Understand the difference between a knock-off and a genuine bag. Knowing the difference enables you to make an informed choice about the purchase of any bag.
A genuine designer bag is made by the original well-known designer; it can also be made by a less-known designer but the main focus is on high-end designers. The bag's logo, charms, attachments, etc., are all part of the original design down to the exact positioning and number of such features. Tags, signatures or marks stating the designer's name form an integral part of the bag's overall design and authenticity. Price is determined by what the consumer is prepared to pay for a designer label.
A legal knock-off/imitation is "designer-inspired" but not a direct copy. Provided such a bag does not claim to be the original designer's bag and does not attempt to use the trademarked symbols, logos, or features. In most cases, it can legally imitate the style and colors of an authentic designer bag while taking care of any defining features deviate in evident ways in order to avoid copyright. Although it may suggest the bag's similarities to the brand that it's inspired by, it won't claim to be an actual designer bag. Without close inspection, the additions can be easily mistaken for the real thing, sometimes causing you to spend too much on it in the belief of the original designer's bag. However, if you know what to look for, you should be able to spot the differences.
Illegal, fake bags put themselves across as being the genuine designer's bag, right down to the very last logo, tag, charms, etc. Fakes copy everything about the designer bag, and pass themselves off as the original brand with no attempt to distinguish themselves as look-alikes. Prices for fakes can vary considerably from cheap to trying to sell the bag for high amounts. It is illegal to make fake merchandise, and while buying it, doing so supports illegal activity.
Be aware that designer-inspired bags can carry the blessing of the original high-end designer where adequate compensation has been paid and contracts exchanged allowing for lower-end knock-offs in chain retailers, etc. Usually the store will proudly say something along the lines of "as licensed by X brand for our store".
Be store wise. The best place to purchase a designer bag is to go to a renowned store to for designer bags. Suitable stores include stores that carry the same name as the brand and quality department or boutique stores. The staff should be knowledgeable when questioned about the pedigree, quality, and guarantees concerning the bag.
Assume that any designer bag being sold at a flea market or street seller is suspect. Designer labels do not authorize street vendors to sell designer bags or purses. It would be a rare occasional find to have a cheap designer bag being thrown out at a flea market; it's possible but improbable.
Know all you can about designer bags if you're purchasing from estate sales, online auction sites, etc. Apply the following steps to any purchases of designer bags made at such places.
Ask trusted fashionistas you know where they purchase their designer bags from. They'll be wise to the good stores.
Be realistic about the price. Designer bags cost a lot of money because they are well crafted and they're status symbols. If the price is too good to be true, then it is, and the bag's a fake.
If you do buy legal knock-offs, be sure you don't pay much and double check the quality!
Ask the seller if the bag is real, a copy, or a fake. Judge for yourself the ring of authenticity from the answer; keep your emotions in check and your common sense at the forefront. Sellers who avoid answering questions or are evasive have something to hide.
Ask if you can return it if it's faulty or fake. Naturally, don't expect all sellers to agree to this!
Ask if there are any certificates of authenticity accompanying the bag.
Know the signs of a fake or knockoff bag. There are numerous signs that can point to a bag's lack of authenticity:
The stitching: Look closely at the stitching of the bag. Sloppy, slanted, and uneven stitching is a sign of a poorly made, and therefore, a fake bag. Designer bags will always have quality stitching because it is part of the designer's reputation to produce a quality item.
Check the tags or labels. Check the inside tags – are they stamped into leather or hand-stitched? An obvious fake will have no name on the inside tag. Check outside tags as well because many designers include authenticity labels on the outside of the bag.
Check the material. If it's leather, it should smell like leather. If it's supposed to be durable canvas, it should be strong and well stitched. The material can tell you a lot about the bag's quality. If the real bag normally has a pattern inside then the fake bags with mainly have just one colour throughout the inside.
Check the logo. Logos are often a slip-up area for copies. They may have spelled the name slightly differently, such as Carter instead of Cartier. And, the more popular the "knocked off" bag, the greater the need to be careful because it's easy to be taken advantage of. When you look at the stitching on the sides and you see the "LV" it should be continued onto the other side of the bag and this also goes for the other symbols on the bag. And most knockoff Chanel bags have interlocking Os instead of Cs, which actually makes it legal to sell but is, of course, a fake. They snip it to make it look real when it comes out of a dust bag.
Look for a serial number. This is a stamp inside that says the brand (it may not be in all bags).
Check the lining. If the interior sounds like paper rubbing together, then it's not the real thing. A real designer bag will be lined, and often with leather. Again, check the stitching of the lining if relevant, and observe if it is double stitching ( not always the case).
Look for colour variations. Although some variations will be blatant, others may be very subtle. Be sure to have a close inspection.
Notice wear break-in. Although this is post-purchase, how your bag wears in can be a sign of its authenticity. For example, the leather on the handle, after a few weeks, should look like a good worn leather jacket does. It should have an "aged look". Stitching should stay intact and not begin to fray. Zipper handles that fall off early on indicate a fake.
Don't confuse a designer bag with making a purchase of value. With a designer bag, you're buying the label as much as the bag and it may not be to your budget's benefit unless money is not an issue. Always check the bag, designer or ordinary brand, for its quality before its style. That way, you'll soon learn that even some designer ranges make compromises that aren't acceptable for the price asked. It hardly makes sense to spend £1000 on a plastic bag with a designer label over a well-made ordinary label leather bag at £200. Investigate and keep your head in charge of your wallet, not your fashion-hijacked heart.
Look for young, up-and-coming designers whose designs show incredible promise but aren't yet fetching huge prices. They may be selling online through a site such as Etsy, on consignment in a quality clothing or gift store, or in a local craft market, etc. Learn how to spot quality and style and support a new designer.
Remember to look at the tags. The tags are a dead giveaway of a knock-off. If the tags don't look hand-stitched, stamped, or even not there, it's not real.
Remember if the leather isn't heavy like leather should be it's not real or poorly made meaning it's not real.
If you can avoid it, don't buy your "designer" bags off the street.
The Juicy symbol is currently "Love G&P". Knockoffs may have "Love P&G", however it could also just mean the bag is a bit older, as Juicy products manufactured prior to 2006 had "Love P&G".
Spell check tags on the purse. If there's a typographical error on any tag on the outside or the inside of the purse, it's a fake, for sure.
Most design houses like Louis Vuitton who make bags with their signature logo or monogram have ways to tell if the bag is fake or real. Louis Vuitton's signature "LV" bags are the hardest to detect a fake.
You can take your bag to the store and compare the logos, lining, etc.,and see if your bag is indeed a fake.
If you can return your bag to the vendor,make sure of what amount of time you have until you can't return it. Check if your bag is a fake before you CAN'T return it.
If you're planning on selling fakes, be completely aware of the legal and moral implications. Online auction sites are always clamping down on fakes; it's fine to be selling the real item, or a knock-off not claiming to be the real item but it's never fine to sell fake bags.