While cheaper bags are a smaller upfront investment, you’ll typically pay more in the long run. Designer bags are sturdier and last longer, but you need to be careful; the market is saturated with fakes. Let’s explore how to spot a fake designer handbag.
How to Spot a Fake Designer Handbag: Key Indicators
Real designer handbags use premium materials, a brand-accurate logo, and in the vast majority of cases, an authenticity tag. In the past, you could spot a fake simply by looking at the logo, which was often similar, but not an accurate representation of the real brand. In some cases, the materials used were clearly of a sub-par quality or lacking the distinctive brand print.
Unfortunately, counterfeit operations are becoming more adept at imitating luxury brand logos and styles, which were traditionally marks of a genuine product. Still, there are some indicators that might help if you want to know how to spot a fake designer handbag:
1. The Price of the Product
There are two kinds of counterfeit operations.
- In this case, the buyer is fooled and think he is buying a real product maybe at a good price.
This is commonly seen in tourist markets around the world, for example. Handbags from designer brands that would ordinarily cost $500 to $1,000 are often sold for $30-50. Unfortunately, it is the latter kind of counterfeit operation that you need to be wary of; this is why you should consider other factors when considering how to spot a fake designer handbag.
2. The Source of the Product
As mentioned above, the location that you source your designer handbag from can tell you a lot about its authenticity. When purchased from a street vendor or market stall, you’re not getting an authentic product. The only exception could be if an illegitimate vendor was attempting to sell stolen merchandise quickly.
The safest place to obtain designer handbags is from official sources. Of course, the best way to guarantee an original, authentic handbag is by purchasing one directly from the brand’s online or brick and mortar store, if possible. Otherwise, well-known department stores are a good option.
Remember, designer brands only create a certain number of each original product, maintaining a healthy level of demand from their consumers. What’s more, they typically limit the amount of a particular product that each consumer may buy. If an unofficial vendor has numerous copies of the same bag for sale, they’re likely fake.
3. The Materials and Design Features
If price and location are not enough of a determining factor, you can also look at the design and quality of the designer handbag. While this can be more difficult to ascertain, knowing how to spot a fake designer handbag comes down to the following details:
Most of us can spot genuine leather by the look, feel, and smell of the product. Faux leather is usually easily distinguishable, and counterfeit products may even use plastic. Look out for inconsistencies in coloring or washed-out fabrics, as well as inconsistent or loose stitching.
Print and Style
Genuine designer handbags will be of a particular print, color, and shape. If you’re shopping for such a bag, you should check out the product first on the brand’s website. Counterfeit products might use colors or styles that are not used by the manufacturer in that product line.
Incorrect logos or logo placement are a common indicator of fake designer handbags. Brand names may be misspelled, and logo panels or badges could be misaligned. Look out for inconsistencies in the print when examining a bag that has a repeating brand logo print in the fabric.
Authentic designer handbags come with significant protection in the form of packaging. Dust bags are common, and products are normally significantly padded with tissue paper or similar materials. Many fakes are sold without any packaging whatsoever.
Designer bags overwhelmingly come with authenticity markers in the form of an insert, certificate, or tag. The absence of such a feature in a designer bag is usually a strong indication that the product is a fake.
Owing to the comprehensive packaging used in getting a product from the manufacturer to their consumers, damage is extremely uncommon. If a product is damaged, it’s usually an indication that you’re dealing with a counterfeit.
While the above signs generally point to a fake designer handbag, they may no longer be enough to guarantee a genuine purchase. As mentioned earlier, counterfeit operations are getting better at disguising fake products. As a result, luxury brands are increasingly turning to more innovative approaches to counterfeit protection.
Important Counterfeit Cases
Luxury brands are beginning to employ counterfeit protection technologies and processes owing to the rise of this type of crime. This has been further driven by the relative lack of success seen in U.S. courts when these brands try to bring counterfeit operations to justice.
One of the biggest driving factors has been the scale of some counterfeit operations, as seen in particularly notable counterfeit cases.
Bottega Veneta files a suit against Chinese counterfeiters. In 2014, Gucci and Tiffany requested that U.S. courts seek to freeze Chinese bank accounts belonging to prolific counterfeiters. Unfortunately, their request was unsuccessful, fueling the need for major fashion brands to seriously consider alternative solutions to combating counterfeit operations.
Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent file similar suit against Chinese operation. In 2015, Kering, the group that owns Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, filed a suit against a counterfeit operation. The suit sought damages from Alibaba, a particularly well-known Chinese technology company, which the brands said was facilitating the sale of counterfeit handbags. The case was dismissed in 2017, another failure that lent further credibility to preventative measures being needed by luxury brands.
While not all such cases end in failure, fighting counterfeit operations takes significant resources and time. In the Alibaba example above, the case went on for two years, and the fashion brands involved were left with significant court fees, yet no success in prosecuting or stopping the counterfeiters.
So, what else can luxury brands do to stop counterfeiters in their tracks? The answer is that many are turning to counterfeit protection measures. This way, consumers can at least determine whether a product is the real deal.
Counterfeit Protection Used by Luxury Brands
Counterfeit designer handbags harm more than just the consumer. While some people seek out these fakes as a cheap alternative, others might be cheated out of money by buying a fake handbag that they believed to be genuine.
What’s more, fake designer bags harm the brands who operate on the profits drawn from selling genuine luxury handbags. According to Harvard Business Review, the counterfeit handbag industry rakes in around $2.7 to $3.2 trillion annually.
As a result, some of the biggest brands are beginning to harness emerging technologies to stamp out counterfeit operations.
Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LMVH), Prada, and Cartier have embraced the blockchain. While these three fashion brands may be competitors, they’re joining forces in the fight against counterfeiting. According to Forbes, the three top brands have formed a non-profit known as the Aura Blockchain Consortium.
In essence, blockchain technology allows for digital data records that prove the authenticity of a product or transaction, with a timestamp. It’s the technology driving the use of numerous cryptocurrencies.
Using a similar platform, the Aura system gives consumers access to a product’s journey and history. Using a digital certificate issued at the time of purchase, they can prove their product’s authenticity through a unique identifier, which will be authenticated by the blockchain.
Secured QR Codes
A Secured QR Code takes the traditional QR code technology and embeds an additional measure of security that can detect counterfeiting. The process relies on microscopic design alterations that are applied to the QR code during the printing process. While invisible to the naked eye, a custom smartphone application can detect this mark of authenticity.
Secured QR Code solutions such as the AlpVision Track and Trace Protection system prevent counterfeiters from being able to copy products and pass them off as legitimate pieces. When a counterfeit operation attempts to copy the QR code, their copy will be lacking this mark of authenticity, immediately identifying the product as a fake.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Startups are turning to artificial intelligence in the fight against counterfeited goods. Some solutions allow users to authenticate their designer handbags by using custom applications to photograph their product, before uploading the media to a central database. After the authentication process is complete, users receive a certificate of authenticity.
Alternatively, the AlpVision Fingerprint solution functions by verifying the surface structure of physical products, before comparing them against an authenticated reference image. With this solution, the one can easily distinguish between a genuine product and a counterfeit one. To the contrary to what can be done with molded plastics, here a reference image of each and every object needs to be acquired. In order to ease detection, the structure is linked to the object serial number, thus reducing considerably the detection time
Cryptoglyph on tags
Cryptoglyph technology can be applied as a counterfeit prevention solution. The technology is very simple, but highly effective. Thousands of microscopic holes are applied to the block colors or vanish of a product. A dedicated smartphone application can then leverage this unique design to detect and verify whether a product is legitimate; counterfeit products won’t have the Cryptoglyph print. In the case of handbags, the Cryptoglyph can be applied to the tags that are affixed to the bags.
Choosing the Best Counterfeit Protection
Owing to the number of anti-counterfeiting technologies available, as well as the recency of innovations in this area, it can be hard to find comprehensive information on each technology.
That’s why AlpVision has compiled a detailed white paper that can help you to choose an anti-counterfeiting technology.