I know what you’re probably thinking, “How can you write about how to avoid buying a fake purse, when your “designer” bag in the photos is clearly a fake?”, or perhaps you’re thinking, “Wow! What a gorgeous purse!” if you’re like me and didn’t realize that it’s not authentic. I’ve written about how I will NEVER buy a fake purse many times, across all of my platforms, because fake handbags are not only a slap in the face to real designers and their teams who work hard to bring their designs to life, fake handbags have also been tied to sex trafficking and human trafficking operations, drug cartels and terrorist groups, it heavily pollutes the environment in fragile ecosystems around the world, and they are almost exclusively made using slave labor and child labor where children are handcuffed to sewing machines to prevent them from escaping.
Evidently, fake handbags generate 1,000% the revenue illegal drug trafficking does, and while the criminals get away with wads of cash, buyers are left with junk that falls apart and hurts people in the process. As if all of that isn’t bad enough, it’s actually illegal to knowingly buy or sell fake handbags in the United States, and it’s a crime against art itself. So, how’d I end up carrying a fake bag, and smiling so big in these photos, happy with what I thought at the time was a fantastic bargain on a rare, authentic handbag I’d wanted for years? Let me tell you what happened, so you can learn from my mistakes and avoid getting scammed.
It all started a few months ago when I was stuck at home, like most of the world. I had been refunded from nearly all of my planned travels, and I was pretty down in the dumps about everything going on, so I thought to myself, ‘Why not buy a nice new handbag I’ve been eyeing?‘ I had wanted this gorgeous Hermés bag in Blanc for literal years, and since it is no longer made by Hermés, I looked to a reputable resale site that guaranteed authenticity on all designer goods and handbags, even claiming that they have an authentication service that proves bags are all authentic, so buyers can shop worry-free. With this in mind, I hit “buy” from a listing that stated the seller had received the handbag as a gift from a relative and already had something similar, so she wanted to pass along the savings. It was my lucky day, I couldn’t believe how generous they were to pass along such a find!
I received my bag, and it seemed really well made. I own an authentic H Clic Bracelet, and a couple Hermés silk scarves I’ve purchased over the years directly from Hermés, and I thought the quality was comparable, although this was my first leather product from the company, so admittedly that wasn’t much to go on. The stitching was even, the bag felt heavy and sturdy, and the strap looked exactly like the pictures of the real thing. I carried it a few times and was absolutely in love with it, plus I’d gotten this brand new bag for more than half off retail, so I was really pleased with it, and time went by without me noticing anything.
Recently, I photographed the bag with the outfit you see above, and didn’t think anything was amiss with my allegedly authentic bag. It wasn’t until I was trying to find a similar bag online when writing about it for my blog, that I noticed a glaring flaw in the bag – the H in the front (technically the side that should go against the body) didn’t have enough “dots”. This may sound like a crazy thing to notice to someone who isn’t a fan of designer handbags, but in all of the photos I could find of authentic Hermés bags, the H had 9 dots in each side of the “H”, and mine only had 7, although it did have 9, if you count the dots in the oval as well, which isn’t the case with an authentic bag. This made me wonder if maybe I had an older model of the bag? After all, there have been 3 iterations of this bag, in different sizes, and the seller had even included the gift receipt, shopping bag, and authenticity documents with the bag, plus they had a very high rating on the website, with lots of other luxury items for sale too, AND the website guaranteed it was authentic too. How could they have tricked me?
After digging a bit deeper I realized that there were a few other, very subtle, yet very obvious flaws, once I knew what to look for when comparing a potential fake to the real deal. Evidently, some people go to school to learn how to distinguish fake bags from authentic ones, because it’s becoming so hard to do with any amount of accuracy. As I said, I’d never owned an Hermés leather bag before, so I didn’t know what to look for back when I’d purchased it, so the fact that the interior of the leather was shedding and becoming discolored was annoying at first, but I thought maybe that was just what happened to this brand of handbag. This is an example of how fake goods damage the reputations of designers they steal from. I later learned that it was more evidence that this bag wasn’t authentic.
The debossed markings on the handbag aligned with what they should have looked like and were identical (at least to my untrained eye) to what an authentic bag would look like, and the foil stamp looked identical to a real handbag too. Even the size of the holes that comprised the oval “H” logo matched the size they should have been, down to the millimeter. The only other flaw I noticed was that over time, the interior of the bag had begun to turn a blueish-green color, which was super bizarre to me, because I didn’t own anything that would have gone in my handbag that was that color, and I’m very careful to take care of my items, so I didn’t think I had stained it. It turns out, color change in leather, treated with cheap, harsh, and often toxic chemicals that eventually oxidize and cause the colors to warp, is another hallmark of a fake bag.
Since I trusted the website I purchased the bag on, trusted the seller, and didn’t know enough about the handbag to notice the very small, very subtle issues that are now obvious to me about this bag, I thought I’d gotten a really great deal. When I realized I had been duped, I immediately contacted the platform I purchased it from and was first told that they couldn’t do anything, because so much time had passed. At this point it had been about 4 months since I’d bought the bag. After speaking to a few different representatives, they eventually asked for more information, including the confirmation emails from back when I originally purchased the bag, along with the images from the original listing, photos and measurements of my bag, and a lot more. It took me about a day and a half to get them everything they’d asked for, and it was very inconvenient. They eventually refunded me, about 3 weeks later, and told me that the seller had been shut down about a month prior to me filing a claim. Can you guess why they were shut down? For selling fake handbags! I wasn’t the only one who had been tricked, which simultaneously made me feel a bit better, but also made me sad, because I knew how disappointed and frustrated I was with this situation, and I hated to think that others were going through the same ordeal.
Thankfully, this ended well for me, and I got my money back. But, what happened to the people involved in making this bag? Was someone exploited in the process? Were the workers being forced to make these fake handbags? Were those workers little children? Were they working in dangerous conditions? Did the toxic dyes they used in the leather that changed the color of the bag over time hurt my health after months of carrying it around and touching it? Did it hurt the health of the people who made that bag? What impact did this fake bag and its toxic components have on the environment? How long would those chemicals persist in wherever the bag had been made, and how many people would they hurt and make sick? Who profited from the purchase, since they absconded with the funds I gave them and I was instead refunded by the platform? What did the criminals do with that money? Did they use that money to hurt more people, tricking others on another platform somewhere, and abusing more workers along the production process? I can never take my money back from them, and I am truly ashamed to think of what they might be using it to do. The last thing I would ever want to do is to hurt others. I can’t change that I bought this bag, even if it was accidental, however, I can be much more careful going forward, and share my story with others to warn them of the danger of buying fakes, even unknowingly. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
How to know Your Buying an Authentic Bag
To be certain the bag you’re buying is authentic, I recommend buying directly from the designer, in-person ideally, or online, whenever possible. If that isn’t possible, do your research. I only vaguely compared two photographs, one of the authentic bag, and one of the one I wanted to purchase, because I trusted the website I bought it on. The photos on the website were of an authentic bag, I believe, but I was sent something that didn’t match the photos. I should have compared what I received to the images on the website. I should have researched how to tell an authentic bag from a fake, by finding an article like this one, as well. There are even Facebook groups you can join to see if a bag is authentic or fake, like this group for Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, and more. Many of the group members work for the retailer, are experts on the handbags the brands sell, or they own the authentic bags themselves and can compare for you to help make sure you’re buying the real deal. Once you receive your handbag, I also recommend taking it to the nearest retailer of that brand to have them authenticate it for you too, if possible. If they can’t prove that it is real, ask them to write a letter stating their findings, to help with your return appeal. The brand may ask that you destroy the fake bag as well.
Never Settle for an Imitation
I hope these tips and tricks help you find authentic handbags, and avoid getting scammed the way I was. Never settle for anything less than real, authentic handbags when it comes to buying designer bags. Anything less is an insult to the designers, the people involved in making the bag, and to yourself.
If you found this information useful and educational, please consider sharing this post with the hashtag #IAmAlwaysAuthentic to help spread awareness of the tremendous harm fake bags cause, and to pledge to never buy fake designer goods.
Thank you for reading.
To the Hermés brand, I am truly sorry to have unknowingly purchased this handbag. As a creative, I understand the pain and frustration being ripped off and copied can cause, and I hate that there is a market for forgeries. I sincerely admire the time, effort, craftsmanship, and ingenuity the Hermés design house puts into every piece it creates, and I will only ever buy designer goods directly from the retailer going forward. Thank you for making the world a more beautiful, and colorful place.
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Kemari Ihlenfeldt says
Oh goodness, thank you so much for the tips!
Wow had no idea how harmful buying knockoffs was! Thanks for this useful rundown, glad you got your money back!
Jenny whitby says
Awesome tips! Def gonna use em for my next purse buying!
Larissa Page says
Wow I learned so much!