So, we all know that second hand shopping is really picking up and is actually set to become the most preferred method of shopping over the next decade. This makes buying preloved luxury handbags (and other hard-to-buy items) more accessible than ever – but that’s not to say there aren’t some downsides. When it comes to hunting and securing preloved designer bags, it’s imperative you know how to identify counterfeit items and what else to look out for to ensure you’re securing the bag (literally).
When it comes to luxury items like second hand designer handbags, the most important thing is authenticity. The good news is that there are some tell-tale signs that you can look out for. The general rule of thumb is: if something looks too good (or too cheap) to be true, then it probably is.
How to Identify Counterfeit Pre-loved Luxury Handbags
When it comes to loading up the shopping cart with a preowned or vintage designer bag, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying. Take a look at the original tags and labels - many brands have specific elements (like serial numbers) that are unique to each item; this is an easy way to check for authenticity. Of course, if the seller doesn’t have the original tags, it’s important to check all other elements of the bag for consistency and accuracy.
It’s important to do your due diligence with the seller. When it comes to checking for counterfeit designer bags, there are some obvious signs that can indicate an item is not genuine. The first and foremost things to look at are:
- Serial numbers: make sure to check their position, font, and colour.
- Where the bag was made: I.e. A specific bag could have been made exclusively in Italy, however, it’s label could say it was made in France. Always make sure you know where it’s make originated.
- Colours, fonts and positioning of the designers stamp on the exterior of the bag along with the heat stamp that is presented on the interior (always, always check the interior).
- Specific features of a bag’s hardware: Sometimes, hardware can be so distinct that it determines whether a bag is authentic or not.
- The stitching: A good designer bag will boast craftsmanship and quality, so always make sure you pay attention to the stitching work.
- Scent: Genuine designer bags are typically made from genuine leather. If the bag has not been designed to be vegan and you're unable to detect a distinct leather smell, there's a chance it may be vinyl (and possibly fake).
Six Ways to Identify Counterfeit Luxury Handbags
Poor Quality Stitching
Check all seams, straps and zips to make sure they are perfectly even and consistently stitched. Luxury handbags, even the vintage ones, will always have beautifully crafted handbags, all the way down to the most minute details.
Preloved designer bags and vintage luxury bags will often have branded hardware elements (think: YSL, Gucci, Dior), so look out for fakes that have non-branded alternatives instead. Hardware can actually be a major deal breaker when it comes to identifying counterfeits.
Poor Quality Materials
Check the material of the bag against other items from the same brand – if it’s much thinner or if the material is of a different colour, this could be a sign that the item is not genuine. A lot of counterfeit handbags will have thinner layered fabrics, and can also feel extremely light weight – meaning its make is of nothing short of cheap materials for cost cutting.
If the price seems too good to be true (or just suspiciously low), then it probably is. Designer bags are usually expensive, even those that are preloved and vintage, so take a look at what other similar items are selling for online to get an idea of what the price should be. If a preloved designer bag is also oddly low in price, trust your gut.
If the seller has a strict no-returns policy, then this is a tell-tale sign that they are not confident in the authenticity of their product. Most of the time, retailers and boutiques will offer store credits for returns, or your money back.
Popular designer bags (especially pre-owned ones in great condition) can sell extremely quickly. If you’re looking for a limited-edition item, look out for retailers that offer waiting lists and early notifications of when new stock is available.
Last but not least – make sure you know who you’re buying from! It’s always best to purchase items from reputable sellers; this way, you can ensure that the item is authentic and that your hard-earned money is going towards a genuine product instead of a fake.
How to Find Trusted Consignment Stores & Pre-loved Luxury Stores Online
The second-hand market is vast, and as a result, there are plenty of places to choose from when it comes to buying preloved luxury bags. It’s best to shop with trusted stores that have a strong reputation for authenticity – make sure you check customer reviews and ratings, return policies and feedback before committing to any purchase.
Keep an eye out for consignment stores, too – these can often be a safe bet when it comes to finding genuine second-hand designer items, from clothing, handbags, jewellery, shoes, decor, and so much more. Consignment stores typically vet all the items they receive before putting them up for sale – this means you can be sure that any bag you purchase from them is authentic and of good quality, coming with the correct tags and paperwork most of the time.
Finally, there are many reliable online stores that specialise in preloved luxury goods – this is a great way to get your hands on genuine designer items without worrying about authenticity woes. So, take your time and shop around, by the end of your research, you’ll be a preloved designer handbag connoisseur of sorts!