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How to authenticate a Chanel flap bag: The complete guide

Having worked in the preloved designer resale business for over 10 years now I'm sure you can imagine I have seen a fair few beautiful Chanel flap bags. I have also seen a fair few super fakes and they are getting worryingly close to the original. In Entrupy's "state of the fake" report, they conclude that Chanel was the third most faked designer bag after Louis Vuitton and Gucci in 2018. 
At this point, just to get it out the way, I am going to address why, even if the copies are fantastic, you should hold out for an authentic piece and my short answer is: that it's important to invest in goods that not only have value but also integrity. Goods that are produced by people that are working in humane environments and whose funds do not contribute to the black market. If you're interested in this you may wish to read this article in the BBC.
Just last week I sat two Chanel flap bags side by side to compare and could barely spot the difference between the authentic Chanel bag and the fake one. Further to this, it is also common for natural differences to occur due to the fact that luxury designer bags are often hand finished or have different finishes due to their year of manufacturer. This can often cause people to be anxious that the bags are fake when in fact they are authentic. 
So how can we get around this? Below and in the video above I give my top tips for authenticating at home, but I have to say that the best thing to hit the second-hand market in recent years and something I hope will combat super fakes is in fact EntrupyEntrupy is a mechanism that uses machine learning algorithms on microscopic images of physical objects to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of designer goods. It has a 99.1% accuracy rate and has been used since 2012.  Whilst Timpanys offers designer handbag authentication in London and Berkshire via Entrupy I realise you may also want to do your own authentication at home so here are my top tips. 
1. Serial number
Head straight for the serial number. Authentic Chanel handbags from the mid-1980s onwards would have been produced with an authenticity card embossed with a serial number which matches the serial number that appears in a sticker found somewhere within the handbag’s interior lining.
The Chanel logo, hologram design and sticker will vary according to the year they were manufactured. A note here it is crucial that you keep this card for maintaining the value of your bag. The serial number can be traced by Chanel to detail what the bag is and when and where it was bought so it is key to proving authenticity and pretty hard to copy. Beyond just “having a serial number” each hologram has its own personality. For example, some numbers are serifs, some zeros have strikethrough etc. I have a full list of what to look out for below. This is written in 2019 please note that the current codes are 27 series. It is hard to copy the exactly speckling, or transfer these holograms due to the slice throughs.
Having said all that on some of the earlier models the authenticity sticker was literally just a sticker and could have rubbed off over the years. 
Serial Number Year Manufactured Style of Numbers Style of Serial Number Sticker Picture of Serial Number Sticker
25XXXXXX 2018-UP 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
24XXXXXX 2017-2018 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
23XXXXXX 2017 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
22XXXXXX 2016-2017 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
21XXXXXX 2015 to 2016 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
20XXXXXX 2014 to 2015 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
19XXXXXX 2014 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
18XXXXXX 2013 to 2014 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
17XXXXXX 2012 to 2013 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
16XXXXXX 2012 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right  side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
15XXXXXX 2011 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
14XXXXXX 2010 to 2011 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right  side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
13XXXXXX 2009 to 2010 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right  side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
12XXXXXX 2008 to 2009 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
11XXXXXX 2006 to 2008 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
10XXXXXX 2005 to 2006 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Eight digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
9XXXXXX 2004 to 2005 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
8XXXXXX 2003 to 2004 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
7XXXXXX 2002 to 2003 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
6XXXXXX 2000 to 2002 0s have strikethroughs. 1s have small serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
5XXXXXX 1997 to 1999 0s have strikethroughs up to 51XXXXX. 0's have no strikethroughs 
from 52XXXXX to 56XXXXX. 0's have strikethroughs from 57XXXXX on. 1s have small serifs (feet) from 57XXXXX on.
Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos from 57XXXXX on."X" cut-lines prevent sticker from being removed without damage. "CHANEL" appears on right side of the sticker. Dark line appears on left side of sticker. Gold speckles appear throughout sticker.
4XXXXXX 1996 to 1997 0s have strikethroughs. 1s are sans-serifs (no feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos. Opaque film covers sticker.
3XXXXXX 1994 to 1996 0s have strikethroughs. 1s are sans-serifs (no feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos. Opaque film covers sticker. 
2XXXXXX 1991 to 1994 0s have no strikethroughs up to 27XXXXXX. 1s have serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos. Opaque film covers sticker. 
1XXXXXX 1989 to 1991 0s have no strikethroughs. 1s have serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos and left-sided cutout. Opaque film covers sticker. 
0XXXXXX 1986 to 1988 0s have no strikethroughs. 1s have serifs (feet). Seven digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos and left-sided cutout. Opaque film covers sticker. Note that early serial numbers (starting with a 1 or 2) did not have a leading "0". Therefore, these were six-digit serial numbers. Also, the sticker was larger than the stickers produced later in the series.
Information above attributable to Yoogis Closet.

 

 

 

2. Hardware

Photo attributable to Vanna Garcia
The writing and embossing of the Chanel Paris on the hardware at the back - it is hard for them to get an exact match - sometimes it’s just about having seen lots of them to know if something looks off at the back but often the fakes have the words embossed to heavily. 
3. Gold Hardware myths
This first thing I want to do here is to clear up some false information I have seen circulating about the "Chanel made in France" on gold hardware brands.  I have seen it said that this cannot be under the CC logo  inside the flap if the bag has gold hardware and is made in France. In short this is false and tt can - I have seen authentic bags that have gold foil in this position under the logo. 
The Chanel locks - The original CC lock can feature either flat or raised finishes with the right C overlapping the left C at the top and the left C overlapping the right C at the bottom. Sometimes in the gold hardware you will see. Hallmarking - there is also a lot of controversial information out there about the hallmarking on gold CC bags.
 Before mid-to-late 2008, you can see a small stamp on the top left, top right, or the bottom right of the CC logo turn lock. The location may vary based on year and where the clasp was created.
However, some Chanel bags with gold CC turn locks were not hallmarked at all; for example, if they have a matte gold finish or if they were made in Italy, they may have no stamp.There will be no such markings on the silver hardware.
 
3. The screws 
Chanel only use two types of screws: Hex and the flat screws. You can see an example of the flat screws in the photo two photos above. The hex screws above on the left are authentic and on the right fake. 
The popper button which secures the flap should have "Chanel" embossed as well as the location of manufacture. 
4. The chain
Both the chain and hardware can tarnish on a real bag - so if there is some tarnishing do not let this put you off. Another interesting point is that the length of the chain (the drop) on a medium flap bag means that it hits you just lower than your ribs when the bag is worn across the body. You can see this demonstrated in my video above. However please note you can have extra links put in so if you’ve bought it preowned this could account for why the chain is slightly longer.  Beyond the length of the chain it is woven with leather which is triple folded down often the fakes will only have a double fold and this will be machine stitched. 
5. Internal zipper
Chanel zipper authentication
The options for the internal zipper are different depending on the age of the bag and you can use the serial number to determine the age and check that this is consistent. The following information was found on Vintage United: from the early 70's Chanel was using zippers manufactured by Lampo, is an Italian company that has been making accessory zips since 1887. You can find Lampo zips not only on vintage Chanel bags but also on vintage brands such as Louis Vuitton. Another company that is synonymous with luxury brands are Eclair zips. Often Eclair zips are used on late 70's or early 80's vintage Chanel bags and also on vintage Hermes bags. Later in the 90's House of Chanel also use other zipper brands like YKK or DMC or OPTI DMC. You can find this logo stamps engraved on the main zipper pull. In the "modern" exemplars Chanel using a zippers from the company with EP logo stamp. The EP zipper pull usually have a thin leather pull tab, please note that the leather pull tab should match the main bag base. 
You can use the information that you gleaned from your serial number to determine what year your bag was manufactured and therefore what type of zipper your bag should come with. 
6. The leather
If you have a look in my video you can see that whilst there is some "puffyness" to the quilting it does not have a pillowy effect. Often you will find on the fake Chanel bags the quilting is a bit puffier due to a lower stitch count. For an authentic Chanel bag you want to be looking for about 10 stitches / inch. Below you can see an image of fake Chanel stitching and leather. It is a costly process as the needles have to go through a lot of times. The stitch lines will also match up perfectly on the back over the back pocket. 
Chanel quilting fake
Beyond the external leather - interestingly you will find that the lining on an authentic bag is easy to pull out.
 7. The only step needed
Chanel Authentication London Entrupy
The steps above will most certainly get you out of the woods when dealing with "regular fake bags". The bad quality ones that you can pick up for £50 or so. However the rise of the "super fake" is causing authentication by eye to become increasingly difficult. Even sat side by side it can sometimes be near on impossible to tell the difference. As Chanel continue to increase their prices (the current price of a medium flap bag is £4300 in August 2019) the market for people paying in the region of £300 for a super fake is growing. 
Therefore to date I have yet to come across anything better than Entrupy for telling unequivocally if a bag is genuine or not. Entrupy goes beyond just what the human eye can see, touch and feel and actually use technology to investigate at the microscopic level. We currently use this at Timpanys and would be delighted to use it to authenticate your bags for you. You can bring your items to us for authentication at our office in South Kensington, London or Sunningdale in Berkshire. Alternatively you can post them to us. Either way please do contact us to organise. 
Entrupy works by taking microscopic pictures of the leather to see if there are any plastic particles or inconsistencies to an authentic piece. It is over 99% accurate and works using artificial intelligence to keep learning. 
Do you have an authentic Chanel bag that you would like to sell? Contact us on 07791 543 107.

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