How to... Spot a (fashion) fake. By Fanny Moizant
Watching these girls’ hands as they check it’s not a fake is like watching ballet
Years ago I opened my wardrobe and realised it was full of clothes I didn’t wear any more. Around that time some French fashion bloggers had started to resell their clothes on the internet – they published photos and asked readers to send cheques. It was all very ad hoc.
I was reluctant to do this because everyone I knew had a horror story about buying second-hand goods online. One friend had bought a computer on a random website and received two bottles of water instead. So, in 2009, I co-founded my own website where you can buy and sell second-hand designer clothes and accessories. I’d worked in fashion in Paris for years and had studied fashion marketing at the Institut Français de la Mode. Seven years on, Vestiaire Collective has 4,000 new items submitted to the site every day.
The diference between ours and other online marketplaces is that we scout out fakes. When someone buys an item, the seller sends it to our headquarters in Paris for quality checks. There are 20 people on our quality-control team: 15 for quality, plus fve ‘authenticators’ who come from auction houses. They check the seller’s proof of purchase, as well as examining the item to make sure it’s genuine.
The details that distinguish a real piece from a fake can be very subtle, so it’s an in-depth process. Watching these girls’ hands as they go through their checks is like watching ballet. They touch the leather and they even close their eyes – you have a better sense of touch with your eyes closed. Then they smell the item. It sounds crazy, but you can smell if there’s plastic or if the glue is noxious, as it is in some counterfeit pieces.
When we identify something as a fake the seller is usually surprised, as they were convinced that their products were authentic. In the early days we had to phone a lovely customer who sold a particularly expensive bag and tell her it was counterfeit – she was so ashamed to have put her name to it.
My advice to others buying second-hand goods is to trust your gut. Don’t dream you’ll get the perfect product for a tiny price. When you buy a pair of Louboutins for £50, come on – that kind of thing doesn’t exist. Interview by Emily Cronin
Moizant at her home in central London with some of her favourite fnds.