Is YOUR designer bag a fake?

Could YOU tell a fake designer handbag from the real deal? Industry insider reveals the tell-tale signs to look out for – and say your sense of SMELL is crucial

  • Expert authenticator Victoire Boyer Chammard has revealed how to spot fakes 
  • Says you should ignore dust bags, boxes and invoices and use sense of smell 
  • Tiny details such as stitching and logos can help indicate a counterfeit item
  • Says even staff in designer boutiques may not be able to spot fake pieces

Social media has seemingly made it easier to track down second-hand luxury goods without they eye-watering store price, but it’s also led to a proliferation of fakes being touted online.

And now fashion expert Victoire Boyer Chammard has revealed how spotting fake luxury items can be a challenge even for fashion experts, and says that often using your senses and instinct can be just as important as in-depth knowledge of the brand.

The head of authentication for pre-owned fashion marketplace Vestiaire Collective is responsible for a team of specialists who verify the 3000 items added to the site daily. 

She spoke to the South China Morning Post about the recent fake authentication shops that have recently opened in Hong Kong to further scam customers, but her advice applies to designer shoppers anywhere in the world.

Read on to find out howto make sure you don’t part with your hard-earned cash for something that’s not the real deal. 

An authentication expert has revealed how to spot a real designer item from a counterfeit, and said that even if it comes with a receipt, dust bag and box, the best trick is to close your eyes and smell the leather to make sure it’s real 


The first step is to check that the model or product you’re being sold even exists. 

It could come in authentic looking packaging with a barcode on the side of the box, but that doesn’t mean it’s the real thing.  

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Then you need to check for details that ‘correspond with the DNA of the house’, according to Victoire. 

A vintage item might be missing the label, but you can check it’s authentic by matching up details such as the buttons, tweed and lining. 


Invoices, dust bags and boxes aren’t clear indicators of genuine products as clever counterfeiters will be able to replicate or steal these to make an item look authentic. 

The authenticity expert also claimed closing your eyes to smell materials such as leather can be useful for measuring quality as 

An authentication expert is the most reliable source when it comes to checking your designer bag, as even boutique assistants may not have the in-depth knowledge to spot a fake. Pictured: A crocodile skin Hermes Birkin 



Buy second hand: Check out online auction sites and high end pawnbrokers. 

Research the market: Look online to see what prices bags are going for at auction. Sometimes people don’t realise the value of the bags and will be pricing them at the £1,500 mark. 

Seek guarantees: It’s very hard to spot a fake so make sure you buy from a reputable site and ask for a guarantee in writing from the seller that you will get a full refund if the bag proves not to be genuine. 

Seek out less popular sizes: The smaller bags are less desirable than the 40cm Birkin at the moment so you may find it easier to get your hands on one. 

Be prepared to pay the price: Hermes bags hold their value so buying a second hand Birkin might not be any cheaper than purchasing one brand new.

Forge contacts: There are no guarantees and it will take time but you can try to build a relationship with staff in store and hope they will let you know when bags are available. 

Accept imperfections: You may be able to save money by buying a second hand bag in need of repair, but be aware that you could be waiting a year for refurbishments. 

If a luxury item is made by hand, then every piece is unique and will never be completely perfect. 

For instance, Hermes bags with almost perfect stitching are likely to be counterfeit as the brand avoids using machines in favour of handmade techniques.


If you can, examine details such as zips, engravings and typography of designer bags against items bought directly from the brand. 

When buying jewellery, use a loope to examine small details 

If you’re buying a Chanel bag, it should come with a sticker with the serial number, but if it’s easily removed this is a sign that your purchase is a fake. 

And if the bag is from before 1984, it won’t have a serial number sticker. 

The chains on Chanel handbags are handmade and should be weighty and sturdy, so a light chain that’s been attached with glue is also a sign that your bag isn’t the real thing.  


Victoire warns sometimes bringing products directly in to a brand’s boutique isn’t enough to verify an item. 

Sales assistants may not have the depth of knowledge to recognise convincing knock-offs, especially if they are new recruits.

If in doubt, go to an authenticity expert rather than relying on staff in a boutique. 

An authentication expert is the most reliable source when it comes to checking your designer bag, as even boutique assistants may not have the in-depth knowledge to spot a fake. Pictured: The Hermes flagship store in Paris 

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