Chanel is one of the most recognized and sought after high-fashion lines of handbags in the world. It is also one of the most expensive. For that reason, it is a favorite target for manufacturers of fake merchandise. But there are ways to tell if the bag you have in front of you is authentic.
Check the logo. The Chanel logo is comprised of two interlocking "C" letters that face away from each other. The top of the right-facing "C" should bisect the top of the left-facing "C." Some vintage bags exist that have a reverse overlap located on the interior flap. This rule is for handbags only and does not necessarily apply to other items in the Chanel line.
Find the authenticity card. An authentic Chanel bag comes with one. This embossed card contains a serial number. If there's no card, if the card is not embossed or if there is no serial number included in the text, the bag is likely a knock-off.
Locate the serial number. There must be a serial number placed somewhere within the bag's interior. Prior to the late 1990s, the serial number was printed on a white sticker with the Chanel logo printed in gold across the background. From the late 1990s to the present, the serial number has been printed on a white sticker beneath 2 gold Chanel logos. The serial number is most often located inside the bag at the lower left corner or on the zipper pocket. The sticker should be covered with a rectangle of clear tape large enough to cover then entire sticker.
Examine both the serial number on the authenticity card and the serial number on the bag. They must match.
Look closely at the hardware on the strap of the bag. The Chanel name or logo should be engraved on the strap's hardware. If an engraving is missing, chances are the bag is a fake.
Examine both sides of any zipper pull hardware. One side is engraved "Chanel" and the other is engraved with the Chanel logo. The pull itself must match the rest of the bag's hardware in color and tone.
Track any repeating pattern on the bag. The logos and quilting must line up. If there is a pocket sewn to the front of a quilted bag, the quilted pattern does not break or deviate on the bag. The pattern aligns from the top to the bottom of the bag as if there was no pocket at all.
Authorized Chanel retailers are: Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Hirshleifer's and Nordstrom.