Gucci is one of the most highly counterfeited luxury designer brands in the world, and it is no surprise as to why. With so many iconic styles and design cues in their handbags, Gucci sits at the top of the luxury fashion world alongside Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. High quality materials, premium craftsmanship, timeless styles and signature Gucci flair like bamboo handles, horsebit closures and the GG monogram canvas make Gucci handbags stand out in the crowd. However, it is important to know your way around the real deal and be able to identify counterfeits when shopping for pre-owned Gucci handbags, as there are tons of fakes out there. The following guide contains tips and red flags that will help you conduct DIY 5-step authenticity check on a pre-owned Gucci bag.
Step 1: Check the Serial Number Tag:
- Look inside the handbag near the interior zipped pocket for a rectangular leather tag (with sharp right angles) opposite from the bag’s front closure.
- Pay close attention to both sides of this rectangular tag: the front should have three lines of heat-stamped text, while the rear will have the serial number.
- On the front of this tag, ensure that the top line is the trademark ® in a circle.
- Directly below should read “GUCCI” in all-capitalized signature Gucci font. Take a close look at the font: the ‘G’ and the two ‘C’s should be round, almost like incomplete circles.
- Directly below this it should read “made in italy” in all lowercase letters.
- Ensure that the entire heat stamp is justified in the center and the font is authentic.
- Compare the font on the tag of the bag in question to the image below to see if the fonts match.
Caption: This is what an authentic modern Gucci serial number tag looks like from the front and back.Note the three key points: 1) the ® stamp; 2) the authentic ‘Gucci’ font, and; 3) ‘made in italy’ in all lowercase letters. All three lines should be justified to the center of the tag, and the heat stamp should be clear and precise. On the right is an example of an authentic serial number tag from the back. Note that Gucci’s number font on the back of its serial number tags is not overly modern. The numbers should have serifs (feet) and look similar to a typewriter style.
The rear of a modern, rectangular serial number tag contains anywhere from 10 to 13 digits, arranged in two rows. The first denotes the style of the handbag, while the second row is the supplier/batch code. This code will never have letters, and the font contains serifs (feet) on the numbers. However, be sure to note that this code is not unique to your specific bag - other bags identical to yours that came from the same series and supplier will have the same code, therefore two Gucci handbags can be 100% authentic and share the same serial number sequence. Also note that vintage Gucci handbags often have one row of less than 10-13 digits, located on more rounded leather tags.
What if my bag doesn’t have a rectangular tag?
The leather rectangular serial number tag is typically found on Gucci bags made in the late 90s and onward. Gucci branding, tag styles, and presence of a number varied very substantially over the years.
Vintage Gucci bags from before the 1960s had model numbers on their tags. Around the 1960s some bags would and others would not have a model number. Around the 1970s Gucci bags had no serial or model number and just the Gucci script in cursive. In the late 1970s to early 1980s Gucci produced a Gucci Accessory Collection, which had a serial number printed in gold, which you can often now find partially peeled or fading.
The shape and style of the tag also varies substantially in older vintage Gucci. If the bag is purportedly a newer model, and doesn’t have a tag, this is an instant red flag of counterfeit.
Furthermore, since 2016/2017, in addition to the serial number tag, Gucci began using QR codes, located on a black fabric tag inside the bag to help fight against counterfeiters. These QR codes can be scanned with smartphones to authenticate the bag.
Caption: Modern Gucci handbags made in 2016/2017 and after will feature a QR ‘Quick Response’ code, which is easily scannable by most smartphones to determine authenticity. This is a new step Gucci took to fight counterfeiters, as it is more difficult for them to replicate both the serial number tag and the QR code. If you know the bag is a new model, be sure to look out for this QR code in addition to all other authentication points.
Caption: the Gucci Arli bag - a beautiful vintage example featuring burgundy leather and two-tone gold and silver hardware. The interlocking GG closure is very different from the modern examples you are used to seeing, but is extremely unique and a true Gucci. Note the inside of the bag, and many other vintage Gucci’s like it, do not have ANY serial number tag, yet it is 100% authentic.
Caption: on the left is vintage Gucci Aviatrix Medium Boston Bag, featuring the signature Gucci crest. On the right, you will see an example of a vintage serial number tag with rounded edges, as well as the Gucci crest, with the numbers printed in gold. Examples like these do not adhere to the typical serial number tag standards, but nonetheless are 100% authentic and absolutely stunning.
Step 2: Check the Materials and Craftsmanship.
As a top luxury brand, Gucci only makes their handbags from the highest quality materials and with meticulous craftsmanship. This is why you can find even very vintage Gucci handbags from the 80s and 90s in such amazing, like-new condition. When shopping for a pre-owned Gucci bag, the quality of the bag should be obvious at first sight/touch. If you have the ability to physically examine the bag, feel the material it is made of. Whether it’s Gucci’s signature GG monogram canvas, Guccissima “the most Gucci” leather, calf or suede leather, or the rare exotic crocodile skins, Gucci’s materials feel luxurious to the touch. Counterfeits will frequently use cheap leather that will look, feel and even smell unnatural due to being machine-made and finished in poor quality chemicals.
Caption: Look at this gorgeous example of a vintage Gucci Crocodile Skin Bamboo Top Handle Bag finished in brown with gold hardware. The bamboo top handle is iconic Gucci, while the crocodile skin material is purely exotic. You can see the quality in the hardware and craftsmanship. Take a look at the serial number tag - it has rounded edges and does not adhere to standard number codes. The front face of the tag is also different: note the gold print and lack of the ® trademark that you find on modern Gucci bags.
Step 3: Examine the Stitching.
Authentic Gucci handbags feature precise stitching, with the threads sometimes, but not always being the same color as the bag itself. If you see any unevenness to the stitching, breaks or gaps in the threading or fraying, the bag is very likely a fake.
Caption: on the left is a bottom corner stitching of the GG Supreme Monogram tote with blue hydrangeas. On the right is Gucci suede backpack in pink with bamboo hardware.
Step 4: Feel the Hardware.
Gucci hardware varies greatly across its several handbag styles, particularly because the hardware is where Gucci places heavy design emphasis, which has changed significantly over the years (even the Gucci logo has changed recently from interlocking G’s to the Marmont GG overlapping style). Some of the most iconic hardware featured on Gucci bags includes the horsebit closure, the piston lock on Jackie O Hobo bags and the bamboo closure and bamboo handles. While there are obvious differences between the Gucci hardware types, they all have one thing in common: quality. Feel the hardware on an authentic Gucci handbag, and you will feel the weight and quality of the metal. It will never be light, cheap, scratch-prone or covered in plastic. Gucci’s bamboo, which originated during the leather and metal shortages of World War Two, is meticulously handcrafted over an open flame and lacquered to achieve that quality bronze finish. It too feels dense and exquisite in the hand.
Note: be sure to closely examine the zippers! This is a hardware area where counterfeiters often make mistakes. Authentic Gucci zippers are solid metal and branded with a ‘GUCCI’ engraving. If the zipper feels cheap or flimsy, or has plastic covering it, it is likely a fake. Authentic Gucci zippers are built to withstand the test of time, hence why they are solid and high quality.
Caption: A far more modern handbag, this Gucci Red Guccissima Soho Tote was created to make a statement. The ultra-soft, supple and luxurious Guccissima leather is finished in a bright red and bold gold hardware.
Step 5: Look for an Authenticity Card.
When shopping for a pre-loved Gucci bag, you may come across something called a “controllato” card. It is grey in color, featuring the ‘GUCCI’ font logo, 10 numbers, and says “controllato” in all lowercase font. This card is issued with every new authentic Gucci bag - however do not be fooled . If counterfeiters can replicate a whole bag, they can replicate a card with ease. Do not just simply accept the presence of this card as proof that the bag is authentic.
On the other hand, if you do not see a “controllato” card with the pre-owned Gucci bag, you should not be alarmed. These are frequently lost (since they are not unique to your specific bag, but rather generic with all new Gucci bags) and the bag can of course be 100% authentic without one. In fact, many reputable luxury resale companies will provide their own type of authenticity card certifying that the bag is authentic. These same resellers will typically provide a money back authenticity guarantee, and the best resellers will provide a lifetime authenticity guarantee - not just one that expires after the typical 30-day return period.
Authenticating Gucci handbags may seem difficult at first because Gucci created so many iconic styles and innovations over the years. However, if you know about the foundation of the qualities shared by all Gucci handbags, you are well on your way to spotting the fakes out there. If you want to learn how to authenticate handbags by other top designer brands like Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, be sure to check out our other guides:
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