How to spot a fake handbag in UAE

In 2016, the UAE's Department of Economic Development confiscated Dh1.6 billion worth of counterfeit items.

United Arab Emirates, September 2, 2017

With technology advancement, global brands (and customers) are threatened with the growing fake market that sometimes manufactures products identical to authentic goods.

In a workshop conducted to help customers guarantee authentic purchases, The Luxury Closet shared ways of identifying a fake handbag from an authentic one. The key is looking at the detailed finishing of a product.

In 2016, the UAE's Department of Economic Development confiscated Dh1.6 billion worth of counterfeit items including mobile phones, cosmetics and handbags.

Globally, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that the fake market represented over half a trillion dollars worldwide, making up 2.5 per cent of global imports and 5 per cent of European imports.

Elisabeth Bohler, Head of Merchandising at The Luxury Closet, said brands fight the fake market through putting authenticity checkpoints on the item that consists of small tag inside the bag with series of numbers. 'In every single handbag or pairs of shoes, you'll find a lot of details that will make you able evaluate whether it's coming out from manufacturer or fake market.'

Most of the time, the manufacturer code provides information about the item, origin and year of manufacture. 'Different brands use different manufacturer code such as hologram and logo. Even if a replica has a manufacturer code, the design of the code and the font will either not match or won't be typed in a straight manner,' said Bohler.

Patterns and quality of fabric are signatures of top brands. Bohler said, 'It is very important to look at as most replicas will not get any of these two right.'

Patterns of fake bags will never be perfectly aligned, while the complexity and quality of fabric in branded handbags cannot be replicated. Bohler noted that some brands use unique colors that cannot be replicated.

Furthermore, shapes of an authentic handbag will be symmetric, a feature that won't be completed to perfection with fake handbags.

The quality of stitching is also essential to look at because manufacturers' stitching will be perfect and of good quality. 'Stitching on a replica will usually not be perfect, they will either be misaligned or of bad quality,' said Bohler.

Other subtle signs to look at are chains and zippers. 'If a bag's chain is light, then it's definitely fake. Similarly if a zipper isn't easy to use, then it's not real,' said Bohler. She added that inside chains and zippers will be poorly finished in replicas.

She added that each brand uses different hardware, which is why it is important to search up the item before buying it.

'The key is to make sure all the product features match together including the model, color, collection, material and size.'

Bohler added, 'Search the series of codes of the brand you are planning to buy to make sure it matches the model of the item.'

She urged customers to avoid buying counterfeit products. 'A copied handbag shows that it is fake. Some people aren't willing to spend that much money on a luxury bag, but then do not pretend to own one,' said Bohler.

Tips for buying authentic luxury:

If you're having a hard time telling the authenticity of the handbag you're purchasing, here are some tips to consider:

1- Check legitimacy of the website or boutique you're buying from through Google reviews or social media.

2- Evaluate the price. A real Chanel will never be sold for $100.

3- Ask questions to customer service

4- Do you own research on the item you want to buy

5- If online, do not buy if there's only one picture available

6- Check the basics: font, logo and stitching quality

7- Check smell and feel of item. Bags with light chains are fake.

8- Check inside of the item for barcodes and logo.

9- Ask for authenticity warranty or invoice from vendor

10- Go to the brand store to compare.


How to maintain a luxury bag

While women can put extra budget for a luxurious handbag, it is important to keep them in good shape as long as possible:

1. Keep your handbag in its original packaging: ?All leather goods come with stuffing, a dust bag and sometimes a box. It is not only pretty, it helps keep your item in good condition, protects from any contact with other items.

2. Protect your leather goods: ?Apply an anti-rain coat on any leather goods to avoid common damage to your bag. Leather gets affected by sunlight, rain or any liquid it could absorb and change its original color. ?

3. Keep pens away! The biggest enemy of leather goods is a pen mark that nothing can solve. If you carry pens in your bag, remind yourself to close securely to avoid inside marks. ?

4. Luxury pieces mean luxury care. ?Do not put your brand new bag on the floor if you sit in a restaurant, and avoid contact with dark clothes, which could transfer colours. Always make sure to avoid food or drinks close to your bag.

5. Keep the shape of your bag with stuffing and by hanging it on a pants hanger. Some shapes, especially square or flap shapes could be damaged by storing your bag on a flat floor.

6. Do not dye a luxury bag with a third party company. If your bag is stained and you dye it with a different company like a shoe cleaner or bag servicing company, its luxury value and authenticity will be affected.

7. Before reselling your bag, service it with the original brand for a quick cleaning or do the basic cleaning by yourself. Reselling companies will not clean luxury bags.

8. Do not try to clean your patent leather luxury bag; it is impossible. Patent leather is like a topcoat on your nails, once there is a stain on it, you cannot remove it. ?

9. Keep your receipt. ?It gives credibilityin case you resell your luxury bag.