Authentic Chanel

A genuine handbag from Chanel is a pledge. It is a promise that assures the buyer that they have acquired a piece of quality: Thousands of hours and hard labor have gone into the development, design and manufacturing of each piece. This means that with the right care and attention; an item may last through generations. But the promise is more than a question of quality; through buying authentic, you are even contributing to a safer and greener planet! Counterfeit producers are often part of organised crime networks or terrorist networks, whose profits are used to support their activities. Counterfeiters also produce in illegal sweat-shops, employing child-labour and using chemicals that are harmful to nature and humans. Because there is no control, they often implement toxic materials such as lead and arsenic in productions.

By choosing to purchase an authentic vintage piece, you are making a statement. Vintage collectors are connoisseurs of the brands they collect, and just like fine vintage automobiles, furniture and wine; a vintage bag from THEBROWNPAPERBAG is guaranteed to have stood the test of time, and acquired a superior patina in the process.

Using this guide, you will be able to educate yourself on what constitutes an authentic Chanel.

1. Sizes & Styles

As with most other high-end brands, it is exceedingly important to be knowledgeable when purchasing pre-owned Chanel. By familiarizing yourself with the material, sizes and models offered – you’ll be much better equipped in discerning the real deal from the not so. Just like with Louis Vuitton; Chanel has it’s own unique system for production identification and also much like Louis Vuitton, these codes have changed significantly over time. In this respect it is important to point out that Chanel’s serial numbers can be complicated to decipher, even for trained professionals like ourselves! Specifically with Chanel, it can be difficult if not near impossible to telling one bag model from another. With an impressive seven annual collections, Chanel has more than 30 different models in production each year.

Depending on material used; the classic 2.55 flap bag requires work of up to 15 different craftsmen whom will be working an average of 18 hours to produce a single bag. Previously, up to 80% of the bags manufactured by Chanel were black. Nowadays, this has been reduced to a mere 50% with a colorful and ever-changing range. Lastly, the plethora of discontinued models that exist won’t ease the burden – all the more reason to talk to a professional before embarking on your next shopping venture.

Chanel’s current sizes include (but are not limited to):

  • Classic Flap Bag (Extra, Mini, Small, Medium, Jumbo and Maxi)
  • 2.55 Flap Bag aka Reissue (224, 225, 226 and 227)
  • Boy Flap Bag (Small, Medium and Large)
  • Cerf Tote Bag
  • PST (Petite Shopping Tote)
  • GST (Grand Shopping Tote)
  • XL GST Bag
  • Reissue Tote (Small, Medium and Large)
  • Timeless Clutch
  • WOC (Wallet On a Chain)

For the purpose of this guide, it is important to note that “2.55” most accurately refers to the original bag (introduced; Febuary 1955) which featured a mademoiselle lock, chain straps (without the otherwise typical interwoven leather). In 2005 this bag was re-released as the Reissue, however the term “2.55” is now loosely used to refer to almost all of Chanels flap bags.

2. Leathers & Materials

When discussing Chanel bags, it is likely that the first material that comes to mind is the archetypal quilted lambskin that have come to define luxury fashion in so many ways. This very luxurious material is still the most coveted of the range, despite its reputation of being prone to scratches and dents. Although if treated with care, Chanel’s lambskin will last for generations and maintain its shape and luster in a better way than many other materials. Caviar, the second most popular leather type in the lineup, is a hardened grained calfskin and is much more sturdy if daily usage is intended. The material will be hard to the touch and offer a moderate gleam – less luxurious some may say, we’ll let you be the judge of that.

Chanel Leathers & Materials

(From left to right: Caviar, Aged Calfskin, Lambskin and Patent Calfskin)

List of Chanel’s most common materials:

  • Lambskin (Smooth and very soft to the touch)
  • Caviar (Grained calfskin with a bumpy texture and firm structure)
  • Calfskin (Also smooth but somewhat stiffer and less supple than Lambskin)
  • Patent Calfskin (Showing shiny craquelure, this material is still smooth to touch)
  • Aged Calfskin (a durable, tight bumpy material – good for everyday usage)
  • Distressed Calfskin (by some compared to the look of elephant skin – wrinkled yet soft to the touch)
  • Goatskin (offering a casual look, this matte material is smooth yet slightly more durable than lambskin)
  • Tweed (Woven from natural cotton, tweed is a coveted material that has a long heritage with Chanel)
  • Fabric (this includes bags and accessories made in satin, cotton, denim etc.)

Exotic leathers (includes Ostrich, Python, Crocodile, Alligator etc.)As a result of (or perhaps a reason for) Chanel’s long history; strict regulations are employed in the Parisian company’s production line. Undergoing a similar level of probing scrutiny you’d expect from NASA; every Chanel bag, purse or keychain is meticulously inspected, tweaked, checked and finally examined again to ensure extraordinary craftsmanship is portrayed in each piece. This remarkable level of attention to detail is carried out also to impede forgers from producing imitations.

3. Stamps & Logos

Chanel uses specific fonts for their authenticity cards, serial stickers and stamps respectively. When examining these, we strongly recommend using images of verified origin or on-hand pieces for comparison. Additionally; the sewn interlocking CC’s featured on the inside of the Mini, Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo and Maxi Flap bags are always consistent in terms of width, height and stitches. Typically; larger pieces will show a stitched CC, while on smaller models the logo will be slightly embossed (raised). Very “puffy” logos and inconsistently stitched logos are common in fakes.

A great indicator to use when establishing authenticity of a Chanel flap bag is the gold-plated interlocking CC logo. Because these are gold plated, they will feature a hallmark which is most often found on the top left of the left C (Ɔ). Furthermore, the left C (Ɔ) should always overlap the right C at the bottom while the right C (C) should do the same at the top, like so:

Real Chanel Stamp and Logo

As with so many rules, there are a very few exceptions but these are reserved for very vintage limited pieces, so if you’re looking at a recent model or classic piece and it doesn’t follow the rules outlined above, you’ll know something is wrong.

The interior Chanel ® stamps are either printed in gold or silver (depending on the matching hardware) and will, on newer pieces, feature a MADE IN FRANCE / MADE IN ITALY underneath or on the opposite facing interior side.

Chanel Black Stamp & Logo

4. Workmanship

Artisanship is a term used when art and production come together. This defines well what to expect from Chanel’s leather goods and you should settle for nothing less! Unlike some other brands, the quality of the materials used, color palates and the work that goes into crafting each piece reflect the high price tags. For this reason, it is important as a consumer to accept that offers that seem too good to be true – always are when it comes to Chanel leather goods.

Chanel workmanship

     

     

    A genuine Chanel Double Flap bag will have very specific dimensions and weight. Stitchings will always (ALWAYS) be symmetrical. This particularly goes for the exterior ticket pocket, located on the back side of the Single and Double Flap bags. Often this is the first tell-tale sign if a bag is authentic or not.

    Like with other high-end bags; the three cornerstones of authentication are: stitching, stamping and hardware. Unlike Louis Vuitton, it can be challenging, to say the least, knowing when a specific model was introduced, discontinued or even re-introduced. Still, with classics as well as new classics like the Cerf tote (introduced in 2005) you will be able to implement the year of introduction as a tool for establishing authenticity.

    Stitching

    As mentioned in the above, stitches are placed with great care and attention. The quilting process is left to supervised robots that ensure 100% accuracy, while the rest of the process is conducted by handpicked seamstresses whom work on the precious leathers in great detail. Stitching will generally be more visible on bags and accessories crafted in Caviar leather than on those in lamb- or calfskin. Thus the perimeter of the flap on Flap bags won’t be evident on lambskin models but will on Caviar editions.

    Chanel Stitching

    5. Pockets & Detailing

    Chanel Pockets

    Typically, pockets should be seamless and blend nicely with the rest of the bag, almost as if it should be invisible from afar. If a bag has a back pocket, it should always be proportionate and crafted in the same material as the rest of the bag (with a few limited bags as the exception). The quilting of the pocket will line up with the rest of the bag and the top edge will have the shape of a soft, smooth curve with a slight dip to the middle.

    Chanel Chains

    Chain Straps

    The two most common versions are the full metal chain straps (found on the Reissue bags) and the interwoven lambskin straps (a Karl Lagerfeld addition) typical to the Flap bags. Just like with the rest of Chanel’s designs, these iconic additions we’re drawn from past experiences. According to popular legend; similar chains were used as keychains by the convent caretakers of the orphanage in which Gabrielle Chanel grew up. Like the rest of the bag, the chain will be exquisitely crafted and parts that aren’t meant to be seen will be hidden well, including where the metal parts meet. Interwoven leather will be fastened by two simple stitches on one side or invisibly forged together.

    Other Areas

    Grommet holes for shoulder straps will also be symmetrical and placed in a straight line from each other.

    Screws are an important part of the authentication process. For fastening hardware; Chanel use flathead and Hex type screws, never Phillips.

    Establishing authenticity by examining the zippers is difficult. Still though, it is important to note that Chanel throughout the years have used several manufacturers of zippers; from italian-made Lampo zippers to Japanese YKK – you can always expect high quality.

    6. Lining

    Counterfeiters rarely have a good view of the inside of a bag. Typically they are working from photographs, which tend to distort color. Make sure that you are familiar with both the color and texture of the interior before you decide on purchasing Chanel from anywhere else than official Chanel boutiques or www.thebrownpaperbag.net.

    The classic burgundy interior was initially implemented for two reasons: First, it mimics the color of the robes worn by Gabrielle Chanel’s before mentioned childhood caretakers. Secondly, it was cleverly incorporated as it offered a contrasting background – making it easier to locate keys, coins and other essentials one might carry.

    Whether burgundy or black, lambskin or cotton, you should know that the interior will reflect the high quality one encounters on the exterior. Seams, pockets, compartments and key rings will all be crafted and assembled with great care and attention. Basically this means you can take all our advise on the exterior and apply it to the interior.

    Chanel Lining

    7. Hardware

    The quality feel will be reflected in the metal parts of any Chanel bag or tote. Meaning; It should be heavy – not hollow. If it’s imprinted with the Chanel name or logo, make sure that it is supposed to be. Remember; different bags will have different types of original hardware. Chanel’s hardware is typically crafted in brass; 22/24K gold or silver plated to compliment the rest of the bag.

    Chanel Hardware

    8. Attachments

    Buying a preowned bag with a receipt may seem like a sure thing, but the truth is that more and more often even receipts are counterfeited. In some cases we have even come across real receipts being sold with counterfeit bags! In fact the market value for a bona fide Chanel receipt will often supersede the manufacturing cost of the counterfeit bag which it is intended for. Our advice is to use the information provided in this guide. Educate yourself and buy only from well-established resellers like www.thebrownpaperbag.net

    REMEMBER: Plastic wrapped around handles, plastic tags, poorly printed text and/or spelling mistakes are all signs of counterfeits – stay far, far away.

    Chanel Attachments

    9. Rules of Exception

    Vintage bags generally follow the rules outlined above, however, as with everything else, there is always the exception to the rule.

    10. Chanel Serial Numbers

    Subsequent to the arrival of Karl Lagerfeldt in 1983, Chanel’s productions came under much scrutiny and a program for authenticity cards was established. The introduction of these were a measure taken to impede an otherwise fast-growing pirate market for Chanel’s bags and accessories.

    The combination of the serial sticker and an authenticity card make for a good tool when authenticating leather goods from Chanel. However they should not be seen as ends in themselves.

    Often located at the interior bottom of bags or inside interior pockets of accessories; the serial stickers should always match the number supplied on the accompanying authenticity card (if still available).

    A subject to decades of discussions; both stickers and authenticity cards have a tendency disappear. In 9 of 10 cases we encounter; an authenticity card will disappear permanently if not kept inside a bag or accessory (keep this in mind for your own Chanel collection). Furthermore, the stickers will have a tendency to wear out. Especially in hot, humid climates the glue applied to fasten the stickers will dissolve and eventually they’ll fall of.

    For many; a missing serial sticker, authenticity card or both even, will be a deal-breaker – one reason why we provide our own authenticity card which guarantees the validity of a Chanel bag or accessory.

    Peculiarly, when using the serial sticker to authenticate leather goods from Chanel, our experts don’t look so much at the numbers but rather they’ll examine the font used, size and the overall execution of the sticker. Does the zeros have strikethroughs? Should they? Is the font serif or sans serif? What does the background pattern look like (if any)? All these are crucial accounts when using the stickers as a tool for establishing authenticity.

    N.B. the very early 0XXXXXX-2XXXXXX series stickers didn’t include a zero, instead they would contain a mere 6 digit serial. This is contrasted by the accompanying authenticity card which would include the zero in front, thereby showing a 7 digit serial instead – confused yet?
    Chanel Serial Numbers | Authenticity | THEBROWNPAPERBAG.NET

    Note: Early 0XXXXXX series hologram stickers (1XXXXX to 2XXXXX) did not include the "0" on the stickers; thus, they contain a 6 digit serial number. But the authenticity cards include the '0' in front of the serial number, making it 7-digit.

    Occasionally hologram stickers do fall off. Therefore it is important to note that a bag lacking a sticker does not necessarily mean that the bag is counterfeit.
    Serial Number Sticker Serial Number Styles of Serials Year Manufactured
    19XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2014
    18XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2013-2014
    17XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2012-2013
    16XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2012
    15XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2011
    14XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2010-2011
    13XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2009-2010
    12XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2008-2009
    11XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2006-2008
    10XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    An eight digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2005-2006
    9XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2004-2005
    8XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2003-2004
    7XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2002-2003
    6XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with two (2) medium “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it. “CHANEL” is featured on the right side of the sticker and a dark line on the left side. Gold speckles appear throughout the sticker.

    2000-2002
    5XXXXXX

    (“0” with NO strikethrough on 52X* - 56X*)

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker, typically featuring ten (10) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. 

    From 57XXXXX onwards: only two Chanel logos are featured, crossed cut-lines prevent removing the sticker without damaging it, a dark line appears on both sides of the sticker. gold speckles appear throughout sticker.

    1997-1999
    4XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is sans serif

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker, typically featuring ten (10) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape.

    1996-1997
    3XXXXXX

    “0” with strikethrough, “1” is sans serif

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker, typically featuring ten (10) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape.

    1994-1996
    2XXXXXX

    “0” with NO strikethrough (only until 27x), “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker, typically featuring five (5) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape.

    1991-1994
    1XXXXXX

    “0” with NO strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with no border on left side, typically featuring six (6) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape.

     

    1989-1991
    0XXXXXX

    “0” with NO strikethrough, “1” is serif font

    A seven digit serial number printed on a white sticker with no border on left side, typically featuring six (6) fully or partly visible small “ƆC” logos, covered by a clear tape. Note that early serial numbers (starting with a 1 or 2) do not have a leading "0". These were six-digit serial numbers. Additionally; the sticker is larger than those produced in the more recent series.

    1986-1989

     

    Keep in Mind 

    Like our other house brands; outlet, surplus stock and sale doesn’t exist in Chanel’s vocabulary. New Chanel pieces are only sold in official Chanel boutiques and in high-end department stores whom rent space to Chanel. Because Chanel will discard any item that doesn’t pass inspection, there simply isn’t a secondary market for their items as you would otherwise find for Gucci, Prada, Burberry and the like.

    Chanel is expensive. Their bags, accessories and jewelry are all coveted across the globe and because of this, you’ll see more counterfeit examples out on the streets than you will the real deal. Though it is tempting to believe in that once-in-a-lifetime bargain right in front of you – odds are that you’ll be sorry you went through with it. There are few things worse than feeling cheated and helpless! That’s why we encourage customers to consider spending slightly more on their dream piece. So instead of risking buying fake, consider purchasing from our guaranteed authentic offerings. By spending just a bit more, not only will you get the bag or accessory you’ve been dreaming about; you’ll be purchasing ease of mind and even a piece of fashion history. At THEBROWNPAPERBAG.NET we offer lifetime guarantee on authenticity for every product we sell. We assume the responsibility so that you can relax and enjoy the piece you’ve been craving for so long.

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