Are Big Name Stores Selling You Fake Handbags?

When you buy a bag (or any item) in a store (as opposed to on Canal Street, through a discount website or anywhere that appears less than reputable), there is an expectation that what you’re buying is real. Why would you think otherwise? If the latest allegations against Century 21 prove to be true, you may need to start rethinking your latest purchase’s authenticity.

This summer, style blogger Sara Zucker bought a Foley + Corinna bag for her sister at Century 21. When she and her sister went to the F+C boutique to get a longer strap for the bag, they were horrified to discover the bag was a fake. How did they know? After realizing the lining was different from that of Zucker’s real bag she purchased directly from the company, the salesgirl called one of the designers who told her they did not conduct business with Century 21.

So what happened? Who’s to blame? Did Century 21 knowingly sell the fake bags? Or were they duped by counterfeit vendors? They aren’t the only retailer to fall under scrutiny. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have been accused of selling fake Burberry bags, while Fendi won a counterfeit suit against Filene’s. More shockingly, however, a commenter on Racked claims Neiman Marcus sent her a fake Gucci bag. If Neiman can’t be trusted… well, who can?

While some excuses seem kind of legitimate — a fake returned bag was resold, vendors themselves were swindled — it does raise some serious questions about retail regulation. Zucker’s story does have a bit of a happy ending though. Century 21 responded with this:

Please return the item in question to our handbags manager in the store. I have cc’ed our sales audit manager to help you find your credit card receipt, so that you can return this item. We take all counterfeit issues very seriously. I am sending a copy of this email to the handbags buyer so that she can speak to her vendor about your claims. She will address any issue found.

Have you ever unintentionally bought a fake? Tell us in the comments!

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