a guide for authenticity & care

As promised, a quick guide to purchasing your first Chanel, along with care is finally here!

I have received SO many requests~ comments, emails, etc~ from readers old and new, new friends, and friends I know in real life…all about different aspects of Chanel. This includes current prices, craftsmanship, care, colors, advice on first time purchases….so here it all is in one post.  Hope I help in some way, and you take as much out of it as possible.

Purchasing your first Chanel can be a very scary thing, because let’s face it- it’s the price tag that makes it a scary one. Also, the prices go up, esp on the classic pieces. Because of these factors, many try to buy pre-owned pieces to save money.

To be completely honest with you, I have never purchased pre-loved~~BUT I feel that I know the brand inside & out, and am knowledgeable enough to share my information/tips with you so that you don’t regret your purchases. Yes, if you can~ I first and foremost recommend to purchase directly from Chanel or reuputable department stores like Saks and Bloomingdales. Why? Because they are large {luxury} purchases, and very pricey. A question that I hear often is,

“Gosh, how can you justify the price tag?”

 Before you judge, I agree…spending so much on a material item made out of leather and cloth can be superficial and frivolous. People judge all the time. As long as you aren’t using money on yourself that you shouldn’t, incurring debt upon yourself, and if you have the resources to do so, I don’t think it is frivolous at all. Why? Chanel is timeless, and it will never go out of style. It is a brand that is passed down from generation to generation. I believe anyone in fashion will tell you the same. Instead of making 3-4 handbag purchases a year on styles that will likely fade within the next few years, I think it is wise to save all of that money and buy ONE great bag that encompasses your style.. and rock it… often, & well. There is nothing that compares to the look of timeless. Just take care of your Chanel WELL  to preserve its lifespan- (that’s why I’m sharing my how-tos and tips here also, because

I think CARE it is JUST as important as the purchase itself.

Why make a purchase on something so pricey, when you aren’t going to take care of it well, & its appearance deteriorates along with its value? Unfortunately, buying directly from Chanel or dept stores isn’t an option for everyone, esp in this economy, along with the fact that the powerhouse seems to raise its prices almost annually! If you are thinking to buy one pre-loved, I think that is a smart idea, but please be smart and educate yourself before making your purchase. That’s the very purpose of this post – to educate and inform with the info I know, (because I’ll always be hopelessly obsessed with this brand because of the quality and timeless elegance it exudes). =)

Out of all of the Chanel I own, I decided to use these three handbags below as visuals, because they are the two most timeless designs of  Chanel- The classic JUMBO flapand the cerf tote.

As for classic flaps,  all of the ones I own happen to be the exact same size/style. {The Jumbo Flap} pictured above. Because of my lifestyle, I prefer larger handbags. For reference, the size for a jumbo is always 12″ x 8″ x 3″ . The current price (as of last Feb) is USD $4300.

The double C lock

is also referred to as the ‘Mademoiselle’ lock, because Coco Chanel never married. The C’s in every authentic Chanel bag interlock the way they are pictured below-  the right C should always be over the top left C hook.

There are four grommets (holes) in each flap. On jumbos the four grommets are side by side- { OO         OO}.  On the small and medium/large flaps, the grommets are right under one another-{one hole with one right under it}.Under the grommets closest to the edge of the flap you will see this tiny little stich holding the flap to the body of the bag together. ALWAYS look for this tiny little detail!

Stitching

The quilted stitch design was designed by Coco Chanel to resemble the quilted jackets of horse jockeys back then. Look carefully, and notice that all of the stitching always matches up with each other (esp where the back pocket is) There should be at least ten stitches PER inch. Anything under that is simply not authentic.

If you want to get really nitty gritty, look at the bottom of the bag. This applies only to the jumbo- small medium/large of the classic flap is smooth on the bottom in both caviar and lambskin. As for the JUMBO CAVIARS -the bottom should be clean and flat, and there should be a seperation in the right and left partitions of the bottom. 1 perfect diamond consisting of 4 smaller perfect diamonds should be cut directly in half right down the center. *Note*- on jumbo lambskins it is completely smooth on the bottom with no separation partition.

Moving on, the Chanel Cerf Tote is often referred to as the Birkin of Chanel, because it resembles the its tote shape and feel with shorter handles. The bag is meant to have a structured look. Even so, like the Hermes Birkin, the leather gets smooth, soft, and more worn which gives it a less structured look and feel. The best part of the Cerf though, is that it comes with a detachable strap (perfect for shopping days) and a detachable make up pouch.

the bottom of a cerf tote is not flat- it has four rounded feet, the feet should have abs no markings. This bag used to come in just black and beige (take a look at my beige one HERE). Recently, it came out in a mocha color which is very dark, deep and rich! It’s def next on my Chanel wish list!

Serial Numbers 

Serial stickers were first introduced in 1984 and continue to be used today. Bags made before this time, don’t  have stickers.

6 digit codes-bag was made some time between 1984 and 1986.

7 digit codes- handbag was made between 1986 and 2004.

ANY 8 digit codes means it’s a model, made in 2005, still being made TODAY.

8 digits is the max amount of digits you should see on a Serial Number. Anything over 8 digits is not authentic.

Authenticity Cards 

The “card system” was introduced the same time as the serial sticker. There should be absolutely no rainbowy “hologram” type effect. It is made out of plastic and feels just like a credit card.

As you see below, the serial number on the bag, and the number on the authenticity card, ALWAYS match.

It always comes with a small 2×2 creme envelop with info on the bag.

More details about hardware- Every single zipper pull has CHANEL (in all caps) printed on only the top face of the pull. Naturally, the color of its hardware will always match the rest of the bag’s hardware. The straps you see below (which come with every cerf tote) are the same leather- its pebbly caviar feel matches.

If you were to open your tote at the turn lock and take your first peek inside the bag, that serial number will always be at the TOP right hand corner of the bag.  ( i pulled it out below so you could get a better look). *NOTE- on the reissues it is aways at the  bottom left  hand corner.

all flaps have the brand embossed in whatever color the  hardware the flap is. It always matches. The jumbo below has SHW which matches the embossment.

 On the other side of the turnstyle lock, the backplate should have flat head screws. On the left it should say Chanel, and on the right it should say Paris.

Before February 1955, when Coco Chanel still owned the powerhouse, there was no leather interwoven in the chain. In the 80s when Karl Lagerfeld took over, he added a leather strap interwoven in between the chains. Today we refer to this as the classic flap. If you are looking to purchase one that has no leather interwoven in the strap (with the rectangular turnlock) it is called referred to as the reissue or the 2.55. This bag was also reissued in feb of 2005.

 As you probably know, Coco Chanel came from an orphanage, & her caretakers wore chains around their waists which held their keys. That is the meaning behind the chain. In a lot of bags made before 2008 there is no stitching in the leather interwoven in the chain– at all. If there is stitching on the interwoven leather in the chains, it will ONLY be on one side.

A big reason the flap is a timeless classic, is it can be worn in a variety of ways. Below, I am wearing the strap with both chains doubled. When doing so, the jumbo always hits my waistline.

If you open the jumbo (or any Chanel classic flap) you can readjust the strap messenger style (just as pictured below). When I wear it messenger style but just on one shoulder, it hits my bottom.

you can also wear it messenger style, and literally so-! (Not just on the shoulder like pictured with the white jumbo), but on the opposite shoulder, crossing over to your waist- (pictured below)

It can be a bit overwhelming, as there’s a lot of things to look at before making your decision on purchasing pre-owned.

The last thing that I want to firmly say, is that if I were ever to even consider buying preloved, I would not even consider it if it did have the original box, dustbag, and card. These things hold value in the bag+if the person took care of the bag very well with minor wear=it looks new/comes just as you would purchase at Chanel, then I would go for it. Always look at every single detail including the lining. The lining should always be very firm against the bag and not baggy in any way at all.

In conclusion, remember:

-hardware including double C lock, zipper pulls etc

-serial #s / authenticity cards

-the stitching/quality & craftsmanship

CHANEL CARE

Dating back to my very first Chanel purchase, (well, gift I should say) I just knew that I wanted to preserve its lifespan. As women, we are always trying to avoid any kind of premature aging or even turn back the hands of time if there is little damage to our skin, no? I think bags are the same way. You have to take care of them, just like you would take care of your own face. Step by step you can ensure/preserve their life span and youth. Back to my first Chanel. I scoured the internet trying to figure out just what in the world I should use on it. This is what I used, and it’s STILL what I use today. New purchases look shiny, and “older” purchases look  just like the day they were bought. I promise you would never know that they were used unless you stared hard at the CC locks (you can see teeny tiny scratches that blend together to look like a sheen).

enter

Apple Brand Leather Care

I use these three items on my bags every single month. After each use, I wipe them down with a damp cloth, and in the summers smudge just a tiny dime size amount of  the conditioner over the entire bag. Here is what I do in order:

Go to your local craft store, and find this type of cloth- something that is more “rigid” on one side, and soft soft soft on the other. Buy a piece of it and cut it into many smaller pieces. I use the rigid side for the leather cleaner. Like an exfoliater on your skin, it has more surface texture that can really get into the crevices of caviar leather. On the baby soft & smooth side, I condition the leather.

Step one: For a jumbo, pour a quarter size amount onto the textured side of your piece of cloth. Rub always diagonally, following the quilted stitching. Use your fingers to really get into the stitching- it’s not just the caviar or lambskin that is getting dirty, its the cloth in the stitches that soil fast too.

Let this dry for about 15 mins.

Step 2: Reverse your cloth to the soft side, and apply another quarter size amount of leather conditioner

Step 3:

Now this is the anal part. I put the chain of my jumbo hugging the neck of a hanger. Hold it two feet away from you, and spray a thin sheen to all surfaces of the bag. DON’T forget the inside too, that’s the dirtiest part sometimes!) After I am done, I leave the bag open, and and hang on a closet pole. (of course I remove any clothing or hangers nearby). Let this dry, and then place the bag where you normally store it.

Being the ocd freak i am, I actually rub any access product off of any hardware that it might have touched by using a clean soft side of the cloth.

As for inside care/lining of my bags- I first use a lint roller to pick up any pieces of debris in the bag, then quickly  do a once all over swipe with a baby wipe to make sure the wipe picks up anything the lint roller might have missed in the lining.

Take care of these beauties just as you would your own face or body. The step by step process might be tedious, but the results are amazing, and I promise you your bags will ALWAYS look brand new.

I hope I have answered most of your questions but most importantly given some of you some insight about the brand, and what to look for if you want to buy preloved. No matter how you purchase, make sure you are purchasing the bag that is not a trendy color, or what you have seen many others carry, purchase the bag that encompasses YOU. Please feel free to email with any questions that I might have forgotten to cover!

Happy hunting, and shopping!