Checklist to Authenticate a Pre-Owned Louis Vuitton

April 6, 2015

image via StyleCaster

Authenticating Louis Vuittton is a valuable skill to have and one I have been fortunate enough to become, dare I say an expert at.  Before I had kids studying Louis Vuitton was a hobby of mine.  I had several handbags that I purchased at the store and one Saturday afternoon I was on ebay and came across a vintage trunk that was in my price range.  The economy wasn’t great and luxury goods were moving so I was able to win this trunk for under $1,000!  I became enthralled by the history of this 100 year old trunk and set out to find as much as I could about it.  Not only did I find out that I was the proud owner of Emily Vanderbilt’s trunk I also instantly became a passionate collector.

spot a fake louis vuittonIn building my expertise I have some go to authentication techniques that can help anyone quickly spot a fake.  These tips are essential to read through before exploring the world of the online Louis Vuitton auction.  Even with the best education I urge buyers to be very wary of purchasing Louis Vuitton on ebay.  I can’t tell you the number of sellers who are either knowingly selling a Japanese Super Fake knock-off or are completely in denial about the authenticity of their bag. So how do you ensure that the second hand Louis Vuitton you are looking at is real?  You do your homework, consult an expert, and follow these tips.

Checklist to Authenticate a Pre-Owned Louis Vuitton

  • Are the color of the straps even throughout? If so, it’s a knockoff
  • Is the patina more prominent around the top of the handle strap? If so, it might be real
  • Confirm that the style and finish are both correct for what Louis Vuitton makes.
  • Is the trim correct? No feet when there shouldn’t be, correct lining inside?  If not, it’s a knockoff.
  • Is the craftsmanship flawless? If not, it wouldn’t have made it out of the factory.  It’s a knockoff.
  • Does the pattern match at every seam?  If not, it’s a knock off.
  • Is the stitching even and consistent? If so, it might be real.
  • Does the bag have patches? Most likely a knockoff, possibly a vintage French company.
  • Is there a short leg on the “L”?  If so, it might be real.
  • Are the “O’s” in the logo very round. If not, it’s a knockoff.
  • Look for the date code. Is it in the right place?  If so, it might be real.
  • Do the date code follow the correct format for it’s age? If no, it is a knock off.
  • Is the LV on the monogram logo cut off anywhere?  If so, its a knockoff.
  • Is the LV logo ever hidden under a strap or seam.  If so, its a knockoff.
  • Is there a logo impression heat stamp somewhere on the inside?  If so, it might be real.
  • Do the snaps on the hardware have the logo?  If so, it might be real.
  • Does the hardware have discoloring or is not brass?  If so, its a knockoff.
  • What’s your gut tell you?

4 Tips to Tell if a Louis Vuitton is Real

There are many different techniques to tell if a Louis Vuitton is real but unless you are an expert collector these five main ones should be able to steer you in the right direction of purchase.

1. Check the Patina


When a Louis Vuitton bag is new the vachetta leather handles are a soft and sublet almost off white leather. Over time the oils from your hand and the exposure to the elements cause this soft leather to become harder and the color changes.  This change in color is called a patina.

The patina on bags like the Speedy is beautiful.  I’ve actually had someone once offer to buy my used bag off me in exchange for a new one because she liked the way my patina looked so much better than her brand new bag that she hardly carried (I guess this is an advantage of longevity of ownership).

A pre-owned Louis Vuitton will most likely have a darker patina.  Although it is possible to clean the leather to lighter it, most people do not do this, especially people who have decided to sell the bag. Even a second hand Louis Vuitton with cleaned leather will still be slightly darker around the handles.


Before and after of vachetta leather straps that have been cleaned to lighten the patina.


2. Know the Bags

This is an easy area for a newbie to feel foolish. You need to make sure that the bag you are purchasing, is in fact a style that Louis Vuitton made, and that you are purchasing it in the right color and monogram pattern that is offered with that collection.

Does a speedy bag have feet? Never.  Is the backside of the monogram  on a Speedy upside down? Always. Is the lining on the Neverfull tan, red, or orange?  Trick question, it’s all of the above but only for certain bags and certain years. These are questions you should bait yourself with at each buying decision.

Since I am a somewhat serious collector, I also collect the catalogs.  Each Louis Vuitton store gets a handful of catalogs each year.  The catalog is intended for the sales associates use in store to assist customers.  You can’t purchase the catalog through Louis Vuitton (trust me I’ve tried) but every so often one appears on ebay and I quickly snatch it up. If you are a collector of vintage Vuitton like I am, you should try to start locating the really old catalogs.  I have one from 1913 that is basically my bible for exotic Louis Vuitton items.



3. Quality of Craftsmanship

Louis Vuittons are simple in design and construction and have flawless craftsmanship.  The consistency of stitching is executed identically across all bags.  For example, a speedy bag will always have 5 evenly placed stitches across the top. A good trick would be ask a friend who has a store bought authentic bag to let you count the stitches and then match it up to the bag you are considering.
Yes you will occasionally see a lose thread on a well worn bag, but never on a new one.  I’ve put some of my bags through the ringer and still have never seen a loose stitch.

  • If it’s a bag that is less than 10 years old, be cautious.
  • If it’s a bag that is over 20 years old be forgiving.
  • If it’s over 30 years old, let’s talk in a different post because there are many other nuances you need to know about.

louis vuitton quality craftsmanship

4. Date Codes

The date code is the production number for the bag. It gives information to when and where the bag was produced.


Date Code Formats:
Vintage Louis Vuitton*: No Date Codes
Vintage French Company: No Date Codes
Early 80’s: Number + Number + Number + (possibly 4th Number)
Late 80’s: Number + Number + Number + (possibly 4th Number) + Letter + Letter
Early 90’s: Letter + Letter + Number + Number + Number + Number

*Vintage Louis Vuitton trunks depending on the age might have a serial number.  This number can be checked with Louis Vuitton’s Patrimoine department in France.

Date Code Letters:

The date code letters tell you what country the bag was made in.  These letters should always match what country the bag displays it’s “Made in” label.  Although there might be a 1 in 100,000 chance that the bag was made in the US but stamped AA for France because it needed to be repaired, you don’t want to be purchasing that bag second hand anyways.

Date Code Country Letters:

France: A0, A1, A2, AA, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, CT, DU, ET, FL, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SD, SL, SN, SP, SR, TH, VI
Spain CA, LO, LB, LM, LW
Italy CE, SA
Germany LP

Louis Vuitton Catalog Page

Each style listed in the catalog shows the correct date codes for each style.

Photo Guide to Spotting a Fake Louis Vuitton Bag

A picture is worth a thousand words.  See the differences between real and fake Louis Vuitton bags in these photos courtesy of Fashion Pulis

Remove the Risk of Buying a Fake Louis Vuitton

There are several consignment companies that sell used Louis Vuitton bags that have been through their rigorous authentication process. Purchasing through one of these companies will allow you to pay less than you would pay for a new bag in store, but most likely more than if you purchased directly from the seller on ebay.  In addition to providing you the piece of mind of guaranteed authenticity, they also have a large library of bags and are more likely to get limited production styles.

  • Fashionphile – Fashionphile offers the largest selection of pre-owned vintage, rare, and limited edition handbags from your most coveted luxury designers. Every item goes through an extensive procedure to guarantee 100% authenticity.
  • Bag Borrow or Steal – This well known marketplace for renting a designer bag, also sells designer bags with 100% guaranteed authenticity.
  • Luxe Designer House – LuxeDH is a premium retailer of authentic pre-owned and new-with-tags luxury items. Their guarantee will allow you to return any item deemed inauthentic by a reputable source, no questions asked. This allows you to inspect the condition of the item in person and have it authenticated at your local authorized retailer, and feel 100% confident in your purchase.


Don’t let yourself want the bag to be real so bad that you overlook the signs. Sellers might even honestly think that the bag they are selling is real and not realize that it’s a fake. Whether you decide to purchase your bag directly from a seller or through a cosigner like Fashionpile, always do your own research to be an educated buyer.

Have you purchased a Louis Vuitton bag on ebay?  What tips did you use to ensure that your bag is authentic?

In Gratitude Legos in my Louis

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  • Reply Melissa November 16, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    Hello. I have an orange graffiti louis vuitton speedy with a date code of LS8642. I havze not been able to find a date code that begins with LS on any of the lists online. Is this fake?

    • Reply Legos in my Louis November 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Melissa! Happy to give insight. If I was required to say fake/ or real off your two sentences alone I would guess fake. To my knowledge the date code doesn’t make sense. The numbers seem wrong and the letters should be SL which would mean a country of origin in France. I’m assuming your Speedy is 2006 because it’s Orange Graffiti. The speedy is heavily replicated because of its simple silhouette which requires less detail and consequently less room for error when replicating. Also I’ve seen a lot of the graffiti styles replicated too.

      But if you want to email me a couple pics I’d be happy to take a look and advise if there is anything I see tipping the scale in their direction.

      Hope this helps!

      • Reply Melissa November 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm

        Sure. Thank you so much. Where should I email it to?

        • Reply Legos in my Louis November 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

          Legosinmylouis {at} gmail {dot } com

  • Reply Federico Sebastian December 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Hi Melissa.Great blog you have! I’d like to ask you about my vintage LV Epi 45 bag. The code the date code is VI8903 which seems fine to me.The colour is red but the all stitches are black. I have other LV bags in say blue and the stiches are also blue. I got it more than a year ago from one of those Japanese E-bay sellers you mention on your post. Any piece of advice from you would be much appreciated! Many thanks.Federico.

    • Reply Legos in my Louis December 3, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      Hi! It’s Betsy, Melissa was just another commenter I was helping with an authentication. I’m happy to take a look if you want to email pics over. Authenticating vintage has a different set of challenges so standard rules don’t necessarily apply. Send pics over

      • Reply keshia January 21, 2016 at 10:56 am

        Hello, I have a vintage lv purse and wanted to know if its real or not. Could you pls help? Thanks

        • Reply Legos in my Louis January 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm

          Keshia send me an email of you haven’t already.

  • Reply Authenticating a Limited Edition Perlee Beaded Evening Bag December 7, 2015 at 11:12 am

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  • Reply Jenna December 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I need your help to see if this is real. I believe it may be a fake though I can’t find out the legitimacy of this website anywhere. A lot of blogs recommend it which was why I initially jumped, but regret being so trusting… It is trendlee.com
    This is the bag:


    The date code says: TH0052 which suggest made in 2002. They list the color as rogue. But I read rogue didn’t appear until 2006…. So I am concerned I have purchased a fake. And will probably return. :-/

    Thank you so much for your help!!

    • Reply Legos in my Louis December 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      I can’t speak to the overall credit ability of trendlee but I can comment on the production year. The Riviera beauty case (this bag) was produced in the red epi leather in 2004. I’m going straight off the Le Catalogue from that year which is pretty much the Louis Vuitton bible. I don’t have or can’t find 2002 but I don’t imagine it’s that dissimilar. I don’t see anything pointing towards your bag being a replica so I would still go forward with your purchase as long as you can get a refund if you don’t want it when it arrives. Snap some phone pics when it comes if you want me to look at the details on your bag.

      • Reply Jenna December 18, 2015 at 1:57 pm

        Thanks so much for your quick response. This makes me feel better. I can get a full refund as long as I file a request within two days of its arrival so I’ll take some photos and send them along when it arrives.

        This is truly kind of you to do for people, thanks. 🙂

  • Reply Phung December 18, 2015 at 8:47 pm


    I purchased a never-full on eBay. I did not do a lot of research until I received the bag. Is there a website you suggest that I can use to check if my bag is real?

    Thank you.

    • Reply Legos in my Louis December 18, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      Hi! There isn’t one website that you can go to for a full authentication. This blog post is very useful for most and fashionpile also has deep resources. I’ll be doing a blog post on the Japanese Super Fakes towards the start of 2016 so keep an eye out because it will have lots of info. You can also email me at LegosinmyLouis (at) gmail.com

  • Reply windy stenzel December 26, 2015 at 3:57 am

    hello Betsy, I was wondering if you could help me out with figuring out if my purse is authentic. I have the LOUIS VUITTON DENIM NEO SPEEDY. I have went through many checklists but I’m still unsure. Currently the only things I have found that say its not authentic is the fact that the fabric on the inside of the pockets are not dark denim but the same as the outside and that there is no code on the inside. If it would be easier to give me your opinion with pictures let me know and I’ll get them to you. Thank you for your time!

    • Reply Legos in my Louis December 26, 2015 at 7:28 am

      Windy from your description it sounds like the bag might not be authentic. But feel free to send me an email to LegosinmyLouis (@) gmail.com

  • Reply Maura December 27, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    My mom bought me a vintage Louis Vuitton bag at an estate sale and I can’t figure out whether it’s real or not. I can’t seem to find a photo of the bag anywhere through Google and there doesn’t appear to be a date code on the inside. I would be more than happy to post pictures. Any ideas?

    • Reply Legos in my Louis December 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks for the email Maura!

  • Reply Jenny Chun January 22, 2016 at 4:55 am

    Hi there, came across this while trying to authenticate a pre-loved speedy 25. May I send you some photos for your opinion? Thanks!

    • Reply Legos in my Louis January 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      Sure thing Jenny. Use the email I provide in the thread of comments

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 9, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Sure thing Jenny

  • Reply Dalila January 22, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Hi I would like to know if Date code SD3098 is real

    • Reply Legos in my Louis January 22, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Dalila, that date could should mean the bag was made in USA or France in the 39th week of 2008. Obviously it’s just one piece of the authentication puzzle but that should help guide you towards authenticating

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 9, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Dalia- that date code is possible for a bag newer than 2007. However, date code alone can’t determine the authenticity so definitely give the bag a good review

  • Reply Cheryl Miller January 24, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Hi, I would like to know it date code SR061-10 is real please

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 9, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Cherly – I commented on the other one you left. I don’t think it’s real.

  • Reply Sam Ng February 2, 2016 at 12:30 am

    I just bought a Alma epi Pm and its an 09 yr it doesn’t have feet. Is this correct?
    Also the inside of the painted area of the handle seems to attract lint and sweater lint. Is this normal? How can I stop this? Thank you

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 9, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      Sam – the older style Alma does not have feet nor does it have the smooth base. I think you are talking about the interior alcantara lining. If so yes it’s beautiful but also shows long.

  • Reply Marta February 4, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Hi! Could you tell me if the date code SR061-5 is real? I can’t find anything about a hyphen in the date code. Thank you for your help!

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 9, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      Marta – that date code does not appear to be real.

  • Reply Dahlia February 14, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    I am considering purchasing a LV off Mercari. A Tate Thame PM bag. I noticed one of the LV does have not a stitch but the leather lining over it. Could it still be real?

  • Reply Dawn February 19, 2016 at 7:27 am

    This is a very knowledgeable write up. I recently purchased a Alma GM bag that I’m trying to authenticate to see if it is real or not. I purchased it through a well known re-seller that hasn’t had bad reviews for selling fakes, but I am having a hard time finding the bag anywhere although it is one of the classic models. Do you know if the Alma was produced with the Icon monogram canvas in the GM model in 2013? I have only been able to track down one other one and I question that one too. I can send you a link to photos of it via e-mail response.

  • Reply Amanda February 19, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Hi, I’m considering purchasing a pre owned LV Speedy. The seller says it does not have a date code bc it is vintage and made in the 80’s. Can this be possible? She sent me several pics and bag comes with the lock and key. Thanks!

  • Reply Reana February 20, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Hi! My LV Neverfull Monogram Ramages has a pouch with it. Could you tell me if the bag date code VI7014 is real? However the pouch date code is VI2125, I know it means week 22 of 2015. Thanks for your help.

  • Reply Julie February 21, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Betsy, Thank you for your information…it was very resourceful. I have purchased a Luco Tote and a Galleria GM recently and would love for you to take a look. You mentions the LV is not cut in a seam. Both my Galleria PM and GM have them in the seams…just looking for a good eye! Thank you, Julie

  • Reply Elizabeth February 23, 2016 at 9:02 am

    My friend and I found an old LV in her great uncles garage. She gave it to me and I’ve been hanging onto it for years. I thought I might see if you thought it was real. Her great uncle was a silent picture actor, so you know the bag is old, his name is written inside the luggage tag. The stitching is coming undone but the handles are slightly discolored. There is no date stamped in it. All the brass buttons say Louis Vuitton, actually I just looked at them and they say a LOUIS VUIITON. Hmmmm. What do you think? I’m happy to send pictures.

    • Reply Legos in my Louis February 23, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Happy to take a look. I love the really old stuff.

      • Reply Elizabeth March 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm

        Where can I send pictures of it? Thanks!

  • Reply Maria February 25, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Just saw this forum and was wondering if you can tell if this bag is real or fake. Sadly I already bought this 🙁 Thank you.

  • Reply ROGREEN February 27, 2016 at 8:16 pm


  • Reply Tina February 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Hi! Could you tell me if the date code SR0054 is real? Louis Vuitton Monogram Monceau Bag

  • Reply Beki Howe March 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Hello, I just received a Louis Vuitton Saint Germain monogram 24 cross body bag. I already have an Artsy MM…this new bag is very stiff and on the front the LV it cut off by the front pocket and the button clasp is covering the LV on the interior. I have always read if hardware or sticking ever cuts off the LV its a fake, however, I have understood that this monogram Saint Germain is a vintage model and I cannot confirm anywhere. Also, the date code – I believe because the letter I cannot read clearly, is NO 0962. I just want to make sure that it feels weird because it’s vintage and not because I just bought a fake one.

    Thank you!


  • Reply Lady Fer March 5, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Hi , I need your help regarding the speedy 30 that got , I just wondering the brass was dark ? Anybody can help me for this please & where I can send the picture?

  • Reply Maria March 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Hi i have a m41528? Do u know if its real or fake??

  • Reply fiona benishty March 13, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I have a few estate sale bags, but I am not sure if they are real. One is a French company, can I email you pictures ?

  • Reply Legos in my Louis March 14, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Thank you to everyone who has taken such an strong interest in the post! Unfortunately I am going to pause my personal authentication services via comments and email. I’m getting flooded with requests and it’s simply too much to handle at this time. Thanks for your understanding while I create a solution to continue to help people with their authentications.

  • Reply Step by Step Guide to Authenticate a Louis Vuitton Neverfull | Legos in my LouisLegos in my Louis September 7, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    […] Checklist to Authenticate a Pre-Owned Louis Vuitton […]

  • Reply Lindsay Taylor February 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Hi, Betsy! I’m kind of new to the Louis world (I just bought a Drouot bag last year). I’m thinking about purchasing another bag off of Tradesy, but I’m not sure if it is real. I would love if you would look at it for me before I purchase it. Spending so much money as a college kid really makes me nervous, but my excuse is that this purse will be an investment 😉


  • Reply Kathy Colley February 17, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I have a quick question regarding a discontinued LV Lockit pm vertical tote. The date code seems real, SD0066. It’s hard to find pictures of the inside so my question is will this have the inside “D” ring? I have found some offered for sale on sites that authenticity is guaranteed, but again, sometimes the inside isn’t pictured. I have seen the d ring on items made in Spain codes that start with CA. Everything else seems legit, stitching is straight and even, correct count , symmetrical, heat stamp font follows your rules, patina is turning, leather is smooth and supple, not plastic feeling. In fact, the bottom and handles feel really lovely, it’s this darn d ring thing that has me wondering. Can you give me a quick shout out. Thanks. Kathy

  • Reply Sarah March 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Hello i have a louis vuitton monogram with the numbers on a metal gold button on the inside N0.8833313 then the letter a capitalized inside a circle. After that N0ATD8831628 the logo is upside down in the back ?authentic or non authentic

  • Reply Luz Buray March 13, 2017 at 5:08 am

    HI i have an LV Monogram Luco LS8642 is this real or fake?thank you.Luz

  • Reply Chanel March 18, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Hi I purchased a speedy 30 in monogram it’s supposed to be vintage I just wanted to know if it’s authentic or not the date code on it is vi831 if u can please find out for me I would appreciate it thanks

  • Reply Susan April 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    I understand that a date stamp is located in these LV bags but I am baffled as to why mine doesn’t have one. I am 100% certain that the bag my husband gave me in 2015 is authentic. My 12 yr old daughter was with him at the LV store in CT and she helped choose the Totally MM instead of the Neverfull…she told her father and the salesperson that it was probably better to get me a purse w/a zipper closure. I also received an email from our credit card company within a few days of the purchase that confirmed the “luxury item” was purchased at the mall in CT. It noted the full price my husband paid including tax. It retails for $1430 but with tax it came to $1530.10.
    I have thoroughly examined the purse, the box, the little LV note card that came with it (he left it blank) and everything checks out as authentic. The only thing that I can’t find on this bag is the date stamp.
    Can you confirm with me whether or not this particular style is supposed to have one? I have only used this purse one time. Not sure I want to sell it – but whether or not I do it’s driving me nuts that it doesn’t have this date stamp. Maybe I am not looking in the right place.

  • Reply Janine mcmiller April 13, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Hi I purchased a 55 keepall SP1927 from Tradesy which has a turn around return of four days If you could please help me authenticate it before the four day return period is up I would greatly appreciate it

  • Reply shirlyn April 18, 2017 at 6:11 am

    Hi. Im planning to purchase a keepall 45 with a date code SA 842 which is a vintage piece. However im not sure if it is authentic. Im purchasing it from one of the members on the page on facebook. The seller posted “guaranteed authenticity” but because this is the first time for me to buy a preloved item im a little bit nervous.

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