How to Spot Real Louis Vuitton Monogram
If there’s a monogram that truly needs no introduction, it’s Louis Vuitton’s. Once an iconic symbol of international travel, the interlocking LV and floral motif is now a universal denotation of luxury. It’s graced everything from steamer trunks to belt bags and has been flaunted by celebrities on and off the screen. Today, Nicolas Ghesquière and Virgil Abloh are in charge of continuing its legacy and making the monogram more ubiquitous than it already is.
Due to its coveted status, Louis Vuitton’s monogram is one of the most counterfeited logos to date. So how can you know real from faux? Take a walk through the Louis Vuitton monogram hall of fame and read our expert team’s tips for spotting the real deal.
Louis Vuitton Monogram
The original Louis Vuitton monogram dates back to 1896, when Louis Vuitton’s son Georges designed a signature motif to (ironically) foil counterfeiters. The pattern on genuine Louis Vuitton monogram pieces should be perfectly aligned and symmetrical. While there exists a myth that only fake bags feature a cut-off monogram, due to design some smaller leather goods will clip the monogram.
The biggest tell when authenticating Louis Vuitton monogram pieces is the vachetta leather trim. Vachetta leather is untreated European calf hide. It has a unique way of aging and patinating, and counterfeiters will often use synthetic leather that does not oxidize or poorly treated leather that does not possess the unique characteristics of genuine vachetta. Lightly scratched vachetta leather can be buffed out with your hand, but leathers of inferior quality cannot.
Louis Vuitton Catogram
Louis Vuitton’s late 2018 collaboration with Grace Coddington is arguably the cutest monogram to date: the Catogram. Inspired by the pets of both Coddington and Louis Vuitton women’s creative director Nicolas Ghesquière, the collection features cats and dogs popping up between initials and fleurs, while minute mice scurry across the linings of bags. And the bold orange monogram is a reference to the unmistakable mane of Coddington.
As with all Louis Vuitton pieces, the details are what designate real from faux. The cat and dog accents are raised on authentic Catogram pieces, and they should not be debossed or stamped. On pieces featuring the white Catogram pattern, under 300% magnification, individual cyan, yellow and magenta hues should be visible within the monogram.
Louis Vuitton Vernis
Louis Vuitton Vernis has certainly seen its fair share of the spotlight. First introduced in 1997 by freshly appointed creative director Marc Jacobs, Vernis (French for “varnish”) has emerged in nearly every color imaginable. The glossy, embossed patent leather most commonly features the monogram, though Louis Vuitton creates Vernis Damier pieces as well.
When it comes to spotting real Vernis monogram pieces, it’s imperative to note that not every Louis Vuitton bag has been crafted with Vernis. Only select bags are crafted with Vernis (for example, Vernis Speedys and Vernis Neverfulls have never been created by the house). Counterfeiters will use a similar material to craft styles that are not part of Louis Vuitton’s Vernis repertoire, or create colorways that the brand has never used. The texture is also a tell, as inauthentic Vernis pieces may appear puffy; counterfeiters usually incorrectly fabricate the depth of the imprint.
Louis Vuitton Multicolore
During Marc Jacobs’ tenure at Louis Vuitton, he tapped multiple artists to create unique riffs on the Louis Vuitton monogram. A frequent collaborator was neo-pop artist Takashi Murakami, and the Multicolore line is perhaps his most iconic. Multicolore pieces hit the market in 2003 and were included in the permanent collection until 2015, when it was discontinued.
Louis Vuitton Multicolore pieces will always have 33 colors, with the exception of smaller bags and wallets that cannot accommodate the full color range. On counterfeits, you’ll see far fewer than 33 colors. Because there are so many colors, none (or few) should repeat on genuine Multicolore pieces. An additional tell is in the pattern itself. Contrasting fleurs should be included at the upper right of the LV initials, while on many fakes, the fleur and LV initials will match.
Louis Vuitton Monogramouflage
One of Louis Vuitton’s rarest monograms is the Monogramouflage, another Takashi Murakami design. The Monogramouflage made a grand debut in 2008 at the Brooklyn Museum for one of Murakami’s shows. Within the show, a Louis Vuitton pop-up sold limited edition Monogramouflage canvasses, as well as Murakami-designed Monogram Cerises and Multicolore pieces, resulting in an unprecedented art-meets-commerce experience.
Nowadays, Monogramouflage pieces resell for much higher than their retail price. When inspecting a Louis Vuitton Monogramouflage bag, make sure the tan and olive green colors are a tad muted. The colors on inauthentic pieces are often too saturated, with too much yellow or green present in the design.
Louis Vuitton Infrarouge
A dramatic black and red defines the Monogram Infrarouge, Nicolas Ghesquière’s first adaptation of the LV monogram. It premiered on the Spring 2015 runway, and while it seemed to vanish from LV’s offerings as quickly as it appeared, its effects were everlasting.
After Ghesquière debuted this bold colorway, Kim Jones was able to experiment with color during his time working on Louis Vuitton’s men’s collections. Only a few Infrarouge women’s styles were manufactured, with limited quantities, including the uber-coveted Pochette Metis and Palm Springs Mini backpack. Infrarouge also adorned women’s Petite Malles, Soft Doras and Alma bags, as well as men’s belts and other leather goods. Similarly to Vernis pieces, Infrarouge has not been used for a number of bag styles, including the Neverfull.
Louis Vuitton Galaxy
Louis Vuitton’s space-inspired Galaxy collection for men hit during the 2018 holiday season. Four new bag styles — inspired by astronaut gear — emerged with the starry monogram, including the Alpha backpack, Alpha Hobo, Alpha Messenger and a Bumbag (or belt bag).
One thing to note when authenticating Galaxy Louis Vuitton pieces is that the monogram itself is patterned as well. The monogram’s colors will vary, but it should always be somewhat visible against the galaxy print. In addition, the pattern should not cover any of the piece’s stitching.
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Please note: Brand standards, logos and other identifying features may have changed since the time of publication.