The Genuine Article: The Keys to Detecting Designer Knockoffs

Prada and Louis Vuitton knockoffs are prevalent and alluring. Let's face it – it's because designer labels are expensive. The mentality that says, "Hey, these heels look like Jimmy Choo's, but cost $80, as opposed to $800, what's the harm, right?" is understandable. While you might be saving your pocketbook in the moment, buying knockoffs will probably do your wardrobe and your wallet more harm than good in the long run.

Christian Louboutin isn't just expensive because the brand is a symbol of status. The brand is a symbol of status because of the high quality of the product. Sure, you can pick up something made by Helmet Lang, as opposed to Helmut, and hope that no one notices, but if the heel falls off the first time you put the shoes on, then you only have yourself to blame. As the adage says, you get what you pay for. However, it's not impossible to find remarkable deals on top designers, and it's also not impossible to get away with a nearly perfect knock off. Knowing the genuine article from the imposter is the trick to scooping up great deals on quality designers, and it's a tricky one.  

The first things to look for when assessing the authenticity of a designer item are crooked stitching and cheaper fabrics and materials. If the label says Chanel and indicates that the item is leather, then why doesn't it smell like leather? It's not Chanel. Checking the label of the item to see where it was made can do the trick. If the sole of the shoe says Valentino, but the label says "Made in Indonesia", chances are it's not the real deal. The locations of high-end designers can be the key to spotting a knockoff.

Also, designers tend to have original logos and authentic signatures for their designs. It's difficult not to think of Gucci when you see the logo, but it is also an easy one to fake. Minor variations can go a long way. Familiarizing yourself with the brand's logo – its exact placement and style – will help you catch a knockoff red handed. Typical little imperfections can include backwards logos, or a missing letter in Proenza Schouler, for example. If you are not looking closely, it can be easy to miss such little idiosyncrasies. Also, knowing the materials that a designer uses can be helpful. If you know that Vera Wang only uses silk and the label says 100% cotton, it's probably not an original.

If you are shopping online, it becomes more difficult to spot the tell tale signs of a designer. Some useful hunting includes checking the feedback page for a dealer on EBay, for example. Negative comments will be posted if the dealer has tried to sell someone else a knock off. Also, dealers that do not have return policies are highly suspicious.

Another way to sleuth when shopping online is to look at a picture of the Christian LaCroix sandals you found on EBay next to a photo from the designer's website. See if you can spot any differences. Designers are more than willing to assist you as well. It's not uncommon to find information on a designer's website on how to spot replicas of their work. After all, the knockoff business hurts them, too. When you get away with a $2000 satchel bag for the price of a burger and fries it's painful for Christian Dior, and somewhere in your mind you must know that's too good to be true, too.