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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
If someone were to ask you to think of a fashion logo, what would come to mind? Very likely: the LV of Louis Vuitton. Indeed, this bag brand has remained popular for centuries. , The French luxury company has been selling trunks and leather goods since 1854, and has gradually expanded into to ready-to-wear clothing, shoes, watches, jewellery, sunglasses and even books. But the label’s most popular product is undoubtedly handbags, and the rarer, the better.
However, collectors of vintage Vuitton should remain alert: there are plenty of fakes out there.
If you’re purchasing a bag online, for pre owned Louis Vuitton, you can trust certain vintage designer goods sites such as Vestaire Collective or The Hut, as they authenticate all items before listing them. Otherwise, you should request as many photographs as possible to check specific areas of the bag, such as the back, front, lining, date code, monogram, and the embossed “Louis Vuitton Made in …” stamp. Demanding the details of where the bag was purchased can help you verify if it came from one of the 460 shops in the 50 countries where LV is present. The receipt might not be a guarantee, since if the bag can be copied, so can the receipt, or a real one could be paired with a fake fashion accessory.
After selecting the LV style that’s perfect for you, use these 10 tips to tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake – they will definitely help you sort the quality from the crap.
1. Louis Vuitton Logo
The logo was created more than a century ago to try to contrast the production of counterfeits. There is never any tilting of the logo, smudging or blurred edges; nor will the monogram ever be crossed with stitches, folds or locks. All Louis Vuitton vintage bags (except for some very old ones) have the LV monogram on the leather canvas, which is symmetrical from side to side. It can be upside down but only in some cases, such as the Speedy model – in that case, there’s one continuous piece of leather wraps from the front to the backside, making the LV monogram appear upside down. This means an original Louis Vuitton Speedy bag should have upside down LV monogram on the backside and no seam at the bottom. Don’t trust bags that have two pieces of leather stitched together.
When you check the provenance of the bag, don’t fret if you see ‘Made in USA’ or another country that isn’t France: LV has produced bags that are made in Spain, USA, Italy, and Germany. Many are actually Made in China today.
3. Leather & Handles
The leather you’ll find in vintage Louis Vuitton bags is darker than the contemporary ones. Some genuinely authentic bags are also made using coated canvas – the trim, however, is leather. Feel it: the leather trim should be dry, if the touch gives you an oily or slippery sensation you might be dealing with a fake. Moreover, LV bags don’t come with trims wrapped with tissue, polyethene or soft paper – only the forged ones have those coverings to make sure the material doesn’t erode or fade away and the stitches don’t come off. Another giveaway is the shade of the handles: light leather handles tend to darken on the inside areas. If your vintage bag’s light handles are still light inside, it’s a fake.
4. Lining & Stitching
Original Louis Vuitton linings are never, ever, dark brown. They range in the nuances of grey and alcantara. Vintage original bags don’t have suede linings, although there are sometimes cotton ones, depending on the model. Damier Ebiene Canvas bags are historically lined in red microfiber. If you’re considering a specific bag, do your research, as each one has a different, distinctive lining. Pay attention to details that counterfeiters often overlook, like checking whether a particular lining was actually used in the year a bag was produced. Stitching is a job that LV performs to perfection, that means that they’re perfectly straight and even. The number of stitches will not change. For example, on authentic Louis Vuitton Alma, Speedy and Neverfull bags there will be five stitches across each of the tabs where the handles are secured – no more, no less. There should be no back-and-forth stitching, if there is, you are being scammed into a mediocre copy of a real Louis Vuitton bag.
5. Zipper & Hardware
Louis Vuitton vintage bags should have Talon or Eclair zipper pulls, not the LV pulls that are used today. Hardware in general on a real Louis Vuitton never looks thrifty, if it’s defective — or even worse made out of plastic! — the bag is, without shadow of a doubt, a fake. Don’t forget to check the LV logo stamp on the zipper pull: it should have a sharp and clear appearance. Most importantly, Louis Vuitton’s hardware is usually in brass, golden brass or silvery metal (with some exceptions that have matte finishings).
6. Date Codes
The date code can determine the authenticity of your vintage bag. But bear in mind that not all handbags with date codes are authentic and not all handbags without the code are fake. Most genuine Louis Vuitton bags should have a Date Code and a Serial Number, but not a model number.
The date code is composed of 6 characters: starting from the left, the first 2 characters are letters and the rest of the 4 characters are numbers. Louis Vuitton bags from early 80s had three or four digits only, and those made during the late 80s had three or four digits followed by two letters. Some vintage handbags have one letter followed by 5 digits. Since the 90s, the date codes consisted of two letters followed by four numbers. The first two letters tell you the country where it is made and the numbers tell you the month and year it was manufactured. Since January 2007, Louis Vuitton has adopted another serial number reading system: instead of first and third digit being the month, it now means the week of the year the bag was made.
7. Stamp & Font
One of the most notable details in the Louis Vuitton stamp is the font it uses. It has a perfectly round and wide O, in Vuitton. The L has an especially short tail and the two Ts in Vuitton almost touch. The letter of the country in which the bag was made should be a capital letter.
8. Tags and cards
If your vintage bag has the original tags, make sure they come in a pair and that they are either ivory white with dark brown letter and black barcode. They are never yellow, nor do they have a plastic round LV white tag the fakes sometimes have. One tag will say “Louis Vuitton” and the material it is made of. The other tag will have the model number, the correct French name of the bag, and the barcode.
9. The Dustbag
Vintage bags most certainly will come in a 100% cotton flannel (up until 2004), with neatly finished seams. The LV embossed on it is very small and dark. If there is a hint of red, text or other squiggles – it’s forged.
This is also a giveaway if the bag seems too much of a bargain. No Louis Vuitton comes cheap! Nor do the original boutiques of the French brand have sales, discounts or wholesale distributions. The cost of Louis Vuitton items is constant all year around which is a sign of Louis Vuitton’s strong market value.
Images: 2nd: poshmark 4th: 1stdibs.com