Five Quick Ways To Authenticate A Chanel Handbag
…Or at least get a rough idea! I’m talking about those moments when you are in a charity shop / thrift store / car boot sale and you think you have struck gold. This isn’t a full-proof guide to authenticating a Chanel bag, that’s way too complex. Instead these quick tips will help you decide ‘if this £15 handbag is worth buying’. It could after all, be the bargain of the century or your lunch money down the drain!
Have a look at the obvious things; the quality of the stitching, is it perfect? It should always be perfectly evenly-spaced with no wobbly lines and no overlapped stitching. If the bag is quilted check the number of stitches per quilt, there should be 11 stitches per side of ‘diamond’, don’t be afraid to have a quick count! Oh and the reason for the high stitch count is because Chanel bags are high quality and the extra stitches help keep the structure of the bag, if seems a bit ‘floppy’ or misshapen, avoid. Finally, turn the bag around, if there is a back pocket on the bag, the quilt of the pocket should line up perfectly with the quilt of the bag.
If it has a chain strap, feel the weight of the chain, an authentic Chanel handbag will have a good weight to both the bag and the chain. It should feel solid and the colour of the metal should match the colour of the lock and any other hardwear. If the chain feels tinny or light, leave it. The leather woven through the chain should be the same high quality as the bag leather and it should be folded within itself so there is no raw edges exposed.
Check the inside of the bag for a tiny sticker with a serial number. Don’t be alarmed if the bag doesn’t have one, over time these can peel away and very old Chanel bags never had these codes to begin with. If you can find a sticker with a serial number on, type into Google, ‘Chanel bag’ followed by the serial number. Every Chanel handbag has a unique serial number so if a handful of handbags come up for sale on different sites or eBay links, it’s not real. Fake bag manufacturers tend to reuse the same few serial numbers. Some purse blogs have also made comprehensive lists of all known faux serial numbers. If your number comes up with a link to a forum like this… Walk away! Also, dodgy factories do make fake authenticity cards, so don’t be fooled by one! PS. Sorry I have blurred out some of the numbers in the image, I just don’t want any of my serial numbers being online, that’s how the faux factories often get their numbers 🙁
Chanel have been producing their iconic bags since the 1950’s and many changes have been made over this time! Everything from the zipper to the fastening, the label to the lining has seen variations over this time and there is exceptions to every rule. A common myth is that Chanel bags always have branded zip pulls, this is not true so don’t panic if the zip pull is branded with YKK, DMC, EP (to name a few brands who have supplied Chanel with their zippers). I’m not saying this means it’s real, it just doesn’t mean it’s fake! As for the Chanel label on the inside, these too can vary, some are leather labels (often leather stitched into lining fabric if it’s a tote bag), but most famously, they are branded with a gold heat stamp embossed on the inside of the bag. This stamp should be perfect; with even spacing between letters and never sloped, at an angle or smudged. Oh and another myth is that all Chanel bags are made in France, again that’s not true, some are made in Italy and Spain. Don’t be put off if you see the inside of the bag is stamped ‘Made in Italy’, instead be put off if the gold lettering isn’t quite crisp or straight.
If the bag comes with an authenticity card, this doesn’t mean it’s real. These can be faked too and very easily ( or so I have be told). Same goes for carrier bags, receipts and dust bags, so don’t take these at face value, because they could be from another bag, or produced to miss-lead the buyer. Remember factories are getting smarter and it’s more likely that you are stood in a charity shop seeing someones holiday-error, rather than someone went into Chanel, dropped £3,000 and then walked that bag into a charity shop. If it does have an authenticity card, it doesn’t mean it’s fake, but it doesn’t mean it’s real. Be careful and instead spend the time checking out the serial number, chain, stitching, leather quality and what-not.
Again, this isn’t a complex authenticity guide, it’s just a few easy pointers of how to spot a real from a fake when you are out and about. Of course, if the bag is £1 in Salvation Army, just buy it (and if it is real, maybe make a bigger donation at some point, y’know, karma and all!), if it’s more than £15 then do have a little inspect of it. You can always get it get it authenticated properly at a later date, but the main point of this post is not to be caught out and buy a fake on impulse because you are not sure if it is real or not. If you want more info, then I would check out Vintage Heirloom who have some amazing videos and imagery on the topic, I must also credit them as they have taught me a LOT about spotting the fakes and details like the number of stitches per quilt. They also have an amazing online shop where you can buy pre-owned Chanel and other designer handbags.