Buying a designer handbag is relatively easy, but finding one at a bargain price can be a challenge. When buying a Coach bag, consider the bag's authenticity, whether or not it was made for a Coach retail or outlet store and whether it's worth the price tag. To find the perfect Coach bag for the right price, you need to have the right information at your fingertips.
Determine the Authenticity of a Coach Bag
Familiarize yourself with the look of Coach handbags. Note that Coach bags often display the traditional Coach 'C' design, and some bags have a more modern 'C' design. Study the look of the two so you can easily identify them. The traditional 'C' is shaped like an oval, and the left side of the 'C' is thicker than the top and bottom. The modern 'C' is the same size in all sections, and is perfectly round like a circle.
Examine the material of which the bag is made. Reject the bag if the material is scratchy or flawed or if the leather appears to be fake. Coach only uses real leather and quality materials, so anything that appears or feels otherwise is not authentic.
Check the bag to see if all patterns line up correctly. Look at the C pattern to see if it lines up perfectly at the seams, especially the center seam. Be on the lookout for half 'C' patterns, especially on the seam on the front of the bag, which indicates that the bag is a fake. The pattern on the bottom of the bag may not necessarily line up perfectly, but all seams on the front and sides of the bag will line up properly.
Study the tag inside the tag. Look for a tag that is stitched on, displays the Coach brand name on the top, and has a paragraph about Coach bags. Look underneath the tag for the bag's serial number. This will begin with the letters No (for number), followed by the bag's identification number. The identification number has two sections separated by a dash and includes both letters and numbers.
Check the bag's details. Coach bags are stitched, not glued, and have YKK zippers. Coach C's are designed a certain way, so a misshapen C is a telltale sign of a fake bag. Watch for plastic wrapping around the handles without paper underneath and a price tag hanging from a ball chain, both of which indicate that the bag is not an authentic Coach bag.
Trust your instincts. If a bag simply looks fake, it probably isn't authentic. Note the colors that Coach bags come in. Reject any bag that's a color Coach normally doesn't use. Check the bag's pattern to see if it's lopsided and make sure the tag is in English with no misspelled words.
Determine Whether the Coach Bag was Designed for and Sold at Retail or Outlet Stores
Shop at a Coach retail store or certified Coach retailer to buy an authentic bag. Wait for storewide sales to get the best price on a Coach bag. When you purchase a bag from a Coach retailer or high-end department store, you are purchasing an up-to-date, legitimate Coach bag.
Purchase a new bag at a Coach outlet store. Open a Coach bag and look at the inside tag. Check the bag's serial number for the letter F following a dash, which stands for "Factory," meaning that the bag was made specifically for a Coach factory outlet. Bags that are sold at the outlet but do not contain this code were not made specifically for the factory outlet.
Shop at secondhand stores. Look at the inner tag of a Coach bag to find out where it was purchased. Coach purses sold at the Coach factory store typically have a bullseye pattern stamped on the interior leather tag. Likewise, bags sold at Nordstrom have an 'N' stamped on the leather tag. These indicators tell you where a Coach bag was purchased.
Buy Coach handbags at TJ Maxx, Loehmann's, or other discount stores. If the tag has an X on the inside label, it's a Coach bag that didn't sell and was released to a discount store. These bags may be hard to find, so you will need to shop frequently and carefully to locate bags of this variety.
Take advantage of sales from designer sample sale websites. Visit websites like Ideeli, RueLala and Hautelook that offer discounts on authentic Coach products. Note that these products are often from previous seasons, and you can buy them at Coach outlet stores.
When buying a used Coach bag, ask the seller to show you a picture of the inside authentication tag. Ask when and where the seller bought the bag.
When buying from websites like eBay, check out the seller's other auction items. Sellers who offer hundreds of the same item are most likely dealing in fakes.
Cadence Michaels has been writing professionally since 2007, primarily through blogging and articles for various websites. In 2010 Michaels completed a Master of Business Administration degree and hopes her studies will assist her in writing about new topics.