I spend a lot of time on eBay on at the thrift store, looking for vintage clothes and accessories to add a little retro flair to my closet, and for my family and friends. It’s a jungle out there, though — I can’t tell you how many phony handbags, shoes and jewelry I’ve run across, and I’ve become something of an expert on telling the real deal from the fake junk. Here are 8 ways to spot a fake.
If you’re holding a designer bag in your hands, and the stitches are uneven or loose, and the lining is poorly sewn in, and the zipper catches, then chances are, the bag is a fake, no matter how real the tag looks. Designer accessories are pricey because of the name but also because of the superior craftsmanship. If the work is poor, then it’s likely a fake.
If you’ve found a piece of jewelry you love, and the seller swears it’s Tiffany, but there’s no sterling mark (925) or gold mark (18k), then it’s not. In fact, all sterling silver or gold jewelry will be marked with the metal mark, and if it isn’t, then it definitely phony. End of story.
Buying on eBay offers some safety, since so many of the designers follow eBay and check the auctions to weed out the phonies, and also, if you buy something that was misrepresented, the offer conflict resolution so you can get your money back. But there are no protections if you buy from craigslist, a thrift store, or anywhere else but the original maker. So beware!
If you’re buying an item from a seller that swears it’s authentic, check the manufacturer’s website and see if it’s still available, so you can make a comparison. For instance, if you’re thinking of buying a Tiffany bracelet, check the website and see if it’s still there so you know what it really looks like, and where the trademark is.
If the piece of jewelry or the handbag you’re considering doesn’t quite look like anything else you’ve ever seen from the designer, then it might not be authentic. For instance, if Burberry ever did something without their plaid anywhere to be seen, or if Tiffany did something loud and obnoxious and cheap-looking, it might not be the real deal.
The only time I ever bought a fake was a pretty interesting experience. It was a pair of Keds, and I knew the tag looked odd, but they were such a good deal, I couldn’t pass them up. Turns out that pale blue Keds tag should have been a tip-off. Most designer brands have a logo or tag that’s unmistakable, and if it looks odd, just not right, then pass. It’s likely a fake.
If the leather feels cheap or the metal looks off, then the handbag or jewelry might be a fake. Designers build their reputations on their workmanship and quality, so if either one is off (remember tip 1, above), then the piece is probably not authentic. Pass on it, and save your pennies for the real thing.
If all else fails, and you just can’t decipher the real thing from a fake, feel free to ask the designer, Most of them will be able to tell what’s theirs and what’s not, and they won’t mind telling you. If the seller won’t allow a check, then they’re probably trying to sell you a fake, so move on!
I’m sure there are other girls who are experts in detecting fake goods, and most of them specialize in one designer or label… but these are general rules to follow, and they really come in handy! Have you got another real deal vs. phony baloney tip to share? Please do… I can always use another scheme to tell them apart…
Top Photo Credit: laurenlemon
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