The Internet makes it easy to find deals on designer items, and eBay is an especially popular site for finding brand-name shoes, clothing and handbags at relatively low costs. If you're a fashionista looking for a Burberry bargain online, buyer beware! Many eBay sellers are honest, but some are trying to rip off less experienced shoppers with untrained eyes. The only way to be sure that you're getting the real thing is to buy from a certified Burberry retailer, but if you simply can't resist the thrill of a deal, be an informed buyer. Never buy a bag that you can't see, scrutinize pictures carefully and know what you're looking for to ensure that you don't buy a fake.
Know your Burberry patterns, and check the pattern on the bag against a photograph of a verified authentic Burberry. The two most popular Burberry patterns are the Classic Check and the Nova Check. The Classic Check pattern features a tan base background, decorated with black, white and red horizontal and vertical stripes and a faded knight insignia positioned at the intersection of two red lines. The Nova Check pattern is similar, with slight variations. The background has a light yellow undertone, and the lines that are red in the Classic Check pattern have a pinkish hue instead. The Nova Check pattern does not have the faded knight insignia.
Handbags-N-Guides warns that any "creative" deviation from these well-known patterns may signal a fake. Avoid any bags that are missing pattern elements, or that include additions to these traditional patterns. Ensure that squares created by the intersecting lines are neat and even. A sloppy pattern indicates a low-quality fake.
Look at the material that makes up the bag. Classic Check bags have leather trim, which may be matte, smooth and brown or glossy and red. Nova Check bags are trimmed with black leather, which may be either matte or glossy. According to the Authentic BURBERRY Purse Buying Guide, the bags themselves are not made from leather, but from vinyl-coated canvas (also known as PVC).
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If possible, get a close look at the stitching that comprises the Burberry pattern. On a real Burberry handbag, stitching will be straight and even with no loose threads.
Check the pattern alignment. Lines running down the side of the bag should meet up exactly with lines running along bottom. If the bag has multiple sides (for example, if you have a cylinder-shaped handbag with two circular ends), the pattern on one side should be identical to the pattern on the other.
Look at interior plaques and tags. The bag should have either a metal plaque engraved with the words "Burberry - London," or a leather tag with the same words embossed on it. If the bag has a leather tag, check the back of it. Many (but not all) Burberry bags have "MADE IN ITALY" stamped on the back of the leather tag, along with a serial number. If the bag's tag does not say "MADE IN ITALY" on the back, but all other signs show that you have a genuine Burberry, you're still looking at a real bag. Today, Burberry makes some items in China, especially smaller bags and accessories--a "MADE IN ITALY" stamp helps ensure authenticity, but a bag is not necessarily a fake if this feature is missing.
Examine the bag's lining. If the handbag is real, it should be lined with black canvas, beige pigskin suede or Burberry's signature fabric. Burberry signature fabric has a thick jacquard base, with BURBERRY woven repeatedly throughout in glossy beige, black, brown or red thread.
Check the purse's hardware. Zippers should be gold or silver, and the color of the hardware should match the color of the embossing on the leather tag inside the handbag. Exterior zippers should be metal, and the back of the zippers will be engraved with one of two brand names--Lampo (without the lightning bolt) or riri. Interior zippers may be plastic YKK zippers, without any backside engraving.
Look at the extra packaging that comes with the bag. Both the paper tag and box should be dark blue (almost black) with silver lettering. Older dust bags packaged with Burberry purses are navy blue with light blue lettering and a drawstring; newer bags are tan in color with a black drawstring closure.
Following these tips can help you to ensure that you're buying a real Burberry, but there are no guarantees unless you buy from an official retailer. If authenticity is important to you, buy from Burberry online or track down an authorized reseller using Burberry's website.
A professional writer since 2006, Colleen Reinhart has held positions in technical writing and marketing. She also writes lifestyle, health and business articles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Business degree from the University of Waterloo, and a Master's degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Toronto.