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Ask Sherry: How do I know my designer purchases are not fake?

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

You seem to buy a lot of your secondhand designer items on Ebay. How do you make sure they are not fake ?

That is such a good question.

The only time I got a fake designer good was when I paid for a pair of suede Manolo Blahniks and when they arrived, they were CLEARLY faked. Glued in label and all.

Style Help: How to easily check for fake or authentic Manolo Blahnik Heels

I owned real Manolo Blahniks (also secondhand), and I could tell instantly they were faked, although they did feel as comfortable as Manolos, which I found surprisingly.

A few other things for consideration are also the following…

You can return items that are fake on these sites now

On eBay, you can basically dispute anything, even with Paypal. If you did not receive the item you expected, you can return it, or open a dispute and get it resolved with a full refund. It is a very comforting thing.

I also buy off sites like The RealReal ( <– use my link for a free $25 USD to get started ) and from other trusted consignment sites, and they do their own authentication to make sure the item is real like all the bags I got:

I own a lot of designer items and have a good sense for the quality

I shop a lot. I browse a lot even if I don’t buy. I touch all of these brands in stores, and try them on, and get a feel for what it is like. Secondhand, and at retail.

So…. over the years of having this luxe spidey sense honed, I can tell when something feels right or not.

When it comes to fabric, even in thrift stores, I sort of keep an eye out for interesting prints, but I run my hands over the sleeves and rub my fingers together. I can in 90% of the cases, tell if something is well made or not with just a touch.

Or I check the tailoring, the seams.. and I know.

  • No lining = not a good sign
  • Loose, sloppily stitched seams = not a good sign
  • Crooked labels or text = not a good sign

I have been fooled a few times, but happily because if it feels good and looks good, who gives an EFF what the tag says in terms of a name?

(Or size for that matter, I buy even size 10s or Larges even though I am technically a 4 or a Small..)

Good designer items even used, also tend to wear very well in the sense that when you get them, you will see very little pilling, seams pulling apart, and any kind of distortion in the fabric. You will try it on and instantly know if it is a good product or not.

I once went into a store to touch a bag, and when I touched it, I felt immediately it was not real leather. There was no tag, and the owner guessed that it WAS real leather, but I couldn’t feel it. It felt fake.

Upon deep inspection, I saw the telltale signs of fake leather, and was relieved my quality radar was not broken.

That said, not all designer items are well made.

Sometimes they sell out and their name (e.g. Pierre Cardin, Catherine Malandrino) are on things that are “designer-like” but in the end, could be purchased at The Bay or Target.

That is not to say that those items are bad, but they aren’t worth a luxe price tag.

I always google the item if there are no details

I love it when people give specifics, but if there aren’t any, I just google general terms like this Erdem floral dress below as “Erdem floral dress” and see if the similar item pops up.

I like doing this for two reasons:

(1) I can get a better photo to put into an app that tracks my closet items and outfits

(2) I can see if other items do exist, especially on websites

For instance, that Dolce & Gabbana coat I scored for $150?

I went to the actual D&G site and saw the ACTUAL COAT there on the website.

Exactly as pictured in the listing, and that’s what convinced me, even all the details of the lapels, the lining…

Then I got the coat, and triple checked it, and just putting it on, I could feel the quality craftmansship in the shoulders, the nipped in waist, the peaked lapels… It was all exactly as I had expected.

Same with the Smythe coat I also bought — I already owned the camel version so that was easier to compare, but even if I hadn’t, I have tried on enough Smythe coats to feel the difference and to know if it is the real deal or not.

I love reading blogger reviews on items too to give me an idea — what it should have, how it should feel and fit (like those Stuart Weitzman over the knee boots), and when I got the real deals, I could tell they were authentic just by the quality of the boot.

I always check the tags and labels

In the photos, I scrutinize the labels and tags. I can tell even by the tag, whether it is a good quality or a viable designer item or not.

Cheap tags that are super flashy in a cheap fabric are usually a sign that they aren’t real.

I also see the fabric composition, and where it is made.

I check lots of details like what the seems look like, and if they are what I expected, based on the photos (and in real-life too when I get the actual item).

Of course, maybe half my closet are designer fakes.

I don’t think so, based on how great they feel on my body versus wearing a pair of pants from mainstream brands, but even if that is the case, I haven’t paid thousands of dollars for these things, but I have ended up with a quality product anyway, designer tag or not.

Win win, I say. I’m happy I have a great piece at a good price.

Still have a burning question?

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