Premium fashion designer bags generally come with a hefty price tag, which makes them prime candidates for rather poorly looking knock-offs or counterfeits almost identical to the real thing. While some people might be perfectly content with a knock-off bag, many people are simply luring of a good discount on a legitimate designer bag they have seen on glossy magazines pages spotted on their favourite fashion icons or they choose to go for the bag with no compromise on quality whilst supporting independent labels. Whoever the type you are, the least thing you want is to pay high-end designer bag price for a cheap knock-off, therefore, Bagology has compiled you a checklist on how to spot the high quality leather bags you truly want to splash the cash on.
The price tag can be misleading
While price is rarely an accurate indicator of either legitimacy or craftsmanship, it is one of the first things to pay attention to. You will almost never get an honest-to-goodness designer bag for a small fraction of the price unless there is something very wrong with it. On the other hand, paying somewhat close to the full price or hefty price tag alone doesn't mean you are getting the real deal either. While the internet offers a tempting array of high end merchandise at tantalizing rock-bottom prices, it's a rather risky way to purchase designer bags from anywhere other than trusted and acknowledged retail sites.
Perhaps the only way to genuinely know if a designer bag is the real deal, is to see, touch and even smell the bag itself. When you are buying things online, all you get is a tiny picture, which can hide a great deal of things that would help identifying if it’s worth to splash the cash. There are a number of small details you want to inspect before determining if a bag is legitimate or not.
If you do purchase online, make sure you buy from a reputable online retailer or at least the one that offers buyer guarantees, as Amazon or E-Bay. That way, if you get your bag and it doesn't hold up to your expectations, you will at least have a shot at getting your money back.
Zippers are your giveaways
High-end designers are meticulous even about the tiniest details and it is those small details that are the dead giveaways to the legitimacy and the durability of the bag. On an authentic designer bag, zippers will be sewn perfectly straight and lay flat when closed. They will also be generally made of metal. As plastic zippers are cheap and break quickly, they are mostly used on knock-off bags.
Legitimate designers understand just what crucial role a zipper plays in the design process, hence, they generally use metal zippers due to their greater durability. Brass is the most common metal for zippers, yet they can sometimes be plated in nickel or copper to match the design aesthetic of the bag. The slider on the zipper should also be made of metal and, definitely, not plastic.
The teeth on the zipper shouldn’t be sharp and they should also be set into a very thick, heavy and sturdy fabric. Many zippers break as a result of teeth pulling away from the fabric, so not only should the fabric be thick and heavy, but also the stitching that holds the zipper, should be in place. What is more, stitching should be straight and even as well as the zipper must be properly set into the bag. Make sure you zip and unzip the bag a few times to ensure the zipper operates smoothly. If it hits, snags or doesn't zip smoothly, it should be a red flag immediately.
If you are buying a bag online elsewhere than a well-recognized retailer, make sure to ask for close-up photos of the zipper, both open and closed.
Hardware is always of the highest caliber
Any hardware, such as: buckles, handles, locks, rings and shoulder strap fittings should all be heavy, since they are made of premium durable metals like brass, copper, bronze, silver nickel or plated zinc. The finish on the hardware must be clean and perfectly smooth. When cheap metal materials are cast, the casting often leaves rough and raised edges behind, which is a definite sign of inferior materials, which no respectable designer would use at any scenario.
What you can also do is to check whether the hardware is appropriate to the size of the bag. Larger bags are constructed to hold more items and withstand more weight, which will automatically make you look for larger rings and shoulder strap fittings. Similarly, smaller bags will have smaller, finer fittings and hardware.
Is there anything else you may need to know? Yes, since you need to make sure that the hardware has been attached firmly and that all stress points have been reinforced with extra stitching. If there are rivets, check the back side of the rivets to ensure that back-washers have been used to ensure the rivets do not pull right through the material.
Last, but not least, you are advised to check the tongue on any buckles to ensure it doesn’t bend easily and you can test them by tugging and pulling firmly on hardware. If it’s truly a genuine premium bag, it will be built to last and testing will ensure that it does.
Stitching is neat and impeccable
The stitching on the bag should be perfectly straight, with immaculate, even stitches; should not have any loose threads sticking out or any lumps, bumps or snags. You can also check the interior of the bag to ensure uniform quality throughout. The thread used should also be hick, heavy, durable to will hold the bag together throughout many years of ownership. Also, checking that the interior stitching and exterior stitching match, is crucial. In low-quality bags or backpacks, exterior stitching might have a thick, durable thread, whilst interior stitching will use a thinner, cheaper thread.
Edges are finished to perfection
One of the most time - consuming tasks in the leather goods making is clean-finishing the surfaces of edges of the material. This is also an easy to spot giveaway of a low quality leather bag. If you have ever seen stringy edges on the sides of a bag handle or any leather (or leather-like) detailing, this is a sign of two things: it is either an inferior product or an inferior finishing. High-end bags will generally have hand polished and painted edges rather than unkempt raw sides. It just one more of many tiny details that the high-end leather bags manufacturers pride themselves on.
Lining is thick, heavy, durable and, obviously, beautiful
Another thing that is hard to tell from snapshots online is what the bag lining is made of.. All high-end bags have a lining made from thick and durable materials that last just as long as the exterior materials. Remember that you will carry all kinds of materials in your bag or purse and it will eventually be subjected to all kinds of spills and potential mishaps. One uncapped pen, broken cake of makeup or spilled bottle of perfume shouldn’t ruin the interior of a bag. Beware of flimsy or low-quality materials being used on the interior of a bag.
Handles and straps are hefty and comfortable
Handles and straps are often going to be your primary means of contact with your bag. Not only do they need to be strong and sturdy to carry a weight equal to the size of the bag, but they also need to be comfortable enough. Your bag handles should be sturdy and strong, however, should never feel flimsy, hollow or "empty" in your hand. Proper handles should be made of many layers of stacked leather that eventually give them a strong and sturdy feel in your hand.
While strap length is important, it has little to nothing to do with the quality of the bag as it simply is a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, it is important to check to ensure that straps are anchored to the bag properly. Handles and straps should have an extra layer of tack stitching where the handle or strap joins the bag. Moreover, an additional layer of support behind the contact point to prevent the handle from ripping out of the bag is an absolute must-have in any premium handbag.
It matters where the leather comes from
When it comes to a leather bag, there is probably nothing more important than the attributes of the leather, which determine both its quality and origin. This is also that part where the scent of a bag may come into play, since premium leather often has a very distinctive scent. Leather comes in a wide range of grades, depending on a number of different factors, such as the overall condition of the animal and the cleanliness of the hide. The softest, supplest leather comes from the softest, supplest hides.
The tanning process also weighs in, as the way skin is treated often determines how durable it will be. The processes that produce the best quality leather are generally the most time consuming and expensive. This is when origin plays a part. Some countries, for example, Italy, France, England and the US have an established track record of producing premium leather as a result of care and experience that goes into the tanning process.
Premium leather should always have a soft, supple, smooth feel that doesn't feel like rubber or plastic. Whilst even genuine leather may feel like vinyl or synthetic leather, premium leather should have a very distinctive look, feel or even scent.
Bagology London puts an exquisite amount of care into producing the most premium designer bags with the kind of skilled craftsmanship that allows them to last a lifetime. At Bagology London you can always be assured that any bag you purchase is crafted to the highest standards and made from the finest materials available.