September 17, 2014
By Jody Hume
HOW TO AUTHENTICATE BALENCIAGASHOP BALENCIAGA
While Balenciaga has its origins in the couture creations of Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga, the brand’s 77-year history has seen its move to Paris and transformation into a cutting-edge brand coveted by celebrities and street style stars in addition to the fashion eilte. In 1997, Nicolas Ghesquière took the helm and created the iconic leather goods we associate with the modern incarnation of Balenciaga. Most recently, for Fall/Winter 2013 American designer Alexander Wang debuted his first collection as Balenciaga’s Creative Director.
Along with tapping new visionaries to lead the brand, Balenciaga has updated the way it creates its handbags and leather goods, so we turned to Senior Director of Authentication & Brand Compliance, Graham Wetzbarger, to trace the evolution of the brand’s telltale signs of authenticity. Watch the video above and learn how to spot an authentic Balenciaga handbag by checking for these four things.
1. Interior Label
The interior label of a Balenciaga bag tells us about its authenticity and age. While some labels are metal nameplates, all others are leather. The style number listed on the front or back of the label is a simple way to identify the model of a Balenciaga handbag. In 2005, the underscore between “Balenciaga” and “Paris” was replaced with a period. Prior to 2008, the metal plates were made of sterling silver and stamped “925,” and currently they are made of nickel.
Unique hardware is what makes a Balenciaga bag so recognizable. Hardware should always be securely attached, and you want to inspect the backs of the handles looking for notches in the rivets. Zippers should be marked “Lampo,” the O-Rings on the pulls should be soldered closed, and the bales on the shoulder straps should be rounded, crimped and finished to a point. Spring/Summer 2013 was the last season Balenciaga featuresd rose gold hardware.
When examining construction, pay close attention to the pockets. Beginning in 2005, the front pocket was partially lined in leather. When unzipped, you will not see the black canvas which makes up the rest of the lining material.
Balenciaga bags feature characteristic distressed leather, which only gets better with age. Since the Fall/Winter 2007 season Balenciaga has used lambskin arena leather in place of goatskin chevre leather. Due to the scarcity of chevre, Balenciaga bags made with this leather are very desirable.
Now that you know how to tell an authentic Balenciaga handbag from a fake, you can shop with confidence. Graham and his team at The RealReal use this rigorous inspection process every day to authenticate our thousands of designer handbags from Balenciaga and more.
Like this video? Get more helpful how-tos for other iconic fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Chanel in our authentication series.