An AUTHENTIC COACH Handbag, Tote Bag or Accessory ~ be it a Classic Leather, Suede or Signature ~ NOTHING can compare to AUTHENTIC COACH...
...but can YOU, as the buyer spot a FAKE???
Can you be SURE???
Authentic Coach can be elegant, rich and sophisticated...other times fun, fresh and sporty. Authentic Coach ~ always luxe, always stylish.
Selling only authentic Coach on eBay for the past 10 years now and having both carried and collected Coach pieces for my entire adult life, buyers often ask me how they can be sure ~ how they themselves might determine an item's authenticity. That is the very purpose of this guide. If I had to answer how that question in just three words, hands-down, it would be “do your homework”. COUNTERFEIT Coach continues to be sold at online sites every day, including eBay. Not only is counterfeiting illegal but it supports child labor and has been linked to terrorism. It may be considered a felony when it’s the seller’s intent to defraud BUT it’s also a crime if the sellers themselves have been deceived and actually believe themselves that their replica is authentic.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know eBay is one of the more FUN ways to shop. The selection is unsurpassed with styles to suit every trend and every individual taste, and often (especially when it’s timed just right!) the value just can’t be BEAT! When it comes to designer items, it can become a SAFER place for you to shop too. The key is in protecting yourself and it is essential...CRITICAL...that you be armed with as much knowledge as possible.
As detailed in my About Me Page, you have my unequivocal Money-Back GUARANTEE on the authenticity all of the Coach items I sell. And while there are many, MANY other reputable sellers of authentic Coach found on eBay, new counterfeit listings, falsely claiming to be Coach are added every day. eBay is simply unable to police every listing, so it's up to US...the eBay Community...to do all we can in helping to protect each other.
This guide has been written to inform. As you will see below it expresses not only fact but a certain degree of personal opinion. This has been gathered from years of admiring, shopping for and wearing Coach as well as years of searching, buying and selling on eBay (which just happen to be a few of my favorite things)! You may find several of the below points somewhat subjective, but that's just what a guide is. It's a combination of opinion and knowledge garnered from past experience. It's purpose is to be a reference tool and to give you pause for thought. The below are the Red Flags, some of which could result in major consequence, others that are less significant...but all things that you as the shopper should EVALUATE and CONSIDER before you buy.
- The first thing is common sense. Every guide I've seen mentions this, but it's true. Follow your gut instincts and if it seems too good to be true, well, it most likely is.
- Buy from a trusted, reputable and preferably an established seller. Granted, we were all new once. As far as eBay goes however, there IS something to be said for experience. Reputation speaks VOLUMES. And the most important thing you can do is read the seller’s feedback to learn what others have said. Every seller's stats are just a click away...for a summary-at-a-glance of negative and neutral feedback go to toolhaus.org. And when it comes to feedback, it's important to read not only the negatives but the POSITIVES as well. Many comments left in reference to authenticity is buried within those positives like this one left by an actual eBay buyer, “Cute bag, although not authentic Coach, seller didn't sell as authentic, my loss”. True.
- If you question the authenticity of a particular item, after reading the seller’s feedback, check the other items the seller has for sale. Another listing from the same seller just might completely confirm any suspicions.
- Choose a seller with Terms of Service you're comfortable with. Be confident with the seller's policies should you later discover that your purchase is not everything you'd hoped it would be.
- Use discretion on listings with only one photo or only blurry photos, ESPECIALLY if that ONE PHOTO is from the Coach website or that of another seller, which I might add is not allowed. While blurry photo(s) may be a result of a bad camera or maybe just a poor photographer, you need to question if there is anything the seller might be trying to hide.
- Buy from sellers that state in their listings that their items are authentic Coach. Sounds silly, but it’s true. While lack of stating authenticity (however unlikely this may sound) could be an oversight by the seller, most sellers of authentic Coach will overstate the authenticity factor. They don't whisper it...sellers of authentics want you to KNOW that what they are selling is 100% GENUINE AUTHENTIC COACH!!!
- Be cautious when a seller offers Coach at a discount because they're “seconds”. Unlike some leathergoods companies, Coach does NOT market irregular merchandise or those with manufacturer's defects. Coach Factory Stores predominately sell newly discontinued styles, colors and/or materials as well as overstock. The items you find in their Factory Stores are new, 100% authentic Coach, and generally free from blemishes, imperfections and defects.
- Use good judgment with the GUIDES you've been reading.
- If you're reading THIS guide, chances are you're checking out other guides too, BUT (big, BIG "BUT" here) you need to ask yourself, WHO is the GUIDE's AUTHOR? From the COACH GUIDES I've read, of 99% CONTAIN AT LEAST ONE ERROR and over 90% OF THESE GUIDES CONTAIN UP TO TEN ERRORS! Now THAT's a BIG DEAL! Guides can be, and often ARE an excellent tool, but much like a blog, they are subjective by their very nature. Guides often contain misconceptions professed as fact, and often with GREAT authority. So you MUST ask yourself, does the author have any COACH EXPERIENCE or any Coach credentials at ALL? Are they now selling or have they EVER sold Coach online?
- And does the guide author MAINTAIN their guide, keeping the contents CURRENT??? That's a very BIG question too. In fact, it's HUGE! I still see guides out there mentioning not to buy from sellers who have "private" feedback. The fact of the matter is, it's not possible to buy from sellers with "private" feedback. Sellers are no longer allowed to SELL on eBay if they have "private" feedback. It's been an eBay "Policy Violation" for YEARS now! So you can throw those guides out! They're obsolete!
- Since eBay seems to no longer be putting dates on our guides, another good indicator of obsolete guides are those with photos that are MIA...grayed out boxes where pictures used to be. If you see missing pictures that most likely means the author is no longer hosting their photos on Photobucket, Inkfrog etc, and the guide is no longer being maintained.
- To further illustrate my point, several VERY popular guides with helpfulness votes numbering in the thousands boldly state the "fact" that Coach never, EVER wraps their handbags (or purses' handles) in plastic. Granted, this indeed WAS the case at one time, but if you've ordered from Coach any time over the past two years you KNOW this is no longer true by ANY stretch of the imagination! So THOSE guides too are completely obsolete.
- TRUTH: Coach often now wraps their purses' handles in plastic and then will often encase the entire purse in yet ANOTHER plastic bag! This is TRUE. (Still, if you feel the need to confirm this you can reach Coach at 1-888-262-6224.) Nonetheless it's a relatively new thing, you as the buyer may not realize this, and who can possibly blame you? It's not your fault, it's the guides or even the listings that are to blame. Too many guides we see just haven't been able to keep up with the times. They're just out-of-date and either the guide writer is unaware of the change, or, perhaps just hasn't taken the time to update their guide. They may have even written the guide so long ago they forgot it even existed. But where does that leave us? They may have forgotten they wrote it but we're left out here reading a guide that's wrong. So you need to look for the little clues that something's wrong because when a guide is obsolete in one area you can bet it contains other out-of-date errors as well. Regardless of how much Coach experience you may have had at one time, if your guide is out-dated it's of little-to-no benefit and it can actually do more harm than good. Just think of all of the buyers who may have missed out on a great deal because an out-dated led them to think a Coach bag was counterfeit simply because it was wrapped in plastic...SOMETHING COACH THEMSELVES IS DOING THESE DAYS! Countless buyers may have passed on perfectly AUTHENTIC COACH BAGS all due to the ignorance of some guide writers!
- You'll also find OTHER blatant non-truths in guides. Some for example say zipper slides must bear the YKK imprint (which has NEVER been true, but we'll get to this in just a bit); or that Coach has never used a metal zipper pull (I guess the author has never seen a Sonoma bag!); or if you see a Coach bag made in Thailand you'll know it's fake (well I guess the bag COULD be fake, but that would have NOTHING to do with the fact that it was made in Thailand);
- My personal "favorite" eBay guide faux pas however is that Coach is now made in China (which is indeed true), but that Coach was originally made in ITALY! Yes, you read that correctly, Italy. (This statement alone could make former Coach owner Miles Cahn turn over in his GRAVE!) In fact, in 1941 the Company first operated the Coach Leatherware Factory at 516 West 34th Street in downtown New York, NY just outside the legendary NYC Garment District which later became and to this day remains Coach's Corporate Headquarters. But ITALY??? With a corporate slogan of "Coach: An American Classic" and their very well-known, highly-publicized story of how the "American Baseball Glove" inspired their glove-tanned leather in 1941, it's truly MIND-BOGGLING to me how anyone can take a GUIDE seriously that would include a statement that Coach could be anything...ANYTHING...other than an all-AMERICAN Company. This is why making blanket affirmations like these proves JUST HOW LITTLE guide writers know their Coach and why it quite frankly scares the living DAYLIGHTS out of me. It also makes MY job as a Coach SELLER that much harder. So just know that guide authors may have EXTREMELY limited overall knowledge and familiarity with the brand even though they profess otherwise. All this is to say, reader beware. Seriously. BEWARE.
NOW ON TO THE LUXURIOUS WORLD OF COACH LEATHERWARE. WHAT IT IS...AND WHAT IT ISN'T...
Familiarize yourself with the Coach Brand. You are GOING to see counterfeits with many of the same features as authentic Coach. After all, if there were NO similarities it wouldn't be a counterfeit now, would it? And EVERYTHING can be and IS faked...including hangtags and CREED PATCHES! What you need to know is ALL in the details and you CAN gain the essential information to protect yourself. Check the Coach website for similar items. If you have Coach in your area, drop in sometime. When you spot something you like on eBay, check out the same item from other eBay sellers and compare, compare, compare. Be sure to check that little box to 'search both title and description' so you are able to compare as many matches within your search parameters as possible.
The above shot is a really good example of a really BAD counterfeit turnlock. Not only engraved in a font not used by Coach, but look how wide the centerpiece is in comparison to AUTHENTIC Coach turnlocks.
Coach Dust Bags are now made in MANY varieties. Made in an assortment of sizes, older Coach dustbags include their dark chocolate brown flannel/cotton trimmed in and having a vermillion red drawstring with white lettering, or, their more recent sateen bags currently made in several colors with their Lozenge Logo or Horse and Carriage Logo. Coach 'belt bags', used for smaller accessories, are 8 x 8 white muslin with red lettering and drawstrings. They've also made a multitude of dust bags for their Collections and Limited Editions over the years. It's hard to keep up but the key here is FAMILIARITY. Once you recognize the various types of bags Coach uses, you'll instantly recognize a counterfeit.
While at one time Coach was strictly made in the USA this is no longer the case. IT IS A VERY POPULAR MISCONCEPTION THAT COACH BAGS ARE CURRENTLY MADE IN THE U.S. AT PRESENT, MOST IF NOT ALL, PRODUCTS BEING MADE BY COACH, INC. ARE BEING MADE IN CHINA. Over the past 68 years Coach has been manufactured in many parts of the world. While to my knowledge Coach has NEVER been made in Korea, I have personally seen authentic Coach bags that were made in the United States, and, amongst other places, Costa Rica, Hungary, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Italy, India and yes, China. The place may vary but overall the quality standards remain consistent.
A little bit about Creed Patches and Registration Numbers. Coach discontinued the use of Serial Numbers (seven all numeric digits separated by a hyphen) around 1994. Serial numbers did not indicate the style of the bag and with serial numbers, each bag had its very own number. Now however, Coach uses Registration Numbers. Registration numbers are NOT exclusive to each item. Actually, like pieces share the very same number quite frequently. On larger lined pieces the Coach Registration Number may be found on a leather 'Creed Patch' on the inside of the bag. On the all-leather Coach Classics, the Creed (or Storypatch as it is technically called) is embossed directly into the leather on the inside of the bag. The Creed emphasizes Coach’s commitment to quality and often includes the country of origin and the materials used. The Creed Patch may also be embossed with a double circle (or bullseye), an X or an FS. These marks have absolutely nothing to do with the bag's authenticity. Small pieces will sometimes have a Creed Patch imprinted without a Registration Number and very small accessories may have no Creed Patch at all. The typeface may be both left and right justified, left justified, centered, or a combination of these. ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: WORDS ARE NEVER MISSPELLED ON AN AUTHENTIC COACH CREED PATCH.
This Creed patch mentions "natural marXings"!
Know how to decipher the Registration Number.
First, it should be said that with true Coach Serial Numbers or the numbers Coach used before 1994, there simply is no deciphering. At one time Coach kept a data base of Serial Numbers however, this is no longer available, or Coach no longer wishes to make that information public.
With post-1994 Registration numbers however, there IS a way to decode. The characters AFTER the hyphen are the Style Number of the bag and will identify the bag in Coach Stores, on their website and in Coach catalogs. The style number that Coach assigns to an item generally consists of three to six alpha-numeric characters.
The set of letters and numbers BEFORE the hyphen represent the month, the year, and the place of manufacture so while they may differ from one bag to the next, they may also be the same. In this string of characters, the numbers that appear immediately after that first letter represent the year of manufacture. A bag with Registration Number K2P-9525 would be Style #9525 crafted in 2002, while a bag with Registration Number A0785-10418 would be Style #10418 from 2007.
From 1994 through 2003, SINGLE digits appeared after the first letter to indicate the year. From 2004 through the present, the DOUBLE digits after the first letter tell us the year.
It is CRITICAL that you know this information! A good example would be Signature bags. Coach Signature didn't come along until 2001. I've seen many, MANY counterfeits using a registration code that would date a Signature piece prior to 2000. If you see a Signature bag with a Registration Number of perhaps, L6D-6094, you'd know that it's fake. Coach Signature Bags hadn't yet been designed in 1996.
Tags and labels
Include variations generally imprinted on a bi-folded white paper price tag. Some may have the Coach Lozenge Logo; some may simply read COACH (or COACH Factory, as the case may be) lettered in brown along with a very small Coach Lozenge on the lower right; others may have the Horse & Carriage Logo. Imprinted inside are the style number, colors, the SKU number & bar code, a brief abbreviated description, and the price.
The price portion is generally cut off the bottom of the tag if purchased at a Coach Factory Store. Please note that at one time it was Corporate policy that Coach Factory Stores REMOVE the entire paper tag at the time of sale. Simply because an item has a clipped tag or has no tag at all has no bearing on whether the piece is new or as to authenticity or non-authenticity.
Authentic labels you might see sewn into an item's lining include a label bearing the Coach Lozenge, the fabric content, and/or a simple fabric label reading "Made in China".
Large white rectangular paper tag reading COACH-ITALY? Big black square that reads COACH USA? Rainbow colored authenticity cards, booklets or inserts appearing in the window of a wallet? Stay AWAY!
I've seen counterfeits having the dark brown Coach "An American Classic" BOOKLET attached to their handles. This is a standard Coach publication and while the booklet itself may or may not be the real-deal, Coach NEVER attaches this piece to the outside of a bag, NOR do they ever place this booklet in the ID window of a wallet. Coach will tuck this informational piece away in an interior pocket of a bag or a wallet (IF one is included at all) but NEVER attached to the outside of the bag or dangling from the ball-chain that holds the Coach Lozenge Logo hangtag.
Likewise, Coach price tags are NEVER HANGING FROM THE BALL CHAIN as commonly seen on many counterfeits these days. Price tags should be attached on a separate tagging loop made of nylon/plastic.
Counterfeit bi-fold price tag hanging directly from the ball chain. Also note that tag has no tiny Coach Lozenge logo in the lower right corner as is normally seen on this type of tag.
Can you trust that a bag is authentic simply because it has the Coach Lozenge hangtag? In one word, NO!!! Not only are Coach Lozenge hangtags FAKED, but they are easily affixed and transferable from one bag to another. They're also quite readily replaced by Coach. (Lost yours??? It’s as simple as calling 1-888-262-6224.)
Signature jacquard pieces first came to be in 2001. Although there are now a multitude of patterns, the first Signature bags, like many of the 'straight' Signature bags still made today, have CC's that are symmetrical, never slanted (that is, going uphill or downhill), and are usually matched up on both front and back center seams. The CC pattern should be aligned horizontally (vs. vertical alignment) and is USUALLY (I say usually because there ARE exceptions) centered.
Threads are heavy, seams are often double-stitched and stitching should be somewhat tight. While stitching may not always be in a completely straight line (I've seen many a zig-zag over the years!), each individual stitch should be both sized and spaced evenly.
Linings are sewn in securely and tightly with no puckering or loose stitches. Most Coach Classics continue to be the only bag crafted today with no lining at all (just like the ones Coach made back in 1941).
Coach has never made a STANDARD Signature bag with a Signature lining. Coach FULL or STANDARD Signature jacquard bags have SOLID COLORED LININGS. By FULL or STANDARD Signature bags I am referring to an ALL-OVER Signature jacquard, Op Art C, or Mini-Signature jacquard without different patterned swatches...just the SAME all-over fabric. Please note that EXCEPTIONS DO EXIST. Exceptions include bags with varying swatches of fabrics and patterns such as several Wave bags and at least one Patchwork bag, amongst others.
This would be the totally ATROCIOUS and quite infamous gold counterfeit "mini-signature" lining that COACH. NEVER. MADE. Actually, Coach never used any fabric that was even remotely CLOSE to this pattern inside a bag, yet it's seen inside SO many fakes, it's absolutely astounding!
Hardware is far from tinny and has a finish that will not peel, chip or flake. It is presently made of solid brass or nickel. It is REALLY important to note that NOT ALL buckles, clips, grommets and rings are imprinted or engraved with the Coach name as some guides will erroneously state. Logo engraving on hardware will in fact vary from collection to collection as well as from individual style number to individual style number. Some is imprinted, some has no imprint at all.
Zippers run smoothly. SOME, not ALL, are engraved with YKK. Others are TALON, or COACH or have NO imprint. And by the way, about YKK zippers. There's really no mystique and even more importantly, absolutely no exclusivity to the brand. I don't know HOW this all got started that it was the only zipper brand Coach uses, or, that nobody but Coach uses this brand. My DKNY jeans have a YKK zipper. So do my Style & Co. jeans (made by Macy's). Magnetic snaps (some with just a patent number, others made by Romag or its sister company Comag, others with the Coach name) fasten firmly and securely.
Like-style Patchwork and Applique bags are uniform in pattern and design. Patchwork bags are identical to one another, so each like bag will have the same swatch of fabric in the same place. If the Indigo Mini-Signature Swatch on one Patchwork Shoulder Tote is on the upper right, the Indigo Mini-Signature Swatch may be found in the same spot on the next Patchwork Shoulder Tote. (If you see two bags, both of the same style number, and one has a swatch of fabric in a completely different spot than the other, one of them is certain to be a fake.) That same uniformity would apply to all Coach applique bags including Signature applique, Poppy, and Floral Suede. (Please note that the same would NOT necessarily apply to patterned, striped, and Scribble bags where a single piece of imprinted fabric is used.)
See the large manila tag? That strange hangtag? The non-Coachlike hardware? The bag's mis-shapen form? EVERYTHING about this bag is just wrong! Hit your "BACK" button!
Coach uses quality materials. The inspiration that first originated by the patina of an all-American baseball glove...the timeless style of those 12 original bags...and the impact and sheer brilliance of the amazing Bonnie Cashin can still be seen in Coach bags today. Over the years new leathers, fabrics and materials have been added, new collections have been introduced, but durability and simplicity have kept Coach at the forefront of American fashion and style.
You may call Coach directly. Coach's Customer Service will help with any product-specific questions you might have. You may reach them toll free at 1-888-262-6224.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ASK. THE. SELLER. That's what the "Ask seller a question" link on every listing page is for so by all means, use it. Any reputable seller will welcome buyer queries and should be more than HAPPY to answer all of your questions.
Whether it's just a LITTLE 'off' like this...
...or a whole LOTTA 'off' like THIS...
...you actually CAN be 100% certain it's 100% AUTHENTIC COACH.
I invite you to take a look at all my listings or visit my eBay Store Your COACH Awaits. Add me as one of your Favorite Sellers and be sure to check back (and check back OFTEN)! And for more vital information...not only about Coach and Coach authenticity but also about MY world, just check out my About Me Page!
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Here’s to buying Coach and ONLY AUTHENTIC COACH!
The bags pictured to the right of this guide are NOT my listings. These bags are randomly selected by eBay so authenticity cannot be guaranteed.
If you'd like to be 100% sure what you see is 100% AUTHENTIC COACH, please click here.
Thank you for visiting with CatOnAHotPC at Your COACH Awaits.
Images, verbiage and text contained within may not be used without written permission. This is a violation of eBay policy and unauthorized duplication will be reported to eBay accordingly. Besides it's just not a very nice thing to do, now is it? :-)