I am going to start off this post by saying I LOVE Louis Vuitton and I am very lucky to have a reasonable little collection – of course enough is NEVER enough! My collection has come about mainly through a very dear friend of mine who is one of the most knowledgable people I know about Louis Vuitton, and about vintage Louis Vuitton in particular.
Having said that, my collection is ALL vintage and I have never actually purchased anything directly from a Louis Vuitton store (one day people – one day!) While I am confident anything I get from my friend will be 100% guaranteed authentic, I am also quite obsessive about researching how to avoid fakes.
So herewith, Mumpty’s 10 Top Tips on how to avoid buying fake vintage Vuitton. While these tips are very Louis Vuitton specific, some of them are still applicable to other luxury brands as well.
Tip # 1: Firstly – and this may seem very obvious – make sure Louis Vuitton ACTUALLY made a version like the piece you are looking at. Several very good fakes have been caught by someone pointing out the fact that Louis Vuitton never made that style bag in that particular material! Once you have ensured the bag you are looking at actually exists, you can carry on with my other tips!
Tip # 2: Go to a reputable site (I recommend Malleries or Yoogi’s Closet; look up the item you are interested on there and compare. And compare IN DETAIL – both Malleries and Yoogi’s Closet generally supply very good images so this shouldn’t be difficult. Louis Vuitton’s quality control is very strict and so their pieces are all very uniform. Therefore, if something looks different to the pictures you see on these sites, it may flag a potential issue with the one you are looking at. These sites are perfect when buying vintage as they have a huge library of items they’ve sold and you’ll generally find the one you’re after on there. Of course you can look at the Louis Vuitton site itself, but you won’t find the vintage stuff on there.
Tip # 3: Look at the date code – all Louis Vuitton bags and leather goods have a date code somewhere on them (there are some exceptions, but these are very few.) A date code is normally two letters followed by four numbers and is generally in a pretty discrete place which can be quite hard to find. Again, look it up on the internet and find out where the date code will be on that particular piece. Make sure the date code on the piece you are looking at matches the production range for that piece (this is information you can find on the internet too.) So, if a certain colour was discontinued in 2010 for example, and your date code suggests your bag was made later than that date, you need to look into it further.
Also, if the date codes on all the ones on Malleries or Yoogis Closet are stamped into the fabric and yours is on a leather tag … that’s a big red flag. If your date code is on a leather tag, and you’ve checked that it’s meant to be for that bag, then it should be uniform and centred, not haphazardly imprinted.
Tip # 4: Don’t be fooled by a seller promising you can take it to the Louis Vuitton store for authentication. Louis Vuitton don’t do that instore – they may have done in the past, but they don’t do it any more. Having said that, there are places you can go where you can pay to have something authenticated (or otherwise.) I’ve never done it, but I know you can.
Tip # 5: Louis Vuitton items DO NOT come with authenticity cards. Genuine LV items are accompanied by little cards that identify the materials used, the product code and barcode and possibly care booklets. These are NEVER attached to the bag – they’re tucked into the pockets or box or they’re given to you in an envelope with your receipt. Often vintage bags don’t have any documentation with them at all as it has been long since lost.
Louis Vuitton bags DO NOT come with anything that states “authenticity guaranteed.” They also don’t do swing tags or little shield-shaped canvas or leather “swatches” – these are all dead giveaways of a fake item.
Tip # 6: Louis Vuitton does not discount – EVER. Nor do they sell their products as “seconds” or through outlet stores. So if you see an item that is presented as a new sale item or an outlet item; you can be sure it’s fake. End of.
Tip # 7: Don’t assume a receipt provides assurance of authenticity. Receipts can be faked just as easily, if not more easily, than the bag itself. Don’t get me wrong; a receipt is a really good thing to have if you are confident everything else about the bag is authentic; just don’t assume a receipt makes it real without doing your research.
Tip # 8: If the dust bag that accompanies your bag looks anything like this; be very wary – it doesn’t 100% mean the bag’s fake but it’s a big red flag.
Louis Vuitton’s dust bags have changed over the years, but they have never printed the logo in red, and they have never used this thin, yucky material. Cheap, fake manufacturers seem to love this one.
When you’re researching the bag you’re wanting to purchase, you will probably get an idea of what dust bag originally accompanied your bag. However, don’t be put off if it doesn’t match – particularly if you’re buying vintage, as dust bags often get lost and people substitute a different dust bag.
Tip # 9: Stitching – should be even, perfect and intact. If there are 27 stitches on one side for example, there will be 27 stitches on the other. No variations. And make sure you compare the colour of the stitching to a bag you know is genuine. Also, if you see “back and forward” stitching anywhere, that’s a good sign of a fake – Louis Vuitton has VERY high standards of workmanship and that sort of thing just wouldn’t make the cut.
Tip # 10: be aware of the pattern. Louis Vuitton very rarely cuts through its logo – although there is no way round it on some bags. If the pattern is divided over a seam, it should still align perfectly. In some cases you WILL see the Louis Vuitton logo upside down (on the Keepall and Speedy mainly) – that is because they use a continuous piece of canvas that wraps from front to back – so don’t be concerned that it is fake because of that.
Bonus tip: check the retail price for the bag and compare. While a second-hand bag is obviously going to be cheaper than a new one, it shouldn’t be MILES cheaper. For example, if it’s a reasonably current bag that is still available at Louis Vuitton for $2.5K then don’t expect to get it second-hand for $500 unless its in seriously bad condition. You need to be reasonable and think if you’d paid $2.5K for a bag and it was still in good condition, what would you be willing to sell it for?
So there you have it – Mumpty’s guide to not buying a fake vintage LV! The only way to be 100% sure of authenticity, of course, is to buy direct from a Louis Vuitton store – unfortunately not all of us can afford that!
LV love forever …