This is currently a work in progress and has been done because of the number of fake handbags, particularly Chanel, that have appeared on ebay. It is specifically for the famous "2.55" handbag.
History of the Chanel 2.55The 2.55 refers to the first release of the handbag, which was in February of 1955. Coco Chanel designed it using elements of her childhood. Coco grew up in an orphanage/convent. The double chain shoulder strap comes from when the children’s caretakers in the orphanage, who dangled keys from their waists with the same type of chains as on the original and the reissue. Also, the zippered compartment on the inside of the front flap is where Coco hid her love letters, as she was having an affair at that time. The brownish red color of the inside represents the color of Coco and the rest of the children’s uniforms (the nuns’ were black with white trim: thus, the packaging on Chanel perfume). The outside flap actually marks where Coco would stash extra money!
Over the years there have been many variations to the original design of the 2.55. These include the material being the leather or fabric, the chain (metal vs. interwoven leather, single flap vs. double flap, and the closure) and the vs. interlocking CC. The term "2.55" refers to all flap-style bags, including variations of the original. The term classic flap commonly refers to the flap with the interlocking CC closure and the leather interwoven chain. Originally the outside clasp was a simple lock and the chain had no leather. The ‘CC’ lock was introduced to the Classic Flap Bags only in the 1980s by designer Karl Lagerfeld.
In February 2005, Karl Lagerfeld re-made the 2.55 as Coco Chanel had made in 1955, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 2.55. It came to be known as the Reissue. Technically the term Reissue should only be used for the bags that were made to commemorate the original - so only those in 2005. However, it has become convenient to call all 2.55s that resemble the original 2.55 Reissues and all 2.55s that have the interlocking CCs Classic Flaps.
How to Spot the FakeThis is quite hard, particularly on ebay. Basically, these handbags cost a lot new - the mid-size one we purchased cost over 1200 British pounds in 2008 - so if you see them being sold for, say, 50 or 60 pounds on a Buy-it-now, you KNOW it has to be fake or stolen. Price is probably the greatest give away. If I were to sell our bag on ebay, which I wouldn't, then my reserve would be close to the original price.
How do I know about the fakes? Well, idiot that I was - I spent money inadvertently buying two fakes on ebay. I only found out much later and I regret the positive comments I gave the vendors. The one we now have is the one I bought from a Chanel store. Unfortunately this is probably the only way to know it isn't a fake.
When I compared the fakes with the real one I noticed one of the fakes was very good - too good to differentiate simply by a photograph. The position of the hologram to the stitching and the chain the replica was excellent. So how did I found out how the two I previously bought were fakes? It was through two markers:
1. the serial numbers were known fake serial numbers (I've included the list that I used below); and
2. the fakes had a card with gold trimming around the edge like the picture below:
I can tell you from purchasing the real one that you do not get a card like this. Other indicators include:
- Interlocking CC should be right over left at the top and left over right at the bottom
- Tags attached (the tags were scissored off the bag when I bought it)
- The box we were given was white with the words Chanel in black and a rose in the top left hand corner. There was the option to have the black box, but we were told the box the 2.55 is meant to come in is the white one
- Poor workmanship - stitching does not quite match
- The clasp should have Chanel Paris on its reverse side
- Price - even vintage Chanel bags are expensive. If you think the price of the bag is too good to be true, it probably is!
Things to remember:
- Chanel boutiques will NOT give a written verification if a handbag is authentic or not
- Money back guarantees are only as good as seller. Unfortunately it is a case of buyer beware.
- Avoid 1 day auctions, these sellers are trying to get past ebay and the VeRo program that reviews and removes counterfeit auctions.
- Know the bag you are trying to purchase - I should have gone to a Chanel boutique before I started looking for the bags on ebay - not afterwards!
- Check the sellers feedback and return policy. Sellers should be willing to discuss the authenticity of the bag and its origin of where they obtained the bag.
- Chanel do NOT have a 'seconds' shop and any seller saying so is to be reported or avoided
- Use a credit card to make your purchase, it is much easier to get a refund when choosing this payment method. Once you file a fraud claim with them, they will issue a credit and investigate which usually works out for the scammed buyer. Paypal is very cooperative with the credit card companies when fraud is involved but not always helpful when you have a dispute for "not as described" .
- Chanel only sell from their own boutiques and selected high end stores, such as Harrods.
However, the best indicator is price. If the bag is selling for cheap, or way below retail, it is most likely a fake. Authentic used Chanel bags hold their value and will sell for close to retail as when new.
Photos of Real and Fake - 1 (see 2nd guide for rest of photos)I decided to put together some photos of the real bag compared to the fake.
The box that the real Chanel bag came in was not black (although the store said they could give me a black box, if I wanted; however 'we usually put it in the white box'
Here's the box complete with rose attached:
Often you will see a black bag. The real black bag is on the left - the fake on the right
Notice the writing is bigger on the fake bag, which is also bigger. The fake bag is just as black, by the way, and only looks lighter because it was photographed closer to the light source.
The real bag was also wrapped in its box with delicate tissue paper that had the word 'Chanel' and the logo all through it. Hint - if the vendor is selling the box ask them if it still has the original Chanel tissue paper. If the seller says 'they threw it away' then do not buy it as it is likely to be a fake. No one throws away such wonderful tissue paper. Here is the best photo I could do of it:
The real bag (on left) and the fake bag (on the right. Note - the photo of the real bag still has the inside tissue):
and a photo of them together - real one on the left and the fake one on the right:
Notice the fake one is larger with a longer chain(!).
One difference was the crossing CC logos. On the real bag the CC lock emblem was raised, 3 dimensionally, whereas the fake bag the CC logo was flat. These pictures did not come out particularly well as the camera I have didn't want to focus on the gold emblems. Yet again, real on the left and fake on the right:
With the fake bag I got this card which I did not get with the real bag. If you see this card in the auction then it is most likely to be a fake.
[ This is continued in part 2 as I am limited to 10 photos per guide ]
Known Fake Chanel Serial Numbers.The serial number will have seven numbers if it was made in the 80s and 8 numbers if it was made in the 90s. In older handbags and accessories there is a white sticker with gold circle CCs all over it. The black 7-digit serial number is black and is in the middle of the sticker. Newer bags have a plastic shield to protect the serial number. There is no plastic covering over this sticker in an older bag.
If the seller does not display the serial number then WRITE AND ASK. DO NOT BID IF THEY DO NOT TELL YOU WHAT THE SERIAL NUMBER IS! I have noticed a number of fake sellers not revealing the serial number. So you should find ask them! Once they have provided the serial number then check it against the list below.
Serial numbers found on many mass-produced counterfeits:
More on Serial Numbers...Check the dates! The serial numbers indicate when the bag was made. If a bag is being sold with a 6xxxxxx serial number, for example, it was made between 2000 and 2002. If the seller claimed to have bought it from Harrods last year, then that would be a red flag to me since Chanel moves these bags quite quickly and from manufacture to sale I would expect the time would be no more than 24-36 months, and in most cases probably less. The bag that I bought in Feb 2008 has a serial number beginning with 11xxxxxx and was made 2006-2008. The serial numbers and their dates are below:
13XXXXXX series - 2009
12XXXXXX series - 2008 - 2009
11XXXXXX series - 2006 to 2008
10XXXXXX series - 2005 to 2006
7-digits9XXXXXX series - 2004 to 2005
8XXXXXX series - 2003 to 2004
7XXXXXX series - 2002 to 2003
6XXXXXX series - 2000 to 2002
5XXXXXX series - 1997 to 1999
4XXXXXX series - 1996 to 1997
3XXXXXX series - 1994 to 1996
2XXXXXX series - 1991 to 1994
1XXXXXX series - 1989 to 1991
0XXXXXX series - 1986 to 1988
Note: Early 0XXXXXX series hologram stickers (1XXXXX to 2XXXXX) did not include the "0" on the stickers; thus, they contain a 6 digit serial number. But the authenticity cards include the '0' in front of the serial number, making it 7-digit.
Guidelines regarding the "zero":
0 series - no hatched '0' (i.e. cross through it)
1 series - no hatched '0'
2 series - no hatched '0' until 27xxxxx sub series
3 series - hatched '0'
4 series - hatched '0'
5 series - hatched '0' in the early 5 sub series (50xxxxx to 51xxxxx). No hatched '0' in the mid 5 sub series (52xxxxx to 56xxxxx) until the 57xxxxx sub series when the hologram sticker changed to the present style.
6 series - hatched '0'
7 series - hatched '0'
8 series - hatched '0'
9 series - hatched '0'
10 series - hatched '0'
11 series - hatched '0'
12 series - hatched '0'
Please do not email me asking me if a particular 2.55 is fake or not, but if you have bought a fake by accident and have additional fake serial numbers then I will be glad to include them in the list. If you found this helpful please indicate so that others may find this guide.
Finally - I've noticed that there are Chanel bag auctions alongside this article. It does NOT mean they are legitimate. It just means ebay has automatically linked some auctions to this guide. Please exercise caution.