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How to authenticate and spot a fake Louis Vuitton handbag

Louis Vuitton has been one of the most, if not the most, counterfeited luxury brands to date. Following a report that 90% of Louis Vuitton handbags sold on eBay were fake, the French Court charged the company to pay 61 million to the luxury group LVMH in 2008. However, state of art authentication technology has been a game-changer for luxury resellers and buyers - including eBay!

At Sign of the Times, we've been experts in identifying fake handbags for over four decades. Yes, that's including the years before authentication technology was yet to emerge. It is part of our mission to help prevent keen collectors of vintage and current season handbags on the secondhand marketplace from purchasing counterfeits. If ever in doubt about the authenticity of your preloved purchase, or simply want to know how to quickly spot a fake: Here are five ways to authenticate your preloved Louis Vuitton handbag.

Unique stamps and Date Codes

Louis Vuitton handbags don’t come with an authentication card. Instead, the manufacturers stitch a unique stamp and date code on the bag's interior lining. This form of identification has been used since the early 1980's. Although, do note that a number of models manufactured at the time do not have date codes.

You’ll find the unique stamp, with the designer labels name and the manufacturing location stitched to the inside pocket. The first tell-tale sign of authenticity is the colour of the stitching, which should always be a mustard-yellow (emphasis on mustard). Perfectly centred on a square of leather, Louis Vuitton has notoriously embossed its name with the same font for years. Observe the letter ‘O’, which should appear as a perfect circle as opposed to an oval-like ‘0’. The ‘L’ in Louis should have a distinctly longer vertical leg and the ‘TT’ in Vuitton should be close to touching. 

Real vs. Fake Stamp:

The six-digit date code can be used to identify where and when a Louis Vuitton handbag was manufactured. It tends to be printed on a leather tab, and can be found in the following locations: 

  • Embossed into the leather tab and stitched into the lining of the bag
  • Stitched into a pocket. Open out your pockets to find the leather tab.
  • (Without a leather tab) Embossed directly onto the interior lining of the bag, often alongside a seam.
  • The exterior leather strap, near a brass hinge.
  • Louis Vuitton wallets are stamped with a date code on the inner edge of the notes compartment.
  • Louis Vuitton agendas are stamped under the flap nearest to the seam

The location disclosed on the unique stamp can be used to decipher the date code. Nowadays, Louis Vuitton handbags are manufactured in France, Germany, The USA, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. Every country holds its own unique code, accounting for the first two letters of the handbag's six-character date code. If the country specified by the date does not match the 'made in' stamping; the handbag is fake. 

Louis Vuitton’s serial codes and factories are as follows:

France A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS (Special Order), AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BE, BJ, BU, DR, DU, CO, CT, ET, FL, LM (2019 onwards), LA (2019 onwards) LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SA, SD, SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TJ, TH, TR, TS, TY, VI, VX
Germany LP
Italy BC, BO, CE, FO, MA, PL, RC, RE, SA, TB, TD, NZ
Spain BC (2015 onwards), CA, JJ, LO, LB, LM, LW, GI, UB
Switzerland DI, FA
USA FC, FH, LA, OS, SD, TX, FL
MISC DK – Relined and replaced items

The remaining four digits on vintage handbags, manufactured prior to 2007, indicate the month and year of production. Handbags manufactured from 2007 to 2020 should bear an updated digit code, signifying the number of the week in the year, followed by the year.

Pictured below are authentic date codes, in the common locations they are found.

As of 2021, current season Louis Vuitton handbags do NOT feature a date code. In an effort to tackle the replica market with technology, the luxury brand replaced date codes with a microchip that can only be scanned and read by Louis Vuitton employees. If ever in doubt about the authenticity of a handbag bought off the secondhand market, don’t bother asking Louis Vuitton’s sales associates to authenticate your preloved purchase. They won’t do it. We advise you to seek the assistance of a trusted reseller who can offer their designer handbag authentication service to you. 

Looking for a designer handbag authentication service in London? At Sign of the Time’s, you can bring your preloved handbag to our London store to be authenticated. Find out more about our authentication service and how to get in touch

Logo and Monogram 

Classic Monogram 

The classic monogram on Louis Vuitton handbags is comprised of interlocking LV letters, four-petal fleur-de-lys’, fleur-de-lys’ inside a square and rounded four-petal flowers inside a circle. No other geometric shapes should be present and the ‘V’ should be positioned just above the ‘L’ where the letters intersect. Can you spot why the the white monogram Murakami Speedy pictured below is fake?

The red hearts. Louis Vuitton's monogram has been reinterpreted in countless creative ways, but the addition of irregularities to the standard pattern isn't one.


Pay close attention to the continuity of the monogram's pattern. Where the pattern starts with a fleur-de-lys, it should finish with the fleur-de-lys; where the pattern starts from a semi-circle, it should finish with a semi-circle. Although partial secondary symbols are acceptable, given they remain consistent, any stitch line that cuts the 'LV' symbol in half is an automatic red flag. The 'LV' logo should always be completely intact.

As pictured to the right below, the symmetry of the monogram throughout the bag is indicative of authenticity. To determine symmetry, observe the pattern in relation to other non-monogram handbag properties. 

Two of the most iconic Louis Vuitton handbags, the Keepall duffle bag and Speedy, are crafted with a singular piece of leather. Thus, the classic monogram should appear up-side down on authentic models, as pictured above.

Damier Ebene / Damier Azur

On Damier Ebene or Azur canvas models, the Louis Vuitton logo printed inside a multiple squares should always follow along the same line on either side of the bag. 


Explore our second-hand designer handbags in the iconic Louis Vuitton monogram canvas, featuring cross-body, shoulder, tote, top-handle, travel and clutch bags. From the classic brown monogram to the Damier Ebene canvas; invest in preloved and authenticated Louis Vuitton at incredible prices with our curated collection of investment-worthy handbags

Hardware  

Every component of hardware, albeit size, should be engraved with the Louis Vuitton logo. Authentic's with stamped hardware should have a clear impression and be centred in the middle. In the case of round rivets, the logo should circle around perfectly. 

Another tell-tale sign is the quality and heaviness of the hardware. Where all Louis Vuitton handbags and accessories are made from metal brass and painted in gold, fake hardware is noticeably lighter. 

Inspect the shape of the hardware connecting items together, such as handles and zippers. Authentic Louis Vuitton bags possess a D-ring, whilst the ring hooks and connecting pieces on fakes tend to be more circular in shape. The edges of any angular hardware should always be smooth, and zippers should slide effortlessly. Abrupt open and closure signifies a fake bag. 

Pictured below is an authentic D-ring.

Pictured below is an authentic Louis Vuitton Alma. Notice how the angular hardware maintains smooth edges. 

Stitching

Louis Vuitton is meticulous about stitching, making it a crucial indicator of authenticity. The stitch line should always remain of equal distance from the edge of the handbag and every single stitch should be consistent in size.

Leather 

Only the best quality of leather is used for Louis Vuitton handbags. In the case of the classic monogram and Damier Ebene models, Louis Vuitton uses an oxidizing natural cowhide leather that turns into a dark honey colour with time. This is important to note when purchasing preloved and vintage Louis Vuitton handbags that have already been used, as the colour of the leather should show signs of aging. This includes a darkening of the tanned beige handles on preloved bags.  

A final note

Although these design elements can help determine whether your preloved Louis Vuitton handbag was crafted with the utmost expertise, the most reliable confirmation is to buy preloved designer handbags from trusted resellers, or to inquire with a professional when in doubt. Credible measures to authenticate counterfeit goods should not rely solely on inspection by the naked eye. At Sign of the Times, we use Entrupy: Machine learning AI algorithms used on microscopic images of counterfeit goods to distinguish between counterfeit and genuine secondhand designer handbags. The innovative technology was introduced in 2012 and has a 99.1% accuracy rate, ensuring your secondhand shopping experience is counterfeit-free. There has never been a better time to buy and sell secondhand luxury! Make sure you're making the most of the new and improved ways to guarantee authenticity. 

Looking to sell your preloved designer handbags with a trusted reseller in London? Or looking to authenticate your preloved purchase with a professional in London? With over 45 years if experience in authenticating and reselling luxury goods, our authentication service is here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment, or if you're shopping in Chelsea, we invite you to drop by with your item requiring authentication. 

For more on Louis Vuitton, read our blog on The Complete History of Louis Vuitton or How to sell a Louis Vuitton handbag.

 

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