This guide is written to inform, with a focus on a few key areas of which to be aware when deciphering a counterfeit item and locating the real deal. If you find this useful or informative please let us know by checking the box at the base of this page - many thanks.
Counterfeit products account for a huge percentage of all luxury goods. These items are flooding the e-commerce market to be purchased by consumers, the majority of whom are unaware of the origin and the detrimental social and economic effects which the production and subsequent sale of these items entail. It has been estimated (with reference to particular brands) as much as 90% of all handbags on a well known auction site are for counterfeit goods. Many fraudsters have no inhibitions in organising these goods to be drop shipped in bulk from China and other locations, which are then rapidly sold at discounted prices (on the luxury item) in succession upon auction websites or upon the fraudsters own websites as authentic goods. This unfortunately leaves genuine buyers with their investment in tatters, though sadly and quiteoften oblivious to the inferior quality of the goods purchased at a premium luxury price - whilst in true belief that they have a genuine bargain!
There are of course some great bargains out there, however you really do have to do your homework if you want the real deal... and when you find your item, get this checked out by the brand name in question for total peace of mind.
fakes cost more than just money
Damning evidence from research consistently exposes the dangerous and detrimental effects that counterfeit inferior quality goods can expose the user to. From car brakes and childrens toys to make-up and foodstuff, these items consistently fall below government standards, many of which offer potential health hazards and in many cases life threatening risks. Read more about these issues on myauthentics.com.
fabulous not fake, be anti-counterfeit and anti criminal
Most people are unaware of the illegal activities which the counterfeit industries support. Purchase of these goods can fund appalling social and economic crimes globally. If you think you have mistakenly bought into a fake, do something about it, as this is a highly illegal industry and every person who says no to these goods, really does make a difference in numerous ways!
location of purchase
Unless you are purchasing your luxury item at the brand boutique, online store or from an authorised seller it can be a minefield to find one which is genuine. Avoid flea market bargains, purchases from handbag parties, street sellers and most unauthorised websites, especially those offering current season high end luxury at near high street prices, as the goods found in these locations may be highly questionable. If you find a website which you feel is honest, make sure you check the about us page and any other information relative to authenticity, refund policy, history of the seller etc. Google the website url, as this is a good gauge of feedback comments etc. Contact details are invaluable, especially if you can get to talk to someone personally regarding your potential purchase. One of the best ways of finding trusted places is through the grapevine (word of mouth), forums (the purse forum), blogs, ebay feedback etc.
place of purchase - know your seller
Find out if your item was purchased from the brand store, make sure you question as to which store, if it was purchased personally, the date of purchase, exact price etc, if your seller does not come back to you or offers blurred answers, then avoid as you never forget the purchase of a luxury item! If your seller states a family member, sibling, parents, a friend or ex partner originally purchased this, also be wary as this is a tactic used on a regular basis by questionable sellers to distance themselves from any come back upon selling a counterfeit item. We have received many bags which were apparently purchased from the brand in question and upon receipt of a fake bag, find the seller has given false and misleading information.
There are of course many genuine exceptions to the above, where a family member etc will have purchased the genuine item as a gift etc. The key is to communicate, asking all the questions and making sure you are 100% confident with the answers you receive.
photography: bait and switch - buyers beware!
Have you seen the same image your seller is using elsewhere? perhaps on an authorised website or in another listing? Many fraudsters will steal photographs of genuine items to apply these to their listings for counterfeit goods... and unfortunately that is exactly what you receive, not the genuine item in the listing.
Craftsmanship, premium quality and exclusivity account for the high price of luxury goods. So if the item you are considering seems a bargain and a little to good to be true, it may well be just that! Craftsmanship is an area of distinction with luxury goods and most design houses have particular leather tanning, cutting, forming and stitching methods, relative to style, length of stitch, number of stitches per detail etc, so beware of untidy details, stitching and uneven stitch counts etc. Pay particular attention to areas which are not immediately on display such as the underside of an item, interior pockets, beneath and around the edges of fastening zippers. If the results of your investigation lead to finding any questionable elements, take your investigations further until you are convinced either way.
Many elements combine to denote the authenticity of a luxury branded handbag. The leather quality and type, the craftsmanship which covers various elements in itself, hardware and the association between age and style are just a few of these important factors.
Many brands have specifically tanned or treated leathers and designed fabrics, fixtures and fittings. Although the high end counterfeiters have a seemingly convincing grip on many of these, there are often various giveaways such as incorrect leather type for product, texture, colour variation, alignment of pattern, edges not sewn in correctly, zippers which may be inferior in quality - wrong teeth size or open from the incorrect side, print of lining fabric wrongly scaled, aligned etc. If you are looking at purchasing a current season item it makes good sense to examine the item in-store, focusing on the finer details.
When purchasing a new item, the design of the packaging of luxury goods can have as much relevance as the handbag itself. Does your item have a keeper bag? and if so what is the quality like? is it soft and luxurious, made from good quality cotton and leather friendly fabric?. A few keeper bags will also state the fabric 100% cotton or the country of origin upon a sewn in tag, ie made in Italy for Prada etc. Does your item come with fine tissue paper, correct authenticity cards, product care information, luxury boxes and store bags?
As luxury packaging is also copied and is readily available to purchase alongside fake receipts, from the same sources of the fake bags, beware and make sure to look for the finely tuned details, taking into account (if possible) the exact colours, sizing etc of the authentic packaging and steering clear of any inconsistent details.
authenticity documents and store receipts
The information upon a fake authenticity card will often not apply to the bag in question, so a card which is distributed with a blue Prada handbag may well have the colour code for a black bag, ie if your blue Prada handbag comes with a colour description upon the card stating 'nero' black... this is a fake. There are various leather types which design houses such as Prada state in Italian upon the authenticity cards - so research if you do not have a knowledge of the language (google babelfish - this is a great online translation service). For example a bag which is made from fallow deer skin 'daino' should not have a description stating 'cinghiale' wild boar skin etc.
To make the sale convincing many fraudsters will sell their counterfeit handbag with a false store receipt. Fake store or brand receipts are purchased alongside paper store carrier bags for a few pounds from the original source of the counterfeit items. These receipts will be distributed with the fake goods, however just like fake authenticity cards these may have information relevant to another colour/style etc.. So make sure you ask questions and if in any doubt don't buy.
immediate countefeit giveaways
Counterfeiters often place plastic protective wrapping on the handles of new bags - which you will never see with a luxury branded item.
A littleleather hide or teardrop shape leather hang tag (leather sample) on cord can often be seen wrapped around the handle of a counterfeit bag. This tag which is another trademark counterfeit giveaway has traditionally been acknowledged as a sign of 100% vera pelle or real leather, much associated with general market goods... if you look on auction sites you may well spot one of these hanging from a supposed genuine luxury handbag! Be aware as the majority of luxury brand names will never use this emblem.
Lower end counterfeit items may often have mis-spelt brand names. Look for letters that are in the incorrect order, a letter that is capitalised and is not on the authentic item, and vice versa. Any idiosyncrasies should be analysed if possible.
Check your sellers feedback, if they are a personal seller and have sold the same bag previously ask yourself why they would have a duplicate - this could be a genuine resale from an item unpaid for - so investigate, if they have sold several of the identical bag...be very careful!
Avoid sellers who advertise bags which have a long delivery period ie 7-14 days etc, as this is the time period for their fake goods to travel from the foreign counterfeit factory directly to you.
With most luxury accessories you will find the brand icon or logo on a few, many and occasionally all elements of the hardware, such as zippers, locks, studs and buckles. Counterfeiters do place these on their goods, though may get the amount of times this is applied incorrect - so check if you can an authentic version of the bag prior to your purchase. And again the key is down to fine tuning or precision, so look at the nature of the forming of hardware, curves as opposed to sharp edges and vice versa, embossing, if this is crude or untidy, or if the logo is turned in the wrong direction, upwards, sidewards etc.
An authentic handbag will most often have the brand label (leather, metal or fabric) secured or stitched within its interior as well as /or in other locations on the bag. Counterfeit items will have this label also, though there will often be giveaways such as an old design applied, which is no longer used by the design house in question. Some high end items however have what is almost a carbon copy of the original label and again the key to denoting the counterfeit is down to the fine tuning, the correct leather, finish of the metal - no sharp or smooth edges etc, shape of letters, depth of embossing, shape, cut and stitch quality of the leather label etc.
country of origin
With one or two key brands, the country of production is a part of the process in verifying an item. This combined with date codes, fabric quality and pattern alignment alongside other factors are ways of ascertaining authenticity.
In recent years many goods which have previously only been produced in the country of brand origin are now being produced in varying european and continental locations due to the associated cost factors - expect to see a mulberry or miu miu with a 'made in turkey' tag inside.
date / authenticity codes
A key factor in verifying a few brands is the date or authenticity code. This is often found deep within a pocket, tucked in a seam or on the underside of a leather brand label. A few date codes have been recycled relentlessly on various fake items (these can be googled). So a genuine item will often also carry this code, from which it was taken to later be applied to counterfeits. Don't be put off... if you have a code which is associated with fakes, remember there are other factors which will determine the authenticity of your bag... foremostly the brand in question.
Due to the nature of poor quality images on the internet, it is often not until you have the item in hand that you can appreciate the distinctive nature of how elements combine to suggest luxury or fake. Often tactile comparatives such as weight, the thickness and finish of the hide, tone and texture of the hardware can ultimately verify the authenticity of the item.
Does your seller have a returns policy
Obviously a returns policy is not a standard with personal sales, however many trusted sellers will state that they will be happy to negotiate a solution if you are not happy with your purchase - if it is stated no returns under any circumstances - ask questions or avoid, as a genuine seller will respond with a fitting solution.
Also find out if collection is appropriate, as this will give you the opportunity to inspect your goods prior to handing over your well earned money. Collection may not be possible due to many genuine reasons, however do ask this question, as this can be a measure to the genuine nature of the sale and also the ability of your seller to communicate.
paypal - what payment method does your seller accept?
Many fraudsters prefer untraceable payment methods, bank wire transfers, which they will occasionally offer generous discounts for your use etc. Bidpay and westerm union, the fraudsters preferred payment methods were for a period ousted, however are attempting to gain credibility through advertising campaigns.
Paypal is a trusted payment system which works in conjunction with ebay and its anti-counterfeit policy, so if your item is proven to be a fake, if your seller is unresponsive to your communications or will not refund your purchase - do not hesitate in pursuing a claim through paypal as they will work alongside you.
Ultimately you may spend a little more than you may have originally intended, however the exceptional quality and exclusivity of your luxury item will give you peace of mind that your investment has been well spent, looking good throughout use and with an inherent resale value remaining, or your item may in time possibly acquire heirloom status!
choose trusted on line sellers
Always check feedback, credentials etc to the fullest extent. Don't risk your investment, make sure you use trusted sellers who have a very good history and consideration for you - the buyer. Look for those who guarantee your purchase fully, as ultimately this gives a degree of peace of mind prior to receiving your item and can be indication of both the level of service and goods provided.
don't be fake every person who says no to fake goods and the associated detrimental effects, in turn supports the real design industry and ultimately really does make a difference in so many ways!