Whether you are buying or selling, being able to weed out fakes from the real deal designer goods is an ESSENTIAL skill in the world of luxury resale. I am here to teach you all I know about this subject. In this article we will cover The 5 Steps I use when trying to identify an authentic bag. Once you get this down, it should not take you more than 5 minutes to know if an item is fake.
I will make this as simple as possible, but you might not get it all on the first reading...and that is OKAY! I encourage you to download the infographic, google anything that you don't know, and review it every so often. Remember, I am giving you all the information, but practice makes perfect.
This is not an overnight lesson! It is a numbers game. The more you research, the more Real or Fake posts you participate in, the more you read and study these lessons, the more you will learn. And then one day, you will be able to spot a fake from a mile away.
(MAKE SURE YOU STAY TIL THE END FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE FULL INFOGRAPHIC AT THE END!)
So, stay excited! Stay focused! Stay curious! You are on your way to becoming a luxury goods expert.
STEP 1: OBSERVE WITHOUT EMOTION
This is the most important rule! I cannot tell you how many people I get that submit their item in question and I can hear in their emails or the tone of their voice, the deep desire and optimism for the item to be real.
You are a designer authenticating robot. You do not see a "super cute Chanel bag that looks real". You do not start dreaming about keeping it and showing it to your friends, or about the thousands you will make as soon as you list it.
You treat this as if you had just found a chunk of rock and your job is to determine if it is from this day and age or the prehistoric era. (I almost fell asleep writing this, but this is the level of 0 emotions you must have when trying to authenticate).
I had a follower submit an item to me not long ago. She is the sweetest person ever. She had found this item at Goodwill and was thrilled... so thrilled about her find, she immediately posted it on her social media and stories. Another follower recommended that she submit the piece to me for a review.
It took me all of one glance at the item to know it was fake. How did I know? At this point, I just know. There was one obvious thing that I saw right away and I knew. No more than 2 seconds spent on this item.
I responded exactly 5 seconds after she sent me the first image that this item was a fake. Her immediate response was "ahh, is there a way you can tell? Should I send you more pictures to make sure?"
In that second I knew there was already an emotional attachment. She wanted it to be real. And listen, I get it! We all get excited when we find that diamond in the rough. But to be a really good luxury authenticator, you must remain emotionless.
TREAT THE DESIGNER BAG LIKE THE BUSINESS TRANSACTION THAT IT IS. DO NOT LET YOUR EXCITEMENT CLOUD YOUR JUDGEMENT.
2. KNOW YOUR SEAMS
The seams will tell you all you need to know about how a certain product was made. I won't go into much detail about the names of different seams and stitches (but I am happy to know that some good came from my partial schooling at FIDM ).
The obvious things we are looking for are sloppy seams, uneven stitch lines, uneven hems, and puckering of fabric. If this was you purchasing this piece for $1000, would the quality of the sewing be acceptable to you? Does it look like a skilled artisan made this in their shop? Or does it look like you had one too many Long Island Ice Tea's and took a go at it?
For now, I want you to focus on the following terms stitch counts and backstitching. Stitch count refers to the stitches per inch (small, tight stitches will give you a higher stitch count). Backstitching refers to when they want to finish a seam, they will stitch forward, then reverse stitch for like a single stitch or two, and then finish the seam. We will go over all of this in detail in another lesson but for now...remember these 2 things
The higher the stitch count, the better the quality.
Backstitching should be minimal and hard to find.
3. OVERALL CONSTRUCTION
Okay, #2 and #3 are closely related but this is when we get to a deeper understanding. How is this bag made?
The counterfeiters are trying to make bags that look exactly like the real deal, the problem is, their focus is mostly on the exterior. On better fakes, most mistakes will be made in the parts of the bag that are not visible from the outside.
Does the item look symmetrical? Can you see glue or parts that are unevenly attached? It is much cheaper to glue a bag together than to have them sew or hand stitch the item. Are logos and metal plates aligned?
If this were you paying big bucks for this piece, does it look expensive? Is it well made? (Remember, this is "robot" you, not "reseller excited to make big bucks of a designer bag" you, or "woman in desperate need of a cute designer bag" you.)
4. FABRICS AND LINING
Okay ladies, this is my favorite part because I am a total fabric nerd! In order to be a designer goods reseller, or preloved designer goods buyer...you MUST know your fabrics.
This will be another lesson on its own, but you can start doing your own research. You need to know the difference between fake leather, aka pleather/vegan leather (whatever the kids are calling it these days) and real leather. But thats just the beginning...
Can you tell the difference between cow leather, kid leather, lamb leather? Do you know what nappa leather is and what it feels like? Real suede vs faux suede? High quality suede vs low grade suede? Silk vs satin? Silk vs cheap polyester fabric?
Here is a big clue I have seen often. Counterfeiters will use cheap suede instead of high quality suede. How can you tell? Cheap suede has little dots on it and feels rougher to the touch (kind of like Nubuck). High quality suede is smooth and feels silky/buttery.
For now, start going around stores and touch things. Yes, I said it. Go touch some stuff. The only way you will get to the point of touching a handbag and knowing it is fake is by touching all sorts of luxurious fabrics and comparing them with the cheap stuff.
5. LOGO AND FONT
I left this section at the end because this is the part that requires a phone, internet, reading glasses etc. This is where you will know the truth and will be able to dissect every curve with a side by side comparison on your phone. So why is it last if it is so important?...
Because the point is that you get so good at identifying all the other clues using your own knowledge that by the time you get to here, you have already decided if something is fake or not. You will be able to just look at the 4 steps above and won't even need to pull out your phone.
You have all played the Real or Fake games. When you are in the guessing part, a lot of you second guess your answers, even if you answered correctly. You seem hesitant about your choice. It is only until I do the side by side comparisons that you know you were right.
When comparing logos, the first thing I focus on is font. High end brands like the ones we are discussing will rarely change their font. There might be slight variances in design or layout, but the font should always be consistent.
If the logo is foiled on, is the foiling/embossing even? Are some letters more "foiled" than others? Are all letters the same size?
Look for the length and width. On one of our Real or Fake examples, there was a slight variation in width on the logo. The best way I can describe it is that the original font was wider and rounder, and the fake looked like the aerial narrow version of the font. (see picture above).
Their logo is their signature. Make sure the logo looks clean, consistent, the seams are neat, and it is the right proportion.
That is it for now! I tried to make it as short as possible but I also did not want to risk leaving anything out. I hope you learned something today. Now go out and touch stuff! (Within the guidelines of whatever is corona-safe, you get the picture)
So, The 5 Easy Steps to Spot a Fake are:
- Observe without emotion
- Know your seams
- Overall Construction
- Fabrics and Lining
- Logos and Font
Do you have any further questions or comments about the article! Leave a comment in the comment section. I will be reading each and every one. Let me know your thoughts. They are always welcome here.
My ask: If there was a specific part of the article or lesson learned that you LOVED... take a screenshot and post it on stories!
Make sure to tag me @theglobalcollectiveco so I can share. This would mean the world to me!
FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE COMPLETE INFOGRAPHIC, CLICK HERE!
Put this on your wall, remember the steps, remember what you are looking for every time you go sourcing or are on the hunt for a new designer beauty.
WARNING: READING THIS INFORMATION WILL NOT MAKE YOU AN OVERNIGHT EXPERT.
Why do I say this? Because I want you to realize that while I won't be holding back any information, it is up to YOU to stay curious, do your research, google anything that doesn't make sense, and think outside the box.
See you next week! :)
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I loved this so much! It’s obvious that you put a lot of thought into it, and the quality and organization is much appreciated. I enjoyed the humor with which you write, makes it much more enjoyable when attempting to digest information. In future posts, would love to see more info on the leather types that you mentioned. Keep it up, you’re amazing!!!