Expert advice

How to spot a fake Chanel bag

Written by Rahel | 9th January 2020

We all know that buying a new Chanel bag is pricey but luckily there are more affordable ways to follow in the footsteps of Carrie Bradshaw without scrimping on style. Shops that sell secondhand designer bags are popping up everywhere, especially online. But how can you tell whether your bag is the real deal when you don’t buy it in an official store? To tackle the authenticity question, we asked our fashion expert, Stefani Markovic, to explain what we should pay attention to when buying a secondhand Chanel bag and how to spot a fake. 

Are there a lot of fake Chanel handbags out there?

Stefani: Chanel is one of the most well-known brands in luxury, making it an obvious target for counterfeiters. According to Entrupy—an online authentication service for luxury goods—Chanel is the third most counterfeited brand in terms of volume. 

One thing people in the industry have picked up on is the explosion of what we’re calling ‘super fakes’—higher-quality fakes—over the last few years. These ‘super fakes’ can be very expensive to produce and therefore hard to spot. They can be an assembly of authentic and counterfeit parts and although some parts seem perfect, further professional inspection will root them out.

What are the main things you look for when screening a Chanel handbag for auction?

Stefani: Designer authenticity is such an interesting topic, as every brand has its own specifications. All bags go through a rigorous seven to ten-point authentication process. When checking if a Chanel bag is suitable for auction, we pay close attention to the criteria that evaluates the stitching, material and logo. 

First, the stitching has to be precise and even. Chanel uses a very high count of stitch per cm to keep the shape of the bag and ensure its durability. For example, an authentic quilted Chanel Timeless bag has 11 stitches per side of a diamond pattern. Another useful tip, is to always check if the quilting lines up on the back pocket; the quilting should also maintain a consistent diamond pattern when the front flap is closed. 

The thread is also a good indicator as to whether you’re dealing with a fake, as many replicas feature a shiny and low quality thread and the stitching looks like it’s piercing through the material. We also check how the lining sits within the body of the bag. It should be tight around the edges with a smooth finish. A bag lined incorrectly is usually lumpy. Regarding the material, Chanel uses leather of the highest quality – such as lambskin, calfskin, goatskin and exotic skins.  

A bag should be smooth and well-stitched – each diamond should have 11 stitches per side

What about the importance of the logo in spotting a fake—could you elaborate on this?


Stefani: We look at the CC logo very closely. The right C should overlap on top, and the left C should overlap on the bottom. The embossed lettering should be perfectly stamped, spaced and centered on the leather tab. Many replicas have a thinner or larger font and rush the branding so that it sits on the leather rather than being embossed into it. 

One useful thing to remember is that the "CHANEL" stamping inside the bag should always match the color of its hardware. The back of the CC lock hardware should have two screws holding a metal plate down. The plate must have “CHANEL” embossed on the left and “PARIS” embossed on the right. And don’t forget to count the number of points of the screw – Chanel only uses screws with a 6 point star-shaped pattern.

You mentioned a seven to ten-point authentication process earlier. What are some of the other things you check when screening a Chanel handbag?

Stefani: Zippers are an important feature to consider too. We examine the name of the manufacturers—names such as Lampo, Riri, Opti and Ipi— and crosscheck that the zipper is consistent with the year the bag was created. 

Concerning the chain strap, we check the colour and finish of the chain as well as the quality of leather interlacing through the chain. On fake Chanel bags, you will notice lines on the chain surface. Chanel bags come with an authenticity card, one that is as thick as a credit card and features perfectly aligned text and gold edges. Authenticity cards in bags from 2005 and onwards feature a grey circular symbol in the top-right corner. Fake authenticity cards give off a rainbow hue.

Last but not least, the serial numbers play an important role when checking a Chanel bag. However, these elements vary according to the year they were manufactured.

 The chain and even interlacing of the leather is an important factor in authenticating the bag

On that note, could you tell us a bit more about the Chanel serial numbers?

Stefani: Chanel started using serial numbers in the mid-1980s, and they correspond to the time periods during which the bags were manufactured. Serial numbers appear in a sticker found within the bag’s interior lining. It should match the serial number on the authenticity card. We also examine the type of numerals and hologram design.

Looking at the serial numbers is one of the key elements of the authentication process, as it can  tell you what year the bag was made and determine style consistency. Date code stickers, the style of numerals, hologram design and authenticity cards have all changed over the years and serial number stickers can detach after a period of time and use, which makes things trickier. Authentication cards can get lost as well. So even if a Chanel bag is missing these elements, it can still be authentic.

Finally, for those buyers who can’t see the bag in person, what are the things they should look out for when buying a Chanel handbag online?

Stefani: Look for quality and precision in everything. Good images of the bag are naturally important here and the buyer is dependent on these. He or she should observe the shape of the bag (which should be straight and clearly structured), check the materials listed—ensuring that they’re high quality ones as specified earlier—and see, where possible, if the bag is consistent with the authentication criteria. If you notice any discrepancies with this criteria, the bag is definitely a replica.  


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