How To Spot A Fake Chanel Flap Bag

They’re not cheap! So best you learn how to spot a fake Chanel flap bag before you drop $$ on something vintage

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 expert Catherine B well knows.

This Paris based vintage Chanel and Hermes specialist has run a shop in St Germain, Paris, 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 Chanel flap bag, including the iconic 2.55  bag, which is also one of the brand’s most popular – and most faked.

With her expert help, we have determined several factors to know how to spot a fake Chanel flap bag. Don’t be duped!

How to Spot a Fake Chanel Flap Bag

Image: Designer Vintage

1. Quality Of 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. It’s far 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.

The leather used by Chanel is always the best quality. That means it should never smell of ‘animal.’ Take a whiff of the bag – if it’s got a slightly ‘buttery’ scent, it’s probably goat leather and is fake. The leather should also have some ‘give’. That means, though it should be durable, if the bag feels ‘tight’ or is a bit difficult to open, it’s probably not real.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag
Image: Catherine B

2. The Turnstile Lock

The turnstile lock, specifically the CC lock, is one of the most recognisable features on the classic 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 flap 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 how to spot a fake Chanel flap bag is knowing that pre 2009 locks were gilded in 24k gold, in a deep yellow colour.

If the gold is chipping off your chain or logo, it’s likely a fake. How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag

3. Check The Stitching

One of the best ways to spot a fake Chanel flap bag is to check the stitching.

Originals will always have 11 stitches per inch, while a fake bag only has around 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 always 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.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag

4. Look At The Lining

It’s very difficult to separate the lining at the bottom from the rest 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; the lining fits snugly with no creasing. You can barely tell it’s a lining! It should almost feel as though the interior was painted (rather than stitched or glued) onto the bag.

Reproductions, on the other hand, can often can be spotted on the quality and fit of the lining, which looks and feels like it is made from a cheaper leather. You probably 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. The “Made in” letters are stamped either under the Chanel ® writing and always match the colour of the hardware.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel flap Bag
Image: designbrand.com

5. The Precision Of The Logo

Very obvious knockoffs, instead of having the interlocking C logo, have interlocking Os. But on the more refined fakes, you 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 (get out that measuring tape!). Remember that the Chanel logo’s width is 3.3 cm, and should sit one and a half centimetres below the quilted C.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag

6. The 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 a leather thread through each link. Replicas can rarely be bothered to go through the hassle of recreating this alluring trait of the original bags.

How to Spot a Fake Chanel 2.55 Bag  

7. The Quilting

Examining the quilting is one of the easiest ways to know how to spot a fake Chanel flap bag. It must be perfectly symmetrical, consistent and the stitching of the quilted ‘diamond’ shapes should line up perfectly. 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.

Image: Catherine B

8. 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.

9. The Price

Finally, know that there’s no such thing as a cheap Chanel flap bag. Even a beat up old used one will fetch around $1000, minimum. Vintage Chanel flap bags that are slightly unusual, such as those that come in neon hues or novel fabrics, such as denim, will be collector’s items and will start at prices of around $3000+. This one, below, owned by Catherine B, bears drawings by Karl Lagerfeld, and is basically priceless!

 

10. The Shop

If you’re searching online for a Chanel flap bag and come across a store with a name like ‘buy cheap Chanel bags online’ or ‘Chanel sales online,’ – they’re obviously selling cheap replicas. eBay is also a haven for nasty fakes! To buy a truly authentic vintage Chanel, shop somewhere reputable online, such as here, or here.

Did this article help you to know how to spot a fake Chanel flap bag? Do you have any tips we missed? Tell us in the comments, below!

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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30 thoughts on “How To Spot A Fake Chanel Flap Bag”

  1. Hello all, were there ever black leather interiors in the 1 series et cetera timeless classic flaps please?

  2. i have a vintage pimk caviar bag everything concludes authenticity except that the bag is pink leather and the stitching is actually a beige color and not pale pink color the bag was made for 1 year only 2005 2006 can you help me?

  3. Hi! I’ve been eying a bag recently and a little bird is telling me is it too good to be true. The bag is made and bought in Paris, Silvertime hardware and also it’s lambskin! She says that she has the billing from purchase and also has the authentification card but haven’t seen the card. The bag was also brought back at Chanel to be cleaned up. I’d love for you to tell me what you think about it. I’ll include the pictures from the seller she is awaiting my reply. The screws and stamp inside look authentic. The ccs are lining up correctly. I’m just not sure of the back pocket and lining seems to be 9 stitches. I’ll include my email inside it would be amazing if you could help me out for this gem I feel lost and hoped less!!! You blog is amazing which I will use for further purchases :)!! I did include in the website section the link to the bag the girl is selling. I’ll be checking my emails for your reply :)!!!

    1. Hi Bianca! I’m just the editor of the mag, not a Chanel expert. The bag sounds ok to me, but just to be sure, I’d suggest taking pics of it to your nearest Chanel outlet and asking for expert advice. Good luck!

  4. Hi thank you so much for all this info. I recently purchased a vintage black caviar single flap bag. Everything checks out minus the authenticity sticker. They said it got lost over the years of use. Should I be concerned? The stitching and everything else was correct? Thank you again for this article.
    Have a nice day~Crystal

  5. Thank you Chere. There used to be a caption which said something along the lines “Can you see why this is fake?”. However, the caption is gone now. This article is overall very helpful and one of the more detailed ones, thank you!

  6. 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’… 😉

  7. 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!

      1. 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!!

        1. 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’ 😉

          1. 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!

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

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

  11. 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.

      1. Hi Chere, I really need to end a never-ending battle about a feature on 2 Chanels bags my gf’s & I saw, half say they’re real, Im not so sure. Does any Chanel bag jave the regular link chain (with the leather weaved thru it) BUT, the part of the strap where u would hold it in your hand, like at the top, its just leather, about 5″-6″ inches, is it possible its real? Thank you.

        1. Hi! Thanks for your question Karen! While We research articles as best we can, that doesn’t make us full Chanel experts…I would recommend taking your bag to your local Chanel outlet and asking them for their verification. They are trained in spotting fakes. Alternatively, you could show images to an expert at VestiareCollective.com and ask them. Hope that helps!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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