Experts weigh in on how to spot a counterfeit designer handbag

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sue’s Accessories sat dark on Friday, the inside appearing ransacked after law enforcement confiscated handbags, wallets and jewelry alleged to be counterfeit. Some items are still in the store, but the walls and shelves are mostly bare.

The owner, 65-year-old So Wun Pak in the Johnson County jail, charged with counterfeiting.

Investigators spent all day Thursday packing up handbags, wallets and jewelry inside the store.

Neighboring business owners tell us the store had been there for three or four years and as far as they know, had always sold these types of items.

So how can a customer tell if the designer handbag they are buying is in fact the real thing?

According to an expert, there are some telltale signs.

“Anytime that you are buying a handbag and it’s not from a reputable dealer, you need to really look for a few key items,” Vice President Merchandise Manager at Halls department store Melissa Pyron said.

Pyron has been buying bags for the retailer for 30 years. She said she’s learned exactly what to look for to determine if a bag is authentic or a knockoff.

“The few key items are easy to show on a Louis Vuitton. It’s just really easy,” Pyron said.

Pyron said one of the most popular bags is also the one for which it’s easiest to determine authenticity, the “Speedy” bag by Louis Vuitton.

“First of all, on this particular handbag – it’s called the Speedy – it’s one of their original handbags from the 20. There are certain specific items. There are 5 stitches around the top of each of the handles. That’s very key,” Pyron said.

She also said when it comes to Louis Vuitton, the middle portion of the bag is typically made out of one sheet, so there should not be any seams around the bottom.

“There will be a Louis Vuitton logo… very identifiable. Something – you have to get a little magnifying glass to see it – but it will be on the tab, it will always be embossed in the leather,” Pyron said.

Some bags, especially those that are vintage, will also have a lock and a set of keys on the side. Pyron said looking at these is a very easy way to determine of the bag is truly authentic.

“There’s an LV on the front, on the back it will say ‘Made in France.’ There’s a number on the lock, 322, and the number on the lock matches up to the key number 322,” Pyron said.

Pyron said these high-end designers spend a lot of money protecting their trademarks and going after counterfeits.

It’s not clear how many items were confiscated from Sue’s Accessories, but many large boxes full of merchandise were carried out and put into a U-Haul by investigators.

So Wun Pak’s first court appearance will be Monday.

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Alyssa Donovan is a reporter for 41 Action News. See her full report on 41 Action News at 6 p.m.

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