Founded in 1912 with the opening of her own millinery shop, Chanel’s iconic brand rose to fame as a fashion, fragrance, and accessories designer – putting women’s needs up there alongside the desire for high-quality, feminine, and aesthetically pleasing pieces for every day and for occasions.
One of the biggest and most coveted brands on the designer handbag market today, Chanel bags are often found on auction sites thanks to their high status as quality investment pieces. But with high demand comes a rise in the potential for fake and inauthentic products to find their way onto the market – making authentication a key part in gaining, keeping, and proving the value of your piece.
So, how do you authenticate a Chanel bag? Let’s take a closer look.
The History of Chanel
Chanel first launched her brand with fashionable hats, before extending into the fragrance, fashion, and finally the handbag market. Her bags first rose to prominence with the launch of the Chanel 2.55 in February 1955, as they were the first to give women the chance to wear their bags on a shoulder strap and thus benefit from having both hands free for use while still carrying a bag.
From there, Chanel’s brand has continued to embody the needs and desires of women in the luxury market, with Karl Lagerfeld taking over as creative director and transitioning the brand into one which listens to its audience and makes every piece accessible and desirable amid its high price tag and status as an exclusive and influential market leader.
What are the most popular Chanel bags?
The Chanel 2.55 was the first Chanel bag to really gain the attention of customers, leading to the development of the now iconic Chanel flap bags which are available in a range of styles, models, and sizes.
Other popular Chanel bags include the Chanel Boy bag and the tote bags – though none have garnered quite the same attention and coveted status as the Classic flap bags.
How to authenticate a Chanel Bag
The following steps are all part of the process that we offer and that can be found across other preloved organisations – encompassing everything from design and materials to the unique features that can only be found on a genuine Chanel bag.
Check the Leather
It’s not enough to say that a Chanel handbag should be soft to the touch – Chanel handbags are made from lambskin or an embossed calfskin, which provides the kind of luxurious texture which is hard to replicate. A fake Chanel will likely feel sturdy and almost stiff whereas a genuine piece will present that supple but durable feel of true quality.
Watch out for the Stitching
An authentic Chanel handbag will boast a high number of stitches, with the quilted effect usually held together with 11 stitches on each side of each diamond across the entire exterior of the bag. This is what presents the bag with its texture, ensuring it is padded but without becoming too puffy.
Look for the authenticity card
Did you know that every genuine Chanel bag has an authenticity card with its own unique number and that the number of digits within that number depends on the year it was made?
Bags made between 1984 and 1989 have 6-digit numbers, bags between 1987 and 2004 have 7-digit numbers, and those later than 2005 have 8-digit numbers. In 2021 Chanel introduced a microchip system, after this date there are no cards, if you buy a bag with a microchip and a hologram serial number this is 100% fake.
Is the branding correct?
One of the most obvious signs of a Chanel handbag is the iconic CC brand which sits on the front of every bag – and which makes up the turn lock on the classic Chanel flap bags. This logo was integrated into the design of Chanel handbags by Lagerfeld in the 1980s when he took over as Creative Director and has now become a key feature in both the aesthetic of the bags and in the authentication process.
A clear way of establishing whether a bag is genuine or not is to look at how the C’s cross over – with a genuine Chanel crossing the right C over the left on the top, and the left C over the right on the bottom of the logo. In addition, the two C’s are exactly the same width, with this same width separating the centre of both C’s in a genuine logo.
Is the bag the correct size?
Size and shape are both easy to overlook in assessing the authenticity of a Chanel bag, however, two main things to look for include the way the bag sits on its own, and the edging. If the bag is rounded at the edges, then it is likely not authentic, as the classic Chanel is boxy but without being too structured and sturdy.
Are the features real?
A relatively easy one to assess for yourself, if the strap of your Chanel doesn’t feel weighty or high quality, or if it’s chipping at all, then the bag is not real. Quality has always been at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of a genuine Chanel, with the chain straps heavy to the touch.
Close inspection should uncover some other tell-tale features if your bag is not authentic or real – with counterfeit and fake Chanel’s often paying little attention to the lining. The way the logo has been added to the bag, especially on the inside, is another thing to look for – as an authentic Chanel has the logo embossed while a fake will likely just have the logo printed on the material.
Get advice from a professional
If you are in any doubt as to the authenticity of a Chanel bag, a professional valuation firm will be able to assess and confirm the validity of a product through photos – ideally with a face-to-face consultation as well, though photos can sometimes be enough for a rough valuation.
For more advice, visit the Love Luxury team at our Knightsbridge boutique or get in touch on our website.