Spotting a Fake Gucci Bag
Unlike Céline, which has regularly changed its serial number layouts over the years, Gucci bags are generally straightforward when it comes to authentication. This is because their serial numbers and fonts have remained pretty consistent throughout the years. (If you need help with spotting fake Céline bags, see my guide here.)
Many guides tell you to look at the general areas of the bag, like symmetry, the quality of the stitching, hardware, and the quality of the materials. While these are really important factors, the methods that counterfeiters use are getting better and better. In their attempt to dupe you into parting with your cash, they often use high quality leathers, fabrics and hardware. So it’s become increasingly difficult to tell a counterfeit bag from a real one solely based on these factors.
#1 The Leather Tab
The main area to look for when determining if a Gucci bag is real is the leather tab. It’s found inside the bag, on the rear side. It’s rectangular shaped, and is only attached to the bag along the top, so you can see the underside. On the front, you’ll see the Registered Trademark symbol centred at the top, with the word ‘GUCCI’ in uppercase, and the words ‘made in italy’ below, in lowercase.
Here are some consistencies to take note of: you will always find the leather tab on the rear side, even on vintage bags. It will always be made out of leather (even if the bag is not), and will be in the same colour as the exterior. However, there are slight variations in how they’re attached to the inside. On some bags, they’re attached to the leather trim lining of a zip pocket or sewn directly under a slip pocket. On some recent bags the tab can be found sewn on the interior directly if the bag has no pocket on the rear side.
Exceptions to this are wallets and the Jackie Convertible flap bag, which is essentially a shoulder bag that doubles as a wallet. On these, the serial number is embossed directly onto the leather interior:
Regardless if the logo is imprinted on a tab or directly onto the leather, the font will be in the same style across all bags. (But bags predating the 1990’s have different fonts.) It will be cleanly and crisply imprinted onto the leather, and each row will always be perfectly centered. The writing will always be perfectly straight and centered on the rectangular tab. The edges of the tab will be very neat and straight, and always perpendicular to each other. The corners can be slightly rounded, or straight.
#2 The Serial Number
Interestingly, the serial number gives no indication of the year, month, or the location of manufacture – unlike brands like Céline and Louis Vuitton.
All real bags made from the early 2000’s up to the present day have two rows of numbers. It’s a common misconception that all serial numbers must have six digits on both rows. There are no rules on how many digits there should be, as long as there are two rows. There are lots of possible combinations, like five on top and six on the bottom, or six on top and four below. Some older models from Gucci’s Tom Ford era in the early 2000’s show a full-stop (or a period) in the middle of the top row.
A big part of the authenticator’s job is to inspect the font style, placement and imprint of a serial number. Very often, a fake bag can have good stitching and great quality leather, yet – for one reason or another – the imitations always seem to get the serial number wrong, and this can be a dead giveaway in detecting a fake.
As you’ll notice above, Gucci uses a very distinctive font for their serial numbers. The numbers are slender and crisply imprinted. They are also evenly spaced and do not touch. For each digit in particular, notice that the ‘0’ is oval-shaped, while the ‘2’ has a distinctive curl at the top. The ‘7’ has a small line vertical line at the top, and a horizontal line at the base. When authenticating a bag, I definitely recommend having either the serial number from a real bag nearby to use to compare, or a photo of one. This can be really useful in serving as a template when looking at a bag you’re not sure about.
The leather tabs are usually very good indicators of the bag’s authenticity. But it’s important not to rely solely on this one aspect: I recommend looking at the quality of the materials, stitching, hardware and accessories (like dust bags and cards) so that you can be 100% assured that you’re investing in a real bag.
The below photos show the leather tabs of two fake bags that are particularly difficult to authenticate. To the untrained eye they can look very convincing, but on further inspection they show some vital flaws.
Above: at first glance both tabs seem convincing because the fonts are more similar to the original than most fakes. But the text is not as well imprinted. In particular, the ‘made in italy’ font looks like the imprinting machine has slipped slightly, making the writing look fuzzy towards the bottom. On authentic tabs the ‘made in italy’ will extend so that it’s almost as wide as the word ‘Gucci’ above it. But on these, the bottom line is too narrow. The gaps between each row is also too narrow, particularly between the trademark ‘R’ and ‘Gucci’, and you will also notice that the black edging paint runs over the edges on both. This shows that it hasn’t been applied carefully.
The images below show the back of the leather tabs as seen above. Again, to the untrained eye these serial numbers can look convincing. But there are some obvious differences between these and real tabs.
First, both sets of numbers are poorly imprinted. The ‘0’ and ‘3’ on the red tab is too faint. They should be a clearly impressed, thick shape. On the orange tab, the numbers are too small and the rows are too far apart from each other. You will also see that the downward line on the ‘7’ is not thick enough, and it doesn’t have a clear horizontal line at the base. On both tabs, the black edging has run off the edges.
If you are new to authenticating, assessing a bag can be pretty confusing. But by applying the tips from t
his guide, you’ll be more able to identify if a bag looks suspect. I always recommend getting a second opinion if you’re not entirely certain, and I wouldn’t suggest buying a bag unless you’re 100% certain it’s the real thing.