How To Spot A Knock-Off Designer Handbag

Susan Scafidi in Business Insider, January 02, 2013

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After a Forbes contributor spent $500 on a secondhand Louis Vuitton bag but couldn't tell if it was real, Forbes' personal finance writer Deborah L. Jacobs waded into the murky world of counterfeit designer bags to find out how to spot a fake.

She spoke with Susan Scafidi, who heads the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, and picked up some valuable tips for anyone looking for a designer label at a bargain price.

Two key takeaways: know what you're looking at, and use your sense of touch.

"Counterfeits are intended to fool the eye, not necessarily your fingertips," Scafidi said in the interview. She suggested checking out the true product in a department store or boutique before shopping online or in a secondhand store, so you know what to look for.

Some key pointers:

    Run your fingers over the leather: it should be dry to the touch, and not sticky. And make sure the parts of the bag that are supposed to be made of leather actually are.

    Inspect the hardware: if it's hollow, is it supposed to be? Make sure the imprint looks right; an incorrectly spelled brand name is a dead giveaway.

    Eye the stitching: seams should be perfectly straight, and there should be no unnecessary double stitching, said Scafidi.

    Look at the lining: the color of the lining can be a major clue that a bag is counterfeit. And check the inside label to be sure the bag was made in the country in which it was supposed to be crafted.

You can see Jacobs' full interview at Forbes.

We recently took a trip to New York City's Chinatown to see how easy it would be to buy a knockoff Chanel purse.