Ask an Insider: How do you spot a fake designer handbag?

Fashion

March 28, 2017 | BY Jessica Liew

A seasoned expert from the fashion industry shares tricks of the trade employed in tackling encounters with fake handbags. 

EDIT fashion illustration.jpg (original size)Where there are expensive and (mostly) inaccessible luxury goods, copies and counterfeits are never far behind. One popular byproduct would be designer handbags, which have endured the brunt of crafty reproductions.

To the layman eye, every other woman appears to be toting a designer bag when it is not. But for those instructed in the ways of the luxury industry, spotting fakes is second nature.

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 Which leads us to the burning question: how to identify a phony designer handbag? To satisfy our curiosity, we turned to an anonymous expert who comes with seasoned knowledge of the fashion industry. We came away with juicy insights as to how brands tackle encounters head-on with fake handbags.

 What are the telltale signs of a fake designer handbag?

The designs are never 100% like the ones found in branded stores. Seasoned eyes can spot poor workmanship/material. Another easy way to identify would be the use of an YKK-sourced, cheap zipper, or as visible as poorly crafted hard ware.

How often do you run into a fake handbag? 

First of all, we must differentiate bags between ‘fakes’ and ‘inspired-by.’ Fakes normally try to copy down to a T whereas inspired-by’s might just take inspiration from a particular brand, style or material. Unfortunately, like every other city, Kuala Lumpur has its own haven for fakes and that would be Petaling Street. 

What would you do when you spot a fake handbag at an event? 

To avoid embarrassment, we usually refrain from doing anything and instead observe from the sidelines. 

Have there been cases when a fake handbag is sent in for repair?

Branded stores are especially careful when receiving a fake handbag for repair as this could lead to opportunities for the customer to make baseless claims. Rest assured that the staff is typically well trained in the art of spotting fakes.

So a fake has been identified. What’s next?

When a fake is identified, the customer will have to be told in a most diplomatic way as they could be innocent recipients of the bag as a gift, or they could be taking a chance. But once you mention fake they will more often then not immediately retreat – don't forget they were testing the waters! At the end of the day, stores should never knowingly take in a fake handbag for repair.

Illustration by: Cass Loh