Chanel Handbags: How to Tell if It's Real or Fake

Portero.com Authenticator Elizabeth Bernstein Shares Savvy Handbag Tips

Authentic Chanel Flap Handbag at Portero.com
Authentic Chanel Flap Handbag at Portero.com. By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan

Chanel bags are so timeless and iconic; therefore, they’re often counterfeited. Portero.com’s expert authenticator, Elizabeth Bernstein, shares her tips to spot real and fake Chanel bags. Here’s what to look for:

Quilting

"If it’s a quilted bag, all the quilting will match up all over the bag. The diamonds are going to be completed,” Bernstein said. If it’s a classic flap bag, the diamonds will match up where the flap touches the bottom portion of the bag.

Bernstein warns that some sophisticated fakes can feature perfectly aligned diamonds, too.

Stitching

Stitching on Chanel bags is small, refined and delicate. “Chanel is going to do something that lasts a long time... the stitching almost looks like a smooth line,” Bernstein said.

On fake Chanel bags, the stitching looks “big and aggressive.” “It looks like it’s piercing through the material... [On the fake] it looks like puncture holes because it’s [made of] plastic,” she said.

Chain Handles

Chain handles on Chanel bags are plated in gold and have a heavy weight to it. Antique hardware on vintage Chanel bags isn't plated in gold, but feels substantial and looks well made.

Fake chains feel lightweight and cheap. “The quality of the chain is absolutely horrible. It feels like cheap jewelry. It’s not plated in gold. If you know the difference between good jewelry and bad jewelry, you can tell the difference between a real chain and a fake chain,” Bernstein said.

Interlocking CC Logo

The two Cs in Chanel’s iconic logo are interlocked and always appear right over left at the top, and left over right at the bottom.

Lining

Real Chanel handbags are lined in leather. The fake ones are lined in plastic.

Hologram Sticker

Chanel handbags have hologram stickers with serial numbers and a date code inside the bag.

Sometimes the hologram stickers fall off vintage or pre-owned Chanel bags, but you can usually see the sticker’s adhesive residue where it was once located.

Fake bags may also feature fake hologram stickers, but they tend to fall off easily. “[The fake ones] are missing details. Chanel has details in their holograms — if you look at a real hologram sticker, it’s a lot neater,” Bernstein said.

Hardware

The gold hardware features a small mark indicating that it’s gold plated hardware. “There are fake ones that do have it, but [the real ones] have a much more delicate marking. [The fake] ones look like it was knifed in there,” Bernstein said.

Other Authenticating Tips:

  • Look at real Chanel bags in person: Stop into a Chanel store to see, touch and try on real Chanel bags. Take note of their quality and craftsmanship so that you can dodge fake Chanel bags in the secondary market.
  • Take a questionable bag to Chanel: If you have a Chanel bag that you’re unsure about, take it to a Chanel store and try to have it repaired. If it’s fake, Chanel will refuse it. “It might be embarrassing, but you can always say it was a gift,” Bernstein said.
  • Always buy from trusted dealers: When shopping for pre-owned bags online, turn to trusted websites like Portero.com that have a meticulous authentication process and a money-back guarantee. When shopping at consignment stores, get to know the owner and authenticators and ask about their authentication process. When it comes to buying handbags from individuals online (like eBay) or from handbag parties, use caution and be scrupulous. “I don’t recommend people buying bags on the fly from random places,” Bernstein said.
  • Look at the overall picture: If something seems off about a handbag, whether it’s the quality, a zipper, or a too-good-to-be-true price, trust your instinct. Get a second or third opinion or simply walk away.