Louis Vuitton Authentication Guide & Date Codes
As a collector of some designer items and an antique dealer, I have had to learn to authenticate many types of items, from pottery and knives to Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton is (at first) difficult. I am going to do several posts I hope people find helpful on how to figure out if a designer item is authentic and if so, what time period does it derive from. I hope you enjoy it! Contrary to popular belief, Louis Vuitton handbags (excluding luggage and rare limited edition pieces) do not have serial numbers. Rather, Louis Vuitton handbags have “date codes” stamped either on interior tags or directly on the interior linings. These date codes simply serve to identify the manufacturing location and date for a Louis Vuitton handbag, not to verify it’s authenticity. Because, and this is important, even fakes can come with date code tabs. If you believe this to be the case, you have to look for other factors in authenticating the item. When in doubt, go with your gut and if a deal is too good to be true, it is probably false. Trust your intuition.
With the exception of early handbags (early 1980s and older), date codes can be found on all Louis Vuitton handbags and other items made by the luxury brand (e.g. sunglasses).
Date code embossed on tag inside a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Most date codes are a combination of letters and numbers. The letters indicated the country in which the item was made while the numbers indicate the month/year of the production date. The format of the date codes are as follows:
Prior to early 1980s. No date codes. (Many counterfeit sellers will state their item is prior to the 80s to explain the lack of a date code tag. In some cases, this is the truth, but make sure you look at other authenticating factors before hitting “pay”!
Early 1980s. Three or four numbers with the first two numbers representing the year and last number(s) representing the month. E.g. “836” would indicate a manufacturing date of June, 1983.
Early to late 1980s. Three or four numbers followed by two letters with the first two numbers representing the year, the next number(s) representing the month and the last two letters representing the country (see right sidebar for factory location codes). E.g. “874VX” would indicate a manufacturing date of May, 1987 and factory location in France. Late in the 1980s, the letters representing the factory location came before the three or four numbers representing the manufacturing date.
1990 to 2006. Two letters followed by four numbers with the first two letters representing the factory location, the first and third numbers representing the month and the second and forth numbers representing the year. For example, “VI1025” would indicate a factory location in France and a manufacturing date of December, 2005.
2007 and newer. Two letters followed by four numbers with the first two letters representing the factory location, the first and third numbers representing the week of the year, and the second and forth numbers representing the year. For example, “SD2057” would indicate a factory location of USA and a manufacturing date of the 25 week (or May) of 2007.
Again, keep in mind that the fact that an item has a date code does not guarantee that it’s authentic since many counterfeit items have date codes (as stated above). A valid and properly stamped date code is just one of many parameters that are checked to guarantee the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Are there authentic handbags/items with no date code tabs?
Authentic Louis Vuitton handbags with alcantara linings may have date codes that are very hard to read or have disappeared altogether. For instance, I have a Louis Vuitton Mahina bag with alcantara lining and the date code is there but very hard to see. This is sometimes the case for older bags or if the bags have had their linings cleaned.
Louis Vuitton Factory Location Codes
Let’s weed out the garbage from the gems, together!
Next time, I will be posting about other authenticating factors for Louis Vuitton.
Love, Kathryn (the “Haute Angel”)