There are many replicas that look very similar to real Louis Vuitton bags so it is essential to learn how to spot a fake so you don't end up wasting your money. Many of the fakes are hard to distinguish from the real deal so paying attention to specific details is critical when determining if a bag is authentic.
Characteristics of Real vs. Fake Louis Vuitton Bags
With the popularity of designer bags at an all-time high, more counterfeit bags are hitting the streets and online auctions. Don't be fooled into purchasing a Louis Vuitton bag that claims to be the real thing when in fact, it is not. It can be difficult at times to tell a fake from an authentic but there are several ways to identify the difference between a genuine and a fake handbag.
An authentic Louis Vuitton bag has the following characteristics:
- Quality Materials: Louis Vuitton bags are expensive. They are made out of costly materials such as top-quality leather, boa, crocodile, lambskin and camel skin. Fakes are made from pleather and vinyl; they may feel rough and stiff. A real Louis Vuitton is smooth and feels soft.
- Trim: Louis Vuitton trim is done is Vachetta leather and tans naturally as the bag ages. Most fakes are done in a light tan trim or a fake aged trim that will not change with age.
- Monogram placement: Monogram placement is done carefully and is consistent on pieces. It will not be crooked or cut off. It will look the same on each style of bag. The leather is one solid piece that continues to the front from the back. You will never see a seam in the middle of a bag.
- Tags: These are never attached to a Louis Vuitton bag. They may come with tags, but they are simply placed in the purse or dust bag. Tags are never attached with plastic or pins.
- Hardware: The hardware used on the bag is also an indicator. Fake bags will often have painted gold plastic whereas an authentic will have gold or brass metal hardware imprinted with the trademark LV logo.
- Dust Bags: All bags come with a soft dust bag. This bag is done in a soft tan color and features the Louis Vuitton logo in the center. The dust bag can be done in a drawstring or envelope style.
Know the Bag
Check the details of the bag against the original style. In addition to the basic features to look out for, there are some other obvious indicators. For example, if you are looking for a Speedy bag and find one that has gold feet on the bottom, steer clear. This style never features feet. The Speedy is smooth from front to back and does not have extra hardware such as feet.
Beware of Extra Accessories
Many LV fakes come with extra accessories. Authentic Louis Vuitton bags do not. The Neverfull has the option to add a shoulder strap, however, that is not a standard accessory. The Neverfull comes with two straps that can be carried over the arm. Fake versions may have a shoulder strap attached or as an accessory.
Check Handles and Stitching
Examine the workmanship carefully. All Louis Vuitton bags have precise stitching that is durable and will not show any loose threads. The handles of each bag are seamed together with a special glue that bonds the leather. You will not see any sloppy craftsmanship or loose stitching. If you do, this is an indicator that the bag in question is not real.
Check the lettering on your bag. The lettering is another factor in authenticating your bag. Some examples of lettering include:
- Wherever you see Louis Vuitton spelled out, you can check to see that the O is round, not oval shaped. Many fake versions will use oval shaped O's instead of round ones.
- Another mistake that fakes often make is with the letter L immediately before the O. This L is positioned very close to the O and does not fully extend on the bottom.
- The horizontal line that makes the L is short.
- The name Louis Vuitton is almost always spelled out in all capital letters. When it is not, it is done in a distinctive script. Zecraft gives examples of this script which is very difficult to replicate.
Watch Out for Authenticity Certificates
Another indicator that a bag is fake is the authenticity card. Real Louis Vuitton bags do not come with a certificate of authenticity. You may find a cream colored card with the style name of the bag and a bar code inside, but never a certificate. Many fake bags come with a certificate, leading consumers to believe that they are real.
Every Louis Vuitton bag comes with a date code. An authentic bag does not have a serial number but has a date code to identify where the bag was made and when it was made. Keep in mind that these codes are not always easy to find. On Vintage Heirloom, there is a detailed video demonstrating ways to find the code on a Speedy bag. These date codes are typically stamped on a leather tag inside the bag or on the actual lining. Louis Vuitton date codes consist of both numbers and letters. Depending on when the bag was made this can vary. For example:
- Bags made prior to 1980 do not have date codes.
- Early to late 80s, the codes consisted of three to four numbers immediately followed by two letters. These letters represent the year it was made. Next, the numbers following represent the month. The last two letters indicate what country the bag was made in.
- From 1990 to 2006, date codes contained two letters followed by four numbers. The letters indicated the location of the factory where the bag was made and the numbers indicated the month and year.
- From 2007 to the present, bags have date codes with two letters followed by four numbers. The letters indicate the location where the bag was made and the numbers represent the year.
Popular Replicated Patterns and Styles
There are many different bag styles and patterns in the Louis Vuitton collection. Some styles and bags are more commonly replicated than others. These include but are not limited to:
- Signature Monogram Canvas: The most popular pattern is the Signature Monogram Canvas. This pattern features tan LV logos on a rich dark brown leather background. The pattern is never reversed or done with additional colors.
- Takashi Murakami Collection: Another highly replicated bag is the one done by designer Takashi Murakami. In 2003, Murakami partnered with Marc Jacobs and released this unique collection. The bags were done in white leather and featured 33 different colors of the signature LV logos. Another variation was the Cherry Blossom bag done in the Signature Monogram with the addition of red cherry blossoms throughout. A small face is in the center of each blossom. You will not see other flowers or designs on real bags.
- Damier Graphite Canvas: A newer style print is the Damier Graphite canvas. This style features the classic block pattern in black and grey. It has an urban feel and is more edgy than traditional styles. You will not see other variations to this print. Bold colors are never used and the block pattern always lines up on the edges and seams.
- Speedy: This is Louis Vuitton's most popular bag. It is a simple design with two rounded handles at the top and a full zipper closure. Similar to a doctor's bag, this bag is carried by hand and does not come with a shoulder strap. A padlock done in gold is included on this bag. There is one small pocket inside the bag. The Speedy comes in several sizes: 25, 30, 35 and 40. You will not find it in any other size.
- Neverfull: This bag is one of the most functional in the collection. It comes in MM, PM and GM versions. Each version is a different size but is styled the same. The Neverfull is a tote style bag with slim leather handles. The latest version comes with a removable zippered clutch. This bag is textile lined and has one roomy interior pocket. All hardware is gold in color. Another feature is two cinch straps, one on each side of the bag that can be tightened or loosened depending on your style.
- Alma: This bag is done in a structured style. It has a double zipper with a padlock closure. The top of this bag opens widely and is rounded. There are two leather handles and studs on the bottom of this bag for added protection. Other features of the Alma are a leather key bell, textile lining and two interior pockets. All hardware is gold in color.
Many guides are available to help you determine if a bag is real or fake and help combat the counterfeit industry. A few to consider include:
- 4 Part Guide to Spotting LV Fakes: Written by eBay Top 25 reviewer fashionphile, this is another helpful pictorial guide discussing aspects to watch for when purchasing.
- Spot a Louis Vuitton Fake: Written by Forbes's staffer Hannah Elliot, this succinct article offers specific traits to consider when searching for your next Louis Vuitton.
- Budget Fashionista's LV Handbag Tips: Kathryn Finney, also known as the Budget Fashionista, knows that a counterfeit bag is nobody's bargain. See her quick tips on spotting a counterfeit LV.
Shop Reputable Louis Vuitton Retailers
Where you obtain your bag is also an indicator as to whether or not it is a fake. If you are able to shop in person then Louis Vuitton bags can be purchased at Louis Vuitton stores and boutiques. For those who prefer to shop online, check out the official website for a selection of bags in the latest styles.
If you have a bag that you are unsure about, you can bring in the bag to a store and ask a sales associate about authenticity of the bag. All Louis Vuitton associates are trained and will be able to spot a fake without hesitation. You can also use a handbag authentication service to help you determine the authenticity of your bag; however, research carefully to make sure you are using a legitimate service.
Do Your Research
Like the old saying goes, if it is too good to be true, then it probably is. This goes for Louis Vuitton bags as well. An authentic Louis Vuitton is crafted from high-end luxury materials and the price tag reflects that fact. Don't be fooled into buying a fake. Educate yourself and be well-informed on what to look out for when purchasing a designer bag.