How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag in 30 Seconds Flat

Every year the U.S. seizes billions of dollars worth of counterfeit goods, and a substantial portion of the haul includes fake designer purses. As you likely know, buying a counterfeit bag is rife with moral issues, from violating intellectual property and contributing to the loss of over 750,000 American jobs, to financially supporting crime syndicates that run human-trafficking rings. As counterfeiters become savvier, it can be easy to be fooled into accidentally buying a knockoff. Accordingly, we figured it was high time to become a bit more knowledgeable about how to spot a fake. Enter: The RealReal’s Senior Director of Authentication, Graham Wetzbarger. Wetzbarger has personally examined thousands of designer purses, and he shares his top tips for identifying counterfeit goods below.

Scroll down to safeguard yourself from ever buying a knockoff purse.

Step 1: Know the Source

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“The source can tell you a lot about the probability of an item being counterfeit, so it’s important check out their FAQs, about us section, and press pages. And make sure they offer an authenticity guarantee. If the shop or website doesn’t look and feel high-end, chances are it’s not—and chances are neither are the products.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 2: Check the Images

Photo:

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Don’t buy an item against a stock image. Make sure to request photos of the actual piece with the ability to view it up close and in detail.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 3: Check for Plastic

Photo:

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Be very sceptical of bags with loose, translucent plastic covering the handles. This is a sure sign of counterfeit.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 4: Beware of Hangtags

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“You’re not buying K-Swiss sneakers—luxury bags won’t come with a shield-shaped leather swatch hang tag.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 5: Examine the Trim

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Most leather goods will have a wax casing hand applied to cover the raw edges of the piece. A sloppy and uneven paint job is a sign of inferior quality.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 6: Compare the Price

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Price compare the item against other sources. If the one you’re considering buying is priced considerably lower than similar items on other sites, that is a red flag.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Shopping for a designer bag online? Pin this list for future reference:

Photo:

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

Step 1: Check the Zipper

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Test the zipper. A designer quality zipper will pull smoothly with equal tension throughout.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 2: Check the Lining

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Feel the lining. Crunchy, papery synthetics or pock-marked suede are huge red flags.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

Step 3: Smell the Bag

Photo:

Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

“Does it smell like a shower curtain liner? This is a telltale sign of synthetic materials, excessive use of glue, or heavily chemically treated materials.” –Graham Wetzbarger, Senior Director of Authentication at The Real Real

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Do you think buying a fake designer bag is wrong? Let us know your thoughts on the topic below!