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How to spot a designer fake

Fanny Moizant doesn't mince words. If you want to suss out a designer fake, the founder of designer reselling website Vestiaire Collective says, it starts with the money, honey.

"Dont be fooled by the price – it’s unlikely you will find a new pair of Christian Louboutins at 50 euro," says Moizant. "Magic doesn’t happen there." 

Moizant started Vestiaire (French for "wardrobe") Collective with five partners in 2009. Its first sale was one of Moizant's own Gucci handbags.

From 3000 items, it has grown into a community of six million buyers and sellers in 48 countries. Australia, one of its biggest growth markets, will be fully "seller operational" from mid-year.

While Moizant is a fierce advocate of sustainable fashion, she is also a realist when it comes to people's buying habits.

"It’s all about the mindset. We are not asking people to forget new things... it’s all about being smart and clever with how you look at fashion and how you feel with your own wardrobe and how you give and breathe new life into your pieces," she says.


Sustainability will be a big focus of Hong Kong-based Moizant's address to the Melbourne Fashion Festival business seminar on Friday.

"Fashion is the second-most polluting industry in the world. People are paying more attention and trying to find relevant solutions," she says.

One of the core pillars of Vestiaire's success is its extensive authentication process, something that sets it apart from other reselling websites.

But no matter where people shop, Moizant has plenty of suggestions for how to tell a genuine article from a knock-off.

"Know the retail price; what would be a decent resell price," she says.

Do your homework: Moizant says to know if the item you are browsing even came in that particular size, colour and leather. If it seems like a one-off, chances are it's not real.

Ask questions: "Ask the seller for as much information as possible about the life of the item."

Ask for all the accessories: For shoes, that means the box and dust jacket; for bags, a dust bag and swing tags and extra straps. Receipts are also handy but check their authenticity – crafty counterfeiters even know how to make dust bags and invoices that look like the real thing. "Sometimes it’s the catchpoint... if the dust bag is poor quality that can raise an alarm bell," Moizant says. 

Watch for trends: Moizant says counterfeit jewellery and watches are cropping up more than clothing, although it does happen. She says less than 0.5 per cent of the 600,000 items that appear on Vestiaire will wind up being fake, with many of these quickly spotted by eagle-eye consumers.

Fanny Moizant will appear at the Melbourne Fashion Festival business seminar on March 9. vamff.com.au.