Buying Prada not Prado
As you know I am a seasoned and experienced Charity shopper. The best thing about this is the knowledge of getting something unique and special and as I like to say pre-loved. The second best is getting a bargain, make that the best thing; especially something couture and from a luxury house. Here is a simple guide to ensuring your Prada isn't a Prado.
The first thing is probably the scariest. Go and have a reconnoiter of the clothing in your favorite designer store. Try things on, the staff are friendly and helpful; the snooty ones are new and tend to be weeded out after a while. Feel the fabrics in your hand; check the cut and fit are right and flattering for your body. My tall hourglass shape fits amazingly into a lot of American Designers and not into French houses and surprisingly not into D & G the champions of sexy. Whilst there, look at the details; this is what you pay for.
Check the provenance of the materials and manufacture; "fabrique en France" or "moda in Italia" are your watchwords. Wool garments should have a high wool (laine, lana, wolle) content. Natural materials can include Rayon, as it is a natural fibre coming from plant cellulose but to make it into Rayon; you have to process it extensively. Hmm.
The labels inside and the language they are written in are a give away, Chinese or Asian is suspect. Strange spellings are also a give away on the inside of a garment or item as are incorrect copying of logos. For example Prada has a box banner saying Milano not Milan and the scrolling banner underneath should say DAL 1913 (it means since 1913). A Louis Vuitton logo without a TM next to the LV is a giveaway.
Look at the seams, are they fully sewn flat, or covered and bound? Also are the buttons correct and suitable for the item? Are metal buttons real and not plastic? Check the lining has also the same detailing as the outer fabric. Many houses have distinctive lining, if in doubt; (Burberry tends to change, size, the colour of its red and brown tone of its check) use other markers when considering your charity purchase. Check the inside the pockets, if its designer, the craft work will be everywhere; not just the obvious seams but little ones too.
With handbags the artisan who made it may leave a number or name on the inside stitched somewhere, limited edition pieces also have an edition number inside them too. Leather when in your hand will warm up if it feels cold, its raw edges have irregular flaking and fluff; pleather stays cold to touch, on closer inspection looks like fabric and the edges smooth.
Companies that have buckles or special logos, check these are genuine, made of solid metal pieces not plastic. For example the Gucci bridle on bags and shoes, every part of it is movable and not a molded one piece; Versace's Medusa head has clear features and her profile is 3D.
Armed with this knowledge gleamed from your store visit, you should be able to tell the Gucci from Guci when next you visit your charity shops.