As a discerning buyer of luxury, you understand and appreciate superior craftsmanship and a quality finish that is a cut above the ordinary. We have compiled a short handbook listing some of the hallmarks of a luxury product to help you understand and appreciate your prized possession. However, this is by no means an exhaustive manual since luxury brands constantly evolve as much in their styling and authentication features as in their styles.
KEY INDICATORS OF AUTHENTICITY
Every luxury brand has a unique logo which serves as its signature and unmistakable identity. The placement and lettering of the brand name will always be neat and even. Additionally, in most cases, the lettering will be raised or engraved and not printed.
Take for example Michael Kors in which the MK letters are very close together. Burberry’s distinctive font features the famous rat tail on the end of the R, where it curls up slightly. Additionally, the left side of the U and the Y are slightly wider.
Prada’s signature triangle logo is usually placed in the middle of a bag on the front or side of a bag and the logo is engraved and not printed, if it is a plaque. The enamel on the exterior logo plaque is the exact colour of the bag or very close. The letter R in Prada has a curved leg instead of a straight leg.
Signature Pattern or Identifier
Some brands use a signature pattern or design as a unique identifier. In the case of Burberry, the two most popular patterns are the Burberry Classic Check and the Burberry Nova Check. The Classic Check has black, white and red horizontal and vertical stripes on a tan background while the Nova Check background has a light yellow undertone and the red lines are more pinkish than red. The Classic Check also has a faded insignia of the knight at the intersection of two red lines.
In the case of Coach bags carrying the signature Cs, the Cs line up perfectly to the centre, and if the bag has a centre seam, the Cs are symmetrical along the seam and usually divide the bag into two halves that are a mirror image of each other. Newer Coach bags carry the logo on the inside lining.
Symmetry and Finishing
These are the hallmarks of all luxury products and one of the easiest ways of determining fakes or knock-offs. The stitching and finishing of any luxury bag is even, symmetrical and neat. In a Prada bag for example, the exterior logo plaque is firmly attached with neat and even stitching around it. Newer Prada bags use completely filled-in rivets to hold the logo plaque while in the older styles, the rivets look more like donut holes.
Inside Logo and inside of the bag
The inside of all luxury bags hold as many authentication indicators as the outside.
The first of these is a label or stamp or a creed as in the case of Coach.
All Burberry bags have a label on the inside made either of leather or metal. The word Burberry is in the centre on the label with neat stitching all around. In metal labels, the metal will match the colour of the bag’s hardware.
Coach has a creed, a leather patch stitched on the inside of the bag. The leather is always thick with even stitching all around the edges. Loewe bags also carry a creed on the inside with the logo and Made in Spain embossed on a leather patch.
In a Prada, the brand name and ‘Made in Italy’ are written in two lines either on a ceramic plaque or a leather patch with four rivets. The interior plaque or patch will match the interior fabric of the bag. The handbag will also have a small white tag with a random number on it.
In a Michael Kors bag, a perfectly round logo appears on the interior lining of the bag which could be a satin blend. Burberry bags carry black canvas, beige pigskin suede or the Burberry signature fabric which is a thick jacquard with BURBERRY woven in glossy thread, as a lining.
Coach bags have a solid-colour satin material lining inside their bags, matching the exterior colour. The brand name is visible on the inside, as is with Loewe. The inside of Prada bags may be a plain nylon that matches the exterior of the handbag. Regardless of the material used, the brand name and a symbol that resembles a sideways ‘S’ is printed horizontally throughout the interior lining of the bag.
Hardware typically consists of hang tags, hanging charms, swing tags and zippers. In luxury brands, the finish and quality of the hardware is stylish and superior. Almost all of the hardware carries the respective brand name neatly engraved in a high quality finish. The hanging charm on a Michael Kors bag is made of solid metal and will not flake or chip. The letters ‘MK’ are placed very close to each other. The hanging charm is suspended at the end of a matching leather strap or chain and appears solo without any other accompanying suspended item.
New Burberry bags also have a swing tag featuring the distinctive Burberry logo. As in a Michael Kors, the hardware is made of solid metal of superior quality.
The Coach hangtag matches the bag, both in size and colour. For example, if the bag is pink signature, hangtag will also be pink and if it’s a large bag, there will be a larger hangtag. The chain matches the colour of the rivet on the hangtag as well (silver, gold etc). As with the creed, the hangtag is evenly stitched, neat and the Coach stamp has a border around it.
YKK is the most popular brand of zippers and is used by Burberry, Michael Kors, Coach and Prada alike. Other zipper brands include Lampo, Riri, Opti and Ipi. The brand name is invariably marked on the zipper.
Made in Tag
All new luxury bags carry a ‘Made in …’ tag indicating the country of production. While in the past the manufacturing was in the country of origin, economic considerations have led brands to explore various new locations for manufacturing. An exception is Prada which continues to manufacture a highly significant proportion of its products in Italy.
Many Burberry handbags feature a 'Made in Italy' label. The bags are also made in China and Romania. Before 2002 almost three quarters of all Coach handbags were US made; now however most are assembled in China, but also in a few other countries including Thailand and Vietnam. Michael Kors manufactures in China, Vietnam and Korea. Loewe bags are almost exclusively manufactured in Madrid, Spain.
Not all luxury bags are accompanied by a Dust Bag. Burberry and Prada however do have them. The new Burberry handbags have dust bag featuring the Burberry logo. The company has used various styles and colours, the most popular amongst them being black and cream and featuring the Knight. Prada dust bags are white, 100% cotton with a black Prada logo and a drawstring closure.