Genuine Chanel handbags can cost thousands of dollars. It's tempting to buy one of the innumerable "replica" Chanel knock-offs for 10 per cent or even 5 per cent of the price of an authentic bag. But counterfeit goods are just that: cheap and shoddily made. Moreover, you are also enabling the grey- and black-market profiteers to further their endeavours, which include worker exploitation, tax evasion, identity theft, organised crime and even terrorism. Be a smart consumer and know what you're buying before you buy it.
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Buy from the source. Unless you are buying on eBay or from a consignment store, genuine Chanel products are available only at Chanel boutiques or at authorised resellers.
Look for signs of quality manufacturing. Chanel does not sell "seconds" or "imperfects;" these are all destroyed at the factory. On a genuine Chanel purse, the leather is evenly dyed, soft and supple and the stitching is tight and unravelled. The Chanel logo is perfectly embossed, with no bleeding or chipping. The handles are even, and the zippers and other metals are heavy and bright, even in second-hand bags.
Check the lettering and tags. Even fake Chanels will come with a knock-off serial number, but some ersatz serial numbers are used just for fakes. A genuine serial number is not a guarantee of authenticity, either. Real Chanels will have a rainbow hologram tag inside the lining, which is destroyed if it's ripped or cut out. Fakes will have a gold or black or tag sewn into the lining, which can be cut out.
Look at the packaging. If you're buying new, a Chanel purse should come in the traditional heavyweight black and white Chanel box, wrapped in black tissue paper. The Chanel box will have the Chanel logo and the word "Chanel" only. It should never come in plastic, and never come in a box seemingly too small for it.
Check the English. If there are mistakes in typesetting, it's not a genuine Chanel.
Tips and warnings
- Interview the previous owner. If you're buying from eBay, find out about your seller, or query him directly. Poor reviews generally mean a poor product. If you're buying from thrift, consignment, or Craigslist, ask the owner what he knows about the bag.
- Some knock-offs are so clever that even with these tips, you still may be unable to determine real from fake. Furthermore, Chanel itself refuses to "provide the public with detailed information on how to identify genuine Chanel products since obviously counterfeiters could use this information to further deceive the public," according to the company.
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