Buying a designer handbag counts as a major sartorial accomplishment. But before your big splurge, it's always best to make sure you've done your homework. Unfortunately, knockoff bags are all too common, so knowing what to look for can make all the difference when you're buying secondhand or from somewhere that's a little off the beaten path. To help make things crystal clear, we tapped the experts at Vestiaire Collective, a luxury retail site that has nailed the science of spotting fakes.
Jacquelyne Cortel, the brand's U.S. authentication expert and quality control manager, named her top tips for when you're on the hunt for your designer bag. "Do your research," she says. "Arm yourself with the knowledge of what your designer bag should look like, and go from there." Armed with her advice, you'll be ready to treat yourself to your dream bag, totally stress-free. Read on for Cortel's three signs of a fake handbag, and then shop current designer styles that we love.
"Designers spend a lot of time perfecting the typography of their labels and logos," she tells us. "These should always be crisp and defined. Metallic stamped logos should never scratch off with your nail. They are stamped to last. You'll rarely see blurry, flaky, or bubbly stamping. Engraved logos will always be clean and fully defined. Keep an eye out for engravings that are not fully defined, sloppy, and with letters that overlap or run too close together."
"Designers often release updated versions of popular styles with small variations or improvements," she notes. "But for the most part, the measurements will remain the same from one bag of the same style and size to another. Keep in mind that retailers may measure dimensions differently from others, so there may be a variance of .5 inches. Take heed if the measurements differ more than 1.5 inches or the proportions look very off."
"What comes with the bag is just as important as the bag itself," she continues. "Dustbags, boxes, straps, care cards, locks, and keys compliment your bag and maintain the same quality standards. Look out for any accessories that are super lightweight or falling apart. Care cards should have proper grammar (so make sure to read them through—no SparkNotes for this one). Printing should be crisp and centered, and hardware should be weighty with engravings that are well defined."
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This post originally appeared on Who What Wear U.S.