I get hundreds of emails a week about fake handbags on ebay...."How do I spot a fake Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel?" As a DESIGNERGAL who has worn the REAL DEAL for years, I can tell you that experience is the best teacher. However, there are a few delicate tricks you can use to SPOT A FAKE before shelling out your hard earned money on ebay.
First, consider the SOURCE: If there is one bit of advice I would like you to take away with you, it is that GOOD SELLERS will not normally sell fake bags.
What do I suggest is a GOOD SELLER of an authentic, well priced handbag? Some one who "knows her stuff". Check her past auctions for other high end, authentic bags. Check the seller's FEEDBACK. I normally will not bid on a seller's wares if he or she has less than 98% good feedback. Simply, there are too many good sellers on ebay for me to waste time with less than 98% good ratings.
Also consider what the seller is selling. Normally, I like to see that the seller also has a history of selling Gucci when I am buying Gucci or Louis Vuitton when I am buying Vuitton. I also perfer not to see many of the same bags over and over again. This may indicate that the seller has a business of selling what we term "AAA fakes". These are fakes which are uniquely engineered to look authentic on line. However, once you have the bag in hand, an experienced "baggie" like me can tell the difference!
There are a lot of experienced powersellers on ebay who are selling AAA fakes with good feedback. Many buyers simply do not get the bags authenticated after purchase. If the bags are priced too cheaply, then you can assume they are fake, no matter how great they look. You will not find great deals on Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Hermes and other high end bags on ebay from "wholesalers". Simply put, there is NO SUCH THING as a "wholesaler" of these bags on ebay. These highly reputed designers only sell to their authorized retailers(macy's, Bloomies, Saks, Neimans, Dillards, etc.) In the case of Louis Vuitton, you can only buy VUITTON directly from Louis Vuitton or E-Luxury on line in the United States. There are also Louis Vuitton counters in major department stores. But, you will not find "seconds" of these bags either on the streets, in small boutiques or on ebay. These would be fakes. Vuitton destroys all products which do not meet its expectations, meaning that you either pay full price for the product or you have to buy it "pre-owned".
Even some of the "pre-owned products" are fake. The big fakers often use the words "used" "pre-Owned" or "vintage" in their auctions to make the product look safer. Again, by checking the "Other auctions" or past auctions of the seller you can tell whether the same seller has sold the same style again and again.
How, then, to get started in your search for an AUTHENTIC HANDBAG on-LINE?
1. Begin by visiting the boutique of your target bag. Take a look at several models and hold them in your hand. Dress your best and take advantage of the salesperson's expertise as you check out the reason for the high priced value of these lovely designer bags. Ask questions, pay attention to detail.
2. Watch auctions carefully. Choose a few good sellers and bookmark their auctions. Again, look for HIGH FEEDBACK, no feedback for selling fakes and a history of selling high end handbags.
3. Browse ebay's Community Boards. The Purses, Shoes and Fashion Accessory Boards, of which I am a frequest poster, often shells out tremendous information about individual bags and the ways to spot a fake from an authentic bag. The process of educating yourself will not begin and end overnight but should take some time.
4. Once you are ready to buy, proceed carefully. Often the worst mistakes are on "one day" auctions and "buy it now". Remember, EBAY deals are like a bus at a bus stop. One comes about every 15 minutes, so do not be afraid to let a "deal" pass you buy.
5. If the "deal" seems just too good to be true, then guess what? IT IS! You will not find a new GUCCI Blondie Bag or a Vuitton Fringe bag for less than retail on ebay. Simply put, ebay is the place for nice pre-owned bags or higher than retail new "hot" bags. But, if you are looking for that elusive bag which is sold out at all the reputable retailers, you will pay more than retail on ebay, or anywhere else, for the authentic model.
6. The best way to pay for your purchase is by using a real credit card(not a debit card) via paypal. Paypal protects you if you do not receive the bag or if the bag you receive is "significantly not as described" or "fake". You may be required to get a second opinion in cases of SNAD('significantly not as described") To be on the safe side, call your credit card holder BEFORE you make the purchase and find out what they do require in the event of a SNAD dispute. I find that many issurers are no longer requiring third party letters. A third party letter will generally cost you $30-$50 so bear this in mind as well and proceed with caution.
7. Never even consider a counterfeit bag. Not only are they illegal to manufacture and sell, they are a total waste of money. Anyone in the position of caring what you are carrying WILL know the difference and you will look like a fool for trying:) Also, the fake handbag industry has long been linked to other forms of organized crime and recently, terrorist activity. This industry not only is corrupted by using child and illegal labor, but does not comply with OSHA or federal safety and import guidelines. And, they do not pay TAXES on the money they make, further adding to the burdens they create.
A nice vintage or pre-owned Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel or Hermes bag in a classic design will last for years and save you money in the long run. I can not tell you the bags in my closet which I have purchased over the years, used and even abused WHICH ARE WORTH MORE today than the day I purchased them. Quality handbags are an investment like any classic piece of furniture or art.
I have purchased everything from cars to luxury yachts to high end designer fashion and more on ebay WITHOUT A HITCH! But, it is not without doing my homework! With a bit of planning on your part you can be well on your way to carrying the bag of your dreams!