Posted on Wed, 29 Feb 2012
How To: Tell Real From Fake?
Have you ever bought a bag at a good discount only to ask yourself if you got snooked on the authencity? We spoke to our Simply Fab friends Tracey and Pam from MOSTLY MINT who run Singapore’s premier designer consignment and resale boutique to ask them to share exactly HOW would they tell a REAL from a FAKE?
SIMPLY FAB: You come across so many luxury items in your business. Share with us 3 obvious things that you look out for. Are there tell tale signs between something that is FAKE and something that is REAL
MOSTLY MINT: It’s getting increasingly harder to tell the real from the fake these days. Experience in the industry definitely helps, but for most who haven’t had that, there are some obvious signs to look out for. First, pay attention to where you are shopping. If shopping from dubious vendors in equally dubious locations (obviously in places like alleyways or through a series of back doors), it’s most likely fake. Handles wrapped in plastic and leather tags stamped “Genuine Leather” are good indicators of fakes. The same goes for online shops. Recently, I’ve had friends emailing me links to sites supposedly selling designer goods, asking me if the products are real. In all 3 cases, the products were fake. Carefully inspect the website. Look out for grammatical and spelling errors (not just typos), missing links, and most importantly, if the contact is in China. Second, the price should be a dead give-away. If a brand new designer leather handbag is priced in the hundreds rather than in the thousands, it’s probably fake. Finally, inspect the quality of the item. Fakes, be it bags or clothes, will usually have tell-tale signs such as uneven stitching, mismatched seams, poorly finished seams, and/or missing/misprinted care labels. If you’re new to the world of designer goods, do your homework before making a purchase. Familiarize yourself with brands and styles and prices. Don’t be intimidated to browse in boutiques and ask questions.
SIMPLY FAB: We often see vendors touting what they call ‘A grade’ merchandise – what are the few subtle things that give these away as fakes?
MOSTLY MINT: Grade A goods are usually extremely detailed replicas of the originals. At first glance, they can easily pass themselves off as the real deal. Soft leather, properly matched seams, chunky looking hardware. But upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the hardware feels hollow. Zippers are stiff, not smooth. Linings of bags display shoddy workmanship. For those that go as far as to stamp serial numbers on the inside, as many originals do, the numbers aren’t aligned or are unclearly stamped, not to mention the wrong style number (although this is difficult to detect if you don’t know the original style number). Authenticity cards usually don’t match serial numbers on the inside of fakes. But my ultimate test is the sniff test. Fakes have a very strong and distinctive chemical smell to them, whereas real leather bags will, of course, smell like real leather.
SIMPLY FAB: What brands (clothes or bags) have you come across that are popular in the fake good markets and which brands are the most easily counterfeited (in yr personal opinion)?
MOSTLY MINT: Louis Vuitton, Prada, Miu Miu, Hermes and Chanel are all very popular in the fake goods market. The range of items copied can be anything from a keyring or charm to a piece of luggage. What is worrying to us is the influx of local shops cropping up carrying fake clothes. Herve Leger, Marc Jacobs, 3.1 Philip Lim, Marni, Diane von Furstenberg, and Pucci are among the most commonly replicated designers. Some shops will even cut the fake label to help justify the low price points. But as with bags, look for the telltale signs of shoddy workmanship to help you determine authenticity.
SIMPLY FAB: Just out of interest – do you know what happens if someone walks into a designer store with a fake item from their collection? Would a sales person question authenticity without offending a client? What happens if the item is a fake? Do they call the police on you? What is Mostly Mint’s policy and how do you do it without offending a client?
MOSTLY MINT: Generally, nothing will happen. If the fake isn’t an actual style made by the brand, the customer may be questioned about it, out of curiosity on the salesperson’s part. Unless the customer is trying to return or exchange the fake at the boutique, the customer will not be confronted. Louis Vuitton in particular is fiercely protective of their intellectual property rights. I’ve heard stories of them calling the police on people, but not sure how true those stories are. At Mostly Mint, we deal primarily with trusted sources. If there’s any uncertainty on our part regarding the authenticity of an item, we will not accept it. Our customers are understanding because we are upfront about our policies. Any potential consignor knowingly trying to pass off a fake as an authentic piece would likely be more ashamed than offended. Besides authenticity, we have other criteria when accepting items (style, age, condition). Items can be rejected for any of those reasons.
SIMPLY FAB: Give us 3 reasons to buy a ‘gently’ used authentic item as opposed to a brand new fake as alot of folks would still say that there are still obvious cost savings and the item is new as opposed to being pre-owned.
MOSTLY MINT: While some might argue that buying real over fake is more of a financial issue, we would say that it’s definitely more of a personal choice. The quality of a real bag will last you many years, whereas fakes will often break with use (handles, zippers, stitching). Most brands have some sort of warranty and stand behind the quality of their products. Should anything be at fault with the bag, they will fix or replace the item. Even after the warranty period has expired, items can usually be repaired with original parts for a small fee. It is unfortunate that there are people with little concern over buying fakes. It is ultimately an illegal act. If it is a particular style you’re after, but don’t have the budget for the real thing, look for “inspired by” designs rather than counterfeits. There are no patents on bag designs, as long as the item is not claiming to be a brand that it’s not by using logos or other registered trademarks.
Personally, the feeling of carrying a genuine item is far more luxurious and satisfying as compared to carrying a counterfeit. The items we carry are mostly in excellent pre-owned condition. As the item has likely been used, there is a considerable discount on the item compared to the original retail price. The price will still be higher than a fake, but when you consider the longevity of a real bag, it is usually worth the price. They’re pieces that customers can add to their collection, whereas fakes will usually be thrown out.
SIMPLY FAB: What inspired you to open Mostly Mint and how many brands do you normally carry?
MOSTLY MINT: We were inspired to open Mostly Mint by our mutual love for designer goods at bargain prices. We recognized that there were a lot people with items to get rid of who didn’t have the time to do it personally. Through the company, we are able to connect those sellers with buyers who find value in buying designer items at discounted prices.
SIMPLYFAB: What are popular brands from clothing and bags that get easily snapped up at your sales? How fast do people take to make a buying decision? Is there a reserve policy?
MOSTLY MINT: We are often surprised by which items sell/don’t sell at our sales. For clothing, customers really look at style over brand. Buyers tend to be less brand-conscious and more concerned with fit. As for bags and accessories, Chanel, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Hermes are usually snatched up quickly. Small leather goods such as wallets and coin pouches are also popular. Customers vary from making instant purchases to taking a day or two to think about purchasing bigger ticket items. We are happy to reserve items for up to 3 days while a customer makes a decision.
SIMPLY FAB: What has been your ‘best’ sale to date?
MOSTLY MINT: As a small start-up, we have had a few proud moments. It makes us happy to see customers thrilled with their bargains and consignors who are equally happy that we were able to sell their items, not just for the money they will receive, but because somebody else is happy with their pre-loved item. We always love selling classic Chanel pieces because they are an investment and we know they will last for many years to come. Selling one customer her very first Chanel was an especially proud moment, as it showed her trust in us as a company. We are always happy when a piece suits a customer well, as in the case of a red Chanel we had – from the moment we saw it, we knew it would require a very specific customer. So we were delighted to find a buyer who loved the bag as much as it suited her. These pieces were also special because they came from a first-time consignor who was not confident that her bags would be sold through us, given we are a small operation. It was gratifying that we were able to exceed her expectations.
SIMPLY FAB: What are some of the lovelies that you currently have on offer?
MOSTLY MINT: We have lots of exciting items available at the moment. For shoes, we have a gorgeous collection of brand new, never worn Giuseppe Zanotti heels, all in size 37*, a pair of special order Christian Louboutin Very Prive black eel skin peep-toes, and some beautiful Louis Vuitton pumps, all in size 36*. Our favorite clothing piece is a brand new, never worn Herve Leger black racerback bandage dress, size medium*. We also have a range of bags including a cute, vintage purple Marc Jacobs clutch, and the ultimate wish-list item, a pre-loved Hermes Birkin bag in Etoupe in excellent condition.
Herve Leger v-neck, racerback bandage dress. Knee length. Brand new with tags. Purchased recently, never worn. Size M. Original retail S$3250. Mostly Mint price S$1950.
Marc Jacobs purple clutch circa early 2000s. Mostly Mint price S$120.
Hermes 35 Birkin bag, Etoupe in Clemence leather. Purchased in 2010. Gently used, in excellent condition. Comes with Hermes Twilly shown in picture.
Giuseppe Zanotti Cut Out Booties with laces, size 37, brand new, never worn! Resoled with Vibram soles. Originally over S$1000. Mostly Mint Price S$480.
SIMPLY FAB: If customers want to reach you to either buy or consign items how can they reach you?
MOSTLY MINT: Customers who want to be the first to know about our latest items can “Like” our Mostly Mint Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mostlymint. You’ll then see pictures and updates of what’s for sale and be informed of any events taking place. Interested consignors can also use the page to see what type of items we accept, and how much to expect for their items. Our terms and contact information can also be found on the page. Alternatively, we can be reached at email@example.com.