Chanel is one of the most recognizable luxury brands and for many women purchasing a Chanel handbag is on their must-have list of purses to add to their collection.
Although these handbags are much sought-after, Chanel bags are some of the most expensive on the market and as a result, can lead many women away from retail stores and instead search for these items on the secondary market (i.e. consignment stores). However, as with Louis Vuitton or other popular luxury designer brands, Chanel handbags are often faked as well. Therefore when deciding to purchase a vintage or pre-loved bag you should be careful when evaluating the purse you would like to acquire.
To help you better understand how to authenticate Chanel handbags we have created this guide!
Chanel handbags typically can be found in lambskin leather which should feel buttery soft or calfskin leather, otherwise more widely known as Chanel Caviar leather, which should have a pebbled, or grained texture.
Things to consider when choosing a Chanel handbag are that the calfskin leather is more prone to scratches, however, on the other hand, the lambskin leather can be more difficult to clean if it were to get dirty. Click here to read about how to take care of your Chanel leather handbags.
Chanel handbags can also come in patent leather, silk, and suede so don’t think that just because the purse isn’t in lambskin or calfskin that the bag is not authentic.
The Chanel logo is iconic and is typically one of the first things that women look for when authenticating a bag. It was actually Karl Lagerfeld in the 1980s who first created the iconic overlapping C-lock. Make sure that when purchasing a handbag that the right C overlaps at the top and the left C overlaps at the bottom.
Once you open the purse the back of the lock plate should have flat head screws (there should never be Phillips head screws) and it should also be stamped in all-caps CHANEL / PARIS.
The quality of the stitching of Chanel handbags is a very important aspect to evaluate when purchasing a vintage or pre-loved Chanel bag. The quilted Chanel bags have a very high stitch count, typically around 11 stitches per side of each diamond. The high stitch count allows for a quilted look without looking too puffy.
Things to consider, with the diamond design the stitches should align perfectly and there should be no missed stitches or uneven seams.
Chanel hardware is always of great quality, and actually, up until 2008, the hardware was done in 24k plated gold.
The hardware should be in a heavy high-quality material, you will never see a Chanel purse with plastic or cheap metal hardware. That being said the hardware on authentic handbags can still show wear and tear depending on the age and overall condition of the bag.
In the 1980s Chanel created its own coding system for their handbags. Before 1984 Chanel did not use any kind of coding system, therefore, if you have a vintage handbag pre-1984 you will not find a serial number inside the purse. However, in some cases, the sticker with the serial number can be missing or end up peeled off due to wear.
-From 1984-1986 the serial number must have 6 digits.
-From 1987-2004 the serial number must have 7 digits.
-From 2005-present the serial number must have 8 digits.
Click here to see our in-depth guide to Chanel serial numbers.
If you were to purchase a Chanel handbag from a retail store, included in your purchase would be a Chanel authenticity card (unlike Louis Vuitton handbags which do not include authenticity cards). The authenticity cards were introduced in the 1980s at the same time as the serial number dating code system. However, keep in mind that fake handbags can come with fake authenticity cards as well.
-the card should feel sturdy like a credit card.
-the number on the card should match the serial number on the sticker inside the bag.
-from 2005-present on the card should include a light-gray circular symbol.
But don’t worry if you don’t have an authenticity card, often times the cards can become easily lost.
Another aspect of Chanel handbags to evaluate before purchasing are the zippers. Chanel has used a variety of different zippers on their purses, including Lampo, EP, OPTI DMC, éclair, DMC, and YKK. Additionally, zippers can have CHANEL or three Cs in a circle and sometimes with vintage handbags zippers can be unmarked.
Once you open a Chanel you should look closely at the logo at the interior. The logo should not just sit on top of the leather, it should be embossed into the leather.
Another thing to consider is that the color of the interior stamp should match the exterior hardware (i.e. gold hardware should correlate to gold interior stamping).
An authentic Chanel handbag’s interior lining should be pulled tightly to the walls of the purse and should lay flatly with no bumps or bubbles.
Purchasing a Chanel handbag can be a daunting experience, especially if you are purchasing online where you can’t touch and see in person the item. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for more pictures of the bag you are coveting.