Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Prada are some of the world’s most coveted brands – but with iconic status, comes a high risk of imitation. When shopping for second hand luxury items online, how can you tell the difference between a successful score and a fake find?

Head of Marketing for Gumtree SA, Claire Cobbledick, says “the sale of fake labels on Gumtree is prohibited but the high volume of counterfeits available makes it difficult to control”. She says the best way to discern an authentic item from a knock-off is to examine the piece in person and to follow a few key guidelines for spotting a fake.

  1. Price

Incredible bargains can be found online but designer bags are status symbols and a real one will be priced accordingly. Chances are that you will never find an authentic Chanel bag for R200.

  1. Flaws

Do not trust ads that claim to have scored a wholesale discount or sourced a slightly flawed product at a luxury sale. This doesn’t happen, in fact most luxury houses will never sell their own items at a discount rate. Authentic designs will not have crooked stitching or unfinished edges and will always carry a brand signature. Louis Vuitton bags made after the 1980s will have a date stamped on the interior, while Marc Jacobs’ zippers are all embossed with the word RiRi or Lampo. Skewed logos, cheap materials and metal accents are key details to suss out.

  1. Design

Most Chanel knock-offs have interlocking “Os” instead of “Cs” – a dead giveaway. With Louis Vuitton, a true LV monogram should be perfectly symmetrical and never cut in half where stitched together. Some design flaws are an easy giveaway; others are only visible to the most experienced eye.

  1. Touch & Smell

If the interior of the bag makes the sound of paper rubbing together, it’s not the real thing. Leather should smell like leather and if the bag uses canvas, it should be high quality. Another clue is superficial stitching. Authentic labels will not have glue where stitching should be.

  1. History

Before making a purchase, do some research to confirm that the design house has indeed previously produced the style and colour you’re considering.

 Ultimately, Cobbledick advises users to trust their instincts when making a purchase; “If a seller is vague about where they bought the item or they refuse to send close-up pictures or they insist on receiving payment before showing you the bag then it’s best to walk away”.

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