Louis Vuitton has been fighting against counterfeiters since 1872, when it created its first-ever signature material (a red and white striped canvas). It has since become the most copied of any luxury brand.
Over the years, fakes have gotten so advanced that even the experts have a hard time detecting them. To help you shop secondhand Louis Vuitton with confidence, we have created a comprehensive authentication guide.
Though it is always best to take your time and review every detail of a bag, we understand that some purchases must be made quickly. We have listed 10 telltale signs that a Louis Vuitton is fake. If the bag you are considering features even just one of these inaccuracies, then you should keep looking.
And, remember, if the find feels too good to be true, it probably is!
Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Look at each row of the monogram diagonally. The order of one row should be the flower, circle, flower, and ‘LV’ logo, while the next should be only the flower and quatrefoil. These rows should alternate across the exterior shell of the bag. If the order of the symbols is incorrect, the bag is a knock-off Louis Vuitton.
Each row (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal) should start and end with the same symbol. Because of this, many symbols will be interrupted and cutoff by the seams on an authentic Louis Vuitton bag.
Most commonly used for the handles, strap, piping, or bottom of a Louis Vuitton bag, Vachetta is a natural cowhide leather. Because it is left untreated, Vachetta begins to change color (developing what is known as patina) as soon as it is applied to the bag. Starting at a very soft, creamy beige, it gradually deepens to a caramel with exposure to air, water, and skin oils. The patina should be uneven. Watermarks, scuffs, and a darker color at the top of the handles are actually good signs, signaling the bag might be authentic. If a Louis Vuitton, especially a pre-loved, vintage bag, has an even and light patina, it is a strong indicator that the Vachetta is imitation and the bag is a counterfeit.
The Vachetta handles are sealed with wax. This wax should be deep red – almost burgundy in color. It should not be bright red and it will never peel off.
Real Red Trim
The stitches on a Louis Vuitton bag should be straight, approximately the same length, and equidistant from the edges. If you are in doubt about the quality of the stitching, start counting. There should be the same number of individual stitches on matching parts of the bag. If the stitching is sloppy, the bag is definitely a fake Louis Vuitton.
To ensure it is of the highest quality, Louis Vuitton has used its own line of brass or silver hardware since 1991. Each piece should be stamped with the house’s ‘LV’ logo or brand name on its front. While it is common for the hardware’s coating to chip off over time, it will feel solid and sturdy on a genuine Louis Vuitton.
Aside from very vintage styles made in the early- ‘80s, each Louis Vuitton bag includes two letters in its date code. Referred to as the country code, these letters identify the factory and country where the Louis Vuitton bag was produced. The country code should always agree with the ‘made in (Country)’ on the bag’s heat stamp. Cross reference them. If the country code and heat stamp indicate two different countries of production, then the bag cannot be real. To decipher a bag’s country code, refer to our ‘Where is Louis Vuitton made?’ table.
Real Heat Stamp
Though the date code numbers have been formatted differently over the years, they have always designated when a Louis Vuitton bag was produced.
In the 1980s, date codes consisted of three or four numbers. The first two represent the year, while the last one or two represent the month.
From 1990 to 2006, date codes consisted of four numbers. The first and third represent the month, while the second and fourth represent the year.
From 2007 through present, date codes have consisted of four numbers. The first and third represent the week, while the second and fourth represent the year.
Remember, there are only 12 months and 52 weeks in a year. In a hurry and unaware of the different configurations, counterfeiters often err, creating date codes with an incorrect number of months or weeks.
Real Date Code
Unlike Chanel and Prada, Louis Vuitton has never issued authenticity cards with its bags. It does, however, include a cream-colored tag – printed with the bag’s style name and a barcode. You may find this tag loose in the bag’s interior pocket, but it will never hang from the bag!
A secondhand Louis Vuitton bag might have a slight odor. This is completely normal, especially if it has been stored in a hot, humid climate. But, the bag should never smell of plastic or chemicals! If it does, it was most likely crafted of synthetic materials and is definitely a knock-off.