WATCH: Real Leather & A High Price Do Not Mean Your Bag Isn’t Fake

Designer knockoffs just ain’t what they used to be. In fact, they’re much, much better than the old fakes — and they’re being sold online at high prices.

Sites like eBay have helped grow the counterfeit purse market, and brands from Chanel to Levi’s are searching for new ways to stop knockoffs from eating at their business and leaving customers distrustful of their goods.

Designer knockoffs used to be easy to spot thanks to messy stitching, plastic hardware, and cheap pleather. Nowadays, fakes are made from real leather and have detailing to fool even the most trained eye. And because of their superior quality, counterfeit designer bags are being sold for hundreds of dollars by vintage stores and web retailers.

The Internet gives vendors who would normally have shady sidewalk setups a chance to make professional-looking websites that convince shoppers that the items are real. Reliable sites like eBay have become huge gathering places for counterfeit sellers. As such, many auction sites guarantee that anyone who buys a fake handbag when promised a real one can return the product to the seller.

Still, the counterfeit community is growing by the day. The value of all counterfeit products in the world is around $600 billion, and that’s expected to double in the next four years. Designer shoes, clothes, and handbags are among the most frequently knocked-off items sold.

To counteract the counterfeiters, brands are going to extremes. Levi’s has 40 employees who surf the web looking for knockoff sites, and True Religion places a security device in each pair of its pants. Some brands even go so far as to have botanical DNA sewn into their products that make fakes easy to spot under certain lighting.

The Wall Street Journal has some advice for ensuring designer handbags are originals. The safest way to know a bag is real is to buy it directly from a brand, or from a reliable department store (not a discount store like TJ Maxx). Also, when buying online, look for grammar or spelling errors on the site to determine the retailer’s credibility.

Look out for sales because discounts on real designer duds don’t go above 25% off very often. Anything more extreme, and you should question the vendor. Perfect stitching is another giveaway that a bag isn’t real since most designer goods are hand-stitched, versus knockoffs which are made on a machine.

Want to see some crazy side by sides? Check out the video below:

[Wall Street Journal]

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