Spot a Fake Céline
Because of regular design updates and changing serial number tabs, Céline bags are notoriously difficult to authenticate.
The Phantom and the Luggage tote (affectionately known as Robot Faces) have achieved cult status, yet alongside this degree of fame is the soaring counterfeit market. The construction methods of forgeries has improved massively over the years, meaning that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the real thing from a fake.
Unfortunately, eBay is a breeding ground for counterfeits, and I always see buyers handing out hundreds of ££’s for them. This is in part due to the site’s lack of intervention when it comes to filtering out the imitations, but also due to the high quality of fakes. (P.S. If you need help authenticating a Gucci bag, see my guide here.)
Fewer fakes make it on to luxury resale sites like Vestiaire Collective, Tradesy and TheRealReal because they have stringent methods of checking items. Yet some fakes are so good that they slip through the net of the authentication process.
The Rise of the Super-Fake
Recently I’ve seen bags that are almost impossible to differentiate from the real thing. Usually there are only one or two aspects of the super-fake bag that are inconsistent with authentic bags. Therefore, in order to avoid losing potentially hundreds of £’s, one of the most important things we can do as buyers is to check every aspect of the bag we want.
As an example, some fake bags have a logo that looks real, but the hardware will be wrong. Others will use a high-quality leather and have a convincing serial number tab, yet they’ll have the wrong dimensions. This is why you should check every part of the bag in question and not rely on a single factor – such as the zip, or the serial number tab – when authenticating.
Through handling and inspecting many brand new and pre-owned Céline bags over the years – especially Trapèzes and Luggage totes – I’ve learned some valuable tips that have helped me figure out if a bag is real – and hopefully these tips will be helpful to you too.
An instantly recognisable feature of a Luggage Tote is its shape. Many poor quality fakes are simply the wrong shape. They’re often more rectangular than the authentic bag, so make sure you measure the bag in question and compare it to the dimensions on Céline’s official website.
Luggage totes come in a variety of different leathers, made up of different textures and aesthetic finishes. These include drummed, smooth, shiny and pebbled variations of calfskin, as well as bullhide and goatskin.
It’s important to pay attention to the overall quality of the leather. Authentic bags will feel soft and supple, whereas fake totes will crease and wrinkly easily. They also often have a rough, matte finish, while real ones will have a slight sheen.
Real Céline bags will been well-structured when new, but will also have a degree of pliability to them and eventually droop with use and time. Therefore, a luggage tote does not have to be well structured to be authentic, and it’s worth noting that some skins hold their structure better than others. The rate at which it sags depends on the type of leather used, its thickness, and how frequently it’s worn. Totes made from drummed leather tend to hold their shape the best over time, whereas smoother calfskin models will droop more quickly.
The tote above is crafted from thick, pebbled leather, while the bag below is made from a smoother calfskin. Both of these bags are real, yet the below model has more of a tendency to droop.
With all that said, a Céline luggage tote and a Trapèze will never been as poorly structured as the one in the photo below:
If the bag looks like this, stay away!
If you’re looking for a tote in drummed leather, fakes tend to be very rigid. As previously mentioned, the leather will feel rough and have a matte finish to it. With real bags, there will always be some suppleness to the leather, and it will have a slight sheen.
Below are two examples of Nano totes in drummed leather. Note that the model on the right is very rigid and the leather appears hard, rough and has a matte finish. The model on the left looks more pliable, and the leather is smooth and has a slight sheen. The right model is fake, while the left bag is real.
Credits: fashionphile.com and forum.purseblog.com.
#3 Shoulder Strap Hardware
Shoulder straps come with the medium Trapèze and the Nano Luggage. The hardware is often a tell-tale sign of a fake, as many counterfeiters get it wrong. Authentic Céline hardware comes in silver and gold-tone, and has a subtle antiquated and tarnished finish to it, whereas the hardware on most fakes is very shiny.
There are many things to look for on the hardware. Below are two examples. The hardware on the right is real, and the one on the left is fake – here’s why: authentic clasps have a curved ring attached at the base, whereas the ring on the fake hardware has a straight edge.
Secondly, the base of the clasp on the left is completely different from the one on the right. The fake model has four distinct rings, separated by gaps. The real one has three rings, and there are no gaps between them.
Below are photos of the same clasps as above. Notice that the thumb pieces are distinctly different. The fake one is more curved, and there’s a larger gap between it and the clasp itself, whereas there’s a smaller gap between the parts of the real clasp.
Finally, observe the ‘Céline’ engraving. On the real one the word begins at the top of the clasp. On the fake one, the word is read from the base upwards. Counterfeiters regularly get this wrong.
#4 The Zip
The Trapèze and the Luggage series do not have markings on the back of their zips. Counterfeiters often use ‘Lampo’ and ‘RiRi’ branded zips, which have the brand’s mark on the back.
Also, the centre of the zip (between the zip teeth) should be curved and have a numerical marking, which denotes the size of the zip. Below are two examples of authentic zips.
Below are two examples of fakes zips. The left zip has a letter, not a number. It’s also embossed on top of the metal, not engraved into it. The zip on the right has a flat centre and there are no markings.
#5 The Heat Stamp
The heat stamp is found at the front of the Luggage Tote between the handles, (this does not apply to the Trapèze) and can often be a telltale sign of a fake. Some counterfeit bags are very well replicated, while others are very poor. It’s difficult to observe the heat stamp on its own, so I’d highly recommend having either a clear photo of the heat stamp from a real bag, or a real bag in person, to compare.
The stamp should simply read ‘Céline’, with the word ‘Paris’ centred below. Many counterfeiters neglect to include the acute accent. Below is a photo of a very obvious fake, in comparison with a real one.
The left bag is fake, and the bag on the right is real. The font on the fake bag is taller – notice the ‘C’ is an oval shape, whereas the ‘C’ on the real bag is circular.
The below images are harder to tell apart, so whip out the magnifying glass if you need to – there’s no judgement here.
The photo on the left is real. The font is slightly thicker, and the letters have clean, straight edges. This is most noticeable on each ‘E’ and the ‘N’. Also, the word ‘Paris’ on the left is thicker. On the fake bag on the right, the letters appear more sparse and thinner.
Here’s another difficult one below. While the letters on the right have cleaner and crisper edges than the fake bag above, they are more spaced apart. Again, the word ‘Paris’ looks sparse and unfinished. This is particularly noticeable on the ‘A’, which looks like it hasn’t been printed clearly enough at the bottom. By comparison, the word ‘Paris’ on the left is thicker and more defined. The bag on the right is fake, and the left one is real.
#6 The Serial Number
The serial number on luggage totes and Trapèzes is found on a leather tab in the rear interior pocket.
Céline has many variations on how the serial code is presented. There are differences in the thickness of the embossing, the shape of the leather tab itself, and the font and the format, and this makes it a minefield for authenticators.
One thing that remains constant is the format in which the serial number is presented. This is: one letter, followed by two letters, followed by four numbers. These will be separated by a dash.
The letters indicate the location of the factory where the bag was made. The first and third numbers indicate the week it was made, and the second and fourth digits are the year. So for example, ‘S – PA – 0122’ means that the bag was made on the second week of 2012.
However, some bags have a single line, while others have two lines of serial numbers. Others also have the words ‘Made in Italy’, and this can be seen under a single line of serial numbers, or two lines.
Many Céline Authentication Guides state that the leather tab should not be curved. This is not true. You will find curved edges and straight edges on real tabs.
Here are some examples of the variations from authentic bags:
All of the above tabs are real.
As you can see, there are lots of variations in font, tab shape, the embossing and format. In addition to this, serial numbers are not unique to each bag, and can be repeated.
These variations mean that it’s very difficult to tell if your bag is real from only looking at the serial number. Therefore I always recommend scrutinising all other aspects of the bag as well.
While it’s difficult to determine whether your bag is real, the following serial numbers below are what they should not look like:
On the left image, each line is too far spaced apart and the ‘Made in Italy’ is wonky. On the right image, the writing is not impressed clearly enough and the dashes look like dots, instead of lines.
Here are two more examples of fakes:
On the left image, there are no clear dashes and the digits are bunched too close together. On the right image, while the serial number itself looks fine, the edges of the tab look messy.
While scrutinising every aspect of your bag may seem like a tall order, it’s worth taking a few minutes to check it in order to avoid having to make any claims. I hope these guidelines make it easier for any of you seeking to buy an authentic bag.
If you have any queries, leave a message below or send me a direct message via the Contact page.
Featured Image credit: ohsoglam.com