The shopping season is upon us and many consumers are looking for that perfect gift for their loved ones. Many people have extravagant Christmas lists and are hoping for designer items that they don't normally afford themselves. You may spot some great deals on top-notch designers, but how do you know that these products aren't just knockoffs?

Research Your Product and Know It Well
If you are going to be buying your product from a store that isn't a direct vendor, ensure you do your research first. Make sure you scrutinize over every detail of your designer good before you try to determine authenticity. The logo, stitching and packaging each offer crucial clues to help you determine whether your purchase is real or fake. In 2010, selling counterfeit goods online was a $200-billion-dollar industry, according to Te Smith, vice president of communications for MarkMonitor. Some of the most common forgeries include watches, bags and designer clothing.

Watches are an item that is easy to duplicate. Looking for inscriptions of the brand name in the watch and checking for imperfections or misspellings in the logo will aid you in determining if the watch is real or not. Another detail to look for is how the watch works. For example, Rolex watches have a sweeping second hand, while many knockoffs have a ticking one. Small details like this may be difficult to pick up on by the untrained eye, but when you are made aware and know what to look for, spotting a fake is a whole lot easier.

Designer bags are popular in today's society and knockoffs are increasing in popularity. Check the brand's official website to see the position of the logo on the bag and make sure that it is in the identical place when you are verifying your bag. Another thing to look for is making sure that the logos match up on either side of the seams. Many fake bags are poorly made and thus the logos don't match up on either side of the seams. Check for quality of the stitching and ensure that it isn't falling out or uneven. Labels on the inside of the bags are generally stamped onto the leather and fake bags are sometimes missing this piece.

Designer clothing can be more difficult when you are trying to spot a fake. Again look at the stitching and hang tags. Many designer brands will have a certain color thread they use for stitching all of their gowns and they will have tags that are hard to duplicate. Some well-known brands have VIP clubs where you can register your product via serial number (Herve Leger); this is a great way to ensure the product you're buying is real.

Other Tips
Be realistic when shopping. If the price seems too good to be true, you're likely not getting an authentic item. No one is going to be selling a $1,200 handbag for $100 ... unless that bag is made by Goach or Fooey Vuitton. Look for serial numbers on your products. If it's a high-end luxury good then it is more likely to have a unique serial number. When online, take heed: Online purchases are a lot more difficult to verify because the product is not in front of you. Phrases such as "inspired by" and "replica of" mean the item is not real.

The Bottom Line
By learning as much as you can about the product you want to buy, you will ensure you can separate bona fide items from inferior imitations. Check for quality, precision and detail, and you will be able to spot knock-offs that are rarely a good deal in the long run.

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