Louis Vuitton bagsmust be high on the list of the most counterfeited items of all time. There area great number of fakes out there and they vary in quality. While some startfalling to pieces in a couple of months, others hold their own for years and areonly distinguishable by those with a little insider knowledge.
It’s the iconicMonogram design, which ironically was first introduced to deter counterfeiters,that has been the number one target for fraudsters. But today, bogus versionsof almost all of the Louis Vuitton collection, even a number of models thatdon’t officially exist, are being sold to unsuspecting customers and thoselooking for cheaper alternatives.
The safest way to ensure your item is genuine is to buy from a trustedseller that runs its own checks and offers a returns policy. Nowadays, there shouldbe customer reviews available for most decent web-based sellers, which is anideal place to start for background checks. But there are also a number of telling signs on the bags themselves.
Here’s a definitivelist of all the inconsistencies you’ll find in fake Louis Vuitton bags. Don’tworry, no matter how convincing it is, it’s sure to reveal itself in one or moreof the following ways:
Unfortunately, buying apre-owned/vintage Louis Vuitton bag with an original receipt, doesn’t confirmauthenticity. “Original” receipts are forged as often as the bags, so this should never be taken as aconfirmation of authenticity. Some counterfeit bags come with genuineLouis Vuitton receipts, often stolen or purchased separately. Alwaysauthenticate a bag based on its design and construction and not its papers.
When you buy LouisVuitton from a boutique it will come with tags—but they are never attached tothe bag. Real Louis Vuitton bags do not have “Authenticity Cards”. Tagsusually come with the receipt, or are tucked inside.
Materials used byLouis Vuitton are very rarely used in fakes due to their high cost. The mostcommon material is canvas, in either Monogram or Damier prints. Canvas is coatedfor durability and water-repellence, and it’s extremely hardwearing. LouisVuitton’s famous canvas is almost always complemented by Vachetta Leather, anatural hide that darkens over time and with use. The leather oxidizes, whichgives off a classic, highly sought-after, caramel-coloured patina. Unlike thecoated canvas the natural hide is very susceptible to water damage and willquite easily watermark if left damp for too long.
When replicating LouisVuitton handbags, forgers often use PU leathers, unnatural materials and even plastic,all of which usually have a tell-talehigh shine and creased feel. These materials are rarely as delicate asthe natural hide found on authentic bags, and PU leathers will not patina like the authentic LV materials.
Most counterfeiterscopy the designs from pictures and rarely manage an accurate forgery of theinterior. Make sure you know which bags come with with interiors: classic LouisVuitton Monogram Canvas is generally lined with brown cotton textile lining; EpiLeather and Mahina handbags are lined with a suede-like microfiber, sometimesin a colour that matches the exterior and others in a contrasting hue; and someolder Louis Vuitton models have a cross-grained washable lining, this includesBucket and Sac Plat. Be aware that some vintage bags on thepre-owned market have been relined with ‘Non-Louis Vuitton’ fabrics.
In most replica LouisVuitton Monogram Canvas handbags, you will find that the bags are lined with roughbrown suede. Louis Vuitton hasnever lined their monogram bags with this material and it is a sure sign of acounterfeit item.
When authenticating aLouis Vuitton bag, a key consideration is the Louis Vuitton date stamp. By knowing the year thebag was manufactured you canlook up the material it should be made from. For example, a bag claiming to be made ofDamier Graphite Canvas with a 2001 date stamp should ring alarm bells because the material was first introducedby Louis Vuitton in 2008. It is worth noting that even if the item has a date code, it does not100% guarantee authenticity, it is just one of several factors that need to beconsidered when trying to authenticate it.
There is no such thingas a Louis Vuitton serial number. Instead, all Louis Vuitton handbags have a“Date Code” stamped somewhere onthe bag. Location of the stamp varies from model to model, but they are typicallyfound on the interior tags, directly on the interior linings or leatherfixtures, and the exterior leather (often in hidden areas). These codes are notindividual to the bag, they merely identify when and where it was manufactured.Please note that bags made beforethe 1980s will not have a date code.
Below are the initial production dates for the material variants in theLouis Vuitton range:
Date Code Formats
Most date codes are anamalgamation of letters and numbers. The letter segment of the code specifiesthe location at which the bag was manufactured and the numbers indicate thedate.
No Date Code—If there is no date code on the bag, don’t panic! Thisdoes not necessarily mean thatthe handbag is counterfeit. The bag may have been manufactured prior to theintroduction of the date codes in 1980s. Sometimes date codes can also wearaway with time, especially on vintage bags where the date may have been stampedinto soft material like Alcantara or cross-grain leather. Also, if the lininghas been replaced during the bag’s life, it may no longer have a date code. Ifno date code is present, then you will need to follow the other tips in thisguide to ascertain authenticity.
1980 to 1985—Three to four numbers. The first two numbersrepresent the year of manufacture and the last number(s) represent the month; forexample, “845” is: May 1984.
Approx. 1985 to 1989—Three to four numbers, followed by two letters.The first two numbers will represent the year of manufacture and the lastnumber(s) represent the month. The letters represent the location ofmanufacture. For example, “887MI” will represent: July 1988, made in France.
1990 to 2006—Two letters, followed by four numbers. Theletters represent the location of manufacture. The first and third numbersrepresent the month and the second and fourth numbers represent the year ofmanufacture. For example, “MI0033” will represent: made in France, March 2003.
2007 onwards—Two letters, followed by four numbers. Theletters represent the location of manufacture. The first and third numbersrepresent the week of the year and the second and fourth numbers represent theyear of manufacture. For example, “MI2078” will represent: made in France, onthe 27th week (June), 2008.
Country Codes—Make sure the country code matches the “madein” stamp location, these must always match. For example, if the item date codeis MI1010 this indicates the bag was manufactured in France, November 2000, butif the item is stamped “Made in Italy” the bag is counterfeit.
France – A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS, AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, DR, DU, CO, CT, ET,FL, LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SD, SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TJ, TH, TN, TR, TS, VI, VX
Italy – BC, BO, CE, FO, MA, PL, RC, RE, SA, TD
United States – FC, FH, LA, OS, SD, FL
Spain – CA, LO, LB, LM, LW, GI
Switzerland – DI, FA
Germany - LP
Styles & Sizes
When purchasing a pre-owned or vintage Louis Vuitton handbag you must check if Louis Vuitton has ever manufactured the bag in question. The market is flooded with counterfeit “Louis Vuitton” models, sizes and colours that have never even been produced by the French fashion house. Search the back-catalogues for the model or get in touch if you’re unsure.
When purchasing aLouis Vuitton bag you should always expect the very best craftsmanship. As with other luxurybrands, Louis Vuitton always offer the highest level of quality control in theproducts they design and produce. If there were any sign of untidy productionand/or structure, like uneven stitching or material that has not been cutsymmetrically, it would be a strong indicator of a counterfeit product.
Louis Vuitton are verycareful with the way they construct their bags and place their materials,patterns and markings; the forever-classic Monogram Canvas, which was firstintroduced in 1896, is the perfect example. A few rare vintage pieces aside,the Louis Vuitton Monogram pattern will always be symmetrical from left toright in whatever material is used. The symmetry of the pattern is verynoticeable when looking at their Boston bags, e.g. Speedy or Keepall, and the “LV” logos are always balancedin relation to the fittings; this includes the folds, handles, zips and sides.Most of the styles in the Louis Vuitton catalogue have only slightly changedsince they first came out, so this is a good way to pick out counterfeit bags ata glance.
Louis Vuitton takepride in their brand image and logo. They will rarely cut off the “LV” part oftheir monogram. This is very rare to find in modern Louis Vuitton, but can befound in vintage. Always look to see if the LV logo is broken along any seam orcut.
Like with most otherluxury handbag brands, Louis Vuitton’s level of attention to detail is very clearwhen you examine the stitching. On most classic Louis Vuitton bags, you willfind they have been stitched with white thread made from linen which is laterdyed yellow and reinforced with beeswax. All of the stitching will be eventhroughout each design and the same amount of stitching should be found on similarparts on comparable models. You will notice upon further examination of LouisVuitton stitching that there are ridges, which indicate a higher qualitymaterial. Authentic Louis Vuitton stitching generally has more stitches perinch when compared to a counterfeit.
Most counterfeit LouisVuitton handbags have very low quality hardware. Sometimes the hardware will bemade from coloured plastic or coated low-quality metal. Classically, Louis Vuittonhardware is created from shinygolden brass and shiny silvery metal. Make sure that the engraving onthe hardware is clean and crisp; also make sure it’s in the right place as thisvaries between models.
D-Rings & Leather Patches
Like mostauthentication steps, placement of D-Rings and Patches is dependant on themodel and date of manufacture. A lot of older counterfeit bags will haveleather patches strategicallystitched into them, which is somewhat ironic considering Louis Vuittonactually placed them there to reinforce authenticity. In more recent LouisVuitton bags there are few leather patches, only occasionally on the front, butthese are now symbols of personalisation alongside initials and hot-stamping.You can still find interior stamps in some modern Louis Vuitton, for example,in the Siena you will find a patch labelled “LOUIS VUITTON PARIS made inFrance”.
Markings,Stamps & Logos
Counterfeiters arebecoming increasingly aware of how the bags should look, feel and even how thelogos and debossing should read. Louis Vuitton use a highly detailed font which is hard to replicate in all butsome counterfeit models. The way the Louis Vuitton main stamp reads isextremely important when authenticating: “LOUIS VUITTON PARIS made in France”will always have a tall “L” with a very short tail, and it will have perfectlyrounded “O’s” that are bigger than the “L”; the “T”s in Vuitton should be almosttouching each other or close enough so it looks like they are; the letteringshould be thin, clear and crisply debossed.
Every Louis Vuittonhandbag will almost always have a place of manufacture debossed in it. Despitebeing from a French fashion house, do not be surprised if you find a bag hasbeen manufactured outside of France—it is a myth that all authentic LouisVuitton Bags are been made in France. For over 25 years Louis Vuitton havemanufactured a fraction of their products in countries outside of France, includingGermany, Spain, Italy and the United States. Always check the country marked on the bag is an official placeof manufacture and cross-reference this with the date stamp. Some modelshave been manufactured over several different locations but others have onlybeen made in one place.
Upside Down LVs
There are many mythswhen it comes to authenticating luxury handbags, one of the most famous is thata Louis Vuitton bag pattern will never show the LV monogram upside down on anyproduct. Many of Louis Vuitton’s most popular models do have upside down LVs! Both the Keepall and Speedy, along with afew other models, are made from one single piece of canvas fabric that iswrapped from the front to the back with no seams on the base of the bag.Therefore the LVs on the rear of the bag will be upside down. This goes foralmost all Louis Vuitton pieces, though there are some exclusions if the baghas been produced by the French Luggage Company.
TheFrench Luggage Company
Pre-1970 Louis Vuittononly made their bags in France, but due to a rapid rise in US demand they enlistedthe help of US luggage specialists, The French Luggage Company. Starting in1976, The French Luggage Company worked with Louis Vuitton for nearly 30 years,manufacturing bags under a special license. The items were all made and sold inthe US, mainly in high-end department stores.
Bags manufactured byThe French Luggage Company (TFLC) are slightly different. If manufactured by TFLC the handbag will not havea date code, the embossing will look different, and the bag will have a label,most likely made of Tyvek and very easy to remove. It will also have anexplanation that it was made under a special license in the US. In other cases,the bag will have nothing but a mark naming the department store it was soldin.
Hardware on bags made by TFLC was usually plated nickel instead of brassand will feature no logos or debossing—all hardware is generally smooth andplain. Zipper pulls were by Talon or Éclair and did not feature the “LV” logo.Zippers on the Speedys and Keepalls included a tuck lock when a Talon zipperwas used.
The French Luggage Company did not use Vachetta Leather like LouisVuitton. Instead they used coated leather. It was coated to protect the naturalhide and to make it even more hardwearing. Unlike Louis Vuitton, they gavetheir leathers colour treatments, tones included caramel, terracotta, and darkand light brown. TFLC stitched leather oval patches onto all bags forcustomisation. These were logo free, leaving space for customisation. Linings inthese bags are almost always the same as the bags made by Louis Vuitton.
Speedys manufactured by TFLC are the most dissimilar from other models. ASpeedy manufactured by TFLC will have a break in the canvas along the bottomand the “LVs” will be the right way up on both sides of the bag. All Speedysand Keepalls manufactured by Louis Vuitton will have exactly five stitchesrunning along the top of the tab connecting the handles to the bag, but ifmanufactured by TFLC generally it has more with no exact number of stitches.
Using our definitive guide should be enough to make sure you purchase agenuine Louis Vuitton bag. But if you’re unsure about anything or have anyquestions, send us an email and we’ll be happy to help.
For our selection of pre-owned Louis Vuitton handbags, click here.