Accessories Fashion

Vintage Alert: How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag

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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Buying vintage is one of the eco-friendliest ways to shop, and quality items will be in great shape decades after their initial release  as  Catherine B well knows.  This Paris based vintage Chanel and Hermes expert has run a shop at n °1 rue Guisarde in St Germain for decades, attracting a stellar clientele. Catherine states: “I have handbags that are over forty years old in the shop and they are in perfect condition. People want timeless items that withstand the test of times and that’s what vintage Chanel and Hermès are all about.”

These timeless items abound in Catherine’s shop, and she guarantees that none of her stock is fake–in fact, many people approach Catherine to see whether their own bags (especially those given as gifts) are fakes. But for those of us not lucky enough to visit Paris, we may need to be more cautious before investing in a valuable pre-loved Chanel bag. Even Catherine admits  there are many good fakes on the market, and it’s not always immediately obvious that a piece is not ‘vrai Chanel’.

“I’ve been collecting vintage Chanel and Hermès for over twenty years and have acquired the knowledge and experience by handling, purchasing–for myself and the boutique–and admiring thousands and thousands of bags, jackets, and accessories,” says Catherine.  One of her biggest sellers is the classic 2.55 Chanel bag–which is also one of the brand’s most popular and most faked. With her expert help, we have determined several factors you have to look out for to avoid being duped.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag

The Leather

Chanel lambskin leather feels  “buttery soft,” if it’s lambskin. In fact, it’s so delicate, it’s prone to tears, and the quilting may not be as pronounced for as long as it would with Chanel’s other key leather used, known as ‘caviar’ leather. This is a rougher, pebbled leather and it is more durable; less likely to scratch and mark. But either one could well be an original Chanel. Caviar leather is normally ‘Made in France’ and Lambskin is ‘Made in Italy.’ Remember to check there are no glue residues on the leather, which are ever so common in fake bags. Also be aware that whilst Chanel uses many different materials, these will always be high quality: think patent leather and wool, not plastic and polyester.

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Image: Catherine B

 The Turnstile Lock

The turnstile lock, specifically the CC  lock, is one of the most recognisable features  on the 2.55 Chanel bag. This iconic lock was designed by Karl Lagerfeld in the mid eighties. Begin by checking that your lock’s  right C overlaps the left C at the top; also, the left  C should overlap the right  C at the bottom. Only replicas get this wrong. You may have noticed CC  locks sometimes have a  stamping mark. But don’t fret if yours doesn’t, not all 2.55 bags have these markings. Furthermore the Cs on vintage bags have a flat finish, whereas more contemporary Chanel 2.55 bags have more rounded  Cs. One more tip that can help you with vintage is that pre 2009 locks were gilded in 24k gold, a deep yellow colour.

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Stitching

Original Chanels always have 11 stitches per inch. A fake bag only has 9 stitches per inch. Naturally the stitching must be even, neat and strong, which ensures durability and helps maintain the bag’s original shape. Obviously this takes more  time and is more costly to produce, especially with the diamond or square stitching which distinguishes the brand.  The classic burgundy interior uses stitching that matches the colour of the leather. The line and the pattern must not be broken. This means even the most complicated styles must be crafted so perfectly that observing them from the distance gives the impression there are no pockets or flaps. Replicas are rarely that perfect and, although the stitches on major pockets and flaps may initially seem perfect, further inspection will prove you wrong.

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Image: Lollipuff.com

Lining

It is very difficult to separate the lining at the bottom of the bag because it is so well constructed. Genuine Chanel lining lies flat against the bag. There are no visible lumps or bumps: the  fit is tight with no wrinkles, consequently authentic lining fits snugly with no creasing. Reproductions often can be spotted on the quality and fit of the lining, because its lining below looks inferior and feels like it is made from  a cheaper leather. The colour doesn’t match the original and you can see a crease line  to the left and right of the CC embossed logo. Also pay attention to the  stamp inside the bag, which should say Made in Italy or Made in France but never Made in Paris, Hong Kong or any other city or country. “Made in” letters are stamped either under the Chanel ® writing and always match the colour of the hardware. So if the seller claims the bag with no stamp, because it came “straight from the factory” rest assured he is giving you a fake.

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Image: designbrand.com

Chanel Logo

The very obvious knockoffs, instead of having the interlocking C logo, have interlocking Os. But the more refined fakes have to check the Cs’ details. For instance, the width of the Cs and the gap between them should be a consistent 0.9 cm on a 2.55 bag. Remember that the Chanel logo’s width is 3.3 cm and should sit one and a half centimetres below the quilted C.

UK-Top-Chanel-2-55-A1112-Flap-Bag-Original-Caviar-Leather-Gray-3243

Can you see why this is a fake?

Chain  Straps

The same rule of turnstile locks works with the chain straps that were made pre 2009: chains were gilded in 24k  gold, so keep an eye out for that deep yellow colour. Look for that refined Chanel trait that has leather thread through each link. Replicas can rarely be bothered to go through the hassle of recreating this alluring trait of the original bags.

chanel255  

Quilting

The quilting must be symmetrical, consistent and the stitching should line up. If you look carefully you’ll notice that the quilted pattern is consistent from the flap of the bag to the body of the bag when it’s closed, creating consistent diamond patterns. That quality of craftsmanship in an original Chanel is never equalled in reproductions.

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Image: Catherine B

Authenticity Card & Serial Sticker

The card system was introduced the same time as the serial sticker. The serial number on the card should match the serial number inside the bag.  Authentic cards use a thick card coated with plastic. It feels a bit like a credit card, and should never have a  hologram on it.  The serial sticker should be in  the bottom left hand side of a 2.55. Remember that a serial sticker on its own does not  signify authenticity, nor does a missing serial sticker automatically mean the bag is a fake. Serial stickers were first introduced in 1984 and continue to be used today to identify the  bag’s model and year. For example 6 digit codes, signify a  bag made some time between 1984 and 1986; 7 digit codes signify  a bag made sometime between 1986 and 2004; 8 digit codes signify a bag made from  2005 onwards. Be aware that Chanel produced bags with serial numbers up to 8 digits. So if you see a bag with 9 digits or more, it’s a  fake.

To buy authentic vintage Chanel, click here.



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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Brooke
    Aug 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    A very informative and insightful post warning people about fakes. The quality and craftsmanship of these products should be recognized and respected. Fakes cheapen the craftsmanship and details of this design.

  • Reply
    Leesha
    Apr 7, 2016 at 10:34 am

    hello,

    May I know, for the bottom of Chanel flap mini 20cm, I have seen that the line of the bag at the bottom is not continuous line from the front bag. Is it normal for the mini small size? Looking forward for ur reply. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Leesha
    Apr 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

    hello, I have wrote the wrong email add above.

    Question: May I know, for the bottom of Chanel flap mini 20cm, I have seen that the line of the bag at the bottom is not continuous line from the front bag. Is it normal for the mini small size? Looking forward for ur reply. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Apr 7, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Hi Leesha

      Sorry to say, but that does not sound like a real Chanel 🙁 You may want to take it to a Chanel boutique just to check though

  • Reply
    Sandie
    Apr 28, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Does a real channel grand shoppers tote have the Chanel logo on the circle hardware that the chain strap is attached to?

  • Reply
    Joyce H. Mills
    Jul 17, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I am a big fan of your article. I have visited your site several times but never write any comment. Your post is very informative and helpful for the people. Please keep it up. Have you any article on “How to spot a fake Louis Vuitton bag”? If don’t have, please write one for me. I think people will be benefited as well. Your technique Is really awesome. Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    Eva Mayor
    Sep 14, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    How widespread are such fake bags? Do you know if the odds to come across a fake bag are much higher than finding an authentic one?

    • Reply
      Chere
      Sep 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Fakes are pretty common on sites like Ebay, I believe…

  • Reply
    Ling
    Feb 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Hi, I just read your article because my brand new Chanel medium Classic Flap has loose interior lining and I was trying to see if it was normal. However, you say that the lining must lay flat against the bag but mine doesn’t and I purchased mine directly from the boutique. Do the new ones no longer have the flat interior lining or is mine defective?

  • Reply
    Ran Wang
    Sep 27, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Hello,

    Thank you very much for the informative artical. Have you noticed on your third picture where you were talking about the CC locks, there’s a glued joint on the leather running through the chain? I recently got my first chanel classic flap and it has a same spot like that, that shows the leather running through the strap isn’t one continuous piece (instead it’s two pieces glued together lengthwise). It’s smooth and nicely done but I can’t help but keep noticing it. Is that normal thing?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Reply
      Chere
      Sep 28, 2017 at 1:53 am

      Hey Ran! It’s normal, don’t worry 😉

      • Reply
        Ran Wang
        Sep 28, 2017 at 4:04 am

        Thank you for your reply, it’s such a relief to know! Also since it’s my very first chanel bag, I’m feeling a bit worried about how these days they are glueing the folded leather piece running through the strap instead of folding and then sewing them together. Whenever I put it on or take off my shoulder, my fingers just keep feeling the rough side of the leather piece (hope I’m making sense here), just wondering if you had any experience with the glued leather opening up with use? Appreciate your time and response!!

        • Reply
          Chere
          Sep 28, 2017 at 4:14 am

          I myself haven’t had that problem, but I have seen bags with two strips of glued leather. Is your bag vintage? Depending on the year, it should actually be sewn. If it’s merely second hand, it’s possible it was glued. You can always take it to Chanel themselves to ask if it’s ok, they’re happy to check if there’s a problem, and if there is, they’ll send it to their ‘bag doctor’ 😉

          • Ran Wang
            Sep 28, 2017 at 4:43 am

            Thank you Chere, I got my bag brand new from the boutique, and based on my research it seems to be the case for many bags made in recent years. Im in hesitation to contact my SA about this as I’m pretty sure she’s gonna tell me that’s completely normal and if anything they’ll happily fix it..however, still wondering how it’s gonna wear with time. Anyhow, thanks a lot!

  • Reply
    Martyp
    Jan 29, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Good tips. But all the pics are the Chanek Timeless CC, not the 2.55. Common mistake but different bag. 2.55 has the rectangular turnlock, folded base, jewelry chain… Just sayin’… 😉

  • Leave a Reply

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