Deciding on a replica vs. an authentic luxury bag
As the technology continues to improve and the process becomes much easier than before, the difference between a replica luxury product and an authentic one is more and more difficult to distinguish. At one time, someone interested in a bag could simply type some basic information into a search engine and find exactly what differences to look for in the two products.
This was about five to 10 years ago, however. Today, luxury houses are fighting replicas called: “super fakes,” “Triple-A,” and “Line-for-line.” Unless you have had extensive training in recognizing differences, it is virtually impossible to tell the two apart. There is a chance you yourself may own a well-made replica, purchased at a reputable location. You may have no doubt it is authentic, but it is a replica – a fake.
The rise of the Internet’s market for what amounts to an online flea market with websites like the ubiquitous e-Bay and Poshmark can be partially to blame for the replica explosion. Replica bags are getting a second life because of a desperate shopper. Those who have knowledge on what to look for in a replica know how hard it is to tell the difference, and they are working feverishly to change the authentication process.
If you have plans or an intention to by a second hand, used or previously enjoyed bag, take caution.
The sophistication and proliferation of replica bags makes fleshing out the differences between the replica and authentic verging on impossible to distinguish.
These “super fake” replicas have provenance and proliferation of unknown origin, and most have their own stories as well. Some of the bigger stories told include:
· Replica bags are made in the same factories as the authentics;
· More luxury brands are moving their production operations to China;
· Luxury bag makers will make 10,000 of a run and an additional 2,000 for cheap sale.
The time between a new season authentic bag and a replica hitting the market continues to shrink significantly. Those in the replica business are now making replicas that are in the same season as the authentic. The advance see and buy paradigm has worked well for the replica industry. It is so effective that other replica categories: jewelry, streetwear, sneakers, etc. are following the same trend.
The issue you will encounter with a purchase following this trend is the chance the replica will not be of a high quality like a replica that has been on the market for some time, and the replica manufacturer has had time to familiarize themselves with the look and design of the replica in season.
Where is this happening? The same place that so much commerce takes place now: Online.
People will shop in various locations online and feel they have bought a decent, used and expensive handbag only to learn it is a fake. The channels for consumers looking online is as far away as a mouse click or tap of a smartphone. There are two people in this situation: One, those looking to buy a replica specifically; two, those who think they got a great deal on an authentic only to find it is a replica.
Use some common sense. If the deal on that Gucci or Louis Vuitton bag is too good, it is likely a replica. A true authentic bag will not depreciate greatly from the original cost.
One of the other ways consumers are tricked is with websites that look almost exactly like the original manufacturer’s website complete with authentic photos, but the only thing being shipped are replicas. This deceives consumers into thinking they are getting an authentic piece.
A picture can be downloaded and placed anywhere. Unless the seller has original pictures, it is a replica dealer. You can click, hold and drag the picture into a search engine and see if the picture is original.
Websites such as Reddit often have “representatives” of luxury brands buried deeply within its subreddits offering high quality replicas.
Again, you need to look for the following information: price, quality, trustworthiness and service from the seller. If you cannot find these things, keep looking.
Stories abound about how the replicas are “made in the same factory” as the authentic. Consumers hear the tales about how the replicas are made in the same location as the Hermès Birkin that use the same leather, but the bag is made in a separate workshop. Expect stories like how the bag was made in Turkey, at night after the factory shut down for the day and the bag sold out the back door under the table. Look for terms like ‘overrun,’ ‘authorized-retailer,’ and ‘wholesale.’ There is no such process for authentic products. These are all falsehoods – lies.
The leather may in fact originate in France. The best replicas are made in China and is the only country of origin consumers should expect.
Newer replica pieces are made with a much greater attention to detail than in years’ past. Earlier generations of replicas could be distinguished from the authentic with a look at the difference in color of the handle, the hardware of the metal or the lining of the interior. These were clues that immediately spoke of a replica. Today’s replicas are so closely matched in every detail possible the process of determining replica versus authentic is more and more complex.
Replica manufacturers have duplicated the markings, have serial numbers that are correctly matched to an authentic production, literature, tags and even the packaging is perfect. Now, authenticators have to look at the most minute of detail: the zipper pull casting, a screw head’s specific shape and size, the stitching on a pocket and the finish are the only ways to be certain.
Today’s replica manufacturers will purchase an authentic piece and use it as a template for the replica. Even with this attention, there will be differences. Luxury bags are hand made. With hand made bags, there will be flaws. An authentic piece may have issues in quality and possibly smell of the leather.
Like most things in the replica industry, there is an area of uncertainty. A replica bag can be mistaken for an authentic. Most of the process of authentication comes down to slight imperfections. Is this a defect or proof of replica manufacture? Two handmade bags of the same type, run and color will have subtle variations because of the human element. Ultimately, the decision to qualify a piece as a replica or authentic comes down to the judgment of the authenticator. This authenticator is an expert often trained by the luxury house itself and is only certified after years of practice and a grueling test of skills.
Now that you have the understanding that even authentic pieces can have flaws and imperfections because of the human element and only a trained expert will notice the difference, what chances do you have of meeting a certified authenticator in your regular, daily life?
When it comes to the authentic market, there is often the argument of Chinese child labor.
This is done strictly out of political gain. Granted, there was child labor three or four decades ago, but the Chinese have made great strides in their quality of living. The restrictions on family size, parents limited to a single child, mean the child labor industry is dead. To quote President Trump, this is “fake news.” European and American governments and media allow these rumors to persist with this propaganda. The reasoning is to have people believe their lives are much better than those of the Chinese people, and thus these people have reason to feel good about themselves. Those who have taken the time to visit China and see the daily life of an average Chinese find these people living happy, satisfied lives and often at a better quality than that of their European counterparts.
If you have concerns about intellectual property laws and counterfeiting, then by all means make your purchase from a boutique or certified authentic dealer. If you do not, then it is a strong recommendation to purchase a replica and be certain what you have is not a cheap fake.