November 26, 2019

5 Tips to Tell a Real from a Fake Vintage Louis Vuitton

By:
Niki Tiliakos, Specialist, Lark Mason Associates

When buying and selling pre-owned handbags and luggage, tips for spotting fakes can be very useful.  The following is a guide to authentication that can help you navigate the field and save you from spending your hard earned money on counterfeit items.

1. TRIM COLOR

The first thing I recommend you look at when assessing a used Louis Vuitton piece is the color of the leather trim.  The leather handles and trim on real Louis Vuitton bags ages to a rich tan color.  The trim on fake handbags usually has a pink or orange hue, and the leather is stiffer and not as soft as the leather on the real thing.  On cheaper fakes they use plastic.

2. HEAT STAMP

Check the heat stamp. This should be crisp and even. If the ends are not as deep as the rest of the stamp, it is a fake.  There is one font, and the letters should be spaced a certain way.  The spacing on fakes can be off or the sizes of the characters can be off.  

3. HARDWARE

Look at the hardware.  First off, if the zipper or any larger piece of hardware does not have a company logo, it is not real. Second, if the logo on the hardware is not crisp, the piece is also fake.  Each piece of these bags is made to the highest quality, so these small details can also be a sign for authenticity.

4. STITCHING

Look at the stitching.  If it is messy, uneven or off in anyway, the piece is a fake.  Also, the color of the thread could be a sign the piece is fake as well.

5. DATE CODE

The codes on Louis Vuitton handbags are actually date codes, not serial numbers.  This means that multiple bags have the same number.  The date codes started in the early 1980’s, so pieces that predate the 1980’s should not have a date code.  The most recent handbags have a date code that begins with two letters that indicate where it was made. The two letters are  followed by four numbers that indicate the approximate date the handbag was made.  The first and third numbers indicate the week of the year it was made and the second and four numbers indicate the year.  If a date code does not follow this logic, ie it indicates that the bag was made in 2035, it cannot be real.  
While Louis Vuitton handbags never have serial numbers, their trunks do.  Dating Vuitton trunks and luggage can be more important than dating handbags.  Handbags are more easily dateable by style, but trunks are fairly consistent in that regard.  One way to narrow down the date a trunk was made is to look at the address and font on the serial number label.   For example, Louis Vuitton was located at the Avenue Marceau address from 1954 to 1986.  If you see a trunk with this address listed on its label, you know it cannot be older than 1986.  To further narrow down the time period, you can look at the font and design of the label.  This trunk was made in the early 1980’s, right before the time the company moved to the Champ Elysees address that the flagship still holds.