The runway rundown

These days, finding a “Louis Vuitton” for sale on almost any corner is easy, but how can you know if you are being fooled into buying a knock-off? There are plenty of quick tricks to help eliminate the fakes and keep any handbag collection foolproof.

While there are professional handbag traders who study the difference between real and fake luxury bags, being an expert on what you’re buying is never a requirement, but knowing what to look for is.

One of the first clues to spotting a fake Louis Vuitton is to know how the bags are packaged. Before pulling out the credit card, inspect how the bag is presented. Louis Vuitton bags do not come with any tags attached.

Also, canvas swatch samples have never been used. These are small cut-outs of the fabric used to match the bag with the LV imprinted on them, and can be found attached to one of the handles of the bag.

Since 1854, the only certificate of authentication Louis Vuitton has included with any bag are two manila tags, one telling what the bag is made of, whether it be Vernis, Mongram Canvas, etc. and the other tag with the model number, bar code and the French name of the bag.

Authentic bags also include a booklet on how to care for your new purse. Any other tags, strings or attachments let the buyer know the bag is not authentic, and if the tag on the inside of the handbag says it was made in any country other than Spain, France, the United States, Germany or Italy, then it is a fake.

Louis Vuitton is known for its prestige quality, which it has upheld for more than 150 years by never having a clearance sale of any sort on any of their bags. Any boutique or retail store offering Louis Vuitton products — which usually cost at least a couple hundred dollars — on sale is selling fakes.

Another important tip to keep in mind about any luxury bag is to do research before dishing out hundreds of dollars to any retail store. Also, make sure the style is an original. Check the Web site to make sure the bag was designed by Louis Vuitton. For example, black Vernis Louis Vuittons were never designed, so if you  see one for sale,
it’s fake.

The next clue to keeping it real, and one of the most important facts about Louis Vuitton to remember, is that most of the bags, including the Speedy 25 and Keepalls, are made of one continuous patch of leather. So on one side of an authentic bag, the LV’s will be upside down.

Other designs, like most of the monogram styles that use a separate piece of leather for the bottom of the purse, will have the LV’s right-side up. A common patch found on the front of many of the vintage designs is round and intended for personalization.

Symmetry is also a huge giveaway for  fake Louis Vuittons. The LV’s should be symmetric across the front and back of the bag. Remember, if you could evenly fold your Louis Vuitton in half, all of the LV’s should match up perfectly.

Check the leather itself. Fake leather is hard and rough, while a real LV will feel smooth. And Louis Vuitton uses a few different textiles to line the insides of bags, including microfiber suede or cross-grain leather. Counterfeiters may pay little or no attention to the insides of bags.

Louis Vuitton is also known for its precise stitching patterns. The Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Speedy 25, for example, has five stitches across the top where the handle is stitched to the purse. This should be the case for each end of the handles attached to the bag.

After a quick lesson in keeping your Louis Vuitton real, spotting a fake should be easy, whether it is one you were considering purchasing or one someone is wearing. Staying true to style is all about keeping it real, and what better place to start than with a luxury bag?