72% of the ‘Louis Vuitton’ bags, belts and sunglasses on Gumtree are fake – here’s how the experts can tell

Business Insider SA
Louis Vuitton fake vs real
  • Under 30% of the 'Louis Vuitton' listings posted on Gumtree over the course of a month were for the real thing, say authenticators for designer-brands second-hand store Luxity.
  • Gumtree says its smaller competitors have it even worse when it comes to counterfeit luxury goods.
  • Here's how you can tell if those cheap pre-owned bags, belts, and sunglasses are fake.
  • For more stories, see

Over the course of a month expert authenticators were willing to bet that 28.2% of the supposed "Louis Vuitton" items posted on South Africa's mega-classifieds site Gumtree were the real thing – or at least fakes good enough that it was hard to tell.

Everything else, more than 70% of listings, were definitely fake, according to evaluators for specialist retailer Luxity, much of it obviously so. 

And that may be only the tip of the iceberg.

Luxity is in the business of selling high-end second hands, and promises that if you buy a R30,000 Louis Vuitton bag from it, you are getting the real thing.

The company also monitors the spread of fakes that undercut its business, and says it has been watching with concern as counterfeiters set up shop on social media. When it turned its attention to Gumtree, it was surprised at the number of fakes it could detect just from details in the listings.

Gumtree too keeps an eye on fake goods – and says its own research shows it is doing better than its local competition. An initial investigation by its partner goVerify, which specialises in sneakers, "has found that we are performing much better than local competitors, likely due to our increased investment in moderation of the site; and due to the fact that our moderation team is locally based," Gumtree told Business Insider South Africa.

Gumtree relies heavily on customers to flag fakes for investigation.

Meanwhile Luxity says that around one in three of the items it is sent for evaluation turns out to be fake, which implies that the people trying to sell those items were themselves ripped off, and never knew it.

Now, says Luxity, both Facebook and Instagram have set up selling platforms, and there is every reason to expect a jump in fakes on sale via those.

Here are the top tips for avoiding fake and counterfeit luxury goods being sold second-hand, according to Luke Calitz, the owner of Luxity.

Don't trust it just because it comes in a box.

"Many people believe that packaging is an indicator that an item is authentic,” says Calitz, “However this couldn’t be further from the truth and the packaging quality and style is often an easy check."

Some counterfeiters will even include an invoice.

Too much choice is a giveaway.

"We often see that sellers offer multiple sizes and designs to choose from, but this would mean they’d be supplied by Louis Vuitton themselves. Louis Vuitton only distributes to their own stores and no one else. So, they must be lying," says Calitz.

An individual selling one Louis Vuitton scarf is one thing. An individual selling as many Louis Vuitton scarves as you'd like, in different sizes, is something else entirely.

And too much plastic should worry you too.

"You might be fooled into thinking that since the advert says the item is new, it is still wrapped in plastic, but you’d be wrong. Louis Vuitton does not wrap any of its products in plastic, except for some handbags having a thick film over some of the hard surfaces when new," says Calitz.

Check up on the details – and the price. 

Some counterfeiters try too hard and will bombard you with descriptions such as "genuine leather" – for a bag made of canvass, says Calitz.

Other fakes have designer labels slapped onto products that don't resemble a real design, and checking if, say, the brand you are looking at actually launched the kind of sunglasses being advertised can save you a lot of trouble.

And if you are offered a second-hand item that looks pristine, but is on sale for a tenth of the original price while other second-hands go for half, it is probably best to put your money back in your pocket.

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