Your Guide to Buying Preloved Designer Bags
With second hand shopping set to become more popular than fast fashion over the next decade, buying a preloved designer bag makes the luxury dream seem accessible. In reality, like all good things in life, there’s often a downside. When it comes to designer bags, that downside is counterfeits flooding the second hand bag market.
Buying preloved items is such a great idea in theory, but you always run the risk that you’re not going to get exactly what you’ve hoped for. We’ve put together a checklist of the pitfalls you need to watch out for when looking around for a second-hand designer bag to call your own. With some designer bag fakes being extremely good copies, you’ll still be able to spot them a mile away!
1. Feel & Smell the Fabric
Designer bags are typically made from genuine leather and leather has a distinctive smell and feel. If you can’t detect the smell of leather, it’s likely to be vinyl. Unless it’s design is meant to be vegan, it’s likely to be a fake. Press the bag. Real leather will show small wrinkles. If you’re in a store overseas, sometimes sellers of authentic pieces will put a match to the bag, so you can see it doesn’t burn or leave much of a mark. Fake leather will burn. That doesn’t mean that the bag is genuine, it just means it’s made with actual leather. It could still be a fake.
2. Check the Inner Lining
Counterfeits are usually based off images, meaning there isn’t as much care and attention dedicated to the inside. Are there the right number of pockets? Is the stitching tightly done and neat on the ends? Feel the fabric, it shouldn’t be thin and rough. Smooth and sturdy is the way to go! Lumps, bumps or creases in the lining are a red flag. Also, a change in colour on the inside lining is a dead giveaway that it’s a fake.
3. Check the Inside Tags
Have a look at the embroidered tags inside. Is the name of the designer spelt correctly and in the same font? Is the writing straight?
Authentic designer bags will not typically have bulk, manufacturer labels attached to them with multilingual care instructions. Care instructions will come with a certificate of authenticity. If there are long, obvious tags that look like they need to be cut off, it’s probably not the real deal! Even preloved designer bags frequently come with a protective dust bag marked with the brand name which is the same shape and size as the bag itself, but loose fitting.
4. Check the Hardware
Always check the detailing of the hardware. Any metal zippers, clasps or decoration should feel solid, not hollow and brittle. Look closely at the paint job – cheap paint jobs will chip and scratch very easily. Is the brand logo exactly where it should be and in the exact same brand font?
5. Check the Logo
Be sure to know exactly what the logo should look like before using this feauture as a guide to authenticity. That way you’ll easily be able to see if the logo has been copied incorrectly or is flawed. If it’s a stamp, is it sitting on top of the surface without looking embossed? If you can see imperfections in the logo, it’s a fake. Branding is key for exclusive labels and they pay a lot of attention to the details of what is their brand’s signature. If you can see faults in the logo, you’re looking at a fake.
6. Check the Dustbags & Certificates of Authenticity
Designer bags come with their own covers, known as dust bags, that protect them from moisture, dust and colour transference. For longer life, designer bags are best stored in their dust bags which almost always are stamped with the brand label. Not all brands provide a certificate of authenticity. Those that do will often contain a serial number for which there’ll be a match somewhere on the bag. A little bit of prior research to determine if your chosen brand comes with a certificate will save you a world of trouble where a certificate of authenticity is being offered and the label doesn’t actually provide them!
7. Look at the Overall Craftsmanship
Designer handbags such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermes are either handmade or go through up to 100 stages before completion. The level of detail and skill required to make these bags is incredible and almost impossible to replicate. Look at the stitching and detailing of the bag. A genuine designer bag will never have stitching that is coming undone or look as though it will. Make sure that the style and shape of the bag is familiar. Fakes will have shapes that differ from authentic brand ranges and may have new and unfamiliar shapes.
8. Leave it to the Professionals
A more reliable way to purchase your preloved designer bag is to leave it to the professionals and buy from a specialised re-sale designer outlet. It might be a more expensive way than buying directly yourself, but purchases are guaranteed, normally with full money-back refunds should any issues arise after.
Keep this fool-proof guide in mind when embarking on acquiring your own little piece of fashion luxury! Happy shopping!