In 2012, Prada’s CEO sat down for an interview with Bloomberg television. While he intended to publicize the Italian house’s ambitious expansion plans (to open 260 stores within just two years), his controversial comments about counterfeits stole the show. Patrizio Bertelli asked, “Don’t you think it’s sad for a brand that no one wants to copy them?” Arguing it proves the brand is covetable and, hence, successful, he claimed Prada is actually ‘happy’ that its products are frequently counterfeited.
Bertelli might not be concerned, but you have every right to be. To help you protect your next pre-loved purchase, our experts have listed 10 ways you can tell a Prada bag is fake. If the piece you are considering displays even one of the following inaccuracies, keep shopping.
Want to know even more? Check out our more detailed Prada authentication guide.
Patrizio Bertelli. Photo by wwd.com
While Prada is much more focused on creating provocative and intelligent rather than recognizable pieces, its brand name is still featured in several places on its bags. Most prominently, on its triangle logo plaque, hardware, brand stamp, and interior lining. When you spot the PRADA brand name on a bag, be sure to take a close look at it. It should be written in a very specific font.
The brand name should be in all-capital, serif letters.
The right leg of the ‘R’ should be angled outward from the rest of the letter.
The angled right leg of the ‘R’ should create more space between the ‘R’ and first ‘A’ in the brand name, making it look like ‘PR’ is positioned farther away from ‘ADA.’
Where the right leg of the ‘R’ is supposed to meet the loop, there should be a curved gap. It should look like some of the right leg is missing, so it does not fully connect to the rest of the letter.
The right leg of each ‘A’ should be noticeably thicker than the left.
The right leg of each ‘A’ should extend over the top of the letter, creating an exaggerated serif.
The letters should exhibit these characteristics everywhere the brand name appears on a real Prada bag, excluding its interior lining. The interior lining is the only exception! All the hardware elements, no matter how small, should still show these details.
Unlike other luxury brands, Prada does not have a distinctive monogram. Instead, most of its bags can be identified by an inverted triangle plaque that is attached to their exterior – often near the top opening, but sometimes along the bottom seam on one of the side panels. The triangle plaque includes four lines: the brand name (PRADA), city of origination (MILANO), year of origination (DAL 1913), and coat of arms.
Because it is the only form of branding on Prada’s otherwise minimalistic bags, the triangle plaque is very carefully secured to them. It should sit flat and tight against an authentic Prada bag. You should never be able to lift its edges, wiggle it, or remove it altogether.
The stitching should form a straight line that is parallel to the bag’s seams, but each individual stitch should be angled slightly upward. This stitching pattern is unique to the Italian house. The stitches should look this way on every genuine Prada bag – no matter the style.
Unless the bag’s zippers have a nylon or leather pull, they should always be engraved with the PRADA brand name on their front. This, however, is not the only place the zippers should be marked on a real Prada bag.
Though Prada makes its own zipper pulls, it sources the actual zippers from others. Over the years, it has used five different zipper manufacturers: LAMPO, YKK, Riri, Opti, and Ipi. It can be difficult, but try to flip over the zipper slides. If the bag is real, the back of each should be engraved with the name of one of these manufacturers.
Prada bags are either lined with Nappa leather or Jacquard nylon. If the bag has the Jacquard lining, it should be stitched with a motif, which alternates between an unwound rope and repetitions of the PRADA brand name. In an authentic Prada bag, every other line of the PRADA brand name should be flipped upside down. As it requires advanced technique, counterfeiters are often unable to follow this pattern. If the PRADA brand name does not change orientation, the bag is definitely a fake.
Inside every genuine Prada bag, there is a brand stamp, which lists the house’s identifying information. It can always be found on the bag’s back wall – either along its top seam or just under the opening of its interior pocket.
Most often, the brand stamp should be embossed onto a ceramic plaque (also known as the interior logo plaque); however, in certain styles, it is on different materials. In some non-leather and re-edition bags, it should be on a leather tag; in small and mini bags, it should be directly on the interior lining.
Though the material of the brand stamp does differ, it should never be plastic or cloth. If it is, the bag is not real Prada.
Depending on when the bag was produced, the Prada brand stamp changes.
On vintage bags, the brand stamp should always be two or three lines. If it is two, it should include: PRADA on the first and MILANO on the second. If it is three, it should include: PRADA on the first, MILANO on the second, and MADE IN ITALY on the third.
On newer releases, the brand stamp should always be just two lines: PRADA on the first and MADE IN ITALY on the second.
If the brand stamp is made up of less than two or more than three lines of information, the bag is fake. Sometimes, though, MADE IN ITALY is placed on a separate tag in the bag’s interior pocket. So, if you find this inside your bag, do not be alarmed.
Both types of plaques are filled with colored enamel. The enamel in the triangle logo plaque should perfectly match the exterior material of the bag, and the enamel in the interior logo plaque should perfectly match the lining of the bag. A close, sort-of match is not good enough. On original Prada bags, the colors should be exactly the same.
Also, in either silver or gold, the metal on both plaques should be the same color as the rest of the bag’s hardware elements. Only an imitation Prada bag would mix metals.
With the exception of wallets and wallet purses, every Prada bag has a QAT (also referred to as a Factory Tag). A white, square-shaped tag, it is most commonly found along the bottom seam of the bag’s interior pocket. In black thread, it should be stitched with two or three digits. This number designates the factory the bag was produced in and ensures that it has passed rigorous quality testing.
But, be aware! Counterfeiters have taken notice of the QAT and often include it in their Prada knock-offs. While the existence of a QAT does not guarantee the bag is real, the absence of one does prove it is not.
Because authenticity extras can be easily replicated or misplaced, they are not often relied upon in the authentication process. But, when it comes to Prada, they contain some valuable information that should simply not be ignored.
In addition to the authenticity card, dust bag, and box, Prada includes a product card with every purchase. This card, which is a sturdy, black piece of cardboard with a sales sticker adhered to its back, provides more detail about the bag – including, but not limited to, its product number. If the secondhand Prada bag you are eyeing comes with its product card, you can message the house through its online contact page to verify that the product number matches the bag, finding out definitively whether it is authentic Prada or nada.