How to Spot a Fake Chanel

A Chanel bag is a great investment with prices for a Medium Classic Flap bag increasing by 72% between 2010 and 2015. However, if you don’t have the money to buy one from Chanel direct then how do you know what you are getting is the real deal. When you think designer copies, Chanel handbags are probably the first to come to mind. There are tons out there. Some obvious, and some a little harder to spot. Over the years the copiers have become really good at getting it as close as possible but however hard they try they always seem to miss the minutiae. I have worked with vintage Chanel pieces for over 20 years and during that time have learned exactly what to look for. Firstly, look for the obvious, quality of the stitching, stamps, hardware etc, if it doesn’t feel quite right or look the part chances are its not as a real Chanel piece simply oozes quality..but here are some other key pointers:

Serial numbers: Chanel introduced serial numbers to its bags in the mid 80s. The formatting of these numbers changes each year and a lot can be told of this. I have seen bags where the serial number looks right until you look just that little harder and relies that the sticker is missing its gold specks (present on some years) or the 0 doesn’t have a strike through that was used in that year. There are lists on line where you can look at examples of serial numbers from each year. Fakers also use the same serial number over and over in some cases, a common example is 10218184

The CC logo: On a genuine bag the C on the right will always overlap the C on the left; at the bottom, the C on the left with overlap

Grommets: Grommets are the metal rings that Chanel chain straps run through. A specific machine is used for this and fakers have not worked out how to get the flawless finish. 

Zipper: Chanel has used Lampo metal tooth zippers for the past 20 years.

Made in: All Chanel bags will be made in Italy, France or in a very small quantity Spain. 

The Chain: The chain and leather straps are a signature feature of Chanel ages and also a great way to spot a fake. Vintage Chanel bags feature a link without the leather threaded through. Contemporary bags feature a leather strap folded back on themselves and stitched through each link.

Quilting: The quilting pattern is synonymous with Chanel. A giveaway on fakes can be when the diamond stitching doesn’t line up on pockets or flaps. However, if you are purchasing a vintage bag sometime the leather on pockets can be slightly stretched resulting in a slight mis-match.

There are slots of other tell tale signs such as stitching per diamond, stamps on hardware etc and there are mountains of excellent videos out there to watch to show pointers but I always advise going and familiarise yourself with the real deal before purchasing as there is nothing like the touch and look of an authentic Chanel!