20 ways to spot authentic designer vintage – Q&A with Joseph Mazzola of Hello La Mode

A few years ago I found what I thought was a killer Louis Vuitton camera case at a vintage shop. Sadly, a friend of mine pointed out that it lacked lining and actually had a plastic zipper – it was a fake. Of course I was mortified and ever since I’ve been leery about purchasing designer goods secondhand. With all of the designer resale sites popping up, I’ve been tempted to try buying a vintage bag again but I want a little reassurance that what I’m buying is real. Luckily, Hello La Mode has experts that confirm the authenticity of every item sold through the site. We spoke with their expert Joseph about how to spot the real deal!

photo of Joseph: Fichera Fotography

SB: Can you give specific tips on how you can tell if a luxury handbag is authentic for each of the following brands: Chanel, Coach, and Prada?

J: Chanel bags are the third most replicated designer brand in the world. Some details to look out for when purchasing a second hand Chanel bag are the stitching.  

  1. Stitching should be consistently even and about 6 stitches per Inch.
  2. The top hook of the right C will always interlock with the left C and not the other way around.
  3. Whenever possible, ask for the certificate of authenticity.
  4. Chanel puts a hologram on the inside of their handbags and has done so since 1988. These holograms feature a Chanel logo and serial number that will match the one on the certificate of authenticity. If you try to remove one of these hologram seals, they will come off in pieces and make a mess.

chain strap purse: Chanel

Coach products have become very popular to reproduce recently. Even large stores have started carrying “Coach-like” bags. 

  1. The letter on a Coach bag will always be a double “C” – not a “G” or “O”. The “C’s” will always be in an even row lining up into the center of the bag. The “C’s” will also be in doubles, not alternating with every other one in an opposite direction.
  2. Coach dust bags will always be a deep chocolate color with a red drawstring.The Coach logo and “Est. 1941” will be printed in white in the bottom right corner of the dust bag.
  3. The interior serial number should start with “No” and have 4 numbers after the dash, not 3. The writing should be neat on the authenticity tag, not crookedly stamped on. Also, the paragraph above the serial number should be in all caps, and in English.
  4.  The logo tag should say “Coach” in raised letters (NOT imprinted) and be hung by a beaded chain. The zipper in a Coach bag will always be an YKK Zipper.

Buying a Prada handbag, the most telling thing to look for will be the lining.

  1. Prada will always have invisible stitching in their lining.
  2. The hardware will always be a high-quality brass and the bag will have a good streamlined shape.

tote – Prada, rouched bag – Prada

SB: I’ve heard of people coming across fake Louboutins. If I spot a pair in a vintage shop, how do I make sure they’re the real deal?

J: Christian Louboutin shoes are among the most popular in Hollywood and are often replicated in a very poor way. Famous for the red soles, Louboutin shoes will always be crafted of the finest leather.

  1. The leather on a Louboutin shoe should always be smooth with little or no wrinkles or creases.
  2. The inside of every Louboutin is stamped in gold with the logo.
  3. On the bottom of each shoe, usually in the middle of the red sole, will be an embossed logo and also the size of the shoe in European sizing.
  4. The red on the bottom will always be a brighter crayon red, where some replicas use a dark blood red.
  5. If the shoe has crystals in the design, they will always be Swarovski crystals.
  6. The shoes will always come in a red dust bag and the box should be a thick tan cardboard.

black pumps – Christian Louboutin

SB: Hermès scarves are amazing and can be a great vintage find. But there are so many prints it’s difficult to identify them. How do I know I’ve found one?

J: Replica Hermès Scarves have become VERY difficult to spot recently.

  1. The tag on Hermès scarves will always be white or black and contain the information ‘MADE IN FRANCE 100% SILK DRY CLEAN ONLY’ and ‘FABRIQUE EN FRANCE 100% SOIE’  in both English and French. No other languages will be used.
  2. The tag will always be sewn in by hand, in a color matching the tag (usually black or white). Black tags will only be on scarves produced after 2002.
  3. The hem on the scarves will always be a hand-rolled hem towards the front and hand stitched in a color perfectly matching the pattern.
  4. The printing will be absolutely perfect as the workshop would immediately discard any scarf where the different colors are not perfectly aligned.

yellow scarf – Hermès, red and blue scarf – Hermès

SB: If I’m cleaning out my closet, how can I tell if an item of clothing is suitable for resale on Hello La Mode?

J: If you are looking to refresh your closet, the items Hello La Mode loves are luxury, designer items that are in good condition or even new with tags.  They should have style and be well made.

SB: Do you only accept certain brands?

J: We don’t have a set list of brands we accept, but they should be recognizable and prestigious to be desirable to discerning buyers.  Hello La Mode members are an elite, fashionable bunch!

For more information on Hello La Mode’s shop and their designer experts visit HelloLaMode.com

  1. Samantha said:

    I have two Hermes scarves bought from the Hermes in NYC so is genuine, and one of them has a brown tag so not all Hermes scarves have tags in just black or white xoxo

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