“I think it is an amazing brand, I love that it has got such a heritage and it has been around for such a long time. I particularly like their luggage and all the trunks” - Alexa Chung at the London Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison Opening.
In this section I hope to reveal some of the ways to differentiate fakes from the genuine article. I have collected, dealt and admired Louis Vuitton items for over 20 years. During that time I have seen a lot of real pieces and also a lot of fake pieces.
I have put together a five point plan to help you decide if the piece in question is genuine.
The first thing to do in order to confirm whether the piece is real or not is to check a Louis Vuitton catalogue. This will help you work out whether the item is an actual genuine item. Often with fake items they are a mix match of a couple of Louis Vuitton styles and different products combined into one item. Therefore the piece does not actually exist.
Consulting a Louis Vuitton catalogue will help you in determining whether the item is correct. The design and structure should be the same as the same model in the catalogue. The Louis Vuitton catalogue will also give you approximate dimensions of the item.
Be aware that some Louis Vuitton items that you have may not be in the latest Louis Vuitton catalogue. This would be the case for a discontinued line. Personally I have a reference library going back a few decades. This is invaluable in determining if the item did ever exist.
It is always worth keeping in mind that you need to match the items age to the correct catalogue. A ten year old piece may not be in a 5 year old catalogue. Many pieces are design classics and remain in the catalogues for years. Some pieces are however fashion pieces and have a much shorter production run.
To determine the age of a Louis Vuitton catalogue see the last couple of pages for a copyright date.
Most Louis Vuitton items use brass for the metal work of a piece. Some newer items are now using a silver colored metal ware however most items continue to use brass.
The secret is to look at the brassware/metal work and compare it to other Louis Vuitton items that you know are genuine. Louis Vuitton uses standardized brassware on most pieces. Therefore the way a clip, lock or zip appears on one piece will be similar to another item in the range.
A lot of the fakes use a much lower quality of metal work. Often the metalwork is gold color plated in too bright a color. The attention to detail of the metal work is a major clue in determining whether an item is genuine or not.
I have seen fakes fitted with a genuine Louis Vuitton lock. The lock is a relatively inexpensive item to purchase from Louis Vuitton. Be aware of this mixing when purchasing any item outside of the Louis Vuitton store.
The next step in the authentication process is to check the stamped text on the item. Louis Vuitton pays exceptional attention to detail with all its stamping. The font is a very particular font. The stamp will be perfect and even. Fakes often have the incorrect font and or are not perfectly done.
All the stamping on a Louis Vuitton item should be in accordance with its price. A $2000 bag should have perfect stamping. Many of the fakes are poorly stamped with even spelling mistakes!
Even if an item has had considerable wear the stamping should still be in good condition.
The other clue to authenticating an item is to check the code inside the bag. This is often referred to as its serial number when in fact it is a batch code. This code is used by Louis Vuitton to work out the date of manufacture. Genuine Louis Vuitton items never mention the actual item code on the item. The item code will be like M51126, as seen in the yearly Louis Vuitton catalogue. I have seen fakes which did not have a batch code but instead had a model number code! This is a dead give away for a fake.
The batch code itself is not something that is easily interrupted. It is in an encoded format – see Batch Code Appendix at the rear of this book.
The stamping of these batch codes should also be perfect. Many fakes have misaligned stamping on these batch codes.
The presence of a batch code itself does not mean the item is genuine. Many fakes now have these batch codes inside them now as some people mistakenly believe these batch codes authenticate the piece. Some of these batch codes are difficult to find. I have even had the odd genuine piece that did not have a batch code!
The fifth and final point is to look at the stitches itself. Louis Vuitton uses a set number of stitches for each item. For example on an Alma handbag where the handles join the Monogram sides of the item. The number of stitches is a set number of stitches. Each handle side will have the same number of stitches. Comparing one part to the other three parts should reveal that they have the same number of stitches.
Often with fakes the stitching is of an inferior quality. This is because they are not taking the same care and attention that the Louis Vuitton workshop takes. Often fakes are being churned out as quickly as possible.