Love vintage bags, but not sure if you’ve bought the real deal? Here’s how to tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake
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.
Are you shopping for vintage bags in the right way?
If you’re purchasing a bag online, for pre owned Louis Vuitton, you can trust certain vintage designer goods sites such as Vestiaire Collective, The Hut, or FarFetch. As of this writing, I know they use brand authentication services for 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 sometimes, a real receipt can accompany 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.
How To Know If Your Vintage Louis Vuitton Bag Is Fake
1. Louis Vuitton Logo
The distinctive LV logo was created more than a century ago to try to combat the production of counterfeits (which were a problem, even way back then!). 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, you should note that there’s one continuous piece of leather that 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 ever 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! So if you think your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake just because it wasn’t made in France, don’t worry.
3. Leather & Handles
To tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake, pay close attention to the material.
The leather you’ll find used for vintage Louis Vuitton bags is a bit 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. This is 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 probably a fake. A bit of wear indicates a real leather handle.
4. Lining & Stitching
Original Louis Vuitton linings are never, ever, dark brown. They range in the nuances from grey to alcantara. Original vintage bags won’t have suede linings, although there are sometimes cotton ones, depending on the model. Neverfull Damier Ebene 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 special attention to details that counterfeiters often overlook, such as 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 all stitches will be 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 exactly five stitches across each of the tabs where the handles are secured. No more, no less. There should be no back-and-forth or zigzag stitching. If there is, you are being scammed into a mediocre copy of a real Louis Vuitton bag.
5. Zipper & Hardware
An easy way tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake is by observing the zippers.
Older 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 or cheap. 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 hues (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 the early 80s had three or four digits only. Those made in the late 80s had 3-4 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 of origin. The numbers tell you the month and year of its manufacture.
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 ways to tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake is to check the details of the Louis Vuitton stamp. The font it uses is distinctive. 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. They should be ivory white with a dark brown letter and black barcode. They’ll never be yellow, nor will 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 Dust Bag
Vintage bags most certainly will come in a 100% cotton flannel bag (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 – that bag isn’t real. And if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake, the dust bag will include cheap fabric, like nylon.
Another way to tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake is the price. Beware if the bag seems too much of a bargain. Whether it’s a tiny crossbody bag or a huge tote, no Louis Vuitton comes cheap! In fact, the original boutiques of the French brand never have sales, discounts or wholesale distributions. The cost of Louis Vuitton items is constant all year around, which is a reflection of their strong market value. And actually, you may well find that some rare LV vintage bags are more expensive than new ones.
Do you have any questions or comments? Or maybe other tips not mentioned here on how to tell if your vintage Louis Vuitton bag is fake? Leave them in the discussion section, below!
Oh, and if you want to know if your vintage Birkin bag is the real deal or not, click here.
Images: 2nd: poshmark 4th: 1stdibs.com