How to identify a fake luxury bag in UAE

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Participants at The Luxury Closet workshop were taught how to maintain investment handbags, and spot a fake handbag from an authentic one by looking at the detailed finishing, manufacturer codes, symmetry, colour, fabric quality, stitching, hardware detai
Participants at The Luxury Closet workshop were taught how to maintain investment handbags, and spot a fake handbag from an authentic one by looking at the detailed finishing, manufacturer codes, symmetry, colour, fabric quality, stitching, hardware detailing - Photo by Shihab

The key is looking at the detailed finishing of a product

By Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Sat 9 Sep 2017, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Sep 2017, 11:15 PM

With advancing technology, global brands - and customers - are threatened with the growing fake goods market that manufactures products identical to authentic, labelled goods.
In a workshop conducted to help customers check for authenticity, The Luxury Closet shared ways of identifying a fake handbag from an authentic one. The key is looking at the detailed finishing of a product.
In 2016, the UAE's Department of Economic Development confiscated Dh1.6 billion worth of counterfeit items including mobile phones, cosmetics and handbags.
Globally, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that the fake market represented over half a trillion dollars worldwide.
Elisabeth Bohler, head of Merchandising at The Luxury Closet, said brands fight the fake market by putting authenticity checkpoints on the item that consists of small tag inside the bag with series of numbers. "In every single handbag or shoes, you'll find details that help you evaluate if it's from a manufacturer or the fake market."
Mostly, manufacturer codes provide information about the item, origin and year of manufacture. "Different brands use different manufacturer codes such as a hologram and logo. Even if a replica has a code, its design and font either won't match or won't be typed in a straight manner," said Bohler. Patterns and fabric quality are the signatures of top brands. Patterns of fake bags will never be perfectly aligned, while the fabric in branded handbags cannot be replicated. Bohler noted that some brands use unique colours as well. Plus, the authentic handbag will have a symmetric shape, something that won't be done to perfection in fake handbags. The quality of stitching is also essential because legit labels' stitching will be perfect and of good quality. "Stitching on a replica will usually not be perfect; they will either be misaligned or of poor quality," said Bohler.
Other subtle signs are chains and zippers. "If a bag's chain is light, then it's definitely fake. Similarly if a zipper isn't easy to use, then it's not real," said Bohler. She added that inside chains and zippers will be poorly finished in replicas.
Each brand also uses different hardware, which is why it is important to research the item before buying it. "The key is to make sure all the product features match, including the model, colour, collection, material and size. Search the series of codes of the brand you are planning to buy, to make sure it matches the model of the item."

How to maintain a luxury bag to avoid damage and resell it later

1-Keep your handbag in its original packaging: All leather goods come with stuffing, a dust bag and sometimes a box. It is not only pretty, it helps keep your item in good condition, protects from any contact with other items
2-Protect your leather goods: Apply an anti-rain coat on any leather goods to avoid common damage to your bag. Leather gets affected by sunlight, rain or any liquid it could absorb and change its original colour
3-Keep pens away! The biggest enemy of leather goods is a pen mark that nothing can remove. If you carry pens in your bag, remind yourself to close them securely to avoid getting marks ?
4-Luxury pieces mean luxury care. Do not put your brand new bag on the floor at a restaurant, and avoid contact with darker coloured clothes, which could transfer colours to the bag. Always make sure to avoid food or drinks close to your bag
5-Keep the shape of your bag with stuffing and by hanging it on a pants hanger. Some shapes, especially square or flap shapes, could be damaged by keeping your bag on a flat surface
6-Do not dye a luxury bag at a third party company. If your bag is stained and you dye it using a different company like a shoe cleaner or bag servicing company, its luxury value and authenticity will be affected
7-Before reselling your bag, service it with the original brand for a quick cleaning or do the basic cleaning by yourself. Reselling companies will not clean luxury bag
8-Do not try to clean your patent leather luxury bag; it is impossible. Patent leather is like a topcoat on your nails, once there is a stain on it, you cannot remove it
9-Keep your receipt. It gives credibility in case you want to resell your luxury bag
Source: Elisabeth Bohler, Head of Merchandising at The Luxury Closet

Tips for buying authentic luxury

> Check legitimacy of the website or boutique you're buying the item
> Evaluate the price. A real Chanel will never be $100
> Do you own research on the item you want to buy
> If online, do not buy if there's only one picture available
> Check the basics: font, logo and stitching quality
> Check smell and feel of item. Bags with light chains are fake
> Check inside of the item for barcodes and logo
> Ask for authenticity warranty or invoice from vendor
> Go to the brand store to compare

Quick facts

The global scourge-A recent report by the International Trademark Association and the International Chamber of Commerce, noted that the global value of counterfeit goods - $1.7 trillion in 2015 - could reach as high as $2.3 trillion by 2022. Counterfeit goods trafficked around the world range from handbags and clothes to electronics, car parts and even medicines.
Buy fakes with a click-According to experts, much of the trade in counterfeit goods is now driven through e-commerce portals and web-based distribution networks. Last year, the US placed Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's Taobao network on a 'counterfeit goods watch list', citing what it described as the "large volume of allegedly counterfeit and pirated goods available."
Fake medicines-Loss of trust in the medical industry is making people turn to counterfeit drugs, which can have severe consequences, causing cancer, heart-attacks, coma and even death. At the Unity for Security conference in Abu Dhabi in April 2017, experts discussed how fake goods is a plague for international law enforcement community and a huge risk to global public health.
Car spare parts-In June 2017, 158,415 counterfeit auto spare parts were seized in Ajman. These were being passed off as products of 14 major brands: BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, ACDelco and GMC. The seizure was a joint operation by the Ajman Department of Economic Development (ADED) and Ajman Police.

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