Posts

Louis Vuitton Handbags: Real or Fake?

As far back as 5,000 years ago, a “purse” was a small, stitched fabric bag which men used to keep their coins safe. Such a bag was either attached to a man’s coat or worn at the waist. It was not until several millennia later that this type of purse was replaced by pockets in clothing, and in the 19th century, wallets.

Women also needed a way to carry their “indispensables,” giving rise to various versions of the handbag, which was introduced in France and, later, embraced in other parts of Europe. At first it was a reticule, a very slender, handmade drawstring bag which women used from the late 18th- to early 19th century. It looked similar to a modern-day evening bag.

With railway travel becoming more common later on in the 19th century, something more durable was needed for the transport of necessities. The small, mostly decorative ladies’ handbag just couldn’t withstand such conditions. That changed in 1841 when Samuel Parkinson, famous for his butterscotch confection, commissioned trunk maker H. J. Cave to create a completely matched set of variously-sized traveling trunks, boxes and handbags. Each was made from the same sturdy material, in a matching pattern. This is considered the very first order that launched a luxury market that was estimated at nearly $60 billion dollars in 2019.

An advertisement for Louis Vuitton that appeared on the inside front cover of the French publication ‘Le Theatre’ in July 1898. Source: Villanova University Digital Library, image in the public domain in the United States where copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years.

Louis Vuitton, a trunk maker in Paris, took notice. One of the notable features of a traveling trunk created by H. J. Cave was its innovative flat top, making the luggage easier to stack. The more commonly seen round-top trunk was designed to repel water, but it was difficult to load and stack onto railcars, coaches or ocean liners. In 1854 Vuitton incorporated treated canvas on the flat tops of his trunks to better repel water while also making them easier to stack and stow. His style was so distinctive that imitators started copying it almost from the very beginning. In 1898, Louis Vuitton added a handbag to the company’s product range.

Today, 122 years after its initial entry into the marketplace, the Louis Vuitton handbag is still considered the ultimate accessory, but it is also the most counterfeited of all luxury bags. How can you make sure you’re buying an authentic LV bag as opposed to a fake? It’s all in the details.

Brand-Specific Styling

In order for a handbag or other luxury item to be recognizable, the brand must be consistent with its identification.

LV’s initial pattern for its flat-top trunk was a gray Trianon Canvas (all patterns are identified as a “Canvas”), in 1872 the design was changed to beige and red vertical stripes. Since it was too easily counterfeited, another version called the Rayee Canvas with beige and brown vertical strips was introduced in 1876, but it, too, was counterfeited. The Damier Canvas design, a checkerboard of contrasting light and dark colors, replaced Rayee Canvas in 1888, with the words “marque L. Vuitton déposée” imprinted within a few squares as a logo to identify it as a Louis Vuitton registered product.

Introduced in 1888, the perennially popular Damier Canvas displays an alternating dark and light checkerboard pattern, with leather handles and perfect stitching. This Salema PM Damier Canvas bag example sold at auction for $1,300 (plus buyer’s premium). Image courtesy Bidhaus and LiveAuctioneers

Regardless, the counterfeits persisted. By the time George Vuitton succeeded his father, Louis, who died in 1892, it had become abundantly clear that a different logo needed to be adopted. In 1898, the motif changed once again, to its now-familiar quatrefoils, floral symbols and the “Louis Vuitton” logo called the Monogram Canvas. The design was based on the Japanese mon of a simple, stylistic representation of an object important to a family, similar to a European heraldic coat-of-arms.

Each part of the Monogram Canvas is trademarked, and any counterfeit that shows even the slightest variant is challenged vigorously with lawsuits, no matter how small the changes. Protecting its brand from counterfeiters is of utmost importance to Louis Vuitton and to those who purchase LV handbags, who want to make sure their accessories are authentic. How can a buyer be sure that their handbag is the real deal? You just have to look closely.

Details Matter

There are many distinctive aspects to note in an authentic Louis Vuitton handbag. Each and every component is perfectly matched and assembled, stitched or riveted by hand. On average, it takes about four hours to create the work of art that ultimately becomes an iconic LV handbag. Each part of the finished handbag matters.

Black Suhali Leather Lockit MM Bag handmade in Paris in December of 2006 (letters DU is code for France; first and third numbers indicate month; second and fourth number indicate year). Image courtesy Japan Treasure Auction and LiveAuctioneers

 

A clear example of an internal leather tag in the same color as the leather trim features two letters and four numbers for this Black Suhali Leather Lockit MM Bag that translates as being handmade in Paris in December of 2006 (letters DU is code for France; first and third numbers indicate month; second and fourth number indicate year). Image courtesy Japan Treasure Auction and LiveAuctioneers

A clear example of an internal leather tag in the same color as the leather trim of a genuine Black Suhali Leather Lockit MM Bag features two letters and four numbers, meaning it was made in Paris in December of 2006 (letters DU is code for France; first and third numbers indicate month; second and fourth number indicate year). Image courtesy Japan Treasure Auction and LiveAuctioneers

There is no better way to know a Louis Vuitton handbag is authentic than by going directly to the source: Louis Vuitton authorized stores and boutiques. Their products are never “discounted,” they are not wholesaled to the public, and they never go “on sale.” In fact, the only way to buy a new Louis Vuitton product is to be invited to do so.

If you are presented with the opportunity to purchase a Louis Vuitton handbag, either from a reputable auction or boutique that is not operated by Louis Vuitton, here are points to note:

  • Material: All Louis Vuitton handbags are made from a high-quality, coated-canvas-type material with real leather handles and trim that are soft, never hard or rough, with absolutely no seams that break up the design.
  • Stitching: Each handbag is handmade, and the stitching for each and every piece of trim is evenly placed within a certain number of stitches (a trade secret), where none are ever missing, skipped or frayed.
  • Patterns: Each of the Canvas patterns is uninterrupted by stitches or the placement of fasteners, straps or zippers, unless it matches exactly on either side.
  • Inside: A Louis Vuitton handbag features lining specifically designed only for that handbag. There will never be a substitution of color, style or fabric.
  • Tags and Codes: Tags are never attached to the bag itself. Instead, date codes (not serial numbers) consistin of letters and numbers beginning in 1980 are either foil-embossed on the inside lining or printed on a rectangular leather tab stitched to an inner seam that is the same color as the trim.
  • Hardware: All rivets, mechanisms, locks or metal fasteners are sturdy and solid, and fitted evenly throughout, without gaps. Certain pieces are stamped with the Louis Vuitton logo.
  • Imperfections: There is no bleeding of color, missing edges, sloppy logos, frayed threads, ill-fitting zippers, shorter handles, painted metals, plastic parts, incorrect stamps or misspelled words (except for words intentionally spelled in an unusual manner by LV). These sorts of things suggest a bag may have come off an assembly line and therefore is a counterfeit.
  • Releases: There may be a particular product that was never released that is being offered for sale as a prototype, an unauthorized limited edition, or special opportunity not offered to others. This should be regarded as a red flag, as Louis Vuitton never does such things.

On occasion, LV will choose to produce authorized limited-edition handbags such as this striking red and black Speedy 30 handbag designed by Stephen Sprouse with Marc Jacobs in 2001 with the words ‘Louis Vuitton Paris’ written as graffiti. The limited edition also came with a charm bracelet, the only piece of jewelry ever released by LV. It sold for $2,800 (plus buyer’s premium). Image courtesy Bidhaus and LiveAuctioneers

  • Packaging & Miscellaneous: Packaging, including the addition of an authorized dust bag, is also a critical point. Louis Vuitton does not include a certificate of authenticity but can provide a cream-colored, heavy stock card identifying the style with a unique barcode placed inside. If the seller adds anything additional such as extra straps that weren’t part of the original release, it is a sign that the handbag may be a counterfeit.

Even the font on the logo should be researched beforehand to determine if it is correct in size, shape, color and material. With all the different styles and features seen in Louis Vuitton handbags, research matters. The watchword at Louis Vuitton is “perfection.” Each handbag created by LV is a very limited work of handmade art whose materials, fasteners, and workmanship are of uncompromising quality.

Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 monogrammed leather handbag with LV’s iconic quatrefoils, floral design, and leather trim and handles. This bag sold at auction for $950 (plus buyer’s premium). 
Image courtesy Bidhaus and LiveAuctioneers

According to Forbes, the counterfeiting of top-tier luxury goods such as those produced by Louis Vuitton is around a $600 billion industry. While this staggering number shows that there are many who will knowingly purchase a cheaply-made fake bag, the bottom line is, it’s illegal. If you can’t afford a genuine handbag made by the French company whose history and workmanship are second to none, the best advice is, save up for it. Some things are so special, they just can’t be duplicated.

# # #

Rare designer accessories are runway-ready for Oct. 20 sale

Get ready to strike a pose and bid as Jasper52 presents an October 20 auction consisting of 220 lots of rare and coveted designer accessories, curated by one of the fashion industry’s longest-running and most highly regarded sellers. The auction includes some of the world’s most sought-after items from designers and brands that rock the fashion world. From one-of-a-kind Birkin bags to limited-edition jewelry and Gucci sneakers, a selection like this one cannot be found anywhere else.

Hermes Birkin 35 bag, rare limited edition 5P pink matte alligator handbag with palladium hardware. Guaranteed authentic. Estimate $138,000-$166,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Atomic Brunette auction Aug. 2 to benefit breast cancer research

Jasper52 will host an Atomic Brunette online auction of designer fashions – both vintage and contemporary – on Sunday, Aug. 2. Proceeds from the 53-lot auction will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Pucci 2015 fully beaded green cocktail dress designed by Peter Dunda, size 36. Estimate: $1,500-$2,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Couture auction June 30 implores ‘put on your party dress’

Jasper52 will conduct a colorful auction of vintage couture on Tuesday, June 30. The sale consists of more than 100 lots of mostly dresses and gowns complemented by a few lots of jewelry and handbags.

Vintage circle dress with tulle and lace on a tan Illusion backing. Estimate: $100-$120. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 to host designer fashion auction May 5

Designer gowns, shawls, belts and shoes are all available in an online auction that will take place Tuesday, May 5, on LiveAuctioneers. More than 250 lots of the finest in couture and luxury accessories are offered to the highest bidders.

Dolce & Gabbana multicolor leather pumps, Euro size 39, excellent condition, with the original box. Estimate: $200-$250. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Jasper52 sale carrying dozens of designer bags April 1

“The joy of dressing is an art.” – said British fashion designer John Galliano. A Jasper52 online auction on Wednesday, April 1, will bring some joy into your closet with timeless designer fashion and accessories. Four out of five lots in the auction constitute bags, purses and totes by the likes of Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Cannel, Gucci and Fendi.

Hermès Birkin 35, blue leather, includes storage bags, Cadena and Clochette with key, in good condition. Estimate: $13,000-$16,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Designer accessories to sell in online auction March 11

More than 200 handbags, totes and wallets will be sold on Wednesday, March 11, in a Jasper52 online auction titled Timeless Designer Fashion & Accessories. Approximately 50 lots of jewelry made by the likes of Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Cartier and Mikimoto will also be offered.

Hermès Kelly 32 Outside Sewing handbag, 23cm x 32cm x 12cm. Estimate: $11,000-$13,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Fine jewelry, fashions, decorative arts go up for bid Feb. 11

From iconic Bulgari jewelry to Georg Jensen silver, rare Versace designs and more, a Jasper52 online auction of Jewelry & Decorative Arts Inspired by Miami Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 11, features the best in jewelry, decorative art and fashion.

Signed David Webb diamond and enamel bracelet, Animal Kingdom Collection, 1990s, 18K gold, platinum, enamel, diamonds, rubies. Estimate: $42,000-$50,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Couture fashion online auction Feb. 4 covers head to toe

A Jasper52 auction of couture fashion – gowns, dresses, boots and bags – will be conducted online on Tuesday, Feb. 4, beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Blass, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada and Hermes are a few of the fashion designers represented in this carefully curated auction.

Prada jacquard hobo-style bag with red trim, early 2000s, excellent condition, 14½in long.
Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Cuff links: personality you wear on your sleeve

NEW YORK – If clothes make the man, then cuff links make a statement. Whether bold or understated, cuff links are alive with personality just by being worn.

Fashions change. Prior to the Middle Ages, men’s fashion depended on the skill of textile weaving and availability of clothing, particularly open tunics, that were comfortable, able to be kept clean and affordable. Special adornment was left to those with much more disposable income.

An example of an enamel double-panel cuff links where usually only one side of a cuff link is shown, here both sides are noticeable connected by a short chain. This is the style of cuff link most prized by collectors. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After the Middle Ages, that special adornment around the neck and wrists was usually colored ribbon, frills or buttons. This is the precursor to neckties and cuff links. As the 19th century progressed, more formal wear included starched collars and sleeves, particularly around the wrists. Buttons were no longer able to secure them effectively. Enter cuff links.

It’s not clear what the first cuff links were made of, but it seems that those with means produced these “sleeve buttons” from gold, silver and even jewels, according to The History of Cuff Links by jewelrykind.com. The Industrial Revolution democratized the use of cuff links, so more of the middle class were able to afford them using quartz and rhinestones in place of jewels and polished metals like steel or brass instead of silver and gold.

As time progressed, cuff links took on many forms, styles and design. During the Art Deco period of the 1920s, for example, enameled cuff links took hold in that unique style. “…[E]arly craftsmen such as Faberge, Tiffany and Cartier began to use enamel to create unique cuff link styles,” according to a jewelrykind.com online article. These early enamel cuff links are highly valued by collectors today, especially if signed by an artist such as Jean Schlumberger, who designed jewelry exclusively for Tiffany & Co. from 1956 until the late 1970s.

Vintage Tiffany & Co. blue enamel and 18K gold double panel cuff links with chains that are signed ‘SCHLUMBERGER TIFFANY,’ stamped and numbered, that sold for $3,200 inclusive of buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioners

Designing cuff links is a challenge, particularly double panel versions where each cuff link has a special design on both sides. Each design, while different, must complement each other in a very small space, fit directly against the sleeve, and be able to be held together perfectly. It must also appeal to the wearer as fanciful and fashionable at the same time. It’s difficult making something uniquely fashionable to be functional as well.

For cuff links to be functional, there needs to be a way to connect it through a starched sleeve and tighten it enough to close the sleeves together snugly. As it happens, there are 21 different ways to do just that, according to the website cufflinkguru.com. Collectors are most familiar with the type that is the fixed back where the post (the raised piece of metal that slides into the sleeve’s button hole) is attached to the reverse and does not move. To fasten the cuff link, a stationary toggle is attached at the end of the post which keeps the cuff link from slipping out of the sleeve.

While the post doesn’t move, sometimes the toggle at the end does. There are different shapes designed to keep the cuff link secure such as a cylinder shape called a bullet back, a whale back that looks like the flukes of a whale’s tail, or a torpedo shaped toggle that is fixed to the post. Sometimes the post is angled at a 45-degree angle with a moveable toggle at the end.

Pair of cobalt blue lapis lazuli cuff links from Bulgari showing the swivel-style post that sold for $913 inclusive of buyer’s premium in 2016. Image courtesy of Fellows and LiveAuctioneers

There are also cuff links that use a chain to connect them, others with the shape of a barbell, and the most collectible are the double panel cuff links where each front and back of a cuff link is a unique enamel design connected by a chain. And there are other posts used to secure cuff links, more unique then the next.

It is also the design of the cuff link that provides a palette for uniqueness in style. Hardly any two cuff links are alike, much like snowflakes it seems. Many manufacturers like Krementz and Swank produce reasonably priced cuff links available to those with a fashion statement, but without the need for the detailed designer touch. Geometric, figural, whimsical and unique shapes are just as fashionable. Personality need not be costly.

Bulgari, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier are jewelers extraordinaire with personal lines of cuff links unique to their style and sophistication. Gucci, Hermes, Burberry and other fashion lines feature cuff links as part of their overall fashion sense, too. It is possible for a collector to feature their entire collection on one fashion house or jeweler.

Every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy in 1961 has provided a visitor with a set of cuff links featuring the presidential seal similar to this gold-tone set provided by President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s that recently sold for $636 inclusive of buyer’s premium. Image courtesy of RR Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Cuff links are also a badge of office. It is no wonder that the president of the United States has given a set of cuff links featuring the seal of office since the administration of John F. Kennedy in 1961. Each president has had a unique version of cuff link featuring a swivel and fixed posts with enamel, die cast and cobalt blue. At times, sterling silver and different karats of gold have been featured in a pair of presidential cuff links. Kings, queens and all manner of government officials and organizations also offer unique sets of cuff links to visitors as a memento.

There are many ways to create a cuff link collection. Design, color, presentation, element, era, and uniqueness all play a part in what a pair of cuff links represent – you.

“It’s my passion,” says Gene Klompus, a cuff link collector. “I wear cuff links at every opportunity. I look for excuses to wear them. They’re great for business too. They’re great conversation starters.”