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Like many other mid-level luxury brands, the Coach market is rife with fakes. This is true whether you’re buying new or used, retail or private.
The sad truth is, many people don’t know how to tell if a coach bag is fake and end up buying a bag that would be more at home in the trash. What’s worse, is that we see eBay sellers selling bags that are obviously fake and they have no idea.
It seems like someone is always scamming or getting scammed when it comes to Coach bags.
The very first step to take when you’re trying to figure out if a Coach bag is fake is to look where the back is made.
In general, Coach bags and products are manufactured in China. There are also production facilities in “Vietnam, Cambodia, mainland China, and the Philippines.” Authentic Coach bags are not made in Italy or France
So yes, a “Made In China” tag does not tell you that the Coach bag you’re looking at is a fake.
So, what does?
Luckily, there are a few easy ways to protect yourself and make sure that the Coach item you are selling or looking to buy is the real deal, the genuine article directly from Coach.
Authenticating a Coach Bag: 15 Tips For Spotting Fakes
1. Know Coach’s Signature Fabric
The “C” pattern will be crooked. Except for some newer patterns, like the “optic” or my new favorite “scarf print,” the tip of the horizontal “C” facing the other “C” should touch. Also, the pattern should line up and start in the center of the front panel of the bag. The center seam should go straight down through the middle of the CC’s, and the pattern should be aligned horizontally and vertically.
Also, the pattern should line up on any front or back pockets, so that it looks like there is no break in the pattern. (Note: Sometimes the pattern does not line up on side seams as this is nearly impossible to do.) The best way to tell is to go to the COACH website and look at the real thing, and then compare it to what you’re looking at on eBay and see if the pattern is different.
2. Check The CC Logo
Sometimes the “CC” will actually be a “GG” – how much more obvious can you get! And no, this does not mean it’s a Gucci! (I’m not as familiar with Gucci products, but if someone is selling you a “COACH” bag which is imprinted with the letter “G” then logically it must be fake.)
3. Study The Stitching & Construction
The stitching or general construction of the bag looks sloppy – this is a sure sign because COACH does not make sloppy products! Each stitch should be the same length as every other stitch, it should be in a straight line, and there should be no “over-stitching”.
4. Learn Specific Styles
The bag does not look like any other bag you’ve ever seen – if it looks “sort of” like a bag you’ve seen but something is “off” – be careful!
5. Look For Bulk Sellers
Replicas: The seller is listing an unusually large number of the same exact bag. This is a red flag because there are websites where you can purchase good-quality replicas, and I have seen these replicas listed on eBay claiming to be authentic.
Note that replicas are usually made of fabric, as leather is more expensive and therefore all-leather bags are less likely to be fake. (However, I have seen fake Coach bags made of all-leather. The all-leather fakes are usually very easy to spot – i.e. the quality of the leather is VERY poor, the fixtures are all wrong, etc.)
6. Study Photos Carefully
6. Photos: Beware of blurry photos or stock photos (a stock photo is one that has been cut-and-pasted from the COACH website, usually with a white background) – this does not necessarily mean the bag is fake, but I would contact the seller and ask if they can send you a photo of the actual item they’re selling.
7. Ask The Seller Directly
Authenticity: Take note if there is absolutely no mention that the bag is authentic! If so, ask the seller to verify that they are offering an authentic product. If they fail to respond to your request, this may be a sign that they don’t want to incriminate themselves. But be careful! Just because the seller claims it’s authentic does not mean that it is.
8. Credo Patch
8. Credo Patch: Most COACH bags have a “serial number” stamped on the inside, on a square patch of leather sewn into the lining. Some of the smaller purses (the “clutch,” the “swingpack” and the “mini”) do not have a serial number. The serial number typically consists of a series of numbers or a number-and-letter combination. The last 4-5 digits of the serial number indicate the style number of the bag. Careful, though, as fake COACH bags also have a serial number – so just because the bag has a serial number does NOT mean that it is authentic.
If the patch is not stamped – in other words, embossed into the leather – but is simply printed in ink – beware! The only bags I’ve seen with the credo patch printed in ink are the newer lines, like the Legacy, where the credo is lettered in gold-colored ink – and even then, it is still stamped into the leather before it’s lettered over in gold.
Bags from the late 1960s did not have any serial number. Coach added serial numbers to the creed in the 1970’s – each bag had a unique number – a “serial number” in the true sense of the word. This was apparently true through the 1980s, and it was not until the 1990’s that Coach introduced the modern “registration format” of letters and numbers, with the last four digits indicating the style number of the bag – or, in the late 2000s, the last five digits.
9. Fixtures & Hardware
The “COACH” logo should be stamped on most of the metal hardware – except the older “classic favorite” styles. **UPDATE** Some of the newer COACH bags do not have the COACH stamp on any of the nickel/brass hardware. This is a situation where, because the style of a particular bag may change from year to year, you’ll need to find a photo of the authentic product – and make sure it’s the same style number – to compare with photos from the eBay auction.
Many people ask us if all authentic Coach bags have YKK zippers. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t very illuminating.
In general, Coach bags utilize high-quality YKK zippers. The zipper pulls are typically leather or a series of rings and the zipper mechanism should be embossed with the letters “YKK”. However, some authentic bags do not use YKK zippers.
Take the zipper construction and brand as a single point in the overall game and, if it’s not YKK, take a critical look at the rest of the bag’s components
If the outside of the bag has the CC pattern, the lining will NOT have any pattern. If the outside of the bag does NOT have the CC pattern, the lining will most likely have the CC pattern (although sometimes neither the outside nor the inside will have the CC pattern). You will NEVER see a bag with the CC pattern on the outside AND the inside – this is a sure sign of a fake bag. Also, the “classic favorites” style bags do not have a lining at all.
Coach recently brought back their “Legacy Collection” Bonnie Cashin bags, but this time they have a lining, whereas the original bags never had a lining.
12. Check Where The Back Is Made
I’ve been asked this question often – if it says “Made in China” does that mean it’s fake? The answer is no – Coach does make some bags in China as well as other countries, although originally most of their bags were made in Italy.
13. Buy From Trusted Platforms
I’ve received a lot of questions about bags on Overstock. They have an “auction” section similar to eBay, as does MSN, Yahoo, and others. I would use the same caution in purchasing from any auction. Be especially wary of craigslist auctions as there is no recourse once you purchase an item. Bags sold at “purse parties” are not authentic!
14. Look At Seller Feedback
Finally, don’t forget to look at the seller’s feedback – what is their rating? If it is not 100% (or at least 99-plus) then make sure to read their feedback comments. If a seller has sold thousands of items, chances are someone has left negative feedback, which does not necessarily mean the bag they’re selling is fake.
Sometimes buyers get anxious and leave negative feedback without giving the seller a chance to remedy the problem. And as always, ask the seller questions if you have any doubts or need any additional info. If the seller responds with a suspicious explanation, I would be very cautious about bidding.
15. Buy From Vendors Or Trusted Sellers
And remember – shop for COACH items in department stores and familiarize yourself with the outstanding quality of their products. It will then be easier for you to spot a fake one. Also note that Coach does not sell products “wholesale” or through any vendor other than department stores, Coach retail or outlet stores, and the Coach website.
So if you run across a website claiming to sell authentic Coach merchandise, they are most likely counterfeits. These counterfeit websites will usually have some type of “disclaimer” stating that their products are “inspired by” Coach. This disclaimer is usually in fine print or on a separate page – but beware! – some websites do not have any such “disclaimer” and I can’t understand why they haven’t been shut down yet.
Be sure to check out our guide to buying authentic designer handbags on eBay if you want to learn about the sellers we trust!