When Hedi Slimane rebranded Yves Saint Laurent five years ago and transformed the storied French atelier into Saint Laurent, he brought every aspect of its aesthetic into a new era. Though there was initial outcry about the seemingly drastic name change, Slimane’s acute attention to the YSL logo drove its handbags, wallets and accessories into coveted It pieces. The edgy, California-tinged rocker vibe of Slimane’s ready-to-wear found a balance with sleek and iconic bags, from monogrammed clutches and Kate wallet-on-chains to tasseled Cassandre crossbodies and Cabas satchels.
As Saint Laurent bags became modern classics, however, counterfeiters inevitably took advantage of their moment and began to create copies left and right. Of course, Chief Authenticator Graham Wetzbarger has the 411 on weeding out those fakes. Read on for Wetzbarger’s authentication tips and learn how to spot a real YSL logo-accented bag for yourself.
YSL Bag Materials
Authentic Saint Laurent bags come in an array of materials, including lambskin, metallics, suede, calfskin and textured leathers. “Unfortunately, because these materials are common, counterfeits can be accurate,” notes Wetzbarger. “However, check the lining to make sure it’s a black textile with leather trim — that can be a telling sign.” At the interior, the leather will be glued to a textile lining to create a seamless transition. “The fact that the leather is glued to the textile should not raise any eyebrows,” says Wetzbarger.
YSL Bag Construction
When examining an authentic Saint Laurent bag, its edges will be consistently finished. “If the bag features matelassé, a technique used to mimic hand-stitched quilts from Marseilles, France, each row should be the same width, perfectly aligned and have an even number of stitches,” notes Wetzbarger. “There should never be any double stitching in the middle of a row or in an unexpected place.” Any signs of loose threads, double stitching or similar inferior quality is an immediate red flag.
On a wallet-on-chain, each card slot should be functional and have a base. “Sometimes on counterfeits, the card slots will be slits and the cards will fall right through,” says Wetzbarger. “And if the bag shows no sign of use, neither should the slots. Any sign of tearing or wear could indicate inauthenticity.”
YSL Bag Hardware
Since much of Saint Laurent’s charm lies in its iconic logo, hardware is key. “Pay close attention to the font, and where the letters overlap,” says Wetzbarger. “The Y’s left arm — thicker than the right — sits beneath the S, while the right arm is above. The S then swoops behind the bottom half of the Y, overlaps the L and tucks behind it.” Also note the slope of the L; it starts wider at the top and narrows as it hits the horizontal leg. The S will also change weight at its middle. “It’s almost calligraphic,” says Wetzbarger, “so keep all these subtleties in mind.” The YSL logo will also include four mock nail heads on the outlying corners. Though not functional, they should always be present.
An authentic Saint Laurent bag will feature a curb chain with flat-faced links and a metal connector labeled Saint Laurent. “On bags with removable straps, there are two different types of hardware,” says Wetzbarger. “A metal clasp, or a leather clasp with two peg-in-hole closures that secure the strap underneath the flap.” Though different, both are genuine.
The grommets incorporating the chain will not be marked with the brand, nor will small snap closures on wallets. “However, larger snaps on handbags will be marked Saint Laurent / Paris,” advises Wetzbarger. The interior zipper pulls are also a key point of authentication. Genuine bags will feature zippers with a signature bend in them, also seen on YSL leather jackets. These pulls are not totally flat, and have a crimp near the base.
YSL Bag Brand Identifiers
On the underside of a Saint Laurent bag’s flap, you’ll see the signature Saint Laurent / Paris debossed below the ‘male’ half of the snap. “Saint Laurent Paris should be capitalized in a sans serif font,” notes Wetzbarger. “Compare the shape of the S, the angle of the As and the spacing of the letters. The N and the T will touch. The slope of the R leg in Laurent is rounded, while the R leg in Paris is straight.” Counterfeiters will frequently use same the font throughout.
Additionally, an unfoiled blind stamp will be at the base of the flap, or perhaps tucked behind a pocket wall. “The blind stamp will say ‘Made in Italy,’ and below will be the style and art number. The style number is six digits, with a four to five digit art number, and should match on the accompanying tag if present.” You can confirm the style number by searching online — under ‘More Details’ on the Saint Laurent website. More recent iterations of Saint Laurent bags will feature a prefix and dot before the style and art number, while older bags will only include the style and art number. “This formatting is consistent with all Kering brands like Gucci, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen,” says Wetzbarger.