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As one of the most iconic and sought-after high fashion brands in the world, it comes as no surprise that Chanel dupes are so common. Buying a secondhand Chanel bag has lots of great benefits, but knowing how to spot a fake Chanel bag is essential before committing to a high-value purchase.

The most counterfeited Chanel bag

Louis Vuitton and Gucci are currently the most counterfeited luxury designers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious when it comes to other brands.

The 2.55 and classic flap bags are the most counterfeited Chanel bags. Their highly iconic and timeless design means counterfeiters can recreate the bag continuously as they never fall out of fashion.

Image of an Authentic Chanel Caviar Leather Classic Double Flap bag from Timeless Vintage

How to spot a fake Chanel bag

Whether you’re looking for a secondhand Chanel flap bag or a Boy bag, below we cover 6 essential tips from our in-house team on how to spot a fake Chanel bag.

1. The materials and stitching

Chanel’s leathers and materials are of a certain grade that is hard to replicate. Look out for the signature buttery softness of lambskin leather, and the grained detailing of Caviar leather. The material should never feel boxy and cardboard-like, but solid and soft.

This goes for the lining too. Any unusual bumps or discrepancies with the fit of the lining can single a bag out as fake.

On quilted Chanel bags, counting stitches is a quick way to identify a fake. A single quilted ‘box’ should have no less than 8 stitches along one side. Any less, and the bag is a fake.

Stitching in general will be immaculate, so inconsistencies in stitch length and untidy or wobbly lines will indicate a fake Chanel bag.

As technology and machinery continually improve, so too will the ‘quality’ of fake Chanel bags.

Authentic stitching on a beige Chanel flap bag from Timeless Vintage

2. The weight and feel

It seems a little ambiguous, but a true Chanel bag will have a solid feel and weight behind it. Especially with a metal chain and leather should strap, if it feels unusually lightweight, it could be a fake.

If it has a flat base, it should also sit completely level when placed on a flat surface. The attention to detail that Chanel ateliers follow is extremely strict. Every bag is meticulously designed, so a handbag with a misshapen base would simply not enter the market.

Authentic shoulder straps on a beige Chanel flap bag from Timeless Vintage

3. The hardware 

Depending on the bag, there are a few key characteristics to look for in the bag’s hardware that could highlight a fake.

If the bag has a CC lock, make sure the right C is the one overlapping the left C at the top, and in reverse at the bottom

The back plate of the lock should be fixed with a flat-headed screw. Chanel has their own unique screws made only for them, so any other branded screw like a cross-head Phillips would indicate a fake.

An authentic backplate on a Chanel flap bag from Timeless Vintage

4. The stamps and serial number

A critical part of authenticating a Chanel bag is the brand stamps and serial numbers.

  • Check the digits on the authenticity card and make sure there are between 6-8 numbers.
  • The authenticity card should feel slightly weighted and measure 5.4cm by 8.5cm long.
  • Make sure the internal brand stamp in the bag matches the colour of the hardware, ie silver or gold.
  • On most bags, the brand stamp will display the brand name Chanel in capital letters, alongside a registered trademark, and also the country in which the bag was created, e.g. MADE IN FRANCE. This ‘made in’ stamp never displays a city name, only the country.
Authentic branding inside a secondhand Chanel handbag
Image of an Authentic Chanel Authenticity Serial Card

5. The purchasing location 

Online or in-person, there are different ways to check the authenticity of the Chanel bag you’ve got your eye on.

The physical location of local secondhand or vintage markets is usually a clear-cut way of knowing if a bag is fake. If you’re in a busy marketplace where people are able to handle the bags, or they’re hanging from a shop wall by their strap, it’s unlikely a seller would allow a true Chanel bag to be out on display like this.

Smaller, exclusive vintage shops that specialise in luxury designer goods are a much safer bet.

When buying a Chanel bag online, you’re unable to analyse the bag in person, so extra care should be taken. We cover additional things to look out for in our guide to secondhand shopping online.

If you’re buying from an individual seller on a site like eBay, or apps like Vinted and Depop, you’re a little more vulnerable. So make sure you check the terms and conditions of the marketplace and ask the seller for photos and clear information on shipping.

Two black Chanel flap bags sit on a glass shelf in a market shop next to fake Gucci and Balenciaga bags.
Fake Chanel flap bags amongst other counterfeited luxury designer bags

6. The price 

The best way to avoid falling for a fake is to know the approximate resale value of the exact style and colourway of the bag you’d like to buy. Find the bag on multiple resale sites and cross-compare the prices. Any bags that fall far below the average are most likely dupes.

Beware of resellers who are offering a ‘sales’ deal with a large discount, as they could be misleading you about the original price.

If it all seems too good to be true, it’s unfortunately a likely fake.

Buying a vintage or secondhand Chanel bag is a great way to support the circular fashion movement and add an iconic bag to your wardrobe at a reduced price. Plus, a Chanel handbag can be an excellent investment too.

However, it’s only a great investment if the bag is a true Chanel. So keep these tips in mind when browsing secondhand Chanel handbag collections.

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