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The Louis Vuitton Date Code Bible

November 16, 2017

louis-vuitton-date-code-bible

When you are shopping for a pre-owned Louis Vuitton, one of the first things you’ll want to look for in the listing is the date code.  Unlike other designer brands like Chanel or Gucci, Louis Vuitton is unique in that each bag is marked with specific information about exactly where and when it was produced.  This information is an essential first step in authenticating a Louis Vuitton.  While oftentimes very confusing to research and understand, date codes are actually very simple to understand when you have all the information in one complete source.  That’s why I’ve created and shared my Louis Vuitton Date Code Bible. Anyone who is trying to determine if their Louis Vuitton is real, or just wanted to know where and when their Louis Vuitton was made – should absolutely bookmark this all-encompassing Louis Vuitton date code guide.

What is the Meaning of a Date Code on a Louis Vuitton

The date code on a Louis Vuitton tells the country and date of origin for a bag.  Depending on the year of production the date code will consist of a different variation of letters and/or numbers. While all Louis Vuitton bags have date codes it alone does not tell you if a bag is authentic.

What is Important About A Louis Vuitton Date Code

louis-vuitton-date-code-90s

Deciphering the date code of a Louis Vuitton is always my first step in authenticating a bag. Before I even start to look at the bag itself I want to know the history of the bag. Everything else I look at from that point on will be framed from the point of view of the date code.  What year is the bag? Where is supposed to be made?  If it’s made in France, does the trademark heat stamp correspond?  Was that bag even produced in that country?  Does the production characters of the bag match that year?  These are just a few of the first questions that will need to be framed in the context of the date code.

So how do you read a Louis Vuitton date code?

How to Read A Louis Vuitton Date Code

 

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Date Code Formats By Year

Date Codes Pre-1980s:

French Company
no date code (tyvek-like tag only)
Saks Fifth Avenue
no date code (stamp only)

These bags are now considered vintage Louis Vuitton. Unlike their modern predecessors, their identification markings follow a completely different set of rules that modern bags. While you might come across a Louis Vuitton with no date code and instantly hope that it’s vintage you’ll still need to closely examine the item to ensure that it still fits within the checklist to authenticate a Louis Vuitton. While the massive growth of the counterfeit market boomed shortly after these bags were produced, there are still newer counterfeits that have been made to specifically look vintage and have corresponding fake date codes to match.

Date Codes in the 1980s:

Format Sample
3 numbers YYM
832 is February 1983
4 numbers YYMM
8312 is December 1983
2 letters 3 numbers LL YYM
TH 831 is January 1983
3 numbers 2 letters YYM LL
835 TH is May 1983
2 letters 4 numbers LL YYMM
TH 8312 is December 1983
4 numbers 2 letters YYMM LL
8310 TH is October 1983

With global economic conditions supporting the growth of the counterfeit market that followed on the heels of Louis Vuitton brand growth, a variety of date code changes took place in the 1980’s.  With a variety of date codes bags from this decade prove more challenging to authenticate.  When buying a pre-owned Louis Vuitton from the 1980’s you’ll have quite a bit more legwork in ensuring that the date code formatting as well as the information the date code relays all correctly coincide with the timeframe and country of origin for the bag.

Date Codes in the 1990s:

Format Sample
2 letters 4 numbers LL MYMY
TH 1920 is December 1990

After the great variety in date code formatting of the 1980’s Louis Vuitton (thankfully) simplified things starting in the 1990’s. The origins of bags from the 1990’s on are much easier to trace and consequently easier to confirm it’s origins.

Date Codes 2007 – Present

Format Sample
2 letters 4 numbers LL WYWY
TH 3077 is 37th week of 2007

After almost two decades of one date code formatting, Louis Vuitton again changed things up. With just a subtle variation they started tracking by week instead of the month.  This allowed for them to keep their standard formatting but break their production labeling out into 52 weeks instead of 12 weeks.  What that means for the date codes is more variety and a more detailed view of when your bag was produced. Instead of knowing that your bag was made in Spain in December, you can now know that your bag was made in the 51st week of that year. Pretty cool right?  How many other brands label the date of origin on the bag down to a precise 7-day window!

DATE CODE BY COUNTRY

Tracking the country of origin on your Louis Vuitton is done by tracking two simple letters.  Unlike the date of origin, there are many more exceptions to country codes which can consequently lead to novice mistakes when trying to spot a fake Louis Vuitton date code. While not an exhausting list, here are the date codes and the country of origin they typically represent a Louis Vuitton handbag.

France
A0, A1, A2, AA, AH, AN, AR, AS, AX, BA, BJ, BU, CT, CV, DR, DU, ET, FL, GR, IT, LW, MB, MS, MI, NO, RA, RE (also Italy), RI, SA (also Italy), SD (also USA), SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TA, TH, TJ, TN, TR, TS, VI, V.I.
USA
FC, FH, OS, SD (also France), LA,
Spain
CA, CR, GI, LB, LM, LO, LW
Italy
BO, CE, FA, FO, RE, MA, NQ, PL, RC, RO, SA (also France), ST, TD, LE
Switzerland
DI, FA (also Italy)
Germany LP, OL

Known Exceptions: As with any good rule there are always exceptions.  Take for example the code SD. Depending on the year of origin SD would represent France or San Dimas (city in California, USA ). Bags produced after 1995 should say SD with a marking for U.S.A.  CA doesn’t represent California or San Dimas but instead is generally Spain but there has been Vernis made in France in 1999

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What About a Louis Vuitton With No Date Code

Can a Louis Vuitton have no date code?  Yes, but it’s rare. I have a Louis Vuitton trunk from 1933 and it’s code tell me exactly where, when and who purchased the trunk almost 100 years ago!  With that in mind, it is highly unlikely the questionable brand new looking Neverfull you’re looking at on Poshmark is real.  However, although unlikely it’s not impossible. The two most common causes of a Louis Vuitton to have no date code are

  1. Re-lining – When you completely replace the interior lining of your Louis Vuitton. In some cases, depending on the style, Louis Vuitton might have concealed the date code inside the new lining. Most of the time this is not the case but I have seen it done before on specialty bags and challenging relining.

When you bag is relined you’ll typically get a new date code to replace the old one. Some of the date codes seen on re-lined Louis Vuitton includes:

Re Lined Code Country
DK 4077 France
DK 2907 France
DK 1068 France
OK USA
  1. Rubbed Off – While very unlikely on a 2012 Speedy or brand new Pochette metis, there are cases where a date code “rubs off” or is no longer visible. These are rare exceptions and most commonly seen on wallets, Vernis and generally only on vintage items. In most cases, when you come across a piece with no date code, you’re either not looking closely enough or are in the presence of a fake Louis Vuitton.

The Bottom Line

Fake bags can still display real date codes which make it challenging to tell if your bag is real or fake by looking at the date code alone. One of the most common questions I get is, “Can you tell me if date code SD5007 is real?”  The answer to that question has nothing to do with the bag that person is trying to authenticate. The date code can be accurate (let’s face it, it’s not that hard for forgers to know how to fake the numbers) so your bag might still be fake.  Consider finding out your bag has a valid date code just the first step in completing a Louis Vuitton Authentication Checklist.

 

In Gratitude Legos in my Louis

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