Here at Yoogi’s Closet, we’re obsessed with authenticity. How can you tell if a Louis Vuitton bag is real or fake? If you’re looking to learn how to authenticate or just want to learn more about Louis Vuitton, you’ve come to the right place!
Founded by the French luggage maker Louis Vuitton in 1854, the Louis Vuitton company first revolutionized travel gear by popularizing the flat-bottomed canvas trunk. In 1896, Vuitton’s son Georges invented the signature “LV” monogram, along with the diamond, quatrefoil and circle patterns to ward off counterfeiters. Seems like he was anticipating the future popularity of the brand? and counterfeiting
With the abundance of counterfeit bags these days, especially “AAA fakes,” you really don’t want to get fooled into spending your money on a fraud. From date codes to rivets, we’ve authenticated thousands of Louis Vuitton bags and have picked up a few tips to help along the way.
Read on for our top 10 tips for authenticating Louis Vuitton bags and accessories.
1. Get To Know Louis Vuitton Styles
Was the Louis Vuitton style you’re trying to buy ever made by Louis Vuitton? This sounds simple, but many counterfeiters make items that LV has never made to fool consumers. For example, Louis Vuitton has never made a grey and black Damier Graphite Neverfull – if you see one, it’s fake. There’s one caveat to this rule: Louis Vuitton made-to-order pieces.
Louis Vuitton has made thousands of styles over the years. If you’re unsure of the name, search by color or material.
Our Authenticity team regularly uses our website search to look at previously sold items to help them authenticate. There will be variations among styles–we always check against previously sold pieces of the same style from the same time period.
First, check the material, size and style. Then, go further into details. What is it supposed to be lined in? Where is the date code supposed to be? Check the size of leather details too; counterfeit Neverfull bags will often have thick straps and counterfeit Speedy bags will have odd-sized leather handle bases or a seam on the base of the bag.
2. Get To Know Louis Vuitton Leather
The trim on authentic Monogram Louis Vuitton bags are made of natural cowhide leather. The skin is finished through a vegetal tanning process. Over time, this delicate leather, which can be sensitive to scratches, will acquire a beautiful tan patina. Counterfeit leather will often have a pink or yellow tint.
Some natural marks or genuine irregularities in the leather may appear, much like how your skin has freckles or marks. Authentic Louis Vuitton tanned leather, which is occasionally referred to as “Vachetta” will darken over time and may have slight wrinkles. You will also notice a reddish glazing along the edges of natural leather–authentic Louis Vuitton will have a crisp, clean reddish-colored glazing.
3. Get To Know Louis Vuitton Materials
From Monogram Canvas to Damier Canvas to Multicolore Canvas, they all have distinct characteristics to ensure authenticity. Every exterior panel should be centered and symmetrical; for example, the Damier squares should “meet” at the seam, and the flowers in Monogram should “meet” as well (note that this leads to the irregular quatrefoils at the seams).
LOUIS VUITTON MONOGRAM CANVAS
In Monogram canvas, the symbols should be light golden-tan, not greenish-tan. Many fake Louis Vuitton bags have the monogram color slightly off.
Despite popular belief, many Louis Vuitton bags will have an upside down LV symbol on the backside.This is true on the Speedy styles, Keepalls, Papillons, and some similar styles. Louis Vuitton uses one continuous piece of leather that wraps around from the front to back, without a seam on the bottom. Most Monogram pieces (any piece with a separate piece of canvas or leather on the bottom) will have the LVs right-side-up on both sides.
The Louis Vuitton Monogram pattern always has the same order, shown below:
LOUIS VUITTON DAMIER CANVAS
Louis Vuitton Damier canvas should have the same texture as Monogram canvas. The Ebene and Azur should be matte (not shiny). That said, there are several Damier Graphite styles that have a smooth finish with a light sheen.
LOUIS VUITTON MULTICOLORE CANVAS
For example, the LV logo’s on authentic Louis Vuitton Multicolore Canvas always repeats in the same pattern.
Louis Vuitton White Multicolore Canvas LV logo order:
Row 1: fuschia, black, green
Row 2: dark purple, dark yellow, dark pink
Row 3: dark blue, chartreuse, light blue
Louis Vuitton Black Multicolore Canvas LV logo order:
Row 1: fuschia, white, green
Row 2: dark yellow, dark pink, dark purple
Row 3: light blue, dark blue, chartreuse (yellow-green)
4. Check The Louis Vuitton Heat Stamps
Louis Vuitton uses a very specific font on all leather heat stamps and almost all metal hardware (except some rings, studs, and grommets). The heat stamp refers to the Louis Vuitton stamp that will be on the outside or inside.
The Louis Vuitton heat stamp may read:
Made In (Country)
The stamp should be clear, with crisp letters and no signs of sloppy, bleeding or mis-stamped letters.
Here’s what to look for on Louis Vuitton label heat stamps:
1. The tail on the L is very short.
2. The O’s are very round.
3. The T’s are almost touching each other or are so close that it looks like it.
4. Lettering should be thin to somewhat thin, clear and very crisp.
5. Study the general font used and how it is aligned.
Newer Louis Vuitton bags may not have an exterior Made In USA stamp, but will have a leather or cloth tag inside that reads “Made in USA of imported materials.”
5. Learn About Louis Vuitton Date Codes
All Louis Vuitton items are stamped with a manufacturer code: two letters for the location it was made, and three to four numbers to indicate when it was made. It’s important to not jump to conclusions solely based on the date code alone.
On all authentic Louis Vuitton bags, the country code MUST match the “Made in (country)” heat stamp.
Louis Vuitton date codes are not serial numbers – they simply identify the manufacturing location and date for a Louis Vuitton handbag, which means that many Louis Vuitton bags can have exactly the same date code.
Louis Vuitton date codes come in a variety of fonts and will be stamped inside the bag, inside of a pocket on a small leather tag, or onto the lining itself. Some authentic LV bags may have illegible date codes or the date code has rubbed off entirely.
To learn more about Louis Vuitton date codes, visit our Louis Vuitton Authentication and Date Code page.
An example of an authentic Louis Vuitton date code might be stamped SD0085. If we dissect this date code, we’ll take the first and third letter to determine the week: 08, and the second and fourth to determine the year: 2005. This bag was made in USA in the eighth week of 2005.
An example of a counterfeit date code might read SD5417. This date code would indicate that it was made in the 51th week of 2047, which can’t possibly exist because it’s from the future!
But how do you find the location of a Louis Vuitton date code? Search inside the bag–look in all of the pocket seams, along the edges, and in any “hidden” locations. If you’re still struggling, try searching our recently sold products for the item and locate the date code using our photos.
6. Check The Stitching
Louis Vuitton uses specific high-quality linen thread which has been strengthened with beeswax, which also means you won’t see loose threads. The same number of stitches are found in similar locations on similar bags. Some stitching may be on an angle.
The stitching should look almost perfect. Stitch lines will be an equal distance from the edge of the handbag at every point, and for its entire length. The individual stitches will be the same length so that there are no irregular length stitches. This is part of what makes Louis Vuitton such a valuable collectible: the meticulous care that goes into each and every item.
7. Check The Hardware
Louis Vuitton has been using its heritage golden brass hardware with the “LV” logo since 1991. Louis Vuitton has not used YKK or other branded zippers since 1991–the back of authentic Louis Vuitton zippers will be blank. Louis Vuitton hardware always has a flawless finish when new. Shiny hardware is highly polished and there shouldn’t be any uneven plating, textures or waviness. All etching/engravings on hardware should be basically perfect, not messy.
LOUIS VUITTON ZIPPERS
There are many different styles of Louis Vuitton zippers, including both matte and shiny zippers. For shiny zippers, do a “reflection test” –can you see your reflection clearly like the zipper is a mirror?
LOUIS VUITTON S-LOCKS
Louis Vuitton s-locks should be finely polished with no evidence of plating (waviness or peeling).
LOUIS VUITTON RIVETS/STUDS
Rivets should have a rounded (mound) shape with the “Louis Vuitton” or LV embossed. Note that the font may differ from the regular logo font (e.g. the “O” is square, not round).
LOUIS VUITTON GROMMETS
Louis Vuitton grommets (typically used on drawstring bags like the Noe) use a different font with squared off O’s.
8. Pay Attention To The Details: Dust Bags And Boxes
Often, counterfeiters get lazy with the fine details like boxes, dust bags and tags. Authentic Louis Vuitton bags may arrive with counterfeit dust bags and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to authenticate each separately.
Pre-2004 dust bags are beige flannel with the LV logo and thick dark brown drawstrings. Older bags may have blue drawstrings. Very old dust bags may be felt-like material with “saw tooth” cut edges.
From 2004-2016, the authentic dust bag is manufactured from beige cotton (flannel) or linen (tight or loose weave). The Louis Vuitton logo is printed in dark brown and is perfectly centered with no bleeding. Inside the dust bag, there is a small white tag, which may say “100% Cotton, Made in India” (or similar).
In 2016, Louis Vuitton revamped all of their packaging–the boxes are orange with navy blue blue writing, and the new dust bags are more cream colored with dark navy blue writing.
9. Use Your Nose!
Knock off or fake Louis Vuitton bags may smell like chemicals or plastic. Authentic Louis Vuitton bags will smell clean and have a subtle leather odor. Pre-owned bags may have an odor carried over from their previous life, but they will not smell like chemicals.
10. Use Your Common Sense
Is the price too good to be true? Then it probably is. Know the market value of the bag you’re after. Many sellers on peer-to-peer ecommerce websites know their items are fake, but since it’s illegal to sell counterfeit goods, they will list the items at a “reasonable” price, but not disclose that the item is counterfeit. Use your best judgment: a $200 Neverfull might seem like a great deal, but it may be fake.
These tips are an overview of authenticating Louis Vuitton and this post alone won’t be sufficient to authenticate all LV, but we firmly believe in “the more educated you are, the better.” It’s also important to note that there are exceptions to some of these tips, due to LV’s continued efforts to ward off counterfeiters.
If you’re shopping online for pre-loved Louis Vuitton bags, make sure you purchase from a place that’s a trusted source for guaranteed authentic Louis Vuitton, like Yoogi’s Closet. Now that you’ve learned more about authenticity, you’re ready to shop Louis Vuitton! If you want to learn more about Louis Vuitton history, bag styles and colors, check out our Louis Vuitton information guide.