Authentic versus Fake; How to know if you have found a real Vintage Chanel Jacket or a fake Chanel Copy ?
How to recognize Vintage Chanel couture?
How do you know you have find a real Vintage couture piece of art or just a fake copy? On first sight they look exactly the same, they feels the same and it seems too good to be true. It is quite difficult. These days fakes are on first sight as good as the real onces. There is a whole (black) market on luxury brands on couture, jewelry, toys, games and even make-up. Even Vintage and authentic goods are made with such an knowledge and technical materials; it seems almost impossible to recognize real Vintage these days.
We talk about couture on this website/blog and specific the French Chanel Couture. More specific the famous jacket.
It is too easy to say that fakes are mostly made of cheaper materials. The quality of the materials, fabrics in this case, are key. Even though fakes can look quite identical, the real couture of course has the luxury of using the best fabrics in the world. But.... the materials of the fakes are coming close; think about leather versus pu-leather. Even though they look the same, leather behaves differently in time and feels like leather should feel.
Vintage or New couture?
Let’s stick to Vintage as the new Couture is unlikely to spot in a Second Hand Shop, a flea market or Vintage Shop. The most expensive new couture also has the newest techniques in labeling and sometimes we even wonder if the most expensive garments are chipped or invisible detected to avoid stealing or mis-using. Vintage Clothing sometimes has usage-wear or it is even broken or repaired. Or a cleaver seamstress has already changed or adjusted the garment once. It is surely not completely new, un-used or un-touched. The labels might have been ripped out or maybe the buttons are replaced or just stolen away from it. So it might be very hard to recognize if we are dealing with real couture. Even experts are sometimes having hard jobs to distinguish a real vintage couture coat from a fake one. No shame about it. The copy-industry is really a quality business. But it can be done. You could ask for an expert or take a look at our list.
Apart from these facts at first sight, it is mainly all about the details.
A closer look:
If the labels and sizes are still there: How do they look? Are they clear, no are they real? Do they meet the sizes of the famous logo?
No spelling mistakes or weird place names? It sounds very childish. But onces you have seen the cheap fakes, you know what we mean…. Made in Italy Or made in France? Check, check, check….. Also: does the labels are stitching to the fabric with the same colored threads? Does it match? Is the size or serial-number label stitched to the logo label? It should all be very perfect and it should not look like a hasty last finishing job….
So, sometimes it is loud and clear. Sometimes it is very subtle and the copies of labels are almost perfect.
The labels contains all information about the serial-number, the year, size and even the season.
If there are any LOGO's left:
The logoś should be invisible stitched on the garment. Actually you do not get it how they are placed on the garment. It simply does not show, even not on the backside. If the logo, even if they are very subtle, is stitched on the fabric… it probably is not a real couture piece…
Also look at the fabrics mentioned on the labels. Chanel Vintage jackets are not made from polyester or new technical materials. Linings are mostly silk or silk charmeuse. Elasthan or stretch fabrics were not used at all.
If a XS, S, M or L is mentioned on the label: it is very weird. Chanel uses and used European Sizes by number.
The Quilting story:
Vintage Chanel Jackets are quilted or quilted by handsewing. This is a time consuming job and the signature on the Chanel Couture. Chanel jacket copies are perhaps very beautiful and perfect clones, but the quilting part is really very typical for the real couture garments. It is missing on the copies.
The lining is quilted on the fabric. In no way the lining consist of a quilted lining-fabric to make it look like the real one.
Almost always and till know, the famous chain weight is sewed on the inside to make sure the jacket falls appropriately and perfect. Chanel jacket are usually made of lightweight tweeds and bouclé or woolblends. The chain weight counterbalance it's airy weight. Without the chain weight the jacket would be a bit too light and could live it ś own life during movement. A part from its function as balance, it is visual a very beautiful detail as well. On the outside it is invisible, but when the lady is wearing her jacket on her shoulders or the jacket opens; the chain weight looks like a jewelry itself. Copies with chain weight? Not existing.
The stitching of couture is done by hand. It is quite perfect but also most of the times invisible and done with perfect perfection. And it is time-consuming !!
Copies are of course not handmade and done in fast production time. An experienced eye can should notice. A less experienced eye perhaps as well.
Buttonholes are handwork. On the fake jackets it is machine-stitched. Buttonholes can be hand stitched buttonholes or bounded buttonholes. In either ways; on the real Chanel Couture, they are pure handwork and made as perfection.
They could be real, they could be fake even more. But notice: on a great real vintage piece could be other brands of buttons as well. Do not judge too quickly a piece of real Vintage couture just by looking at the buttons. How knows, maybe they have been replaced because the owner did not liked them, it did not match the total outfit or the money was simply too good to be true. So, do not judge a vintage garment by the buttons only….
Chanel once started to produce buttons hand-made mainly from fabric. These couture-made fabric buttons are now very rare. These fabric buttons are often recognizable by the lion's head in the middle. A lot of buttons before the 1970s will actually have a lion’s head embossed on them. Chanel buttons are also known for their logos of the letters C, the perfume bottles and even the famous jackets.
Chanel buttons are ALWAYS of quality and durable material. Metal, mother-of-pearl, rhinestones and jewels. Coco Chanel also used the Camellia flower as Theme. These Camillia flower buttons are mostly black/gold or white.
Real authentic Chanel buttons are (rarely) on the market, because they are produced in small amounts and mostly made to match the unique garments. Vintage real authentic buttons are difficult to recognize because they used to match the garments perfectly. They are very expensive and for a collector of great value. New Chanel buttons do not have stamping on the back. Vintage authentic Chanel buttons have stamping on the back. New Chanel buttons are often copied in China and very similar to the real (new) Chanel buttons.Real Chanel buttons (especially the Vintage onces) are looking like little jewels.
Fake or copy-Chanel buttons are often lighter, of cheaper material and less subtle. Almost any copy-Chanel button is called a real Chanel-button. It all depends on where they are for sale. Do not expect treasure authentic Chanel buttons for sale on big internet selling-markets/websites.... If you can not believe it is real.... it probably isn't....
Color and pattern-matching:
Chanel is famous because of its color matching sewing techniques. If a suit is a jacket and skirt; they should be matching perfectly. No way it is a coincidentally combination. The were once made to order; an accidental matching opportunity would be very rare.
If a couture garment has a checkered, checked or striped fabric, as in a Tweed, it is sewed until perfection. The fabric pattern flows beautifully into each other, the pattern of stripes, spheres and checkered, fits perfectly and it is a feast for the eyes. The sleeves or darts, or ease darts, are all perfect processed in the lines. It will be like a piece of art it selfs. The lines are horizontally matching from sleeve till body till sleeve. The sleeves are not lined vertically.
The same applies to zippers, buttonholes and brackets. These are all perfect and preferably processed invisibly.
Of course nobody is going to a Vintage or Second Hand shop with a scissors or seam ripper.
However, it is a fact that the inner side of the garment hides all the elements and secrets that are used in the couture. Special sewing techniques such as dart easing, reinforcements and shaping of the contours, are all in there. Hidden, invisible and sewed until perfection. A fake Chanel jacket probably shows a lot of stitches, interfacings and top-stitching.
Real couture pockets are hand-sewed on the Chanel jackets and it look like they are lying ON top of the fabric. If you spot a pocket with top-stitching on the fabric, it does not sound like you have found the real thing….
Even though the Chanel jacket are shaped till perfection, they were in the early fifties a total new symbol of freedom after decades of tight corsets and a over-the-top hour-glass silhouette with an almost unreachable waist size and pointy high breasts. The shape of the first Chanel jackets seemed almost boxy and masculine in that perspective. Chanel was indeed inspired by menswear but kept an eye on the total look of the suit or outfit which was very feminine and elegant.
What about the shape of a perfect Chanel copy? Hard to tell. But take a look at it from a distance and keep the vision of Coco Chanel in mind to be sure you have a real Vintage Chanel jacket.
Sleeves almost always consist of two or even three parts. It is not likely to find a real original Chanel jacket that only consists of one arm part. The two-pieces and three-pieces sleeves are the base of perfect shape of the sleeves and shows a luxurious perfect fitting appearance.
The vents on the sleeves are working sleeves. With buttonholes, buttons and perfectly matching the fabrics. On copies the vents are maybe there, but most of the times, they are just there for the visual aspect and the buttonholes are “forgotten” . Sleeves are attached to to shoulders in an technical and perfect way. Both should look identical and completely perfect. If the fabric pattern has lines or a pattern, they will be parallel horizontal equal in line with the body. The lines are horizontally matching from sleeve till body till sleeve. The sleeves are not lined vertically.
Darts are invisible or eased away on the real authentic Chanel Jackets. Easing darts is a couture sewing technique which can not be done by a sewing machine or in mass-production. Darts on are stitched on the Chanel copies but eased on authentic Chanel jackets.
Smell or odor:
It might sound a bit awkward but you can not recognize a vintage garment from its particular smell. A real vintage piece probably does not smell like a new garment bought from a super sleek and clean Falgship store. More likely it could smell like the Second Hand or vintage store: a bit dusty and old. But of course this does not mean anything.
We associate vintage perfumes as: Eau de Cologne, 4711, Noir, Jicky, Creed, Shalimar and Chanel No.5 with earlier times, but it could be a trick as well. Smells awaken memories and moods. Do not be fooled by your own brains if it gives you the special feeling of having find an antique finding. You might remind yourself of your grandma's wardrobe or beautiful changing room but she probably would have give you her beloved Chanel jacket instead of donating it to the nearest by Second Hand Store.
Last but not least.
Where did you bought it? If you buy an original Chanel jacket from a big international trading website or a national market selling-website, be sportive enough to realize you are taking a risk. Of course you could be the lucky one to buy a real treasure instead of a trash. But even our Grandma would warn us if she would live todays: if it looks to good to be true, it probably is not….
A word from SEWINGCHANEL:
Assuming you are the lucky bastard who found an authentic Chanel vintage jacket on a flea market; You can either decide to wear it with glory, or to hang it in your closet till it is even worth more or to re-sell it. (another option is to give it to a museum so that many can enjoy it)
Your decision. In either ways, we suggest you wear it on a daily base. Why not? On a jeans in the weekend, on a formal skirt at work, on a jogging-suit on a holiday or alone at home on the couch.... whatever… Enjoy it ! and remember that nothing last forever. Chanel jackets are worth to hang in Art Galleries all over the world, but it should be fun as well to spot them on the streets. In between all the fakes onces and in between the amazing fantastic diy Chanel inspired jackets. Grandma's Chanel jacket might be a great inspiration for us to make some more. Our own DIY Chanel Inspired Personal (future-Vintage?) jacket !
Marga Kuitenbrouwer-Van der Vet schrijft informatieve, kritische en humoristische blogs, columns en artikelen voor diverse magazines, blogs, websites en branches.