How To Spot A Fake Designer Bag: Tips from Portero Expert Elizabeth Bernstein


With a new generation of counterfeit fashion goods on the rise, it has become really difficult to spot the fakes. Fooling even the savviest of shoppers, fakes are increasingly being made with high-quality materials, some even stamped with what appears to be proper manufacturing and dates. Check out the tips Elizabeth Bernstein, Portero's Director of Handbags gave us on how to spot counterfeits when shopping for coveted brands such as Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton:

So Elizabeth, is it easy to spot a fake designer bag?

It really depends on the bag.  If it is a good fake, most people cannot tell the difference.  For me, it is all in the touch and feel of the material and those few key spot checks where I can decipher the authenticity.   

What makes it hard for the average shopper to tell the difference between a real bag and a fake bag?

Counterfeiters have managed to replicate many key details of authentic bags, which can make it extremely hard for the average shopper to spot a fake.  Due to the plethora of information on the Internet, counterfeits have become so sophisticated that they now reproduce date codes, holograms, hardware and zippers, stamps, monogrammed canvases, leather, and more.

Are fake bags still prevalent for mainstream shoppers, or is this a black market industry?

Unfortunately, there are many venues online as well as on the streets that sell counterfeit products, making them widely available to shoppers.

Are there any glaring differences between a fake and a real bag?

Above all else, it's quality. Counterfeiters cut many corners in order to make bags affordable/cheap. The quality of the leathers, hardware, zippers, linings, etc. will not be nearly as fine as a real bag. 

What brands are the most popular among the counterfeit industry to replicate?

As you can imagine, some of the most desirable brands are among the most counterfeited in the industry: Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Celine, Balenciaga, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, and the list goes on.

What tools can we use to spot a fake designer handbag? 

Always remember there are not the same quality controls in the counterfeit world as there are in the luxury world. We always recommend having an authenticator evaluate your secondary marketplace purchase.  If you want to avoid buying a fake bag, you should stick to sites like that guarantees 100% authenticity through its Portero Promise. Here are some basic guidelines Portero uses to authenticate:

- Check the material's quality against a real bag.

- Zippers should be properly marked and have a smooth pull. 

- Evaluate the hardware. Authentic hardware will be constructed with the proper material (e.g. brass, plated in gold, palladium, etc.). If it is meant to twist shut, the clasp should turn smoothly. 

- Examine the stitching and assembly of the piece. High quality bags will either be hand stitched or almost perfectly made.

What tips and tricks should we arm ourselves with?

Be extremely careful whom you are purchasing from. Make sure the website or store has an excellent reputation and is an actual company. One of our mottos at Portero is, "if a deal is too good to be true, it is."  Don't be fooled by extreme discounted pricing. If you see a Chanel classic flap bag for $200, chances are it is a fake. 

Any additional advice?

Buying and selling luxury items is fun.  It is a great way to constantly rotate your collection. Enjoy your item for a while; then, resell to buy yourself a new treasure!

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