April 2019 Update
A lot of people have inquired about the so called Chanel VIP gifts, beauty counter giveaways, including Chanel Precision cosmetic bags etc. For me, these products are just cheap swags with a magical CC logo. All beauty counter VIP giveaways are out of the scope of discussion of this article. Chanel handbags and accessories business and beauty business operate very differently and Chanel makeup, sunglasses, fragrance are licensed to other manufacturers.
I made a wonderful mistake on a real and fake Chanel bag! This is a case study on a most recent authentication decision I've made on a Chanel bag. The decision was partially wrong after my further research and investigation but also a wonderful example of how intriguing, complex the work of authentication can get.
Last week, I inspected this fold-over glitter Chanel chain bag that came with full set of authenticity card and packaging and in 10-15 minutes, I determined it was a super replica for the following reasons.
1. According to the authenticity date code, the bag was made in late 2014 when Chanel used Lampo zipper thus far. However, the back of the zipper was embossed with CC logo versus the Lampo logo. The construction of the zipper did remind me of customized Lampo...
2. There is a "December 2014" date marking heat stamped on the "Made In" leather tab that is very unusual. The only Chanel bag that has explicit year marking I've ever seen is a 50th Anniversary Limited Edition Re-Issue Classic Flap bag.
3. Is it possible it's a limited edition bag? The overall design and construction are too simple to qualify for a special limited edition. Except a CC charm and the diamond quilting, the bag has no other signature features and it's unusual for Chanel to make such a mediocre limited edition bag.
4. The tissue paper wrapped around the bag does not have Chanel water mark that is unusual for a new in box recent Chanel bag.
However, after determining the bag a super replica, something was still bothering me. The authenticity card and hologram sticker look too real. Why would they even bother to add the dating because most of Chanel bags don't even have a date marking. Wouldn't it make it more suspicious? Finally, the bag is strange but also looks strangely legit.
With all these questions in mind, I decided to do more research and after almost 2 hours of research and validation, I concluded that this bag was not 100% fake. In fact, it was one of many free gifts from Chanel made in December 2014 for its VIP customers and not meant for sale and that explained all the inconsistencies:
2014 might be a transitional year when both the regular Lampo zippers and CC customized zippers were used as I later found more CC embossed zippers on more recent Chanel collections. Most fundamentally, because it is a free gift, Chanel doesn't make it a more exquisite bag. That explains why a simple bag would have a limited-edition-ish year marking. Now everything clicks. But is it a legit Chanel bag? I don't think so. Just like a free cosmetic pouch given away at Chanel's beauty counter is not a 100% Chanel bag, this bag does not meet the criteria of an authentic retail available Chanel bag and therefore it's made by Chanel, meant for gifting not for sale, and not a real retail Chanel bag.