How to differentiate designer goods from fakes

So-called 'super fake' bags have many similarities to designer handbags

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

MIAMI - A woman concerned the bag she was buying wasn't the designer label she thought she was getting reached out to Call Christina.

Miami fashion blogger, Kelly Saks said many consumers have a tough time detecting fake designer bags and shoes because the similarities often outweigh the differences.

"There are the street level counterfeits that any consumer can really tell right off the bat that it's a fake -- they're sloppy," said Saks. "There has been a lot of policing of that industry. The next level of counterfeit bags that has been infiltrating the industry is the 'super fake,' which even a very skilled shopper like myself wouldn't really be able to tell the difference."

"These counterfeiters have gotten really sophisticated in copying these designer goods," Saks said while showing Local 10 News reporter Christina Vazquez a classic red-sole Christian Louboutin shoe.

When it comes to knock-off designer shoes, Saks said check the seams.

"A lot of times they have glue that's a little messy. Make sure you pay close attention to the interior of the shoe," Saks said. "Sometimes the stamp is a little bit crooked and Christian Louboutin would never sell a shoe that has details that are a little off."

Saks said the same applies to handbags.

"You're going to want to look at the stitching, making sure it's consistent throughout. In the fake bags, they tend to have the stitching really tight so it kind of squeezes the leather," she said. "As you can see in this one the stitching is really light and it's consistent throughout the bag. Also you're going to want to look at the buckles and the hardware."

Saks showed Vazquez some designer handbags and shoes at Second Time Around, a consignment chain that buys and resells high-end designer goods.

"Stores like Second Time Around are fantastic options to go as a consumer because they have so many checks and balances. Each of their store managers has a handbook detailing how to authenticate each kind of luxury bag," Saks said.

Last year, investigators with Homeland Security seized more than 23,000 counterfeit products worth more than $1.2 billion.

"All these products are produced by organized crime," said Miami-Dade Police Department Economic Crimes Bureau Detective Marcos Rodriguez. "And you are supporting it by buying the product."

So how can you protect yourself from buying counterfeit goods?

"If you're not familiar with a specific brand, go online (and) do you research," Saks said. "Whether it's an authentic card with Chanel or a code with Louis Vuitton, just be very particular with details."

Saks also gave the following tips consumers can keep in mind to protect themselves from buying fake designer handbags and shoes:

1.       Shop at certified and trusted consignment stores.

2.       Pay attention to authenticity signs with designer items like authenticity cards or codes.

3.       Pay attention to details on designer items and look for imperfections.

4.       Buy from certified sellers and/or stores online.

When it comes to fake designer purses:

Chanel

·         Authenticity Card: An authentic Chanel bag comes with the authenticity card that has a serial number. It's a black card that's outlined in gold.

·         Serial Number: The bag will have a serial number inside of it. Be sure the serial number in the bag matches the serial number on the authenticity card. You can check websites to see if these numbers are real.

·         Inside Logo: A real Chanel purse will have a Chanel logo printed on leather on the top inside of the bag. The black stitching is consistent throughout that the metallic Chanel stamp. The words "Made in France" will be parallel to the stitching.

·         Hologram: There will be a hologram sticker inside that will have some iridescence to it.

Louis Vuitton

·         Aging:  A real Louis Vuitton's leather will age over time, check the wear and tear.

·         Stitching: Make sure the stitching is consistent throughout. Fake bags will have really tight stitching that will squeeze the leather.

·         Buckles and Hardware: A fake purse may have plastic parts instead of metal. You can test this with either a hot or cold substance to see if it changes temperature.

·         No Authenticity Card: Rather than having an authenticity card, Louis Vuitton items will have an authenticity number. This number will be engraved inside the leather bag and an expert will know where to find it.

·         Authenticity Number: The first two letters represent the country by its country code. The first and third numbers represent the week that the bag was made and the second and fourth numbers represent the year.

When it comes to fake designer shoes:

Christian Louboutin

·         Glue: A lot of times you'll find that they have glue that's a little bit messy.

·         Stamp: Play close attention to the interior of the shoe because most of the time the stamp will be a little bit crooked.

·         Shoebox: The Louboutin shoebox is plain cardboard with a white logo on it.

·         Dust bag: Inside the shoebox there will be a red dust bag. This bag should have the Louboutin logo on it as well as a red cord and red thread stitching.

Prada

·         Logo: The logo on a Prada shoe will be gold and prominent.

·         Ribbon: A real Prada shoe will have a Prada ribbon sewn in to the inside.

·         Stamp: The bottom of the shoe will have a logo stamped across the middle.

Gucci

·         Stamp: Gucci uses a gold stamp on their shoes. Fake Gucci shoes will most likely have a stamp placed on the shoe and might be crooked. Real Gucci shoes will have a gold logo that is a part of the leather, not stamped on.

According to Saks, something that people should be aware of is the punishment that could come from buying these counterfeit goods.

"It is a crime at the end of the day, so be aware that when you are purchasing these fake goods there is a chance you could be prosecuted," said Saks.

Counterfeit goods can also be things other than purses and shoes. Last year investigators with the Department of Homeland Security seized more than 23,000 fake products at America's ports of entry worth an estimated $1.2 billion dollars.  United States Customs and Border Patrol released a list of the top ten counterfeit items seized last year:

1.       Wearing apparel/accessories

2.       Consumer electronics

3.       Pharmaceuticals/personal care

4.       Handbags/wallets

5.       Footwear

6.       Watches/jewelry

7.       Optical media

8.       Computers/accessories

9.       Labels/tags

10.     Toys

Follow Christina Vazquez on Twitter @CallChristinaTV

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