" monogram should have irregular brown lines through the gold-coloured letters, and a flower pattern. Fake monograms may be a solid colour or look too green or orange.

Ask for ID; there should be a card with the style number and name inside the bag.

Know what styles of the bags are genuine and look at the lining. Fake bags often come in styles and colours not available in the real thing and the lining will be different.

So, what do you do if you don't possess an expert eye for detail? Well, common sense is the simplest way to increase your odds of getting the real deal.

Buying a bag out of a car trunk or elsewhere on the street pretty much guarantees you a fake.

Common places to find counterfeits in North America include the Chinatown and garment districts of bigger cities, kiosks in shopping malls, flea markets and, most recently, online, at a variety of Web sites and, perhaps most predominantly, at online auction sites like e bay.

Beware of "purse parties," where a seller brings a selection of fake handbags, wallets and accessories to a private gathering to show and sell (the ultra-modern version of the Tupperware party). A good hostess will inform her friends ahead of time that the merchandise they'll be looking at is not the real thing.

  • Remember: there are only a handful of Web sites authorized to sell the genuine items. Your best bet for buying online is to go straight to the source: the actual designer's site.

    So, you have just bought a new designer handbag. Maybe you have had your eye on a Christian Dior Saddle Handbag, or Gucci Jackie-O that you know your friends will drool over . You got a huge discount off of the hefty retail price and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. But know you are wondering- is my designer handbag authentic.

    Determining the authenticity on any product can be a little tricky, but if you know the basics, you will be able to spot a fake in just a few seconds.

    One of the best ways to ensure your new handbag is authentic is to look at the bag itself. Designer handbags are popular and cost as much as they due because first and for-most they are made from quality materials. Take a good look at the stitching. There should be no loose or missing stitches, the color of the thread should match the main color of the bag and the stitches should be evenly spaced. If the handbag is leather, the logo should be engraved, not just printed on the leather.

    Also take a look at the hardware. All of the hardware should match in color and sheen. The hardware should also be free of scratches. Many manufactures, including Gucci, Fendi and Prada, protect their hardware with a removable plastic cover that is to be removed only after it has been purchased. The brand name or logo should be engraved, not embossed or simply printed on the hardware. You can also find the brand name of logo engraved on the strap hardware on Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Chanel and

    Inspect the material the bag lining, hardware and accents are made of. Many handbags are made of different types of leather, from Lambskin, Calfskin, Goatskin and Patent Leather, but it is easy to distinguish if the leather is of a good quality or not. The lining is usually made of a satin material that has a nice shine to it and most designer handbags have the name brand name or logo on the lining. Designers almost always use leather accents, not plastic. Some purses have straps that are specially coated and seem to be artificial. However a quick look at the edge of the strap, usually near a stitched joint, should reveal a leather core.

    Is there an authenticity card. An authenticity card is a little card that usually has the manufactures logo embossed on the front and has some information about the product you purchased and sometimes includes a magnetic strip, bar code. Many manufacturers, including Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Kate Spade and Coach, use these cards.

    Check for a serial number. Not all manufacturers use serial numbers, but many do. The serial number for Fendi purses can be found on the inside pocket. Simply turn the pocket inside out and there will be a printed number on the fabric or possibly on the leather tag. Gucci includes a small leather tag on the zipper seam of the handbag which includes a serial number.

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