Over the years I’ve developed a taste for designer bags, much to my husband’s chagrin! Unfortunately, designer bags carry a pretty heft price tag and honestly, I think it’s kind of ridiculous to spend that much money ON A BAG. Nevertheless, I have decided that I’d like to start building a small designer bag collection. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I like to invest in a few really nice items instead of a bunch of crappy items. So my goal is to start buying pieces that I’ll have in my closet FOREVER and I feel like a designer bag is something that I will cherish for a long time and potentially pass down to my children.
You may remember that I recently bought a Celiné bag – my first ever high end designer purchase! It really is a lovely bag and so chic and classic. I 100% love my designer bag purchase and it was fun to actually go into a Celiné store and buy it directly.
I’m not going to lie…that kind of gave me the itch to buy another designer bag. Although, from here on out I would prefer to buy second hand to save some money. Usually, these types of bags are in pretty good condition when you buy them secondhand so you can’t even tell that it’s not brand new.
The bag I have in my sights is the Chloé Nile Minaudiere in white. I was actually torn between getting this one and the Celiné belt bag. I thought the Chloé bag was a little more trendy and not as practical so I went with the Celiné. But I still can’t get the Chloé bag out of my head. I really like it. And I have liked it for a year or two now so I don’t think it’s a phase.
I started to check out second hand bags online at secondhand reseller sites. Honestly, I don’t know a lot about designer bags in general OR which secondhand sites are the best (this was my first mistake). So I just went with what was off the top of my head and sites that I’d heard of before. These included The Real Real, Tradesy, and Fashionphile.
I was mainly checking out The Real Real hoping to find the Chloé Nile around $1000. I had seen a few pop up but I wasn’t ready to buy at the time. So I hopped over to Tradesy.
Look at that beauty! Above is an example of a REAL designer Celiné bag.
I Was Duped Into Buying A Fake Bag on Tradesy
I thought Tradesy was a site I could trust. I’d seen bloggers, who I trust 100%, talk about borrowing bags from Tradesy. I don’t blame these bloggers for working with Tradesy. I’m sure the bags they were sent were real. And I still love these bloggers and trust their opinions! I had also gotten a collab email from the Tradesy team in the past asking me if I wanted to participate in their designer bag exchange program for bloggers. I passed on the offer because I don’t usually do collaborations for trade. BUT the email was legit and my contact was professional and easy to talk to. Tradesy is based out of Santa Monica, California so it definitely didn’t seem like a scammy foreign site or business.
I didn’t really think twice or do any research into buying off of Tradesy before I checked them out. I was browsing one day and saw the Chloé Nile on sale for around $1000 PLUS I could get $100 off with a promotion they had going on at the time.
A Chloé Nile for under $1000? Yes please! That was the cheapest I’d seen it on any site so far. And they had a payment plan I could apply for so I wouldn’t have to spend all that money at once. I was planning to only pay around $200 a month so I could work it into the budget.
Sooo…I purchased the pay through a loan with Affirm on Tradesy.
I was feeling pretty good about my purchase but as the days went on I got this nagging feeling. Maybe I was just feeling guilty for spending that much money? So for some reason I decided to do a little research into Tradesy (this is something I should have done BEFORE).
It turns out Tradesy has a horrible reputation AND isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau. It turns out Tradesy is kind of like Poshmark. Sellers can list items and it doesn’t go through Tradesy first. Tradesy only has “advanced website technology” to detect and automatically remove inauthentic listings. So you kind of have to trust that the seller is selling an authentic item. Tradesy doesn’t authenticate the bag before it’s listed on the site.
My bag arrived and honestly, it looked great! But I still had that nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. So I did some research on how to spot a designer fraud.
How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag
Check to make sure everything is in the right place
Logos, charms, attachments, pockets, stitches, serial numbers, etc. should all be in the right spots. So you’ll need to have pictures of the real thing to compare it to. You have to be really picky when spotting a fake. The slightest difference could mean it’s not the real thing. For example, Is the logo supposed to be stitched or hand stamped? Is the font size and style the same as what is used in the real thing? Does it say “Made in France” when it should say “Made in Italy”?
Check the quality
Everything should be of the highest quality in a designer bag. The hardware should be sturdy with no imperfections or discoloration. The stitches should be even and not frayed or loose. There should be no glue in the seams. The leather should be high quality and soft. And there shouldn’t be any funny smells.
Check the Colors
Make sure everything is the right shade and color. What color is the stitching supposed to be? What color is the interior supposed to be? Like I said, my bag was supposed to be a light nude and NOT black.
The above photo is a picture of a fake Chloé bag. This is what the bag I purchased off of Tradesy looked like. P.S. Don’t buy from a seller if the photos don’t look high quality. Blurry and badly lit photos are also a red flag.
How I Knew My Bag Was A Fake
As I looked closely at my bag I could see the quality imperfections. I didn’t think the leather looked as supple as it should. The inside barcode tag was easily removable and frayed. I also couldn’t really read the authentication number on the inside of the bag. There were paint marks on the strap of the bag. I didn’t think the piping looked even. The stitching also didn’t look even and perfect. But the biggest clue that it wasn’t real was that the inside of the bag was black and not the light nude color I’d seen on all the legitimate seller sites. BUT these were all pretty subtle imperfections (besides the inside bag color). Like I said, the bag totally looked legit on the surface.
I bought the bag from this seller on Tradesy. My second mistake was not looking at the pictures closely. There were signs that the bag wasn’t authentic but I didn’t really think about it. I just trusted that there wouldn’t be fake bags being sold on the site. I also did some more research and found the exact same pictures of the bag on another website. That’s a huge red flag. AND I found a fake bag listing that looked exactly like the bag I bought – black interior and all.
Luckily, Tradesy lets you send items to their headquarters to have them authenticated if you think the item is a fake. If they find that it’s a fake they will refund your money. I was confident that my bag was a fake and I’d get my money back BUT I’d heard horror stories online about how people were sent fakes and Tradesy still said that the fake item was real. So I was still a little weary.
But I sent the bag back (it was free shipping) and the Tradesy team took a look at it. They decided that it was a fake and refunded me my money. In this case, my loan with Affirm was cancelled. I never actually paid anything for the bag in the first place because my first payment wasn’t due until a month after I’d purchased it.
Luckily, the whole thing worked out for me. But I think it’s crazy that Tradesy allows fakes to be sold on their site. If you knew anything about designer bags you could have been able to tell that the bag was a fake just by looking at the pictures so Tradey’s “authentication software” must not be that good. PLUS the seller that sold me the fake bag is still selling on Tradesy. That is absolutely ridiculous. If you are caught selling a fake bag you should not be allowed to list more items. I shouldn’t have to follow up with Tradesy to make sure that they aren’t selling anymore.
How To Not Get Duped
Moral of the story is DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFOREHAND (and don’t buy from Tradesy…lol). Don’t take someone’s word – wether it be a friend or a blogger.
Also, I’ve learned it can be really hard to spot a fake designer bag. Knockoffs look really good guys! Although, mine was pretty obvious due to the different interior color, there are a lot of fake bags that look EXACTLY like the real thing. And unfortunately, you can’t take it to a store to have them authenticate it. For example, if you buy a Chloé bag off a secondhand site, you can’t take it to a Chloé store to have it authenticated. And after doing some research online, there aren’t that many places you can go to have a bag authenticated. The best option I found was taking photos of the bag and sending those to this site after paying a small fee.
Hold the “Real Thing” In Your Hands
It can be really hard to spot imperfections if you’ve never seen a really high quality bag before. That’s why I would recommend checking out the real thing in store if you are considering buying secondhand. Go to Chloé and hold the real bag in your hands, check out all the details, and THEN order it from a secondhand store. That way you’ll have some idea of what you are looking for. Also, only buy bags that come with the Authentication Card so you can compare it to the number on the bag. My bag didn’t come with the card so there was no way for me to check the serial number.
Buy from Trusted Sites
As much as I’d love to support buying secondhand I’m not sure that I will next time. There’s really no way to guarantee that you are buying the real thing unless you get it directly from the source, unfortunately. Is it worth saving a few hundred bucks? The retail price for the Chloe nile is $1490 and I’d probably end up paying $1100 for it on a resale site. That’s still a big chuck of change!
Not all secondhand resale sites are like Tradesy. There are a lot that require the seller to send the item in to get authenticated before it can be listed on their site. For example, all items listed on The Real Real** are inspected by their team before they are listed for sale. It also might be better to buy from a department store like Nordstrom where you can get “points” towards future purchases when you use your Nordstrom credit card. Or wait for a sale on a department store site.
I’m still a newbie to the world of designer fashion but I’m trying to learn! If you have any tips please share below!
**UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2019
It’s recently come to my attention that even The Real Real has been found to be selling fake bags! It turns out that workers called “copywriters” are authenticating bags instead of professional authenticators. These copywriters are given limited training on how to spot fakes before posting them online. What?! That’s really disappointing because The Real Real was supposed to be one of the top secondhand sites you could buy from.
Before I saw this article I was also becoming suspicious of The Real Real. I was still searching for the Chloe Nile Minaudiere in cream so I decided to check out The Real Real. I was surprised to find a few cream color bags with BLACK interiors instead of BLUSH interiors. As far as I know, the Chloe Nile Minaudiere in cream only comes with a blush interior. And the fake bag that I bought from Tradesy had a black interior. This seems like a red flag to me. But if you didn’t know any better, the black interior bags look identical to the authentic version. That’s why you need professional authenticators to check out the bags and not untrained copywriters!
Because of this, I no longer feel comfortable buying secondhand online. My recommendation would be to save your money and spend a little extra to buy a designer bag new in store. That way you get to take advantage of the designer warranty. You can also get discounts on designer bags when you are shopping in Europe or even Hawaii! So if you like to travel, just wait until you are overseas to buy designer.
And stay tuned for a blog post about the difference between Designer Dupes and Designer Knockoffs. Did you know there was a difference??