According to company legend, Etienne Aigner began designing women’s handbags, in the now signature burgundy leather because he could only afford one shade of leather. Today, the Etienne Aigner brand has expanded to include a variety of materials used to make not only handbags but wallets, belts, gloves and jewelry. Imitation and fake Aigner accessories appear on the Internet, in clothing stores and on the street. Identifying a fake Etienne Aigner requires a discerning eye and knowledge of the product.
Examine the logo. The classic Etienne Aigner logo is an “A” shaped like an upside-down horseshoe rather than the teepee-like typeface. The logo can be on a zipper pull, clasp or button. In addition, it may be embossed on the leather, incorporated into the design of the fabric or sewn on the inside tag. While classic Aigner merchandise bears the Aigner “A,” more recently, merchandise will only have the word “ETIENNE” on the outer and inner tag.
Pay attention to the location of the seller. If you are in a mall or department store, most likely, you are purchasing genuine Etienne Aigner merchandise. If you purchase from a vintage clothing store, look for a store with a history of researching its merchandise and building a loyal, satisfied customer base. If you purchase from a random street vendor, this merchandise should be considered highly suspect.
Double-check the price. Brand-new Etienne Aigner sells cigarette cases for $36 and up to $199 for a handbag. Vintage handbags can sell from slightly less to twice the price of new depending on condition and collectablity. If the price seems too good to be true, suspect the handbag is a fake. However, some sellers may not realize what they have. If exhaustive investigation reveals the purse is genuine Etienne Aigner, you may have stumbled on a great deal.
Investigate the quality of the material. Etienne Aigner’s signature material is burgundy leather. Check the quality of the leather. The color should be consistent, the seams tight and even, and the leather shiny but not polished. Look at the inner lining. Check for frayed edges, holes or snags. Etienne Aigner also comes in a variety of colored leather, cloth and vinyl, so type of material is not always a clue. Some imitation designer accessories can be made to very high standards making quality a key identifying factor only if the quality is poor.
Consider the language a seller uses when describing the Etienne Aigner accessory. “Vintage” accessories can be a few years or 20 years old. Examine the bag closely. If it looks brand new, be cautious. If a seller refers to an accessory as “inspired by,” it is not genuine Etienne Aigner. Inspired accessories resemble the original but should not bear the Aigner logo nor be sold under the Etienne Aigner name.
Do your homework or get someone else to do it for you. Collect as much inform as possible including size, color, year of production and any design elements, such as buckles, chains or number of pockets. Input this information into a search engine or contact a company that will research a seller and the accessory for you.
Transplanted Yankee Erin Watson-Price lives in Birmingham, Ala., and has been writing freelance articles since 1997. She worked as writer/co-editor for Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue's newsletter, "The Long and the Short of It." In 2007 she obtained a certification as a copy editor. Watson-Price holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.