Almost every model of Louis Vuitton bag has its own unique qualities that distinguish and help authenticate it. Often times, counterfeiters will overlook these model-specific attributes or will mix attributes from multiple bags in effort to make it "even more authentic" — when, it reality, it only proves its own invalidity. Here's what you need to know to authenticate Louis Vuitton's monogram bags.
Cylinder carriers, like the Speedy and the Keepall are made from vertical construction with one piece that wraps into cylinder formation and affixed by two separate pieces at each end causing the monogram LV print to flip from facing-up to facing upside down as the bag is viewed from front to back. Shown below. Counterfeit bags overlook this construction detail and, as a result, the print will read facing-up across the bag — that's a dead giveaway for a fake!
Bucket bags and totes like the Petit Bucket, the Noé, and the Neverfull are made in horizontal construction therefore the monogram print will always read facing-up (rather than upside down like the cylinder carriers).
Further, the seams of the external panels are generally synchronized, meaning, the prints will line-up in a thoughtful manner. It won't be perfect, but you should be able to spot a pattern. This can take the form of direct alignment (seams combine to complete the print), mirroring (print is proportionately mirrored on both sides of the seam), or merging (print narrows to merge at the seam).
Lastly, if the LV portion of the monogram logo is cut-off then it generally a fake. As a brand, Louis Vuitton is careful to avoid cutting the monogram LV logo off abruptly, however, there are certain constructions that invariably lead to this, such as the Trunk Clutch and Speedy Bandouliere shown below. Although, to reiterate, if you see the LV monogram cut-off, it should send a red flag for extra scrutiny.
Unlike other luxury brands, Louis Vuitton does not use factory-branded zippers, therefore, you should NOT see a factory marking, such as YKK or Lampo, on the underside of the zipper.
Since 1991, Louis Vuitton has been using the same golden brass hardware zipper with the brand marking engraved on the pully. I've noticed other literature on this subject stating the marking is limited to the brand's 'LV' logo, however, that is not the case. Louis Vuitton uses several different versions of its brand logo on its zippers — from the iconic 'LV' logo to its branded name.
The important takeaway on zippers is: (1) check the zipper is made from golden brass hardware (unless it is a seriously vintage piece made prior to 1991), (2) check there is no factory markings on the underside of the zipper, and (3) check the zipper pully to make sure it is branded with a verified Louis Vuitton brand logo (see, Logo section below for more details on correct logo markings).
Key attributes of the Louis Vuitton brand stamp include:
Departing from standard practice of some other luxury brands, Louis Vuitton does not include a serial number within its bags. Instead, it uses a date code. Unlike a serial number, which is unique to the product in hand, a date code can be shared by many bags given that its purpose is to identify the factory, date and year when the bag was made. All Louis Vuitton bags made since the 1980's have a date code, which is embossed into the lining or on a leather tag affixed to the inside of the bag. Older bags, particularly those with alcantara lining may have severe fading to the date code.
At its inception during the early 1980's the date code comprised of only numbers. Now, the date code is a combination of letters and numbers, the former indicating what country the bag was made in and the latter indicating the week and year. Here's how to unscramble the code, based on what year the bag was made:
Louis Vuitton: Table of Country Codes
A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS (Special Order), AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, DR, DU, DR, DT, CO, CT, CX, ET, FL**, LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SA**, SD**, SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TJ, TH, TR, TS, VI, VX
|United States of America||
*JJ is the newest factory, which opened in Spain. Other posts I've seen on this subject are outdated and do not include this listing.
**The codes BC, SD, SA, and FL are used to references factories in multiple countries, whereas most codes refer to one country only.
SIDE NOTE: LOUIS VUITTON DOES NOT USE AUTHENTICITY CARDS
I've seen counterfeiters try to sell unwitting buyers on the "authenticity" of their bags by proof of authenticity cards. Louis Vuitton DOES NOT utilize authenticity cards, so watch out!
Want more? Shop authentic Louis Vuitton along with all your other favorite designers at The Revury.