We often get great questions about the authenticity of different bags that we sell. These questions come up a lot when we list discontinued or vintage items. I figured as long as I am going to take the time to write up a detailed explanation... I might as well share it with the world via our good old FASHIONPHILE blog!
We had the bag above returned to us because the buyer, in good faith believed it to be fake. The problem, as we have found through the years selling Louis Vuitton in particular is based to two conflicting facts about the Louis Vuitton manufacturing in particular. First, Louis Vuitton is very systematic in their approach to the construction of any of their bags. So an authentic Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 that you purchased in 1984 will be almost identical to an authentic Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 that you purchase in 2013... down to the stitch count. Notice the operative word there... almost. Which brings me to the second fact. Louis Vuitton does in fact make changes to specific features and detail in many lines of handbags and has done so throughout the years. What this means is that you can always rely on the fact that two Louis Vuitton Speedy handbags made in the San Dimas factory in June of 2012 (having the same date code) will be virtually identical. However, if you looked for the date code in your June 2012 Louis Vuitton Speedy in the same place that you found it in the one your mother bought in June 1989, you will not find it.
That being said... let's talk about the Louis Vuitton Luco Tote. The Luco tote made it's entrance into the Louis Vuitton catalog in early 1999. It's a great style bag in my opinion because of the limited use of Louis Vuitton's ever so delicate vachetta leather... and because it's a good sized tote that stands up on it's own and has a zipper top! The discontinued Cabas line was almost as good except for that darned vachetta base. It's just such a nightmare to keep looking clean- and for one with even a mild case of OCBD (obsessive compulsive bag disorder)... it's just a matter of time before you'll need a new base or a new bag. But I digress. By the Fall of 2006, the beloved Luco tote had met its untimely death and was discontinued by Louis Vuitton.
When it was first introduced in 1999. The hardware that attached the vachetta straps to the monogram bag had diagonal lines embossed at the corner like this:
For whatever reason... between March and April of 2001, Louis Vuitton introduced hardware on the handles that no longer had the diagonal line. It looks like this:
And around the same time, there was also a change in the zipper pull.
I have no idea why these Louis Vuitton decided to make these changes, but I do know that they have made similar hardware changes through the years... like the change they made in 2006 with the Louis Vuitton papillon hardware.
What this means, is that anytime you search on the FASHIONPHILE website- or on eBay or at your local consignment shop even, and you find (lucky you it has only become more popular as it has been discontinued) an authentic pre-owned Louis Vuitton Luco Tote- check the date code. If it was made prior to April of 2001, then it will have the diagonal embossing lines. If it is made in April 2001 or after- then it will not.*
(* I just realized that although the hardware change eventually hit all factories, I'm not as sure about the month with the Louis Vuitton Luco Totes that were made in Spain. Those also had the switch but it may have been a couple months later.)