I have to start this one off with a story. When I was 10 years old, I was already in love with fashion and knew a little bit about designer brands. I remember getting a “Prada” purse at a garage sale for around $5. I didn’t know a ton, but I knew that was a steal. I was so happy with my purchase. My mother, bless her, didn’t have the heart to tell me that it was unlikely that I had stumbled upon an actual Prada purse in our tiny little farmer town at a garage sale. After having it for about 3 weeks, the logo fell off (turns out it was a heavy-duty sticker) and the seams started coming apart. I tried to justify it as being “pre-owned”, but after a little while I had to admit that this bag might not have been the real deal.
Once I realized this, I knew that I could never fall for this garbage again. So, I began researching to find out how to distinguish between a real designer and a non-designer item. Fool me once, shame on me, but fool me twice? Never.
Which is what leads us to our blog topic for today! How to spot a designer knock-off so your heart won’t get crushed like my little 10 year old one did. Distinguishing between a real and a fake can be hard sometimes, but I have some general guidelines that I always follow to make the process easier.
1. Look at the Details – This is one of the easier ways to tell a knock-off from the real deal. Check the seams, look very closely at the logo, check the stitching. If anything looks shoddy, give it a pass. Keep an eye out for things like fake plated gold, missing stitches, anything off centre…real designer brands won’t sell something that looks cheap (even at their outlets). Also, take a super close look at the brand name. Some knock-offs will have a slightly different spelling to prevent them from possibly being sued, like Valentina instead of Valentino, or Celine rather than Céline.
2. Check out the Fabric – Occasionally a designer will use plastic in their designs, but 99% of the time they only use good quality materials to justify the expensive price tag. Look for fabrics such as leather, suede, silk, real wool (especially in coats) – these are expensive fabrics that knock-offs won’t use because they’re trying to imitate a look for dirt cheap.
3. Glimpse at the Price Tag – Even at consignment stores or second-hand designer websites, you should still expect to pay a decent price for an authentic designer item. Something that was originally $3,000 won’t suddenly show up for $50 at a thrift shop. Once in a blue moon you might find something real for a fantastic discount at a thrift shop or a garage sale if someone doesn’t realize what they have, but this doesn’t happen often. Be aware that you might be getting a knock-off if the price seems too good to be true.
4. Look for Proof of Authenticity – The best way to check for authenticity is to look for a manufacturer’s number or distinct marking somewhere on the item. Most designer brands will have this stamped into their bags, but it’s often not on designer shoes. If the item comes with a certificate or a card, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s the real deal (certificates are always printed on good quality card stock with attention to detail, so keep that in mind). There are some websites where you can send photos of an item and get an appraisal before buying, but they can be expensive and may take a while to get back to you. However, if you’re looking to spend big bucks, definitely invest in a third-party screening before proceeding.
5. Do Your Research Before Shopping Online – If you’re looking to buy something off of e-Bay, Kijiji, or a designer consignment store online, PLEASE make sure to check reviews before you blow a ton of money on something that isn’t legitimate. See what others have said, ask for additional pictures, get an appraisal from an expert (either online or in person) before buying from an independent seller, and check the return policy before handing over your hard earned dough. You cannot be too careful here! Designer scamming is a huge industry online and so many people get taken advantage of, unfortunately. Don’t be one of these people. If you have even 1% of a doubt, don’t buy it. You can always find something better (and legit) down the road 🙂
I always follow these guidelines when I’m looking at a designer item to make sure I don’t get ripped off (again). Do yourself a favour and use these tips to make sure you leave with an awesome, legitimate designer deal! Do it in memory of my 10 year old self. So young, so naive.