Louis Vuitton (LV) is one of the most celebrated designers today – and one of the best selling, too. In fact, the fashion brand has already passed the $73 billion mark in 2021, which is a whopping 44 percent increase from their 2020 revenue.
But success sometimes comes at a price. Because of their beauty, elegance, and market value, many LV pieces have been counterfeited and sold illegally.
If you’re planning on buying one anytime soon – whether it’s brand-new or a pre-owned Louis Vuitton bag, you need to make sure you’re able to tell whether it’s authentic or not.
Luckily, all their pieces are made with the quality expected from a luxury handbag. They have also put security features in place that counterfeiters cannot replicate.
Ready to authenticate that Louis Vuitton item you’re eyeing? Look into these six things to make sure you make only invest in a genuine piece:
1. Overall Appearance
Before proceeding to the smaller details, a cursory inspection of the bag’s overall appearance should already give you an idea of whether the piece is an authentic Vuitton.
A brand-new LV bag should be pristine. The handles must have a symmetrical and sturdy appearance. The bag’s posture should also be straight and steady and shouldn’t slouch in any way.
For pre-owned bags, you should expect a similar level of quality, along with some patina that may come with age. (Some LV lovers even prefer to have that golden honey-colored patina.)
Since the designer has an expansive collection of luxury handbags, Louis Vuitton has used several kinds of materials in hundreds of color combinations and styles through the years.
As much as possible, touch and inspect the surface of these materials to determine whether you’re holding an original LV. Fakes have more varied pattern alignments, texture, color, and weight.
Below is a list of the most popular Louis Vuitton materials and what they should look like:
- Monogram Canvas – must have specific symbols, namely the four-pointed stars, interlocking LVs, flowers, and suns.
- Damier – must have uniform-sized squares, measuring about 0.65 inches each.
- Epi Leather – usually features a lightly embossed LV along one corner.
- Monogram Vernis – pieces should feature a slightly pearlescent sheen.
3. Stitching Quality
Besides the material itself, you should also look closely at the quality of stitching of the Louis Vuitton bags you’re planning to buy. There shouldn’t be fraying or any unsightly quality. It should also be symmetrical and even.
Perfection is not a good thing either.
Remember that Louis Vuitton bags are hand stitched, which means there should be slight angles to every stitch for a piece to be authentic. If the stitches are straight and perfect, chances are the item is machine-made and fake.
Notice the kind of thread used, too. Louis Vuitton manufactures handbags using threads with a special resin coating that boosts weather resistance and durability. This special coating gives the threads a distinct mustard yellow hue.
Like other luxury brands, Louis Vuitton bags also come with precise stamping. Make sure you scrutinize every single detail and notice if the following key characteristics are present:
- The base of the “L” on the word “Louis” is very short.
- All the “Os” in the stamp should be very round – almost perfectly so – and appear bigger than the “L.”
- The two “Ts” should look like they are touching each other but do not really.
- The lettering should be slightly thin, making the stamp look very crisp and clear.
- The stamp itself must be positioned symmetrically, with the centerline right in the middle of the “V” and “U” in the word “Vuitton.”
Although there are exceptions, these details are what most counterfeiters fail to copy.
Remember to note the quality of the stamp itself, the letter spacing, and the stitching. An authentic LV bag should never have loose threads, an asymmetrical stamp, or uneven stitches.
5. Hardware Quality
Although different LV bag models featuree varying hardware, the quality will always be top-notch. Plus, there are certain details that counterfeiters don’t usually pay attention to and, therefore, fail to copy, such as:
- The position of the zipper should be on the left.
- The material used for the hardware itself is never plastic.
- Clasps are positioned on the left.
Trademark logos found on the zipper pulls, handle rings, and logo plaques should be evenly and clearly stamped, not too deep like those on most fakes.
Also, note that padlocks are the only Louis Vuitton bag hardware made of solid brass. The rest are made with plated metal and may eventually show signs of wear. The notion that all authentic Vuitton hardware doesn’t flake out or chip is a myth.
6. Date Code
Besides their appearance, Louis Vuitton luxury items also come with date codes that serve as the primary inspection point for authentication. These codes are made up of two letters and four numbers that signify when and where the piece was made.
The letters represent the factory codes and correspond to the “made in” stamps found in a different part of the bag. Different countries use varying codes, so be sure to research what is used on the bag you plan to buy first.
The numbers indicate the date when specific Louis Vuitton bags were made. This code should give you the exact week of a specific year (for newer bags) or the month and year (on older ones).
For models made between 1990 and 2006:
- The first and third digits represent the month
- The second and fourth digits indicate the year
Those made from 2007 to the present are written similarly, except the first and third digits are for the exact week of the year rather than the month.
If that sounds complicated, below are a few specific examples to help you understand how date codes work:
- Code DU2037: Made in France (DU), year 07 (2007) at week 23.
- Code MI3087: Made in France (MI), year 07 (2007) at week 38.
For the first example, the model was made in France in 2007, around the 23rd week of the year. The second was made during the same year but during the 38th week.
Make Sure Your LV Is Genuine
Luxury bags like those from Louis Vuitton represent a significant investment.
To ensure you spend your money well, only buy authentic handbags from reputable retailers.
Use this article to spot fakes and keep your collection free from counterfeits.