With the popularity of Abercrombie & Fitch and it's other brands many will search eBay to avoid paying a few extra dollars at an A&F branded store. This popularity also leads to copy cats or knock-off brands and eBay is ripe with purveyors of fake goods. I have bought one fake item and thankfully the seller was very cooperative and provided me a full refund, without me having to file any complaints. The information contained below should help you locate genuine A&F items on eBay. Most of this information is specific to men's garments but general rules of thumb can be applied to both genders.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Brands:
Abercrombie & Fitch, abercrombie (kids), Hollister Co., Ruehl No. 925, Gily Hicks (women's underwear)
Abercrombie Outlet, Hollister Outlet
The first and easiest way to spot a fake on eBay is quantity. Abercrombie does not ship any amount of their product to anywhere or anyone but their stores, there is no such thing as an "authorized'" Abercrombie & Fitch reseller.
If a seller has multiple listing of the same item at one time, chances are high they are fakes. There are legitimate "bulk" sellers though:
1) Seller buys items at A&F stores/online on clearance to resell on eBay, and
2) Seller is purging their wardrobe.
3) Don't mistake those who sell alot of A&F over time with those who sell alot of the same item at one time.
At A&F it is all about the details, down to the tight stitching and pocket linings and the Moose stickers on the store speakers. If you see a really cool track jacket, ask the seller for pictures of the inside of the jacket and the jacket pockets. With some exception stitching and piping inside the jacket will match one of the colors on the jacket. If the item is advertised as "current season" go to A&F's website or a store and compare that item with an actual item.
Authentic knicking or destroying and other "vintage" wear items are rarely, if ever, alike. Check the locations and sizes of holes and knicks for consistency, if there IS consistency then think twice about bidding. For screen printed shirts the same rule applies, if the destroyed lettering carries the exact same pattern on each item, you've found a fake.
I've seen thousands of items come through our stockroom and I have yet to find two items identical. Items designed and created by Abercrombie & Fitch are similar, not identical.
Though many will disagree Abercrombie sells high quality well made products. Analyzing the stitches is a great way to spot a fake or the genuine article. If the stitching looks loose or frayed or the outside face of the shirt has loose ends, you aren't looking at the geniune article. The stiching on the Moose should also be very tight, unless it's a very old shirt, there should be no color showing through a stitched Moose. Only on their briefs will you see an iron-on Moose.
Get the picture!
Make sure you are getting the item pictured! In order to avoid missing sales, sellers who deal in fake A&F will post pictures from A&F's website or a picture of a real item and send you a fake.
Stay away from auctions with stock photos, it's most likely a copy and paste job from the website, which by the way is copyright infringement. If you just can't pass the item up, email the seller and ask for photos of the item. If they can't provide them then pass on the item!
Keep any photos sent to you so you can compare them to the item should you be the winning bidder!
Imperfect, flawed or "prototype"
One...two...three strikes yer out! These items are destroyed by Abercrombie & Fitch, so don't even consider these auctions.
A&F Polos (June 2007)
There are several variations on the classic Abercrombie & Fitch polo. The traditional, or classic, polo from A&F is generally a solid color with the embroidered Moose or "A&F" on the left chest/breast. The Moose has had several variations over the years, most recently it is a stenciled look, in the adult store. Current polos from abercrombie(kids) feature a solid and slightly larger moose.
Polos in the adult line that feature a solid moose are rarely found up for auction on eBay. If you do see one get as good a shot of the moose as you can, it should be smaller when compared to the current moose. You have to search the clearance racks or A&F Outlets for these truely vintage items. An auction for a polo with "A&F" in place of a moose is even more rare and should be closely examined. These shirts are very old and the dimensions differ greatly from today's A&F Polo.
The identifier "muscle" is never stitched into the shirt itself, it is always a tag stitched to the shirt. "Pre-muscle fit" is truely a rare find and chances are slim you'll even see one on eBay. You're more likely to find one of these at used clothing retail stores.
Color: Unlike the movie Dick Tracy where all the yellows are the same yellow and so on, it is hard to find A&F polos (or other items) of the exact same hue. You could find four red polos at one A&F store all of the same size but with varying shades of red.
Fragrances: Woods and other discontinued (added Sept. 6, 2007)
Woods was by far the best and one of the most popular fragrances sold by A&F and is selling for a pretty penny on eBay. Most people are unfamiliar or can't remember the scent, so do you really want to pay $100+ for a bottle you cannot be sure is real or fake? Keep in mind fragrances can go bad over time, especially if kept in a well lit area and not in a box. How much are you willing to pay for a fragrance that may have gone bad? If you want a fragrance that reminds you of Woods, buy Ezra Fitch for Men.
Current Fragrances: Fierce, 8, Ready, Proof, 41 (added Sept. 6, 2007)
If you want fragrances currently offered by A&F, go to the store and spend the cash. Most auctions end over the regular retail price and then you pay shipping, so don't overpay on eBay for something you can run to a store and buy. If you can't get to a store order it online, the shipping is usually cheaper than what you will pay on eBay.
Know your seller!
Abercrombie & Fitch operates A&F branded stores in the United States, Canada and now Great Britain. Sellers originating from these countries will probably have geniune items.
Asia based: Don't even bother, the chances are rediculously high that those items are fake!
Ruehl No. 925
These items are even more rare, as there are only 19 stores in existence with a couple opening in the coming year. Ruehl stores are only found in the United States. Follow the sames guidelines for any A&F brand.
Ruehl No. 925 Online Store (Jan. 2008)
As of late January 2008 you can now purchase regular priced Ruehl items online. You can now compare Ruehl items listed on eBay with pictures found at ruehl.com.
Gilly Hicks (Jan. 2008)
As of this posting only three Gilly Hicks stores are open and they are all in the United States, don't bother buying any Gilly Hicks items on eBay without getting the answer to this question from your seller:
"What store did you buy it at?".
Cross check their answer with the sellers location relative to any Gilly Hicks store. Locations can be found at gillyhicks.com
Online wholesalers, non eBay. (Nov. 14, 2007)
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of online wholesalers that sell brand name clothes for less than what you would pay at a retail store. Most are legitimate, many are not.
Common characteristics that should make you weary of online retailers:
- Disclaimers stating they often sell items for other parties and therefore cannot be held responsible for fake or misrepresented items.
- They will also claim they can buy their items directly from the manufacturers.
The first disclaimer protects the owners of the website from litigation and retribution but it does not protect the consumer (paging Ralph Nader). Regardless of how real the pictures look and how badly you want the item, you have no recourse if the item is misrepresented in any way. At least with eBay you can leave negative feedback and perhaps get your money back.
There is no such thing as an A&F wholesaler. The only "wholesale" A&F items found are located on the clearance rack at A&F stores or A&F Brand outlets.
What if you think your item is fake?
1). Print a copy or make a PDF of the auction, especially if the item was advertised as genuine/authentic. Do NOT leave feedback yet!
2). Take the item to an A&F, HCo, Ruehl, or abercrombie store and speak with the sales associates or a manager.
3). Contact the seller letting them know you think it is fake, let them know you went to a store and verified. Keep a copy of this correspondence for your records.
4). If you haven't gotten a refund yet, gather your notes and file a complaint with eBay.
5). If you end up winning your disput then leave feedback (negative or neutral) and make sure your comments include the word fake.