How To Spot Fake Chanel Handbags
This guide will highlight how to differentiate between replica and genuine Chanel handbags
Chanel is one of the most luxurious brands we stock at Handbag Clinic and a personal favourite of mine.
Chanel is also a brand that is heavily copied, replicas cost up to hundreds of pounds! and can be difficult for the untrained eye to spot.
As Chanel is a brand which has remained popular for decades there are many fakes out there and each bag requires thorough assessment, but there are some key things the Store Managers and I look for when authenticating a Chanel. Before we get started though, you’re probably reading this because you’re interested in buying a Vintage Chanel Bag, so it is worth while checking out our collection on Vintage Chanel Bags, which are all guaranteed authentic.
When we receive a Chanel in store the first thing we look at is the authenticity code. This code of a Chanel Classic 2.55 will be in the front left corner of the bag. Bags originally are sold with an Authenticity Card as shown below. The code on the card should always match the serial number inside the bag. Each serial number reflects when the bag was made, if a brand new code had a serial number or sticker which would reflect an older model this may indicate a fake. I have created a guide to the codes and the appearance of the sticker below:
|Serial number||Time period||Number detail||Sticker detail|
|20—–||2014-2015||0’s have strikethroughs. 1’s have small serifs, which means feet.||Between 2005 to the present day Chanel have adopted an eight-digit serial number. This is printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos. “CHANEL” is printed on right hand side of the sticker and a dark line is printed along the left side of sticker. The sticker is flecked with gold speckles. The sticker has two lines in a cross across the sticker which stops the sticker from being removed without damage.|
|18——||2013 – 2014|
|17——||2012 – 2013|
|14——||2010 – 2011|
|13——||2009 – 2010|
|12——||2008 – 2009|
|11——||2006 – 2008|
|10——||2005 – 2006|
|9——||2004 – 2005||0’s have strikethroughs. 1’s have small serifs (feet).||Between 1999 – 2002 Chanel used a seven-digit serial number which was printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos. “CHANEL” is printed on right hand side of the sticker and a dark line is printed along the left side of sticker. The sticker is flecked with gold speckles. The sticker has two lines in a cross across the sticker which stops the sticker from being removed without damage.|
|8——||2003 to 2004|
|7——||2002 to 2003|
|6——||2000 to 2002|
|5——||1997 to 1999||0’s have strikethroughs up to 51——. 0’s have no strikethroughs
from 52—— to 56——. 0’s have strikethroughs from 57—— on. 1’s have small serifs from 57—— on.
|1997 – 1999 the seven-digit serial number was printed on white sticker covered with clear tape with two Chanel logos from 57—— on. “CHANEL” is printed on right hand side of the sticker and a dark line is printed along the left side of sticker. The sticker is flecked with gold speckles. The sticker has two lines in a cross across the sticker which stops the sticker from being removed without damage.|
|4——||1996 to 1997||0’s have strikethroughs. 1’s are sans-serifs which means they have no feet||1994 – 1997 a seven-digit serial number was printed on white sticker with Chanel logos. An opaque film covers sticker.|
|3——||1994 to 1996|
|2——||1991 to 1994||0’s have no strikethroughs up to 27——. 1’s have serifs.||1991 – 1994 have a seven-digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos. An opaque film covers sticker.|
|1——||1989 to 1991||0’s have no strikethroughs. 1’s have serifs.||Between 1989 – 1991 a seven-digit serial number was printed on white sticker with Chanel logos and the left-sided was cut-out. Opaque film covers sticker.|
|0——||1986 to 1988||0’s have no strikethroughs. 1’s have serifs.||The earliest serial number was a seven-digit serial number printed on white sticker with Chanel logos and the left-sided cut out. An opaque film covers sticker. The early serial numbers which start with a 1 or 2 did not have a leading “0”, this meant they were a six-digit serial numbers. The earlier stickers in this series were larger than the stickers produced later in this time period.|
The card itself should have a gold border, this border should be gold and not have a rainbow affect, the gold should be the same tone as the gold numbering. The card should also have a grey circle in the top right corner if the bag was made after 2005. A bag with a serial number dated pre 2005 that has a card featuring the grey circle will most likely be a replica. It is common for people to lose the card and care guides which come with the bag, we do not rely on this to prove authenticity and use other methods in addition to the serial number.
Once we have checked the serial number and if possible the authenticity card we will assess the leather, Chanel lambskin leather is soft to the touch and feels high quality. Caviar skin is made from pebbled calf leather. The leather has an iconic “bubbly” appearance and is more textured than lambskin leather. Although Chanel use a range of materials these are the two most common used and ooze luxury, replica manufacturers cannot match the same level of quality with their discount prices so a low quality leather is a quick give away.
When Coco Chanel originally designed the bag the lock was rectangular with no branding, Chanel still make bags with a rectangular lock but the iconic CC lock is more popular in today’s market. This iconic lock can also separate the fakes from the authentic. The Cs on vintage 2.55s have a flat finish, they also appear to be larger on the majority of vintage Chanel’s. More contemporary Chanel 2.55 bags have raised, rounded Cs. On all Chanel bags the right C should always overlap the left C at the top and the left C should always overlap the bottom of the right C. If the CC is gold plated CC’s are marked with a gold plating symbol. Not all CC’s are gold plated but should always be at a high quality. The lock mechanism its self should be a smooth oblong shape, again, poor quality hardware will give away a fake Chanel.
On the inside of the bag the back of the turnstile lock you should see a back plate like the ones pictured below. Chanel only use flat (slot) head screws. Unless the original screws have been replaced different types of screw are a good indication of a fake bag. Handbag Clinic will always source metal work as close as possible to the original to ensure a high quality repair.
Zips and press studs are also another give away, the majority of Chanel bags will usually feature the following manufacturers zips:
Vintage bags (engraved on front zipper slider): Eclair, 3 C circle symbol, D, OPTI DMC, DMC, LAMPO symbol.
Vintage bags (engraved on back zipper slider if front slider is blank): CHANEL PARIS, LAMPO.
Newer bags (engraved on front zipper slider): EP, YKK.
Newer bags (engraved on back zipper slider if front slider is blank): CHANEL PARIS, LAMPO
Occasionally zips will be completely unbranded and there are numerous of zipper combinations therefore our Chanel bags are thoroughly checked by myself or our skilled Store Managers to ensure the zip matches the age and design of the bag perfectly.
Some zipper’s usually have a pull tag. Some bags feature a CC zip pull tag this will bag a gold circle with the iconic CC’s, fake versions of this pull tag will be poor quality and are mainly seen on vintage bags. Some bags have a leather pull tag and it should match the main material of the bag. For example, if the bag is caviar skin the leather pull tab should be caviar skin too.
Above: Vintage Eclair Zip on an 80’s Classic Lambskin
Above: Modern YKK zip on a 2014 Caviar skin
Above: Lampo bulb shaped zip – All Chanel metal teethed zips should feature a Lampo Zip. This type of zip is expensive therefore replica manufacturers tend to not use branded or high quality zips such as those made by Lampo.
Above: Vintage DMC zipper with round CC zip pull
Snap Closure Press Studs engraving on Chanel bags has also changed over time, below are some brands used or typically seen engraving:
Vintage bags: Ficocchi (for small snap button), CHANEL (for large snap button)
Vintage and Newer bags: FLOX, CHANEL (for large snap button)
Newer bags: CHANEL PARIS (for small snap button), CHANEL (for large snap button)
The stitching on a Chanel should always be neat and accurate. Each inch of a Chanel stitching should have at least 10 stitches, fake manufacturers will usually be looking for quick and cheaper ways to make a replica therefore will usually have a stitch count of around 8 or 9. The classic quilted patterned will always line up, where the back pocket is attached is the first place I would check for this accuracy. Another key part of the bag we assess for high quality stitching is the interlocking CC’s which feature on the interior of a Double Flap bag. Each C should be 9mm wide and be 1 and a half cm’s above the Chanel stamping. The stitching colour should perfectly match the interior leather of the bag. This mistake is something replica manufacturers sometimes fail to copy this perfectly.
You can view our fabulous range of Vintage Chanel Bags