How to spot fake designer clothing

In this blog post I’m sharing some tips on how to spot fake designer clothing, based on my experience buying them second hand!

Over the last year or so I’ve been slowly replacing my cheaply made clothes with higher quality versions. I’ve been lucky to be able to purchase some great designer prices at reasonable prices through my favourite second hand channels.

Unfortunately, not all sellers are very… truthful with their designer items, and  it’s only later on that I realise I’ve inadvertently bought a fake or replica designer item.

If you’re like me and love a good designer piece at a bargain price, here I’m sharing what I’ve learnt and how to spot fake designer clothing. (Disclaimer: I’m not a professional authenticator at all, this is just what I’ve observed and learnt the hard way!) I’m using Comme des Garçons Play as the example here, but I think you could use some of these tips for other designers and labels.

On the left is a CDG Play shirt I bought (apparently) brand new on eBay when I was still green behind the ears about fake designer clothes. The middle CDG Play shirt was one I picked up from Salvos Stores Darlinghurst for $9, thinking I was getting the steal of the century. The third one is a real CDG Play shirt bought via Carousell.

Check the logo

Above are the logos on the tags for the 3 shirts. You can see for the first fake one bought on eBay there’s no star under the c in Garçons, so it’s clearly a fake. The second fake one (in the middle) does have the star, BUT the “Comme des Garçons” is in a thinner font compared to the real one. The way it’s aligned under the “PLAY” is also different to the real one – ie it’s not in line with the corners of the P and Y.

The heart on the fake eBay shirt (at top) has a sharp point, the eyes are slightly different, and it’s a bit too round at the top. The fake one in the middle could potentially pass as legit, but for the stitching.

Tip: check the font carefully – some fake designer clothing may have missing tails on serif fonts, or the writing is too close together. Be familiar with graphic logos – again, there could be a tiny detail missing or altered in fake designer items.

Check the quality of the fabric

The first fake eBay one is made from a cheap, stretchy jersey fabric.  The stripes are also smaller than the real one. The second fake one is actually pretty good quality cotton fabric, but the navy colour has faded a fair bit. The third real CDG Play shirt is a good quality, thick cotton and the colour hasn’t faded at all.

Tip: it’s hard to tell this if you’re buying online unfortunately. However, if buying from an opshop or at markets, carefully feel the fabric and its construction. You can also tell from how it fits (further below).

Check the quality of the stitching

On the first two fake shirts, you can see the white stitching on the neckline. On the real one the stitching is carefully done only on the white stripe so it’s not seen.

With the sleeve stitching, you can see the white thread on the first fake eBay one quite clearly. The second fake one is not too bad in these respects, BUT…

… when you look at the stitching INSIDE the garment, the thread used is a really poor quality one – almost like tissue paper.

The real one has 100% cotton thread.

Tip: if buying online ask for detailed photos of the stitching, both inside and out – this can often be overlooked but can be a telltale sign.

Check the care tags

If all of the above seem to check out, the care tags can have very minor but telltale signs of an item being a replica.

First, the fake eBay one – when I received it the care tags were already cut off. Now this is no biggie, people often cut off care tags, but this is AFTER purchase, and certainly not for a brand new supposedly designer item.

Now for the second fake one from Salvos. The care tags look OK so far. There’s even a hanko (Japanese stamp). BUT:

I’ve underlined the small but damning signs of it being a replica. There’s no space between “Not” and “Dry. There’s a funny space between the phrase “Javel Interdit” and the full stop. There’s no space after the full stop. There should be a space between “A’ and “L’Ombre”. The spacing between the sentences is also not consistent.

By comparison with the real CDG play shirt. The instructions aren’t even the same! You’ll notice too that the care tag has been sewn so that the “Comme des Garçons Co, Ltd” is NOT on the stitched side, compared to the fake one above.

Tip: ask the seller for care tag pics too. If you can compare it to the care tag of another item of the same designer you can check if the one being sold second hand is real or not.

Check the fit

This is obviously more appropriate if you’re able to actually try the item on, but you could always ask the seller for photos of the item on.

Above is the fake one from eBay. The jersey fabric doesn’t fall very well and clings a little, so that there’s puckering in places there shouldn’t be.

The next one is the fake one from Salvos. While I actually like the fit of this, if you know anything about the fit of CDG Play shirts, they are made small to size. As in, a large in CDG Play fits an AUS 10 best. (The same is true for Kenzo.) This fake one is marked size S but fits more like a 10, so doesn’t fit like a real CDG Play shirt.

Here’s the real CDG Play shirt on. This is a size S and you can see that’s it’s quite a bit tighter, especially around the tummy. I’m on the bigger size of an AUS 8, and while I don’t mind the fit it would definitely be better on a size 6.

Using the above principles I inspected an Acne cardigan I bought some time ago from Gumtree. These normally sell for $200-$300 second hand, so I thought I was getting a bargain when I bought it for $60.

I compared the logo on the tag with another Acne Studios jumper I have that I know is real.

Warning sign #1: There’s no full stop after the NYG.

Now for the care tags. Here’s the care tag for the real Acne jumper:

Acne care tags will typically have the name of the item (eg. this is the Lia jumper) and the season that it was released.

For my cardigan though…

Firstly, this cardigan is definitely made of some wool, and is certainly not 100% cotton! Unlike the tag of the sweater above, the tag was stitched with the logo closest to the stitching. The name “Beta Double” refers to a different Acne item altogether. There’s no space after the CA in the style number, and there isn’t a space before the forward slash. Also, there’s no space after “Studios” and there’s a comma instead of a full stop after the “L”. Not to mention the fact that the tag is fraying and the print is already fading.

Sigh. While I’ve confirmed that this cardigan is a fake, I still wear it, out of respect for the poor soul who made it.

I hope this helps in how to spot fake designer clothing when you’re next buying it second hand, either online or at a market! As always, if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t, so be wary and either ask for lots of photos OR save to buy the real thing for piece of mind 🙂

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6 Comments

  • This is such a helpful guide! I know I’ve bought a few things in op shops hopeful that I might be getting the deal of the year, only to look closer at home (and sometimes turn to the internet) and find out I’ve been duped. I figure at least it was a donation to the charity and I don’t feel too bad. I also grab a permanent fabric sharpie and go nuts labelling it as a fake. That way the next person knows what they are getting (I always donate them back!).

    The one exception to this rule was an extremely lucky rare find – a Balenciaga clutch for $2. Still my best bargain find ever, and it was such a thrill when I saw it and realised it was real. Still had it authenticate afterwards for my piece of mind, but at the time I was all about the Balenciaga and knew enough to authenticate it myself in store. A very happy purchase I still use frequently! 🙂

    • Mica I can’t believe your luck with the Balenciaga clutch! What an amazing find! Also, really good idea to mark the fakes as fake – the next buyer needs to know what they’re getting.

    • Thanks so much! I’ve learnt the hard way that there are so many fakes out there. Thanks for reading lovely xx

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