You’ve finally decided to take the plunge and get yourself an ultra-luxury designer handbag. You’ve considered saving up even more money to have the full in-store experience of buying a brand-new one, but a frugal version of yourself is aggressively whispering, “Don’t do it yet! Save your money, buy a resale bag first!” Then you start to wonder if the reseller might sell you a fake one unbeknownst to them or you. You want to be smart with your money so you start to consider how to tell a real Louis Vuitton from a fake.
How To Tell the Difference Between Real Louis Vuitton and Fake Louis Vuitton?
Look closely at stitching quality and pattern
The stitching on a Louis Vuitton item should be flawless. There shouldn’t be a single stitch out of place, bulging, hanging, or protruding. The stitching should be uniform and symmetric with minimal distortion and no unattractive appearance. The stitches should be slightly angled, but uniform on an authentic bag, so keep away from bags with completely straight or sloppy stitches as these are likely counterfeit items.
Examine the Shape, Proportions, Color, and Posture
The appearance of Louis Vuitton handbags can be incredibly helpful in determining if it is authentic. If you notice any slouching, creasing, or other irregular appearance it can be an enormous red flag. A Louis Vuitton should look good – the handles should be solid and symmetric and the bag must remain tight. Older, authentic Louis Vuitton bags have developed a patina based on their age. Some enthusiasts of the brand prefer the golden honey patina of the leather on an authentic Louis Vuitton.
Check the Material, Hardware, and Quality of Construction
What are Louis Vuitton Handbags Made of?
Louis Vuitton handbags are most commonly made of authentic leather and contain a unique blend of woven fabric and patent leather. The brand is also known to use natural materials like shearling and exotic leathers as well. A counterfeit may also be made of these materials so a counterfeit can be hard to detect by looking at the material alone.
How To Authenticate Louis Vuitton Hardware: Locks, Studs, and Zippers
Hardware details like zippers, locks, and plating are very important when it comes to determining the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton bag. Louis Vuitton has used its own signature golden brass hardware since 1991. The quality of Louis Vuitton’s hardware should be immediately apparent when you pick it up – it should feel solid and heavy, never cheap or light.
Louis Vuitton padlocks, which can be found on Speedy bags and Keepall duffles, are made from solid brass. The front of a Louis Vuitton padlock will always have the LV logo. Padlocks are one of the few types of Louis Vuitton hardware that are made from solid brass. The back of the padlock is stamped with either:
- LOUIS VUITTON / PARIS
- LOUIS VUITTON / MADE IN FRANCE
- LOUIS VUITTON / PARIS / MADE IN FRANCE
The Louis Vuitton stamp is notable for its unique font. The O is perfectly round and wide, while the L has a short tail. The two Ts in Vuitton are almost touching. This creates a sleek and modern look that is instantly recognizable.
All Louis Vuitton bags produced since 1991 feature the brand’s signature gold brass hardware with the “LV” logo. The zippers on older models are typically Swiss-made or ECLAIR, while newer Louis Vuitton bags may have a YKK zipper.
The finish on each zipper varies depending on the style and year of the bag, but it should be either semi-matte or shiny. If it is shiny, it should be clean and smooth, with no visible streaks or ripple effects.
Look at the LV Date Code and Country Code
Understanding Louis Vuitton date codes can help authenticate all Louis Vuitton products.
Louis Vuitton Country Codes Explained
Since the early 1980s, Louis Vuitton has included date codes with their bags, small leather goods, and most accessories. These are not considered serial numbers and are not used for the purpose of verifying authenticity. Rather, these are date codes consisting of letters and numbers (or in the case of older bags, simply numbers) that identify the date and location the bag was manufactured. Date codes for hard-sided pieces; however, such as trunks or structured suitcases, typically include more than four digits. The letters in the date code correspond to the country in which the bag was made and the numbers correspond to the date. This can be particularly helpful when considering purchasing a vintage or used Louis Vuitton bag. Please note that unlike brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton does not include authenticity cards with its handbags.
As of March 1st, 2021, Louis Vuitton has removed date codes from their products in favor of microchips. This change was made in an effort to combat counterfeiters, who oftentimes include fake date codes on their products. If you have an older model Louis Vuitton bag and it is missing a date code, don’t panic. It is possible that the date code tab has fallen off from wear or cleaning, or it may have faded if it was debossed into the Alcantara micro-suede fabric.
For models predating the new microchips, Louis Vuitton presents a host of usual options for the context of how the code is presented. These tricks should help you to both locate and partially authenticate your Louis Vuitton handbags.
What Do Louis Vuitton Date Codes Mean?
- All Louis Vuitton date codes are typically located within the interior of a bag or small leather good.
- The date code will be directly embossed into the fabric, or the date code can be embossed or printed—depending on the factory and model—on a rectangular leather tab sewn into an interior seam. Date code placement on the interior seam is the most common method. Some older models do have the date code embossed on or somewhere near the handles.
- The leather used for the tab will also match the leather trim used for the bag itself. For example, a Damier Ebene coated canvas bag will have a brown PVC coated leather tab, while a Monogram coated canvas bag will have a Vachetta tab.
- The date code will usually be found inside a pocket, either located inside the bag or at the exterior of the bag, the tag will always be sewn into a seam.
- For embossed date codes, they will most likely either be found near the top edge of the bag or near the seam of an interior pocket. Also, for certain models, such as the Speedy bag, the date code can usually be found embossed on a riveted leather tab underneath the loose interior pocket.
- When printed in lieu of embossed, the date code method is usually foil stamping. Similar to embossing, the date code is pressed into the material, but with a sheet of colored foil while applying heat.
Use this guide below to help you decipher what your Louis Vuitton bag’s date code means.
A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS (Special Order), AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, CO, CT, CX, DR, DT, DU, ET, FL (also USA), LA (also USA), LM (also Spain), LW, MB, MI, ML, MM, NO, RA, RI, SA (also Italy), SD (also USA), SF, SK, SL, SN, SP, SR, TA, TH, TJ, TN, TR, TS, TY, VI, VX
BC (also Spain), BO, CE, FH (also USA), FO, FP, MA, NZ, OB, PL, RC, RE, SA (also France), TB, TD
FC, FH (also Italy), FL (also France), LA (also France), OS, SD (also France), TX
BC (also Italy), CA, LO, LB, LM (also France), LW, GI, UB
Finally, you should check to see if the country code indicated by the two-letter factory code (listed below) matches the “made in” country stamp on the bag. For example, if your date code includes the letters BC (signifying Italy), but the bag is stamped “Made in France”, it is a sign of a fake.
Louis Vuitton Date Codes Explained
Most Louis Vuitton date codes are a combination of letters and numbers. The letters indicate the country in which the item was made while the numbers indicate the month and year of the production date. The format of the date codes are as follows:
Before the Early 1980s
No date codes
Three or four numbers where the first two numbers represent the year and last number (or numbers) represents the month. For example, “8212” would indicate a manufacturing date of December, 1982.
Early to late 1980s
Three or four numbers followed by two letters with the first two numbers representing the year, the next number or numbers representing the month and the last two letters representing the country. (Refer to the list above for an explanation of the county or factory code). For example, “886VI” would indicate a manufacturing date of June, 1988 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, “VX1013” would indicate a factory location in France and a manufacturing date of November, 2003.
2007 and 2021
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 fourth numbers representing the year. For example, “CA3121” would indicate a factory location of Spain and a manufacturing date of the 32 week (or June) of 2011.
2021 to Present
Louis Vuitton discontinued the date code in favor of a microchip for a better and easier authentication process and assistance in making repairs. The microchip stores information about the handbag’s construction and materials and maintains the owner’s privacy.
Do all Louis Vuitton say Made in France?
No, all Louis Vuitton bags do not say “Made in France.” Louis Vuitton bags can be made with stamps originating from many countries as indicated above.
How Much Do Louis Vuitton Bags Cost?
How much is a purse from LV?
Louis Vuitton’s prices range between about $1,100 dollars and $6,000 dollars. Prices vary on vintage purses depending on their age and popularity as collector’s items. There are some exotic leather Louis Vuitton bags that retail for more than $30,000.
Why do LV bags cost so much?
A number of factors affect a LV’s price including quality materials, durability, and resell value. Louis Vuitton consumers expect nothing less from these guidelines. Louis Vuitton is also well aware that they are seen as a status symbol and that further inflates the price. Depending on the item you buy, you could be choosing a well-recognized status symbol in an attempt to show people that you can afford to spend the money. They know that and help you show off by maintaining a high price tag.
Where Can a Louis Vuitton Be Authenticated?
As you can see, attempting to DIY authenticate a Louis Vuitton bag is difficult. Unless you are a trained professional or extreme brand aficionado, you are better off paying an authentication service. Some of the most trusted authentication services are Fashionphile and The Real Real. They have a good reputation for buying and selling authentic luxury handbags.
Should I Buy a Louis Vuitton Bag?
Whether or not you should buy a Luis Vuitton bag is entirely up to you. If you want a status symbol bag to prove to everyone who sees you that you’ve “made it” go ahead and buy one. You should also buy it if that same bag brings you incredible joy even if it sits in your closet month after month or if no one ever saw you with it. If you are looking for an incredibly well-made bag that will stand the test of time regardless of trendiness your money is probably better spent elsewhere.
Where Can I Buy an Authenticated Louis Vuitton Bag?
If you absolutely must have a new-to-you Louis Vuitton handbag Fashionphile and The Real Real are easily accessible options. They have a rigorous authentication process and a 100% authenticity guarantee or your money back.