You may wonder why I wrote the first article on how to authenticate Louis Vuitton and go further to proceed here with a follow-up. I have sold antiques and smalls for over 28 years, the last four of which I have focused on fashion items and vintage couture. For a few years, I had a very profitable Etsy business under the moniker KYCVintage. I sold a Louis Vuitton item I truly thought was authentic. It was not and the company (“Louis Vuitton”) complained about the listing. Etsy took my store down and won’t let me put it back online. I felt humiliated, lost income and would love for them to let me put it back up but they won’t. I realize they fight counterfeiting the best they can, as all businesses do.
By 2013, the top counterfeited brands were:
- Louis Vuitton
- Christian Louboutin
Trunks are what Louis Vuitton came to be known for. He quickly became a valued craftsman at the Parisian atelier of Monsieur Maréchal. These were the roots of his highly specialized trade; the beginnings of his career in an artisinal industry that called upon skills to custom design boxes and, later, trunks according to clients’ wishes. Louis Vuitton stayed for 17 years before opening his own workshop at 4 Rue Neuve-des-Capucines near the Place Vendome.
Authenticating Tip # 1 – Look for the upside down LV’s
Most bags are made with one piece of material, so it starts LV’s up and as it is stitched around the back, naturally the letters are upside down. This is a good sign of authenticity. As a rule, remember not all authentic bags have upside-down LV’s, but many do, and this is especially true of the Speedy styles, Keepalls, and Papillons.
The most sought after Louis Vuitton purse, for a novice, is a good Speedy. It comes in several sizes (25, 30, 35, and up). Pictured below is a 35, a size I prefer.
The picture below shows the back of the purse and the upside down LV’s and above you can see both sides: right side up and upside down. Also, see the high quality leather. Some fakes are leather but the majority have cheap vinyl trim.
Read between the lines. If a seller’s product description makes you hesitant to purchase the item, trust your instincts. Too good to be true, is usually a lie. Also, even with authentic items, such as the Speedy 35 below, ask about condition:
See the leather tab on the end, it is chewed. They can be replaced but it will be a new light leather and have to oxidize over time to match the rest of the leather. Ask if:
- The zipper works well and is attached well
- If the tab is in good condition and shows the number underneath (it actually has “35” stamped underneath the tab.
- The tab is supposed to have a Louis Vuitton brass lock with key (as you can see it’s missing). If missing, you can buy one but value the bag $75 less without it as a rule
- Ask the Seller if the interior is clean as most purses get ink marks, gum and other basic dirt, so request pictures.
- Ask for a clear picture of the date code, such as below SD0944 (translation: Made in France, the 4th week of 1994). The first two letters tell you where it was made. The first and third number is the week. The second and fourth number is the year. Use your common sense. It can’t be 1894, it has to be 1994.
Don’t be fooled by extras. Counterfeiters also counterfeit dust bags, receipts, gift boxes, authenticity cards, and care booklets. Adding these extras does not guarantee authenticity.
Search the Internet for photos of fakes versus photos of the real thing. Get an idea of what a fake looks like in comparison to a real Louis Vuitton purse.
Authenticating Tip #2 – Look at the stitching
The speedy has 5 stitches across on each of the 4 tabs (two on each side of purse). A lot of fakes have 6.
Examine the stitches. This is best done in person, but if that’s not possible, ask the seller for as many close-up photos as possible. Sloppy stitches suggest a counterfeit bag. Another indicator of a counterfeit bag is the number of stitches per inch (SPI) on the seam. SPI (stitches per inch) refers to the number of stitches in a single inch of seam. A high SPI count indicates greater overall seam strength, (and therefore a higher quality handbag). Authentic Louis Vuitton bags will have a higher SPI count than the counterfeits.
The picture below is a fake Louis Vuitton, which I ironically was fooled into purchasing from an Etsy seller a long time ago.
- Poor stitching
- Studs are not placed on top of stitches as they are below
- Studs are always brass and on very old bags can be a little green from oxidation
- The logo label is totally wrong
- It’s not trimmed in real leather and the fake leather is way too dark
I added the brass studs to the bottom as a craft project because it’s fake and I wanted to do something with it.
In closing, here are a lot more general tips.
- Avoid sellers that claim to have bags from a “wholesale list” or “closeout liquidation.” Louis Vuitton does not discount, have outlets, or sell wholesale. Any seller that claims otherwise should not be trusted.
- Do not buy Louis Vuitton purses from street vendors, since the company does not permit street vendors to carry their merchandise. You may think I can’t afford a real one. But The Luxury Closet has layaway and Tradesy has a payment plan service, so maybe you can afford a small monthly payment and you can get a real Louis Vuitton.
- Avoid sellers that claim to have bags from a “new collection” not yet in stores. Unless it’s “literally” totes norms Rachel Zoe, the person is full of baloney.
- Look for deals, but be wary of sellers offering a bag at a considerably discounted price. A legitimate bag that retails in the hundreds would not sell for less than $100, especially not a new bag.
- With that said, there are a lot of sites reselling authentic bags and guaranteeing authenticity, such as Shop Hers, The Luxury Closet, and Tradesy.
- Ebay is generally not a good place to buy Louis Vuitton. But if you see a great deal, research the seller, (especially if purchasing a bag from an online auction or through a similar online venue). Check seller feedback. Look for sellers with an overwhelmingly large percentage of positive feedback comments. Avoid sellers with negative feedback, zero feedback, or private feedback. The reputation of a seller is a big clue as to a bag’s authenticity.
- Ask for additional pictures from the seller. They may be using pictures of real Louis Vuitton purses to sell fakes. If they are using stock photos, they are most likely selling fakes or worse, yes it gets worse, they are going to send you nothing. And once “nothing” is delivered and tracking is in place, they can say they sent it and you have no real proof they didn’t. You just get an empty box.
- If you cannot inspect the bag in person, look for listings with thorough pictures. Only purchase a bag after you have seen, at minimum, a picture of the front, back, base, lining, date code, and the embossed “Louis Vuitton Made in” stamp.
- Avoid sellers who offer no return policy.
- Walk away from bags with a tilted pattern. Authentic bags have even patterns that are well matched and proportionate. (This is also very true for Chanel too). A bag with a pattern that does not match up with itself is likely to be a fake.
You can email me for advice, to look at pictures of something questionable and I will happily reply for free. Thanks and love, Kathryn (the “Haute Angel”)