It’s difficult enough to hunt down that perfect vintage find without having to navigate a minefield of close-but-not-quite replicas. So how do you tell if you’ve stumbled upon a find or a fake?
Do your research
Got your eyes peeled for a vintage Chanel 2.55? If you don’t know how the Cs should interlock (right overlapping left or vice versa?) or how many digits the serial number should have, you might find yourself prey to a cunning fake. The best way to save yourself from forking out a mint for a replica is to arm yourself with information.
That Chanel bag from the 80s should have a seven digit serial number, a 90s bag on the other hand will have an eight digit number, and both will be printed on a label featuring the Chanel logo. Later bags will also have a plastic covering over the label. And as for those Cs, right should overlap left and the hardware should have a marking on the back showing where the bag was made (Paris for 2.55s, Italy for other Chanel bags).
Check fastenings, hems, fabric, and labels
Unfortunately, 80s dresses are increasingly passed off as vintage 50s. The cut is often similar and it isn’t always easy to tell on first glance. The devil, however, is in the details. Pre-1950s vintage clothing should have metal zips and fastenings rather than plastic and hems were often hand sewn so you shouldn’t see any overlocked seams or machine-sewn buttonholes.
If that dress is nylon or polyester, it won’t date pre-1950 and if it doesn’t have a fabric or care label (a pre-1960s dress shouldn’t have a care label), the telltale 80s sheen is often all the information you need.
The ‘made in’ label is often the deal breaker. If you’ve found a much-coveted ‘vintage’ Burberry trench and it doesn’t say ‘Made in England,’ I’m afraid you’ve been duped.
Talk to an expert
Found an expensive vintage piece that you’re just not sure of? The seller should allow you to take the piece to a third party to verify its authenticity and condition, particularly if you’re looking at a piece of jewelry or watch. If you’re buying from an online seller, you won’t be able to take it to an expert, but you can certainly talk to one. Find out what you should be looking for to verify a find from a fake and request extra photos from the seller to show labels, markings, lining, stitching, or movements if you’re looking at a watch.
If you think it’s a fake it probably is
Unless you’ve stumbled across a clueless seller (and trust me, they do still exist) the price is often the biggest giveaway. If you think it’s too cheap to be true you’re probably right.