Hermès & Chanel Authentication Guide
The number of fake Hermès and Chanel handbags on the market is astonishing. It is estimated that up to 90% of all designer bags sold online are in fact fakes. It should come as no surprise that counterfeiters target brands such as Hermès and Chanel, due to their popularity, the high demand for their handbags, and the high prices they sell for. Many fake handbags are made with such quality that it can be difficult to spot the difference unless you know what you are looking for.
However, there is always a difference. Even the best quality counterfeit handbags come nowhere near the genuine article in terms of craftsmanship and detail. At Baghunter, we employ a team of expert authenticators with years of experience to examine each bag that comes into our hands before we send it onto a buyer. We asked our authenticators what women should look out for when checking to see if a Hermès or Chanel bag is real or fake and created this guide to act as a reference for those who are unsure.
The guide is divided into two sections – Hermès Birkin and Kelly Bags and Chanel Bags. Each brand has unique details which can help you determine if it is genuine or fake. Using this guide will help you ensure you never experience the sinking feeling of holding an expensive counterfeit bag in your arms.
The leathers and exotic skins used by Hermès on their Birkin and Kelly bags are sourced from all over the world including Australia, Singapore, and Africa. These hides are of top quality, with some such as crocodile, taking up to a decade to dry out before being used. The leathers come in a range of types from the durable Epsom to the luxurious Togo.
Similarly, the colors used by Hermès are unique and a sign of the quality of the bag. The color of the bag can be a tell-tale sign of its authenticity. It should never look like it is painted on and should also match perfectly to the unique colors used by Hermès. Many counterfeiters are unable to recreate the colors used by Hermès and fake bags are often a shade or two off genuine Hermès colors.
To learn more about the leathers and colors used by Hermès, see our leather guide and color guide.
There are two stamps featured on Hermès bags – one is the Hermès logo located on the front center of the exterior of the bag and the other is on the back of the flap indicating the year and material used.
The logo stamp is always embossed onto the material. Many fake bags feature stamps that have been printed on or pressed in. The location of the logo can also be a giveaway. A genuine Hermès logo is embossed just below the stitching, whereas counterfeit logos may be placed too far away from the stitching. The font used can also tell you if the logo is genuine. Hermès have changed their font throughout the years, however, many fake bags feature fonts that look blocky, irregular, or too big.
The second stamp on the back of the flap can also offer a clue as to the authenticity of the bag. The letter indicating the year ranges from A-Z and features either no shape, a circle, or a square. A letter with no shape indicates the bag was made between 1945 (A) and 1970 (Z). A letter inside a circle indicates the bag was made between 1971 (A) and 1996 (Z). A letter inside a square indicates the bag was made between 1997 (A) and the current year, 2016 (T). The stamp will also feature the artisan’s ID and an indicator of exotic skins (if applicable) – “square” for alligator, “..” for Niloticus crocodile, “˄” for Porosus crocodile, and “-“ for lizard.
The dust bag that comes with a Birkin or Kelly features the Hermès logo inside either one or two rings, depending on when the dust cover was made. Inspecting this logo against a picture of a genuine Hermès logo offers an indication of whether it is fake or not. The color of the dust bag is also important. Vintage dust bags are a Tan velour, newer dust bags are orange cotton flannel, and post-2007 dust bags are a beige and light brown Herringbone Toile. Each bag also comes with a rain cover which is soft to the touch.
The leather quality is poor/cheap/doesn’t feel right
The handles are too long or misshapen
The handles are floppy and won’t stand up straight
There is plastic wrapping on the handles
The stitches are of a poor quality/machine sewn
There are bulges in the leather
Glue is visible on any part of the bag
The stamps are too deep or engraved onto the leather
The font on the stamps is blocky or irregular
The zipper is misaligned or floppy
The clochette is flimsy or made of two pieces of leather
The dust bag features poor quality stamping of the Hermès logo
The dust bag is the wrong color
The bag features authenticity hang tags or cards
Chanel bags come in a range of high quality leathers and styles including the smooth lambskin and the forgiving caviar leather. As with Hermès bags, superior craftsmanship is displayed in the creation and crafting of Chanel bags and inconsistencies should set off an alarm in your head immediately.
The quilting pattern or stitching on all Chanel bags is even and symmetrical on both sides of the bag. If there is a stitch on one side of the bag, there will be a corresponding stitch on the opposite side of the bag. The thickness of the quilting is also consistent on all Chanel bags, with quilting that is too thick or too thin offering sigs of a fake.
The shoulder straps on double flap Chanel bags are made of leather intertwined with chain. On the Mademoiselle style, the chain is at the top of the straps and can feature on both sides of the leather strip to add comfort.
The stitching on a quilted design was created by Coco Chanel to resemble the quilted jackets worn by jockeys. The stitching will always match up on both sides and there should be at least ten stitches per inch of material. Anything less than ten stitches per inch indicates a fake Chanel bag.
Another place to inspect the stitching is the bottom of the bag. Small to medium bags should be smooth on the bottom, while jumbo bags should feature a separation in the right and left partitions of the bottom. The separation should perfectly create one large diamond into four perfect, smaller diamonds.
Another detail to notice about the stitching is that on lambskin leather, the perimeter of the flap does not feature any stitching at all on genuine bags. On the caviar leather, stitching is only used on the side of the flap.
Serial numbers were introduced to Chanel bags in 1984. Any Chanel bag made prior to this will not feature a sticker or serial number. Between 1984 and 1986, 6 digit codes were used, between 1987 and 2004, 7 digit codes were used, and from 2005 to today, 8 digit codes are present on Chanel bags. Counting the number of digits on the serial number can provide a quick estimation of what year the bag was made. Anything over 8 digits is simply not authentic. The serial numbers also have particular styles depending on the year they were created:
Number 19xxxxxx – manufactured between 2014 and 2015 – 1’s have small serifs (feet) – number is printed on a white sticker with clear tape and two Chanel logos
Numbers 10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17/18xxxxxx – manufactured between 2005 and 2014 – 0’s have strikethroughs and 1’s have small serifs (feet) – number is printed on white sticker with clear tape and two Chanel logos
Numbers 6/7/8/9xxxxxx – manufactured between 2000 and 2005 – 0’s have strikethroughs and 1’s have small serifs (feet) – number is printed on white sticker with clear tape and two Chanel logos
Number 5xxxxxx – manufactured between 1997 and 1999 – 0’s have strikethroughs up to 51xxxxx and from 57xxxxx. 0’s have no strikethroughs from 52xxxxx to 56xxxxx. 1’s have small serifs (feet) from 57xxxxx onwards – number is printed on white sticker with clear tape and two Chanel logos from 57xxxxx onwards. Prior to 57xxxxx number is printed on white sticker with several Chanel logos
Numbers 3/4xxxxxx – manufactured between 1994 and 1997 – 0’s have strikethroughs and 1’s are sans-serifs (no feet) – number is printed on white sticker with opaque film and several Chanel logos
Number 2xxxxxx – manufactured between 1991 and 1994 – 0’s have no strikethroughs up to 27xxxxx and 1’s have serifs (feet) – number is printed on white sticker with opaque film and several Chanel logos
Numbers 0/1xxxxxx – manufactured between 1986 and 1991 – 0’s have no strikethroughs, 1’s have serifs (feet) – number is printed on white sticker with opaque film, several Chanel logos and left-sided cut-out
The two C’s on the logo do not interlock properly
The logo inside the bag is raised too high/is too skinny
The stitching does not match on both sides of the bag
The quilting is too thick/thin
Stitching on the flap doesn’t match the stitching on the rest of the bag
The top edge of the pocket is too curved
The serial number doesn’t correspond to the year
The serial number is too long/short
The authenticity card features a rainbow hologram
Hermès Birkins and Kellys are among the most counterfeited bags in the world. These iconic bags are created by an expert craftsman who spends up to 24 hours selecting the hide, cutting the pieces, and hand-sewing each stitch. Every detail on these bags is purposefully created to ensure a luxurious look and feel. Many counterfeiters have tried to recreate the luxury of a Birkin or Kelly, but there is simply no substitute for the genuine article. Here are several signature characteristics of the bags that will help you determine if it is authentic:
Knowledge is power as they say, and knowing even basic details about Birkins and Kellys can prove very useful. The bags can be found in a range of sizes including 25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm, and 45cm. Even knowing that a Birkin doesn’t come in a size of 55cm or a Kelly isn’t created in a size of 20cm can save you making the wrong decision off the bat.
A genuine Hermès bag is neat and pronounced when standing, without any slouching or bulges. The bag should also stand upright on its four base studs without falling over. The handles of the bag should stand straight without any bending. Fake bags often feature rounded or misshapen handles which do not stand correctly. The bags also feature two interior pockets – a zipped pocket for valuables and an open pocket.
As with other parts of Hermès bags, the zipper, lock, clochette, and hardware plate all feature unique detail which can help to authenticate the bag. The actual material used in the hardware is the first thing to look at with most Hermès bags featuring either a palladium or gold plated finish. Rarer bags feature brushed gold, silver, brushed silver, or ruthenium finishes. Most hardware does not tarnish, however, tarnishing is sometimes possible but never wearing or peeling.
The zippers used by Hermès are distinct in both their appearance and workings. There are several variations of zipper that have been used by Hermès throughout the years. Newer zippers are marked with block letters that say “HERMES” and many, but not all, also feature the letter “H” at the base of the zipper. Authentic zippers remain parallel to the zipper line at all times. If the zipper hangs at a 90 degree angle from the zipper line or flops down, it is not genuine. The mechanism itself is also of superior quality and is set to hold the zipper in a parallel position.
The lock is another unique detail in Hermès bags. All locks feature the word “Hermès” engraved on to the bottom in a clean and crisp font. The number on the lock corresponds to the number engraved onto the accompanying keys. If the lock is featured on an exotic skin handbag, the body of the lock will be covered in the same exotic leather which hides any lock marks. There are a range of lock and key numbers used by counterfeiters, however, the most common to look out for are 121, 212, and 102. The clochette which houses the keys should also always be made from one piece of leather and not two pieces sewn together.
The hardware plate can offer another clue as to the authenticity of the bag. Hardware plates feature an engraving which reads “Hermès-Paris”. The font of the engraving depends on the year of manufacturing, but should be neat, crisp, and evenly spaced. The metal on the hardware plate should never fade or change color. Non-gold hardware plates will not have a gold plating stamp.
If you are offered a Hermès Birkin or Kelly which is accompanied by an orange authenticity card and/or hang tags to prove its authenticity, alarm bells should be ringing immediately. Hermès bags are never sold with certificates or paper to prove their authenticity. The only papers that come with a Hermès handbags are CITES which accompany exotic skin bags. Another giveaway is if the bag is wrapped in plastic. Hermès bags are never wrapped in plastic as it suffocates the leather and causes cracking and damage to the material.
Chanel bags can be more difficult to authenticate due to the large number of styles available. The counterfeit market for Chanel bags has been thriving as much as the Hermès counterfeit market, with a huge number of fakes sold to unsuspecting women every year. The counterfeit market is so advanced, there are fake Chanel bags known as “super fakes” which appear almost identical to genuine Chanel bags expect for minute details. Here, we look at several characteristics found on most Chanel bags which can help you distinguish a genuine bag from a “super fake”.
The flap on a Chanel bag features what is referred to as the “Mademoiselle” lock, because Coco Chanel never married. The way the C’s interlock is always consistent. The right C should always be on top of the left C hook. The flap also features four holes, or “grommets”. On jumbo bags, the grommets are side by side, whereas on small and medium flaps they are directly beneath one another. Under the grommets which are closet to the edge of the flap, there is a tiny stitch which holds the flap to the body of the bag.
Inside the flap, the material should always be smooth without any wrinkles. Bags which feature two flaps will have the interlocking CC logo present inside the second flap. Once again, the logo should feature the C’s interlocking with the right C on top of the left C hook. The logo should be raised, but not excessively and an R with a circle around it should feature at the end of the name.
Inspecting the pockets is another way of authenticating Chanel bags. The outer edges of the back pockets should line up perfectly with the center of the grommet holes on the shoulder strap. In diamond quilted bags, the diamond stitching on the pocket of the bag should match up perfectly with the diamond stitching on the rest of the bag. The top edge of the pocket should be in the shape of a soft wave and not a flat curve, as many counterfeits display.
Unlike Hermès, Chanel do issue authenticity cards with their bags. The cards were introduced at the same time as the serial numbers, and therefore bags made prior to 1984 do not come with authenticity cards. There should be no rainbow hologram effect on the authenticity card, it is simply made out of plastic and looks and feels like a credit card. The card comes with a small 2×2 crème colored envelope which includes information on the bag.
The serial numbers on the tag/authenticity card should match the serial numbers on the interior of the bag. Most of the time you can find the serial number inside the bag, near the bottom of the inside of the back flap. However, be careful as the matching of the numbers on the authenticity card and the serial number inside the bag does not guarantee the bag is authentic.