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How to tell the difference between a fake designer item and the real thing

Tony Abbott and other Liberal Party MPs mistakenly accepted Rolex watches as gifts from a Chinese tycoon, thinking they were fake.

Each politician declared the gifts but underestimated just how expensive the watches really were.

The then opposition ministry spokesman, Ian Macfarlane, assumed his Rolex was worth between $300 and $500, but after having the watch valued in Sydney, he discovered it was actually worth $40,000 and promptly returned it to Li Ruipeng, the billionaire behind instant noodle success who gifted it to him in the first place.

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Being able to tell the difference between a fake designer item and the real thing can be difficult if you’re not sure what to look for. So what’s the best way to sort out the real deal from the counterfeits?

1. Go straight to the source

If you are looking to purchase a Louis Vuitton bag or a Chanel purse, then your best option is to make your purchase directly from the fashion house. This means there’s no need to worry about whether your item is real or a replica. But more and more people are turning to online stores and purchasing items secondhand because of the cheaper prices. Sometimes a counterfeit can be so well designed that it can fool even the experts. “If a fake is good, it can be hard for even the company to distinguish it from the real thing,” says Susan Scafidi from the Counterfeit Chic blog.

2. Take note of materials

Before purchasing an item, do your research, and make sure the materials used in the piece you have or are interested in match the designer item. Is the bag made entirely of leather, or are other trimmings used? How heavy are the zippers, and how much does the item weigh as a whole? These minor details will give you more insight into whether or not your item is real.

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3. The finer details

Often replicas are made using photographs as a reference. That means that areas like the pockets or the lining or other areas that are not visible in photos are often manufactured with less attention to detail. Whether it’s a Gucci bag or Hermes shoes, make a point of inspecting all areas of the item, including the inside.

4. Logos

When it comes to designer goods, the execution of branding is everything, so keep an eye out for inconsistencies with the logo. “In 2002, Rolex began micro-etching a tiny crown logo at the 6 o’clock position on the crystal that protects the dial,” says Paul Altieri from Bob’s Watches. “If you’re looking at buying a Rolex made in 2002 onward, look for this marking for proof of authenticity. Since it’s so small, it is difficult to see with the naked eye. This detail also makes it difficult for counterfeit watches to include.”

5. Price

Of course, price is going to be a big indication of whether an item is a counterfeit or the real thing. Compare the item to others being sold to decide whether or not the item is a counterfeit. After some careful consideration and comparison, you can then decide whether the item is worth investing in. But take it from the experts: Buying an item from the fashion house is the only way to ensure your piece is authentic and that you’re doing the right thing by the company and the wider community. “Counterfeiting has been linked to organized crime, child labor, and terrorism,” according to Coach. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Can you tell the difference between the real deal and a counterfeit? Let us know your tips.

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