Luxury brand giant LVMH — they own Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Marc Jacobs and pretty much everything else that makes you salivate — is suing Google for letting non-LVMH companies associate their websites with search terms like “Louis Vuitton.” What this basically means is that people with shady handbag websites are buying ad spots for their copycat Louis bags and those ads are showing up when people search for the real deal. Sometimes it’s really easy to spot the fake. Oftentimes, however, underhanded websites try to pass themselves off as legit designer discounters and shoppers looking for a deal get royally screwed. Worst of all, “Guaranteed Authentic” doesn’t actually mean much online these days. Here are a few ways to figure out whether or not the purses you’re ogling are legit or big fat fakes…
- Be realistic in your expectations. Basically, if the prices are too good to be true, there’s almost no chance that they are, in fact, true; (i.e., you’re not going to get this season’s Gucci bag for $200, so give up on that dream).
- We’re talking about designer goods here, ladies, so the site selling them probably shouldn’t look like it was designed by a slow sixth grader.
- Many brands’ official sites have a section that tells you where their products are sold. As more and more luxury brands hop online more aggressively, these stockist sections are coming to include approved online retailers, too. If the site you’re peeping for that new purse isn’t on the list, proceed with caution. When in doubt, you can always call a company’s corporate number and ask if the site you’re looking at is a licensed retailer.
- Beware of sites selling purses wrapped in tacky plastic. Whether it’s the entire bag or just the handles, people selling real designer goods shouldn’t be putting unprofessional images like that up. Furthermore, most designer bags come stuffed with tissue in cloth dust bags, not choked in plastic wrap.
- Extra words in the URL (like ChristianLouboutinShoesStore.com instead of ChristianLouboutin.com) are often a warning sign. A brand’s official site will generally be just the brand name. Site endings that don’t end in .com are also pretty suspect. Some European brands will end in .fr or .uk, but .org endings don’t make sense and .net is really only a possibility for a much smaller designer who maybe couldn’t get the .com domain name or afford to buy it from whoever already owned it.