Gucci has been copied since the 1980s, when Dapper Dan (a Harlem-based designer) started to appropriate its ‘GG’ logo onto his streetwear. Inspired by these early knock-offs, Alessandro Michele created the ‘Fake/Not’ collection for Fall/Winter 2020 Men’s Ready-to-Wear. Using the retro Diamante print and red-green Web as his base, Michele released a line of clothing, accessories, bags, and shoes (including some of the brand’s most popular styles like the Ace Sneakers and East/West Top Handle Tote) with the word ‘FAKE’ emblazoned across the front and ‘NOT’ across the back in bold, bright, and contrasting yellow letters. Rather than letting counterfeiters get the best of the brand, Michele beat them at their own game, clapping back in a very tongue-in-cheek (and profitable) way.
Understandably, not all customers are able to laugh off imitations as easily as Michele. Do not want to waste your hard-earned money on a counterfeit? We have listed ten ways you can spot a fake Gucci bag. If the secondhand piece you are considering displays even one of the following inaccuracies, keep shopping.
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Essentially every part of a Gucci bag is marked with its brand name. You will notice it on every piece of hardware, both the interior and exterior tags, and any extra accompaniments like the controllato card and dust bag. No matter where the brand name is located, it should always look exactly the same. Each individual letter should adhere to the brand’s unique font style. The ‘G’ should be very round, and its serif should extend just as far into it as it does out; the left side of the ‘U’ should be much thicker than the right, and both serifs should be approximately the same length; each ‘C’ should be very round; both serifs on the ‘I’ should be approximately the same length; every letter should be capitalized and equally spaced apart. If the Gucci brand name does not appear this way everywhere on the bag, it is a counterfeit. There are no variations – not even on vintage styles.
The Diamante pattern, on the other hand, has changed since it was first designed in the 1930s. While it was originally composed entirely of dots (with a total of 12 in each diamond), the ‘GG’ logo was later added to the four points of each. On an authentic Gucci bag, the ‘Gs’ in the logo should be mirrored and inverted, so the left ‘G’ faces right and the right ‘G’ faces left. There should be one or two dots between each logo. If there is only one, the entire Diamante pattern should be one-third its normal size. No matter the style of the Diamante pattern, it should always align almost perfectly when interrupted by a seam or pocket.
Gucci Plus is a discount range, which was created by Paolo Gucci in the ‘70s. Worried it would devalue the luxury brand, the rest of the Gucci family was adamantly against its production. After Paolo continued working on the line in secret, they sued him for copyright infringement. Though Paolo won the case, allowing him to create the Gucci Plus line as long as he trademarked it differently (hence, the ‘PLUS’ written between the ‘Gs’), the house has never recognized it as legitimate. A Gucci Plus bag is technically a knock-off.
Photo by openforvintage.com
Most Gucci styles feature a rectangular leather tag, which is heat stamped with the brand’s identifying information, somewhere on their exterior. On a genuine Gucci bag, this tag should always be attached by its right and left sides with slightly slanted – never perfectly straight – stitches.
Depending on the style of the bag and the year of its release, Gucci changes the look and manufacturer of its hardware. The piston lock and zipper pull have, for example, frequently varied. This makes it difficult to authenticate a Gucci bag based on its hardware. However, no matter what hardware a bag features, it should all have the same metallic finish. If one piece is silver, it should all be silver; if one piece is gold, it should all be gold. Though, it is not uncommon for the gold coating to fade on vintage styles – particularly on the hardware pieces that are touched most often.
With the exception of Alessandro Michele’s recent releases, which are all lined with cream linen, the interior of an authentic Gucci bag should always complement its exterior material. If you come across a pink leather Gucci bag that has orange lining, it should be a major red flag.
No matter the style of Gucci bag, the interior leather tag should always be found on its back wall – either along its top seam or just under its pocket. Here, only its top will be stitched to the bag, so it can be flipped over to reveal the serial number.
The serial number should only contain numbers – between 10 and 13, to be exact – that are separated by dots or hyphens. As they are not unique, signifying the bag’s style and supplier codes, it is possible to see the same serial number on multiple Gucci bags.
Gucci introduced the QR (or quick response) code in 2016. It is a 10-digit barcode that can be found on a black fabric loop, which is attached to one of the bag’s side seams. Though the QR code can be scanned by a smartphone to verify whether a Gucci bag is real or not, it does not provide an absolute guarantee. Just like serial numbers, QR codes are not unique and can be easily duplicated. However, if a recent style does not have one at all, it is definitely not an authentic Gucci bag.
The quality of a Gucci bag should always match its high price tag. That is, after all, what you are splurging on. Its leather should be soft and supple, its hardware should be solid and heavy, and its stitching should be even and consistent. If the bag does not look absolutely luxe, then it is definitely a copy. Of the ten ways to spot a fake Gucci bag, this is the most foolproof.