Sellers on eBay are required to sell only authentic goods. Sadly, there are vendors who will not only sell counterfit fake items (which I refer to as replicas), but even go to great lengths to trick you into thinking that they are authentic. In this guide, I will help you determine the difference between authentic and replica handbags.
I have sold a small number of bags online and worked at a bridal salon and a high-end retail accessory boutique in the Washington DC area, where I currently attend college. These experiences helped teach me how to recognize tell-tale details that an item is a replica - small signs that many people might overlook.
First of all, check the location of the seller, which is posted in the auction. In many - but obviously not all - cases, sellers from Asia are selling replica bags. The reason for this is that many Asian countries have very weak intellectual property laws, so factories that manufacture replica products are very prevalent. Sellers from China, Korea, and Singapore are especially dangerous.
Also, it is important to check the wrapping of the bag in the picture. Paper around buckles, clear plastic over handles, and square tags of material hanging from a strap are all telltale signs of a replica. Brand new bags from the boutiques never have any wrapping around them (except when the bag was special ordered or purchased online). Special-ordered bags are typically the newest "It" bags, like the Murakami multi-color Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 in 2003. In contrast, the Louis Vuitton Cabas Mezzo is a classic and much more likely to be available in stores. Don't be afraid to ask questions about where the seller purchased the bag. If the seller says the bag is from the internet, ask them which website they ordered from. Websites usually leave the wrapping on bags, however there are very few websites that sell authentic bags from high end designers. The designer's official website and major online department stores (Saks, Nieman, Barneys, etc) will always be selling authentic bags. When these websites do have wrapping on their items, the handles are covered in delicate creme colored tissue paper (cardboard-brown tissue anywhere means it's a fake bag) and buckles are covered in blue plastic adhesive. It cannot be emphasized enough that a bag with a canvas/leather swatch tied to a handle or zipper IS a replica!
Next, it is important to do research on what the bag should look like. If there is a store in your area that carries the bag that you seek, take a trip on by and have fun window shopping and seeking what the designer's bags actually look like. Pay close attention to precise color shade (Marc Jacobs' impossible-to-copy uranium-chic green on multicolore Louis Vuitton canvas, for example), the way patterns meet at seams, stamps in the interior and exterior leather, markings on hardware. If you are not able to go to a store where authentic bags are sold, try checking out these details on the manufacturer's website.
A new authentic bag should always have a dustbag, authenticity/care cards, and sometimes a reciept. However, these can be counterfeited and sometimes owners of authentic bags have simply lost them, so this actually isn't a very accurate way to verify a bag's authenticity.
Finally, it is best to avoid sellers who list large numbers of the same item when you shop for your designer bag. Keep in mind that this is different from sellers who list many different items from the same brand. For example, a person who has 25 Louis Vuitton Alma handbags is very suspicious, while a seller who has 50 Louis Vuitton handbags that are 30 different styles is much more legitimate. Sellers who do wholesale are almost always selling replicas. Wholesaling means selling a large quantity of the same item at a large discount (over 50%).
The world of fashion is full of excitement and glamour - enjoy the shopping process and never settle for anything less than the best designer bags!