While each fashion season unscrupulous handbag purveyors create replica bags for budget-conscious consumers, vintage Chanel purses are not immune to the copying phenomena.
While in case of some other brand name products it may be quite difficult, all vintage Chanel handbags have enough hard-to-fake features that it’s almost impossible to fool anyone who knows where to look.
For purse collectors, spotting a fake vintage handbag requires an eye for detail and a thorough examination of the bag’s stitching, lining, outer skin and hardware.
10 Steps to Spot a Fake Vintage Chanel Bag
If you have any doubts if your vintage Chanel handbag is authentic, check the following details.
1. Visit your local library for designer bag history
Find books featuring the history of famous handbag designers. Within the pages of these periodicals, you will uncover pictures of vintage Chanel handbags, insight into the themes of the design house, and information about the past designer collections.
This book, The Handbag: An Illustrated History has images of vintage purses from Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel.
2. Look for an authentic serial number
All Chanel products manufactured in 1986 and beyond will have a serial number hologram sticker with a seven or eight digit code.
This serial number should also match the authenticity card sold with the handbag. Any bag manufactured before 1986 will not have a serial number in it so this is not a good way to determine whether a bag is authentic or not.
For example: Chanel bags made prior to 2000 have a serial number with seven digits. Newer bags may have a serial number featuring eight digits.
Some of the most commonly faked serial numbers are 7244764, 8947749, 9316391, 9395451, 9395455, 9675223, 9777617, 9889754, 9892039, 10218184, 10380486, 10501946, 10995820 and 11062948. Avoid purchasing bags with any of these serial numbers.
3. Check the lining of the handbag for puckering
The condition of a bag’s lining is a good indicator of overall quality. A fake bag will contain a faux-leather or PVC lining that gathers at the seam and feels rough to the touch.
4. Look for an authentic Chanel zipper pull
All (not only vintage) Chanel handbags have logo (Chanel or CC) zipper pulls. There are no Chanel handbags that lack them.
5. Examine the interior labels
All vintage Chanel handbags have one of the following labels on the inside: gold or silver Chanel stamp, embossed Chanel logo, rectangular leather label with Chanel sign in gold or silver, oval label with embossed Chanel logo, black label with Chanel in white color or black label with vertical lines.
Check also where the bag was made. The tag that holds the serial number will also say “Italy” or “France.” Chanel bags are only produced in these two countries by skilled artisans who adhere to strict standards. This is one reason why Chanel bags are so pricey. If the tag contains another country name or bears no country at all, you can bet it’s not real.
If there is no label or it doesn’t fall into any of these categories, this vintage Chanel handbag is a fake.
6. Look for indicators of fake leather
Authentic vintage handbags have a unique leather smell; a fake bag does not. Also, Chanel purses and handbags are never made of lambskin, always calfskin. Synthetic leathers will show cracks when wrinkled or make squeaking noises when you bend the bag.
Cheap leather in older handbags will fray around the edges or have small rips along the seams from old age.
7. Check the CC logo
When checking the details of vintage Chanel handbags, make sure you’ve taken closer look at the CC logo. The top portion of the right C must overlap the top portion of the left C and the bottom portion of the left C must overlap the bottom portion of the right C.
Most fakes have their logos non-overlapping or doing it in other ways than described above.
8. Examine the purse for signs of reconstituted leather
These scraps of leather and other materials fused together feel like cardboard to the touch and cracks easily. Whether the bag is smooth or shiny, embossed or grainy an authentic leather handbag should feel durable, thick and substantial to the touch.
9. Study the stitching
Irregular seams along the outer corners of a vintage bag indicate poor workmanship and quality. In a high-quality bag, the stitches run in a straight line along the seams and the size of the stitches should be even.
Stitching on Chanel bags are precise and straight — in other words, perfect. If you see gaps, crooked stitches or fraying seams, the bag is counterfeit.
On quilted bags, the diamond pattern created by the stitching will be even all over the bag and will match up perfectly. If it doesn’t, the bag is most definitely a knock-off.
10. Check the purse’s hardware, clasps, and zippers
The best handbags use heavy plated brass in the construction of their hardware. Inferior metals will not feel heavy to the touch and are often hollow. All snaps and clasps must fasten easily, and locks should turn with ease.
More Vintage Chanel Handbag Authentication Tips
- At 10, 20, or 25+ years old a bag is considered to be vintage.
- If you look for these features, you will be able to tell if your vintage Chanel handbag is truly authentic, and not a replica. If you have any doubt as a buyer online, insist upon using an escrow service or PayPal to protect you from fraud.
- A real Chanel bag will also be wrapped in its box with delicate tissue paper that had the word “Chanel” and the logo all through it. Hint – if the online seller is including the box in the purchase ask them if it still has the original Chanel tissue paper.
Our Final Thoughts
If you’re looking to buy, or already have a bag that claims to be a vintage Chanel handbag, you now have the resources to authenticate it. You’ll be able to spot a fake vintage Chanel bag and not have to worry about overpaying for an unauthentic purse.