Everything You Need to Know About Authenticating Louis Vuitton Bags

When one thinks of unparalleled luxury and unrivaled French elegance, Louis Vuitton easily comes to mind. A favorite among Hollywood legends like Audrey Hepburn and present-day muses such as Sophie Turner, Louis Vuitton is undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic luxury fashion brands. From the ultra-versatile Neverfull to the effortlessly cool Twist Bag, Louis Vuitton purses are some of the most sought-after and coveted bags of all time.

Who is Louis Vuitton?

On August 4, 1821, Louis Vuitton was born in Anchay, a small town located in the Jura region of Eastern France. Around the age of 14, he decided to leave his home and made his way to the more exciting city of Paris, taking occasional jobs here and there to support himself during his two-year journey. Upon his arrival in Paris, a bustling environment of lavish parties and elaborate wardrobes, he became an apprentice to a trunk maker and packer named Monsieur Maréchal.

Vuitton quickly gained a reputation as one of the city’s best packers, which was a popular trade at the time as the elite and travelers hired such craftsmen to store and protect their garments and other finery. Vuitton got the royal seal of approval when he became the favorite packer of Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, and started designing her personal luggage. As the most powerful woman and trendsetter in France, Empress Eugénie’s patronage paved the way for Vuitton, who ultimately opened the doors to his own packing workshop in 1854.

When did Louis Vuitton start making bags?

Louis Vuitton is credited for inventing the world’s first flat trunk. Prior to this, traditional luggage was bulky and featured dome-shaped lids to run-off rainwater. Constructed from elegant Trianon canvas, the rectangular shape of Vuitton’s flat trunk made it easy to stack during transport for transatlantic ship voyages and train rides. Referred to as the birth of modern travel, Louis Vuitton luggage remains as popular as ever and is still produced in the label’s original workshop and atelier in Asnières, France.

A new mode of transportation became popular in the early twentieth century: the car. Going on spontaneous drives and taking impromptu weekend jaunts soon became fashionable. The Keepall was created in 1924 by Gaston Vuitton, the grandson of Louis, to cater to the new desire for a travel-friendly and compact bag that was more suitable for shorter trips. Louis Vuitton’s first handbag followed suit in 1930: The Speedy. A smaller version of the popular Keepall, the original Speedy measured 30cm and was designed for everyday use.

Why are Louis Vuitton bags so expensive?

Exceptional craftsmanship, attention to every detail, and outstanding durability are attributes that you can expect from the luxury label, whether it’s in the form of a Louis Vuitton belt or a Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. Notorious for never offering discounts or any form of sales promotions, Louis Vuitton bags are revered status symbols that will never go out of style.

Under the esteemed LVMH group since 1987, Louis Vuitton continues to apply and practice the same traditions and values they’d perfected so long ago. While Louis Vuitton’s iconic trunks and custom special orders are still made in Asnières, workshops and factories have since expanded around the globe to accommodate and sustain the ever-growing demand for their classic designs and new product launches. From Spain to the United States, the workshops leave marks on finished products in the form of date codes.

Do all Louis Vuitton bags have numbers?

While other luxury brand items are equipped with serial numbers, Louis Vuitton uses something more distinctive: the date code. A unique letter and number combination containing information about when and where your bag was produced, the date code was created during the start of the 1980s. It is important to note that bags made before that time period will not have date codes. 

As of March 2021, newly manufactured Louis Vuitton bags and leather goods will feature a microchip inside the lining of the bag with NO date code. 

A date code can be a helpful first step in gauging your item’s authenticity, as it gives you possible warnings and red flags that you should look into. It could be as simple as spotting a date code that isn’t formatted properly, or your bag could have a ‘Made in’ label that doesn’t correspond to the date code’s country of manufacture.

Do Louis Vuitton wallets have date codes?

Date codes aren’t just exclusive to Louis Vuitton bags; they can also be found in other product lines such as Louis Vuitton shoes, bag charms, bag straps, jewelry, scarves, wallets, and key holders. 

How do you read a Louis Vuitton date code?

Though reading a Louis Vuitton code can seem like a complicated and daunting task at first, it is actually pretty easy to understand and decipher. Here is a list of Louis Vuitton’s country codes:

How to Read Louis Vuitton Date Codes
Time Period Date Code Format
Early 1980s 3 or 4 numbers, with the first two symbolizing the year of manufacture and the last number(s) representing the month.

E.g. a code of 813 would mean that the item was made in March 1981, while 8212 would mean that it was produced in December 1982.

Mid to Late 1980s 3 or 4 numbers that followed the original format of the early 1980s, plus 2 letters representing the place of manufacture.

E.g. a code of VI8610 would mean that the item was made in France during October 1986.

Please note that both the numbers (month and year) and the letters (country code) can be found at the start or at the end of date codes. This means that there are six possible formats for date codes during this time period:

1. Number + Number + Number

(Year) (Month)

2. Number + Number + Number + Number

(Year) (Month)

3. Number + Number + Number + Letter + Letter

(Year) (Month) (Country Code)

4. Number + Number + Number + Number + Letter + Letter

(Year) (Month) (Country Code)

5. Letter + Letter + Number + Number + Number

(Country Code) (Year) (Month)

6. Letter + Letter + Number + Number + Number + Number

(Country Code) (Year) (Month)

1990 to 2006 2 letters (country code) and 4 numbers. The first and third numbers represent the month, while the second and fourth numbers represent the year.

E.g. A code of CA1913 would mean that the item was made in Spain during November 1993.

2007 onwards 2 letters (country code) and 4 numbers. The first and third numbers represent the week of manufacture, while the second and fourth numbers represent the year.

E.g. A code of SD2101 would mean that the item was made in the USA during the 20th week of 2011.

Where can you find date codes?

Louis Vuitton date codes are embossed, printed, or stamped. Louis Vuitton puts date codes on different areas for the same bag styles, so it can be very tricky to locate them. However, the general rule of thumb is to thoroughly search the interior then move on to exterior elements such as shoulder straps. Most commonly, date codes can be found on the rectangular leather tags that are sewn into a bag’s interior seam lining. They can also be embossed or foil-stamped inside pockets, under small interior flaps, and on small leather tabs.

However, there are also plenty of reasons why some Louis Vuitton bags don’t have date codes. For starters, Louis Vuitton only introduced date codes during the 1980s, so if a bag was manufactured before that, it won’t have a date code. Another common instance is that bags that are lined in Alcantara, a suede-like microfiber material, are likely to have date codes that have been rubbed off over daily wear and use.

Can a date code determine the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton bag?

Some counterfeit items will also be stamped with date codes. However, being equipped with the necessary skills to understand how to read date codes can be helpful in the first steps of determining a bag’s authenticity. For example, the date code for a Pochette Metis bag could read DR1151. This means that the bag was made in France in the 15th week of 2011. Since the Pochette Metis was launched in 2013, this wouldn’t be possible, indicating that the bag is likely a fake one.

Similarly, if you spot a date code that doesn’t match the bag’s ‘Made in’ label, it doesn’t immediately mean that it is not authentic. Whenever a bag is sent in for repairs, Louis Vuitton always puts in a new date code. It’s also possible that the bag gets repaired in another country, so it would have a new date code that contrasts with the ‘Made in’ label.

How to get Louis Vuitton authentication for handbags and accessories?

The rise in quality counterfeit handbags, especially for highly desirable brands like Louis Vuitton, has made it very difficult to tell apart the copies from the authentic ones. While there are several websites and businesses that offer certificates of authentication and the like, these are not guaranteed methods of authentication and are usually pricey. We highly recommend that you do your research prior to purchasing a designer bag and to make sure that you’re buying from a trustworthy source.

Here at Label Society, we can guarantee that all of our products are authentic. We’re devoted to every step of our rigorous authentication process, from painstakingly making sure that every product feature is on par with the luxury designer’s standards, to utilizing a third-party device that can corroborate results and findings with over 99% accuracy.

How can I tell if my Louis Vuitton is authentic?

Besides studying the date code, there are plenty of other ways to tell whether your Louis Vuitton bag is authentic or not.

Embrace your senses

One of the first things you can do is to get a general feel for the bag. Upon touching it, you could be able to tell if it’s a fake. If your bag feels soft and supple but is made from the iconic Monogram canvas, which is known for its hard and ultra-durable feel, then it’s not authentic.

You should also look at the bag’s appearance and the way it’s structured; if it has a rigid silhouette like the classic Alma bag, then it should be able to hold its shape no matter how old it is. The size of the bag could also be an easy giveaway. For example, if you measure the length of a Speedy bag and it comes out to 28 cm, then that’s definitely a counterfeit item. The color could also be an indicator of a fraudulent item, which you could always cross-check with Louis Vuitton’s official website or past catalogs to ensure that it was produced in that hue.

If you notice that your Louis Vuitton purse smells unpleasant, then that could be a sign that something is off. While older bags and vintage styles are likely to have musty odors, the fake leathers used on counterfeit bags usually smell like chemicals, plastic, glue, or rubber.

Examine the hardware

Most Louis Vuitton handbags have brass-plated hardware, from the main compartment’s zipper to the signature S-Lock closure, though some models are outfitted with shiny silver-like metal and matte finishing. If you spot hardware with a bronze-like finish, this could be the result of brass oxidizing with air, resulting in bronze-colored hardware with some tinges of green. Meanwhile, fake bags usually have metal-based hardware that’s coated in bright yellow gold that might flake off.

Since 1991, Louis Vuitton’s zippers have been constructed from gold brass hardware and feature pressed logos on them, so any signs of a YKK zipper could instantly mean that the bag is not authentic. As with all other hardware, the zippers should never have air bubbles or any uneven textures on them.

How’s the packaging that it came in?

A Louis Vuitton bag will not have any plastic wrappings or papers around its hardware or any tags hanging from its handles. Only counterfeit bags have these, in order to prevent the hardware from tarnishing easily. The dust bags that most Louis Vuitton bags come in are usually made from 100% cotton and only display the brand name or the monogram. Any dust bags that have sloppy seams or have letters that bleed together are likely fakes.

Assess the logo and the Monogram pattern

Designed by Georges Vuitton in 1896, Louis Vuitton’s legendary logo first appeared on leather trunks and continues to symbolize the label’s rich history and heritage. Apart from fresh reinventions by creative designers such as Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s logo has remained unchanged, meaning that an authentic bag will always feature the interlocking logo with the “L” at the bottom and the “V” above it, with perfect symmetry and no blurry edges or tilted letters.

For the classic Monogram pattern, when looking at it diagonally you should see a repeating pattern that consists of these in the following order: a fleur-de-lys, a circle, a fleur-de-lys, and a Louis Vuitton logo. The alternating line should then contain a pattern of the fleur-de-lys then an inverted fleur-de-lys. The position and placement of the Monogram pattern for the front side of the bag should also be exactly mirrored on the backside. There is also a common belief that an authentic Louis Vuitton bag will never show the logo upside-down, however, this is inaccurate as some bag styles such as the Speedy are made from one continuous piece of canvas, with no seams at the bottom base.

What’s the stitching of the bag like?

If the answer is crooked, uneven or ragged, the bag is indeed a fake. Louis Vuitton is well-known for having some of the highest standards, with an outstanding degree of perfection that is reflected in the quality and craftsmanship of their products. Perfectly even gaps between straight or angled stitches that are the same length are meticulous details that you can expect from genuine Louis Vuitton bags. The stitching is made from white linen that is dyed in a light mustard yellow hue and strengthened with beeswax, so any loose threads or stitching that eventually falls apart is a bad sign.

Check out the bag’s handle

For traditional Louis Vuitton bags, the handles are made from Vachetta leather, a type of cowhide that starts off as a very pale beige color. Over time, the leather will oxidize and develop a rich patina that gets darker with age. The handles also feature a contrasting red trim on the sides, which are a burgundy red color that will gradually darken with more wear and tear. Counterfeit versions usually have bright red trims that won’t change throughout the years and are likely to peel instead.

Peek inside the interior lining

Louis Vuitton uses different interior linings for varying bag styles. For the Speedy, brown canvas linings are used, while microfiber linings that feel like suede are usually seen in Epi leather bags. Interior linings can range from red microfiber to striped cotton textiles, so it’s always best to do thorough research on the particular bag that you’re interested in. You can easily do this by searching for the bag’s product details on Louis Vuitton’s website. Most counterfeit versions tend to be lined in tan or brown suede, which you can’t find in authentic Louis Vuitton bags.

Take a look at the fonts and heat stamps

The main stamp of a Louis Vuitton handbag will always follow this format: “LOUIS VUITTON PARIS made in France (or whichever country the bag was manufactured in). The tail on the “L” of Louis Vuitton will always be very short, while the “O” letters will be rounded. The two “T” letters are placed so close to each other will almost look like they’re touching. The font should always be perfectly aligned with thin and crisp lettering, and there should be no mistakes in spelling.

If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is

If you find yourself in a situation where a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote is offered to you at a price point that is much lower than the retail price, then it’s most likely a counterfeit bag. While a deeply discounted Neverfull bag sounds like the best deal, you must keep in mind that it’s also one of the most popular bags that Louis Vuitton has ever made and has a very high resale value. Another thing to remember is that Louis Vuitton is known to never offer markdowns, so any talk of official Louis Vuitton sales should raise a red flag.

Where to buy Louis Vuitton bags and accessories

A question that is most commonly asked is whether items at Louis Vuitton outlets are authentic, and the simple answer is that Louis Vuitton outlets do not exist. Unlike other renowned designer brands such as Gucci and Valentino, Louis Vuitton never holds any sales promotions and have no official outlet stores.

While buying from Louis Vuitton stores or their online website will undoubtedly guarantee authentic products, there are instances when the item you want is out of stock or you just can’t justify the high cost of paying full price. Fortunately, luxury resellers and high-end consignment stores like Label Society are here to help you get the pre-owned bag of your dreams, without breaking the bank. All of our products are 100% authentic, with buyer protection offered for every item sold. If proved otherwise, we offer a full refund as we are fully committed to earning each and every client’s trust.

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