How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag in 30 Seconds Flat

Every year, the U.S. seizes billions of dollars worth of counterfeit goods, and a substantial portion of the haul includes fake designer purses. As you likely know, buying a counterfeit bag is rife with moral issues, from violating intellectual property and contributing to the loss of over 750,000 American jobs to financially supporting crime syndicates that run human-trafficking rings. As counterfeiters become savvier, it can be easy to be fooled into accidentally buying a knockoff.

Accordingly, we figured it was high time to become a bit more knowledgeable about how to spot a fake. Enter The RealReal’s senior director of authentication, Graham Wetzbarger. Wetzbarger has personally examined thousands of designer purses, and he shares his top tips for identifying counterfeit goods below.

Scroll down for Wetzbarger’s tips to safeguard yourself from ever buying a knockoff purse and know how to tell if a bag is fake.

How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag When Shopping Online

Step 1: Know the Source

“The source can tell you a lot about the probability of an item being counterfeit, so it’s important check out their FAQs, About Us section, and press pages. And make sure they offer an authenticity guarantee. If the shop or website doesn’t look and feel high-end, chances are it’s not—and chances are neither are the products.” 

Step 2: Check the Images

“Don’t buy an item against a stock image. Make sure to request photos of the actual piece with the ability to view it up close and in detail.”

Step 3: Check for Plastic

“Be very skeptical of bags with loose, translucent plastic covering the handles. This is a sure sign of counterfeit.”

Step 4: Beware of Hangtags

“You’re not buying K-Swiss sneakers—luxury bags won’t come with a shield-shaped leather swatch hangtag.”

Step 5: Examine the Trim

“Most leather goods will have a wax casing hand applied to cover the raw edges of the piece. A sloppy and uneven paint job is a sign of inferior quality.”

Step 6: Compare the Price

“Price-compare the item against other sources. If the one you’re considering buying is priced considerably lower than similar items on other sites, that is a red flag.”

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Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21Eme

How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag When Shopping in Person

Step 1: Check the Zipper

“Test the zipper. A designer-quality zipper will pull smoothly with equal tension throughout.”

Step 2: Check the Lining

“Feel the lining. Crunchy, papery synthetics or pock-marked suede are huge red flags.” 

Step 3: Smell the Bag

“Does it smell like a shower curtain liner? This is a telltale sign of synthetic materials, excessive use of glue, or heavily chemically treated materials.”

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