Counterfeiting is a $600 billion dollar industry, according to International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, accounting for 7% of world trade.

Some luxury purveyors have called it flattering to have their products copied, but others are not as amused. Fendi just won a 10M sttlenment against Berlington Coat Factory–the factory had been selling fake Fendi bags. And Lois Vuitton has sued both eBay and Google for selling knock-offs. But it’s not really about money lost, Vuitton head Yves Carcelle told me. It’about protecting a brand.

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Besides the obvious implications of funding illegal drugs, sex trafficking and child labor, buying a fake handbag is also a bad investment–they’re cheaply made and tend to fall apart after one season, or one unexpected downpour. Think you’re getting a good deal on a second-hand Louis? Here’s how to spot a fake with a quick glance:

– If any camel-colored handles are not painted red at the seams.

– If the zippers not stamped with the Vuitton logo or insignia.

– If the bag has oval “O’s”. Real Louis Vuitton type font has very circular, almost perfectly round, Os.

– If the seams are not matched up evenly on the sides of the bag or if the LV logo is broken along any seam or cut.

– If certain bags have suede lining–not all do.

– If the bag has neven or irregular stitching. All Vuitton bags have exactly straight, exactly even stitching. On handle tabs, each portion of the tab will have the same amount of stitches as its corresponding tab on the other side of the bag.

Most importantly, use common sense. These are expensive bags–they should look expensive. Cheap-looking leather (or pleather) that isn’t soft and well-worn, frayed seams and discolored linings all add up to a fake bag.


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