While it's not always easy to spot the differences, you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to authenticate a Gucci bag | Image: Roberto Gucci, Getty Images

Real or Counterfeit: How to Authenticate Gucci Handbags

You are putting together your new look, do those well-used ballet flats clash with your bold new statement earrings and what can you pair with that black Prada jacket to give you a fresh, elegant style, it must be perfect! There is one thing that can do unprecedented amounts of damage to your reputation as a forward thinking fashionista and that is fake designer accessories, the mean streets are inundated with fakes and the Gucci bag is a favourite of the professional counterfeiter.

Real Gucci bags are made in Prato, a town just outside of Florence, Italy where the Gucci headquarters is located. The company prides itself on being Italian through and through and therefore an authentic Gucci handbag is assembled using the finest materials and built with the most sturdy construction. The craftsmanship is clearly evident, these handbags are obviously the pinnacle of manufacturing with a price tag to match.

But, as with every expensive luxury product, fake versions can command the highest prices and therefore the most profit for the counterfeiter. How can you tell if the item of your desire is, in fact, a genuine article? How do you spot a real Gucci handbag amongst the multitudes of fakes?

Lettering and Materials

Gucci’s signature iconography has to be the famous interlocking “GG.” The design is featured on many, but not all, of its products, not only handbags but its clothing and other items. Fake Gucci handbags try to reproduce this symbol but are sometimes less than successful in creating something that looks truly authentic.

The lettering and hardware are indicators oaf a fake Gucci bag
Fake Gucci Marmont Bag | Source: Topbiz

The Gucci Marmont Bag is one of the most popular items for counterfeiters, an authentic example costs A$3,295 and so there are many fakes produced. The handbag pictured features the interlocking “GG” symbol but it is far too small and the colour of the interlocking “GG” and corresponding chain strap are not a brilliant gold.

There are other tell tale signs to look for when identifying a replica. Gucci uses metal YKK zips and these high-quality zips are an important hallmark of an authentic Gucci handbag. No part of an authentic Gucci product will be made of plastic.

If any part of your bag feels too lightweight or cheap, you may have purchased a fake, real Gucci handbags use strong, dense metal in its construction.

Serial Number Tag

Gucci handbags have a heat stamped leather tag with a serial number and the presence of this tag is usually the best way to authenticate your Gucci item. The tag can be found inside the bag usually at the bottom towards the rear. It should be made of real leather and there are a few things to look out for.

Real Gucci tag showing the Gucci logo | Source: Lvbagoholic

The first thing you should see is a trademark symbol at the top, this is a letter R surrounded by a circle and designates the bag as a trademarked Gucci design. Next, you should see the word “Gucci,” with all letters evenly spaced and with the correct proportions; the left side of the “U” should be thicker than the right-hand side. Finally, the tag should be stamped with a “made in Italy.”

If any of these details look substandard or the lettering is uneven or unevenly spaced, you definitely have a fake Gucci product, flip the tag over and you will see the serial number of the bag stamped on the other side.

The serial number of a real Gucci bag is stamped on the other side of the leather tag | Source: Lvbagoholic

The serial number is one of the best ways to tell if you have a counterfeit product. On modern Gucci handbags, there should be two rows of numbers totalling 10 to 13 digits. The first row indicates the style code which should match the code given to you on your receipt, the second code is the supplier number. On smaller Gucci items these two numbers will not be one on top of the other, they are instead separated by a dot.

It is worth noting that real Gucci serial tags have only been made this way since the 1990s, before then, serial tags were of a different design and some had round tags with gold, embossed lettering or badges. It is difficult to authenticate vintage bags, but real ones, if they have serial numbers, may include dots and dashes but never letters. The “MADE IN ITALY” may be in upper case and there may not be an “R” trademark on an authentic vintage Gucci bag.

Controllato Card

Although not the most reliable way to authenticate a real Gucci product, the controllato card or “checked” card is included in every real Gucci handbag to show the bag has been examined for quality control. They are easily reproduced and can be switched from bag to bag, but encountering a real one can be a good indicator that your bag is authentic, especially when its presence is combined with an authentic serial tag.

The presence of a controllato card is not a good indicator of the Bag being fake Gucci
An authentic Gucci controllato card | Source: 1stdibs

The card should include the word “Gucci,” again with evenly spaced lettering and the correct font as well as digits 1 to 9 followed by 0. An information card is usually included as well. While these cards are included with every new, authentic Gucci handbag, their absence is not an indicator of inauthenticity, especially if you are buying the bag secondhand. Equally, they are easily reproduced and reused so their presence is not definitive proof the handbag is real. They should be used alongside other markers of authenticity when you are deciding if you have been sold a fake Gucci product.

Dust Bag

Real Gucci handbags never come in plastic wrapping of any kind. One of the clearest and most immediate signs that you have purchased an authentic bag is the presence of a dust bag. These bags are cream, black, light or dark brown and are included with the purchase of an authentic bag to be used when storing the handbag.

A Gucci bag in an authentic dust bag | Source: Brands Blogger

These bags should feel soft and although they are usually a reliable indicator of authenticity, the lack of a dust bag does not always mean that you have bought a fake Gucci bag. This is especially the case on resale websites like eBay and if you order a bag from these sites and there is no dust bag, don’t despair! Use other indicators to check its authenticity.

Fabric and Leather

Most Gucci handbags come in leather or canvas and the quality of these materials is a good indicator of the bag’s authenticity. Real leather is imperfect, since it is natural, it will not be absolutely uniform in thickness but should feel strong yet soft and supple. Key giveaways that the leather may be fake include a rubbery plastic feeling as well as how it smells, real leather has a distinct, musty smell whereas synthetic leather can smell like chemicals or plastic.

Real leather and canvas should feel strong yet supple | Source: Sarahscoop

Other materials used in Gucci handbags include bamboo and wood, these are also an indicator of quality and therefore authenticity. There should be no weak links in the chain and all parts of the bags should feel weighty and sturdily made. Canvas is relatively easy to produce so fake examples may indeed use real canvas, but it will not be of as high quality as an authentic handbag. If you have owned a handbag for more than six months the canvas should soften a little bit, but not so much that it becomes thin and prone to tearing.

Craftsmanship

Real Gucci bags are made by the most skilled craftsmen and integral aspects of their construction such as stitching is executed in a uniform way. Basically, if any part of the bag’s stitching (where the separate parts of the bag are joined together) is coming apart or poorly stitched there is a good chance that the bag is fake.

Fake stitching will come apart easier and is not as precise | Source: Bagoholic101

As with any counterfeit product, the best way to tell if a bag is real is to compare it to an example of the same bag that you know is real. Stitching is not costly, but it is very difficult to reproduce perfectly, basically, if the stitching on your handbag is not exactly the same as authentic examples you find on the internet or in real life, there is a very good chance that your bag is a fake.

Gucci handbags are made to last. The number one rule when deciding if your bag is a fake is to check for excessive wear and tear after a period of use. Other authentication methods such as the ones described above can be used but the most powerful indicator of authenticity is quality.

Obviously, if you find a Gucci handbag online for a price that is significantly less than the one advertised on the official Gucci site, it is probably too good to be true and you should put your credit card away.

The internet is not the best way to shop for quality goods, the experience of physically purchasing a real Gucci bag in store can not be replicated and although some are happy to pay a premium to undergo the full haute couture shopping experience, there will always be fakes out there, especially online.

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