TAKE A LOOK | How experts spot fake luxury items like LV, Versace, and Hermès

Business Insider SA
Luxity is a reseller and authenticator of pre-owned luxury goods. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)
  • At least 30% of the supposed luxury goods second-hand dealer Luxity receives are fake.
  • From poor stitching to blotchy printing, we looked at some telltale signs of the items that were an indication of their inauthenticity.
  • Here are some of the items and how the experts called their bluff.
  • For more stories, go to

When Luxity, South Africa's largest retailer of pre-owned authenticated luxury items, receives Louis Vuitton handbags, sunglasses, and shoes for reselling, it knows at least 30% of the items will be fake.   

The growth of the counterfeit luxury market in South Africa is moving in tandem with the growth of the preowned market – and for the first half of 2021, Luxity grew 117%.

Michael Zahariev, the cofounder of Luxity, said Louis Vuitton, particularly its Neverfull handbag and the Hermès Birkin handbag, are some of the items that are most copied.

"95% of Birkins submitted are counterfeit because the bag is so rare and so popular," Zahariev said.

"A lot of the time the fakers will use synthetic leather where they should've use real, the colour of the stitching will slightly be off. The smell, that's something they don't look out for. They don't always get the packaging perfect," he said.

We looked at some of the fakes that Luxity received, and they were done so well, one had to study them thoroughly to be able to tell that they were not the real deal.

This is how Luxity spotted the fakes.

Louis Vuitton Monogram Neverfull

The LV Neverfull is the most counterfeited in South Africa. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull handbag is the most functional bag and the most popular from the brand. It's also one of the most counterfeited designer bags globally.

And while the handbag may look legitimate at face value, there are a number of critical elements that make it inauthentic.

The red along the shoulder straps is too bright when compared to the original.

This LV Neverfull's handles have a red trimming whose colour doesn't match the original. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

Many LV bags have a vachetta, the tan leather trimmings on the bag as well as the handles. Over time, they become darker and develop a patina. If there are no signs of the patina, the used bag is likely to be fake.

LV rarely ever cuts or sews through the LV monogram and it will have a set number of the LV logo depending on the model.

Gucci Sylvie Bag

The Sylvie bag had its logo poorly printed on the interior. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

Authentic Gucci bags have heat stamps, or a label stitched on the interior. This will not only display the Gucci font, but will include the registered trademark and will have a "Made in Italy" inscription.

On this popular Sylvie bag, the precision of the Gucci font and stamping is compromised.

The authenticators also found that, to the touch, the fake Sylvie bag was not up to the standards of the brand's leather craftsmanship.

To the touch, this handbag did not match the standards of Gucci's leather craftsmanship. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

The stitching was also done unevenly with some broken threads which were not the exact same colour to the original.

Versace Baroque

These Versace sneakers were an obvious counterfeit with the stitching giving it away. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

According to Luxity's authenticators, these Versace Baroque sneakers scream counterfeit with the stitching, print, and the overall quality.

The printing in the interior of the sneakers were also not up to Versace's standards; it was thicker than the original, with fading in some places.

Any glue marks are a telltale for inauthentic products as well, and these sneakers were poorly glued.

Hermès Leather Birkin Blue Sapphire 35

A fake Hermès Birkin. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

The Hermès Birkin bag has become the world's most sought-after bag. It's value increases by 14% on average every year.

There were a number of signs that this sapphire handbag is counterfeit. The studs underneath were screwable; no Hermes bag has feet that are able to turn or screw.

The shape of an original Hermès holds up when put on a surface, but this iteration slouched when placed on a surface.

A Hermès Birkin should never slouch. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

The Hermès bag should also have a key tag with three double stitches on either end and it should unlock with ease.

Christian Louboutin Patent Pumps

Inauthentic black Louboutin pumps. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

Often, the fakers tend to treat the packaging as an afterthought, Luxity said. And these fake patent pumps came in questionable shoebox and dust bag that were not up to Christian Louboutin's superior quality.

Most fakers get the packaging wrong. (Image: Business Insider/Ntando Thukwana)
The dustbag that these Louboutins came in was of inferior quality when compared to the original. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)
The original dust bag is of high-quality. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

Louboutin's red soles, for which they are famed are hand painted and made of leather which is what gives them their glossy look. This counterfeited version's soles, however, are made of plastic.

The "L" in Louboutin must always touch the rest of the word, but most replicas have noticeable space in between them.

The font on the innersole should also always be printed thinly and crisply.

The printing on the inner sole is not crisp enough to the standard of the brand. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

Gucci Bloom Print Slip-ons

The print on this Gucci slip on is not of good quality. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

These Gucci slip-ons have an overall poor quality when it comes to the stitches and print, according to Luxity.

The precision is poor and the slip-on had peels in some places. Bad stitching on a Gucci product is one of the first signs that the item is a fake, says Luxity.

The Bloom slip-ons by Gucci peel in some places. (Image: Business Insider SA/Ntando Thukwana)

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