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Can You Spot a Fake Bag?
By Kristen Kaleal

One cannot help but notice the proliferation of so-called "status" bags all throughout the country. What was once an indulgence set aside for ladies of wealth, the designer label handbag has seen its stock take a tumble in recent years.

Many women see no problem with having one or more knockoff bags in their closet. I take issue with this. Not because I am or will ever be a "purse snob" - if such a thing exists - but because fakes have caused the value - both real and perceived - of high-end goods to drop such an extent.

I don't even have a desire to buy a status bag because it would most likely be seen as just another fake, even it I had paid $1800 for it and it came right from inside the locked glass counter at Neiman Marcus. I would have to carry the receipt around and wave it in everyone's face so they would know it was real!

Wouldn't THAT defeat the purpose of an elegant, high quality designer bag??

I will admit that some of my friends carry decent knockoffs and I've even been to a fake purse party (shame on KK!!) but did not indulge (good KK!!)

Even our own Kelly has been to a back room on Canal Street (the place for buying the best to the worst designer knockoffs - Prado, anyone? And I'm not talking about the museum in Spain)

Like all major purchases, if you are going to buy a luxury bag, be sure to do your homework on what you are buying before you plunk down a big chunk of change. Be aware of counterfeiters' shortcuts and watch out for scams.

So let's become "Fake Purse Ninjas" (anyone remember the movie Bowfinger?) and blow their cover!

How to Spot a Fake Bag

1. Know the Products

Sure, most status bags have easily-seen logos. Yes, when you see an "LV" logo, you're probably looking at a Louis Vuitton or a knockoff. That isn't the challenge. Flip through the pages of Vogue or Harpers Bazaar to check out the designers' ads or even read InStyle to see what the celebrities are carrying.

You don't think any celeb would be caught with a fake, do you? Look at the bags close up. Even better, go fantasy shopping and actually feel what a real(ly) expensive bag feels like. There is a palpable difference. You can feel the quality.

Ironically, the iconic Louis Vuitton emblem was created in the late 19th century to deter counterfeiters!

2. The Materials

A cheap Canal Street (or fake purse party) knockoff will very likely be of suspect craftsmanship. To buy a real designer bag means paying big bucks for the name, but behind that name is true quality craftsmanship.

There shouldn't be puckered leather or imperfect stitching - ever - on a true designer bag. These are works of art and crafted in a way that we don't usually see in our "Made in China" world.

3. The Details

Doesn't everything always boil down to the little things? Zippers, lining, hardware, and trimmings will be heavier and distinct on a true designer item.

Certain Louis Vuitton bags will have antique hardware. The finer points will be more distinct. Bags will be lined with elegant fabrics you don't see in knockoffs.

On a high quality item, the "only you know it's there" details are what set apart the real deal from all the rest.

It is estimated that 99% of all Louis Vuitton branded goods in the world are fake!

4. The Certificate of Authenticity

Finally, a quality bag comes with proof from the manufacturer that what you are buying is truly what you think you are buying.

Since so many bags are being sold on the secondhand market, such as ebay, expect for a true luxury bag to come with proof of its veracity. Naturally, counterfeiters are at least one step ahead of everyone else. So be aware that even a fake bag may come with a certificate.

My Alternative:

Since I won't be buying a real OR fake luxury bag anytime soon, I have found a signature bag that I absolutely love and that says "me" all over it. They're called Beijo Bags.

I will admit that they are sometimes mistaken for Prada, but that's okay. Nothing about them is misleading. They cost what a designer knockoff typically costs (around $80) but they are the authentic article.

And most importantly, they're flashy without stealing my shoes' thunder! (oh, you knew I had to mention shoes sooner or later!)

Even better, everyone at the fake purse party wanted MY Beijo Bag! Gotta love that!!

Kristen Kaleal is an image consultant and corporate speaker. She is the style and image expert for ClevelandWomen.com and can be reached at (440) 742-0385 or kristen@ClevelandWomen.com.

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