Authentic LOUIS VUITTON items are listed on eBay everyday! This is a guide to help you find used authentic Louis Vuitton at less than retail right here on eBay. Remember, there is an unbelieveable amount of fakes- both online and off. eBay is doing what it can to remove some of them, but you need to protect yourself. I can only help you weed out the more juicy obvious fakes... and will do my best to help you defend yourself against the "better" fakes- which are getting closer and closer to the look of the real thing. Here are Fashionphile's Top Ten...
Buying authentic used Louis Vuitton & avoiding the fakes!
1. Know your bag!
Was it ever made by Louis Vuitton? This sounds like an easy one, but it's not! I am a Trading Assistant here on eBay and had an eBayer mail me a black vernis Louis Vuitton Houston to sell for her. She'd bought it on eBay and I could still see the glowing feedback she'd left the seller for the $495 transaction. One problem... Louis Vuitton has never done Vernis in black! Try your bag on at a boutique, check the VUITTON website, or Elux, buy a catalog- etc, but make sure that the bag you are looking for was ever made by Louis Vuitton. This is especially common in Multicolore bags- (there was never an Multicolor Backpack, Ellipse, Papillon etc), Cherry Blossom (no CB Speedy, Alma nor Cabas tote, Pegase), Cerises (no Papillon, Ellipse, Cabas Piano, Mezzo or Alto) or vintage pieces.
Know its parts: What is it "supposed" to be lined in? Should it have feet? What does the base look like? Should it have a d-ring inside? Where? Does it have a date code? Should it? Where?You can check the Vuitton website or your local boutique for this information... you can also purchase more detailed guides here on eBay that include such details... For example: If it is supposed to be lined in brown cotton canvas, it needs to be lined in brown cotton canvas. There have never been brown suede linings- even in the vintage pieces. Alcantara kind of looks like a suede-y material, but it isn't suede and although is found in a greyish mushroomy color, it isn't found in dark brown. A Speedy of any age should have brown cotton canvas lining, so if you see any other lining- you know it isn't authentic.
Know its Monogram placement: Louis Vuitton has been in production since 1854! Their style is classic, and quality- phenomenal! The traditional Monogram Toile canvas that is so popular today- had its beginnings in 1896. The monogram itself can give clues as to authenticity. Louis Vuitton is very careful about the way that the monogram is placed on any piece. Most of its styles are the same today as they were when they first came out- with a few exceptions. The actual LV monogram is usually (with the exception of some vintage pieces) symetrical from side to side in all monogram styles (traditional, Multicolore, Cerises, Mini mono, Vernis etc.) as you can see in this Louis Vuitton Speedy (notice where the LVs are in relation to the handles, sides, quatrefoils etc)...
Watch the stitching: Louis Vuitton is very careful with it's stitching. Stitching should be very even and regular. The same number of stitches will be found in similar locations on similar bags... for example the leather tab that the handle attaches onto on any size monogram Speedy bag will always have 5 regular, even stitches across the top, like this:
Watch the age: While vintage pieces follow most of the rules that I discuss in this guide, there are definite differences in vintage pieces. For example, all French Company pieces vary slightly... so if you are looking at a French Company Vintage Vuitton piece, it may differ a bit. For instance, the FC Speedy 30 does NOT always have 5 stitches across the top, does NOT have upside down LVs on one side, and does NOT have Louis Vuitton embossed in the hardware. I'm currently writing a guide to help with these vintage gems- so watch out for it.
Made in Spain? Yes, while it is true that authentic Louis Vuitton is made in France, for over 25 years, Louis Vuitton has also produced bags in the USA, Spain, Germany and Italy. It is not true that a Louis Vuitton bag has to be marked "Made in France" to be authentic. Here is the embossed markings of an authentic Louis Vuitton bucket bag, Made in the USA:
What about the "Upside Down LVs"? People email me all the time about this one... Some styles of authentic Louis Vuitton WILL have "upside down" LVs on the backside. The reason for this is that Louis Vuitton uses one continuous piece of leather that wraps around from the front to back, without a seam on the bottom- and so, the backside has upside down logos. This is true on the Speedy styles (except French Company Speedys), the Keepalls, Papillons, and some similar styles. Most monogram pieces (any piece with a separate piece of canvas or leather on the bottom) will have the LVs rightside up on both sides. Here is the backside of an authentic Speedy 25:
What about the patches? It is true that many older fake bags had patches on the interior and exterior that simply were never there on authentic versions. Fake exterior patch followed by fake interior patch:
Some current bags also have patches inside, like the Viva Cite:
The Fonts: Louis Vuitton uses a very specific font. I've noticed that a few counterfieters have begun to do a better job at knocking it off... so be careful, but current LV fonts will ALL look like the one on the patch above. Notice the VERY round "O"s. Here is an example of two straps- one authentic, one a "better" fake. Can you tell the difference?
(The bottom one is authentic...)
2. Know the Seller:
One of the wonderful things about eBay is that while we don't actually KNOW who we are dealing with... through the feedback system, we can get to know who we are dealing with. Obviously, we'd all like to buy from 100% positive sellers with 5000+ feedback scores next to their UserIDs, but this is rarely the case. I ALWAYS check the feedback of those that I am buying from very carefully- both buying and selling. There are a few red flags to keep an eye out for:
PRIVATE FEEDBACK sellers: This one's a no brainer. This may fly in other categories, but when I'm looking to buy authentic LV, not being able to see the seller's feedback is just unacceptable. It is important to see not only a seller's total score, but also the individual comments. Some buyers are afraid to leave negatives (for fear of feedback retaliation) so they leave a negatively slanted positive feedback, like this: "POSITIVE: Seller refunded when I returned the bag". Basically, if you see private feedback for a seller, just promptly hit the back arrow!
NEGATIVE FEEDBACK for authenticity: Be very careful to scrutinize feedback for signs that the seller has sold fakes in the past... this is NEVER a good sign.
ZERO FEEDBACK for selling: The only way to get to know your seller is by watching what they buy and sell on eBay. If there is no feedback record, you have nothing to look at in making the determination of whether you want to trust the person with hundreds of your hard earned dollars. Be careful.
Finally, see what they are currently selling, have sold and have bought in the past 30 days. You can do this by doing an advanced search. You can search by items by seller to see what they've sold, or items by bidder to see what they've bid on in the last 30 days. Simply enter their UserID and be sure to click on "completed auctions".
Ask Questions! Don't be afraid to ask questions of the seller. And expect an answer. If you don't get one, move on. If you don't get a good feeling, keep going. If the seller is short with you, or evasive or anything but straight forward- consider that your answer.
3. Know the Company:
Louis Vuitton has been making trunks since 1854. They have done an incredible job at keeping their brand's value at a prestigious level. One of the reasons that they have been able to do this is by not discounting.
Louis Vuitton does not discount.
There is no such thing as a Louis Vuitton sale- even at a boutique or Neiman Marcus (or Saks, Nordstrom etc.) They just don't do it... ever! There are no end of the year sales, no sample sales... no sales period.
Louis Vuitton does not have outlets, or seconds or irregulars.
Never. If you return a purse that is irregular for any reason, they'll usually take it back, but they will not discount it and then resell it. They will simply destroy the bag. There are no outlet stores for "last year's models."
Louis Vuitton does not wholesale.
Ever. Period. End of story. The only places where you can buy brand new authentic Louis Vuitton are in a Louis Vuitton boutique, on eluxury, or from one of a limited number of highend department stores that have mini boutiques inside (ie: Saks or Neimans) that are under the exclusive control of LV. There is NO wholesale distribution of Louis Vuitton at all.
What does knowing this information on the company tell you?
It says, be VERY careful of sellers who are selling brand new, with tags or without Louis Vuitton for any significant amount of money below retail. Many sellers of authentic LV here on eBay DO sell bran new, never used, tags included etc. Louis Vuitton items, but these are often limited edition, wait list only pieces, that usually sell for MORE than retail. Occasionally, a seller will sacrifice a bag like this for just under retail, but that is clearly the exception to the rule. You simply will not find a brand new authentic Louis Vuitton bag on eBay for much less than 15% off retail (and even that is rare).
Louis Vuitton Tags:
When you DO buy Louis Vuitton from a boutique... it will come with tags- but they are NEVER attached to the bag. Other designer labels like Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Coach will do this- but at Louis Vuitton- tags are usually tucked into a pocket or included in an envelope that comes with your receipt. This little white plastic LV circle tag.... with an attached tag? This was NEVER made by Louis Vuitton. If you see it attached, it isn't real.
This weird yellow card was NEVER used by Louis Vuitton... if you see one included in an auction you are looking at, it is not authentic.
For some reason, the fakers all use this dark bronzed envelope with a Louis Vuitton sticker on it (to the left below- with the lock on it)... LV has NEVER used anything like this.
Finally, Louis Vuitton has never attached a canvas swatch sample to a bag like the one with the turquoise LV on it attached to the right side of the handle in the following picture...
When you buy an authentic Louis Vuitton item from a Louis Vuitton boutique or eLuxury... you will get two tags- and MAYBE a care booklet. If you have it mailed to you by your favorite SA, she MAY include a little card thanking you for shopping with Louis Vuitton or whatever. That's it. One tag will say "Louis Vuitton" and will say what the bag is made of- whether it's monogram canvas, vernis, epi etc. The other will have the model number, the correct french name of the bag and the bar code. Notice that they are NOT attached to the bag and do NOT have the little plastic round LV white thing the fakers love to use. The tags would look like this:
***PLEASE NOTE*** The fact that a bag you are looking at has cards that look like this does NOT mean that it's authentic... The fakers do a better job duplicating the tags & receipts than they do with the bags!
4. The French Company & Vintage:
During a period between the late 70's and 80's, Louis Vuitton licensed out production of its monogram pieces to the French Company. This is a US based production company, who produced pieces that were intended for distribution in the market here in the United States. These items will either have a marking that says that the item was produced under a special license, have a US based department store logo, or a particular tyvek French Company tag inside. French Company items will NOT typically have date codes and they do look slightly different when compared to vintage French made Louis Vuitton.
Other vintage Louis Vuitton items (not French Company)... may look different from what you expect today- may styles are discontinued and are really hard to get. Like the French Company items, vintage French made Louis Vuitton items often used treated leather in some of these vintage pieces, like this vintage Dauphine:
Notice that the leather is darker and treated... this is not the untreated vachetta leather with a patina...
These vintage pieces could also have Talon or Eclair zipper pulls- not the Louis Vuitton LV pulls that we have today...
5.Know the Date Code:
Know its format:
Louis Vuitton uses a "Production Code" in its bags for its own internal purposes. It does give clues as to where the bag was made and how old it is. This number is not a unique registration number, so it is highly possible for to find an identical number in a similar (or totally different model) bag that was produced at the same relative time and place. Since the early 1990's, this code has been represented by two letters followed by four numbers. Before then, the code was different, one or two letters followed by three or four number or three numbers alone.
Many vintage pieces have no date code at all. This is true of "French Company" pieces as well. The VAST majority of Louis Vuitton items since the early 80's will have a date code. I have literally seen thousands of authentic Louis Vuitton pieces that were new enough to have date codes... Only one hasn't had one, and I suspect that at one time, it did have a date code inside, but I was just unable to decipher it in the worn alcantara lining.
A current date code of MI 0060 in a Louis Vuitton Ellipse looks like this:
Know where it should be and what it should look like:
The date code will almost always (with very few exceptions) be in the same place in every bag throughout the years. So you know that if you are looking for a Cabas Piano and you find one with a date code in the pocket (when it should be under the d-ring) you're looking at a fake.
Also, know what it should look like- so for example, the above picture is of the date code from an authentic Moyen Ellipse. Below is a picture of a date code in a FAKE Moyen Ellipse. Notice the different shape, the different size tab etc.
Know whether it should be there...
Remember that many vintage pieces should not and will not have date codes. The same is true of French Company pieces.
6. Make sure your payment is protected:
Basically, if a seller will only accept money orders, checks or BidPay... proceed with extreme caution! I only by anything of any serious value on eBay, if I am able to use my credit card and pay through PayPal. This way I have three lines of defense:
eBay's Buyer Protection: This is for items not received or significantly not as described (ie: fake when guaranteed authentic)- covers you for up to $200 minus a $25 processing fee.
PayPal Buyer Protection: Protects fully against items not received or significantly not as described (again, fake when guaranteed authentic)
Your own Credit Card Protection: Every major credit card company has it's own buyers protection and will fully cover you in case of a scam.
Basically, I wouldn't buy anything of significant value on eBay without these protections.
7. Don't be fooled by all the "extras"!!!
I can't stress this one enough. Counterfeiters not only fake bags, but they fake BOXES, SHOPPING BAGS, DUSTBAGS and RECEIPTS!!! In fact, I think they often times get these things knocked off better than the purse itself. Do not be fooled by an auction that includes a receipt. Look at the big picture- as if the receipt and any other extras were not even included.
Notice the white interior to this box- sign of fake:
Fake dustbag on left, authentic on right... Before 2004 the dustbags were all as below, a really soft 100% cotton flannel. The LV embossed on it is very small, discrete and DARK- no hint of red.
Below is another VERY common fake dustbag style... Any dustbag that has anything more that LV or LOUIS VUITTON written on it- is fake. The one below is a really thin, cheap almost tyveky type bag.
Another fake dustbag and bag with tissue on hardware- never done in authentic LV.
The newer (2004+) dustbags are actually not the soft cotton canvas, they are almost a thick linen feeling fabric that is more yellow with LOUIS VUITTON written across the front, like in the one below!
It's great if an auction includes the dustbag, or receipt or boxes etc... just don't rely on this to "prove" authenticity.
8. A Picture says 1000 words!
Good pictures are essential! You can't even begin to determine whether or not an item is authentic, if the seller hasn't supplied good pictures! When you are shopping for a $900 bag, one picture isn't good enough. Don't be afraid to email the seller and ask for more... You'll need to see:
A picture of the front
A picture of the back
A picture of the base
A picture of the lining
A picture of the date code
A picture of the embossed "Louis Vuitton Made in..." stamp
Other pictures are also nice... It's good to see any damage or wear upclose.
Beware of "Borrowed" Pictures!!!
Great pictures tell you nothing, if the pictures aren't of the actual item that you are bidding on! Watch out for auctions where the only pictures included are "borrowed" from Elux or the Vuitton website. You can't tell whether their bag is authentic or not based on these pictures, and I'd rather be safe than sorry... so I pass.
Unfortunately, I am also constantly dealing with sellers who "borrow" my own pictures and use them to sell their items. I sometimes protect my pictures with a watermark, but I don't do it all the time. The problem with these seller's auctions is that the pictures that they are using are of authentic bags... They are very detailed and would convince anyone that the items that they are selling are authentic. The problem is that these pictures are mine- and not of the item that they are selling. Just beware that this is always a possiblity. Be sure to ask questions and check the seller's feedback etc. to try to protect yourself. There really is very little you can do if someone has done this.
9. Guaranteed Authentic
eBay has a very strict policy forbidding the sale of counterfeit items.
"Counterfeits, unauthorized replicas, unauthorized items (such as counterfeit watches, handbags or other accessories)... are not permitted on eBay."
"GUIDELINE: If the product you are selling bears the name or logo of a company, but it wasn't made or endorsed by that company, don't list it on eBay."
Read the Fine Print
Be sure to read the auction very carefully. You are looking for wording that gives you confidence that the item is authentic. You'll never base your determination of the authenticity of any item based on the promises of the seller alone (you need to consider all 10 of my tips in making your decision), but you want to buy from someone who is offering a money back guarantee that the item is authentic. If they don't say so in the auction, email them and ask. Wording like "all sales final", "no returns", "ask questions first as all sales are final" are scary... steer clear. While these may be acceptable terms when considering returns based on the size of a bag, or condition, or general buyers remorse, it is not acceptable for a seller to refuse to consider a refund if the item is found to be fake.
Read Between the Lines
Sometimes the wording a seller uses or doesn't use speaks volumes.
This is an ACTUAL auction listing that I have just copied ver batim:
"Beautiful Louis. Comes with dust bag. The retail value of this bag is currently $685. I do not accept refunds so bid accordingly. PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS before bidding. ALL SALES FINAL!"
"Fake Louis. Comes with fake dust bag. The retail value of the authentic version of this bag is currently $685. I do not accept refunds, so bid like it's a cheap fake: cause it is. PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS before bidding. Remeber- your're getting a fake and ALL SALES FINAL!"
Watch out for items with titles or descriptions that say:
"100% New Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 NWT"
eBay does NOT allow sellers to disclaim authenticity.
"Sellers may not disclaim knowledge of, or responsibility for, the authenticity or legality of the items offered in their listings. Sellers should take steps to ensure that their items are authentic before listing them on eBay. If a seller cannot verify the authenticity of an item, the seller is not permitted to list it".
Basically, a seller is not allowed to say, "I bought this at the estate of a really rich person, so I assume it's real, but don't really know... Buy at your own risk, as I can not guarantee authenticity." This is NOT an acceptable way to sell a fake. There is no acceptable way to sell a fake on eBay.
10. Finally, Ask an Expert!
If you just can't tell- or just would love a second opinion, there are a lot of great resources here on eBay that will help you in your quest! These resources can direct you to authentification services that are extremely cheap and can help save you from making a major mistake.
The Community Boards
I have been a contributor on the Clothing & Accessories board for almost 5 years now and usually post on Louis Vuitton related questions and posts. However, the purse people have found a new home in the new Shoes, Purses & Fashion Accessories board.
There is actually an entire thread entire on the Shoes, Purses and Fashion Accessories board that is dedicated to helping you out! It is called Handbag Authentification Resources: Find the Answers to your Questions Here.
Feel free to post authenticity questions on these boards... there are tons of knowledgeable sellers and buyers who will be happy to share their insight.
About Me Pages
There are also a ton of really helpful "About Me" Pages here on eBay, where eBayers have used this space to help you in your quest to buy authentic Louis Vuitton and other highend and frequently counterfeited brands...