Prada makes some of the world’s most luxurious handbags and wallets. Its storied history reaches back to 1913, when it was founded by Mario Prada. In 1919, the brand was named Official Supplier to the Italian Royal Household.
Vintage designer handbags have appreciated in value more in the past 10 years than houses or cars have. A vintage Prada bag may be a great investment — if it’s the real deal.
Because of the craftsmanship involved in creating Prada bags, they carry a luxury price tag whether they’re vintage, pre-owned or brand-new. Perhaps the most obvious tell that a Prada bag is fake is a price that’s too good to be true. But not all fakes are sold at low prices, and it’s not always easy to discern real from counterfeit without a close inspection.
Some fakes are more obvious than others, rife with telltale signs like poor-quality stitching, tarnished hardware and even misspellings of Prada. A fake may be so evident that you don’t even have to pop it open to know it’s not genuine.
But some knockoffs are just as pricey as the real deal — and they’re carefully designed to look authentic on first and second inspection. To help you avoid counterfeits, we’ve created this guide so you can do your due diligence and walk away with a genuine Prada handbag.
Inspect the Logo
A genuine Prada bag has the inverted triangle logo. The plaque containing the logo on a real bag is the same color as the bag itself, so watch out for even tiny differences in hue. The plaque should be perfectly straight and securely attached — if it’s crooked, it may be a fake.
The plaque should also have three lines of text reading:
Prada plaques are typically ceramic on leather bags and leather on those made of nylon or another fabric. If a plaque is made of fabric or plastic, the bag could be fake.
No matter how large or small the bag, the plaque will be perfectly readable. The font for all the logos — inside, outside and on the dust bag — should look the same. If anything is misspelled, consider the bag a fake.
Another easy tell for a fake Prada bag — especially the nylon version — is if the plaque isn’t centered on the leather triangle it sits on. You have to look carefully, but anything off-center or not perfectly placed may be indicators that the bag is a knockoff.
The letters R and A in the Prada logo
The letter R in every logo on a genuine Prada bag has a bit of an outward angle to the right leg. If the R has a straight leg, you may have a fake on your hands.
In addition, on a real bag, there’s a curved notch in the letter R between the round part and the right leg and a slightly bigger space between the R and the A.
The A on a genuine Prada bag has a little cap, and the right leg goes slightly past the top. If you’re not sure, check the logo on your bag against the website, and you’ll see the difference easily if you have a fake.
Verify that the R and A are correct in all instances and that all the logos on the bag are in the same font.
Examine the interior plaque
The color of the plaque on the inside of a Prada bag should match or harmonize with the interior lining. For example, for a cream-colored interior, the plaque could be cream or a shade darker.
The plaque should be rectangular instead of the inverted triangle shape you see on the outside. The rectangular plaque on a genuine Prada has rounded corners, all securely fastened to the bag.
Older Prada bags have three lines on the interior plaque that read:
Made in Italy
One common slipup on fake bags is the use of “Milan” instead of “Milano” on the inside plaque.
Newer bags generally have just two lines reading:
Made in Italy
No interior plaque at all? You may have a counterfeit bag on your hands.
Check the Authenticity Card and Dust Bag
Every Prada bag comes with a certificate of authenticity in a black envelope embossed with the Prada name. Newer bags typically have two cards. The traditional printed card is kept by the retailer. The one you get is similar to a credit card and has a magnetic strip that contains important information about your Prada purchase: the style name, the purchase date and location and the serial number.
This card makes it pretty easy to verify the authenticity of a bag — you can even contact Prada via its website and provide the serial number for authentication.
The dust bag is stamped with the Prada logo and protects your purse when you’re not using it. It’s usually either silky or soft flannel and white, although it comes in different colors. Older bags often come in navy with the logo stamped in gold. The logo stamp on an authentic Prada dust bag is flawless: clear, crisp, straight and properly spelled.
Ideally, a pre-owned or vintage Prada bag will come with the dust bag, authenticity card and care instructions. If the bag is missing one of these items, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fake. But if it’s purportedly a new Prada and it’s missing the dust bag or authenticity card, give it a hard pass.
Take a Look at the Hardware
Prada does not skimp on the hardware, which should be all silver or all gold, including the zippers, clasps, grommets and the feet on the bottom. If you see a bag that has a mix of gold and silver hardware — or hardware that’s neither silver nor gold — there is a chance that it is a fake Prada bag. And hardware that is discolored or chipped is a sure sign of a counterfeit.
All the hardware — including buckles, feet, locks, the front of the zippers and any other decorative items — should be stamped with the Prada name. Blank hardware? It may be a fake bag.
If you’re not sure whether your particular bag is supposed to have feet or hardware, since not all do, check the catalogue to see what yours should come with. Obviously, if your model is supposed to have feet and the bag you’re looking at doesn’t, it could be inauthentic.
Prada uses zippers from just five manufacturers: Lampo, Ykk, Opti, Riri and Ipi. One of these names will be engraved on the back side of the zipper. Check the spelling carefully, because fake bags often misspell these names — even by just one letter — so they look like the real thing at first glance.
Run all the zippers up and down to test the quality. A genuine Prada bag will have zippers that run perfectly smoothly — no catching, broken pieces or snags anywhere.
Some Prada bag models have a keychain that attaches to the straps on the bag. Check the quality of these as well. These keychains vary in size, but they all bear the Prada name, correctly spelled and in the right font.
Look at the Lining
As you might expect, even the lining of a Prada bag is high quality. It is made either of embossed jacquard fabric or leather. The fabric lining features the Prada logo followed by a rope chain line. The logo alternates between right side up and upside down, with the rope chain in between. If the lining is made of leather, it will not have this print.
Stitched into the interior lining of a genuine Prada is a small white square with a number on it that indicates the factory where the bag was made. If you don’t see this square, you may have a counterfeit.
Scrutinize the Stitching
Although it may sound like a picky little detail, you can immediately tell from the stitching if you’re looking at a fake Prada bag. The real deal will have tight, even stitches in thread that matches the color of the bag. If the stitches aren’t perfectly straight and identical in size, or if you see threads hanging off the seam anywhere, you are possibly holding a fake.
The topstitching on a real Prada bag is often slightly angled, which is hard to achieve. Fake bags will often have straight topstitching instead.
Feel the Quality
The material a Prada bag is made from will never look or feel cheap. Although Prada uses several types of leather, any genuine leather Prada bag will feel smooth and supple. That goes even for ruched and ruffled styles.
Because the material used in fake bags is of lower quality, a knockoff Prada will often feel heavier than a real one of the same size. Vintage and pre-owned Prada bags may show some wear and tear. Whether this indicates authenticity depends on the type of leather or fabric used in the bag’s construction. Here are the types of materials used to make genuine Prada bags:
Durable and supple, Saffiano leather is embossed, waxed and highly stain-resistant.
Prada Vitello/Vitello Lux Leather
This ultrasoft calfskin leather is smooth and durable, and it holds its shape well even with heavy use.
Prada Vitello Daino Leather
This textured calfskin leather is incredibly strong. It looks and feels like deerskin, but it’s far more durable.
Prada Cervo Leather
Super-smooth, buttery soft and ultraswanky, Prada Cervo leather scratches and scuffs more easily than other leathers
Prada Nappa Gaufre Leather
This very thin, soft leather is luxuriously detailed and textured. It’s more durable than it looks, but it may show signs of wear over time.
Prada Vernice Leather
This special calfskin or lambskin is coated to give it the shine of patent leather. Gorgeously glossy, it is susceptible to scuffs and scratches.
Prada Cavallino Leather
This calfskin leather features the animal’s hair, which is very soft and beautifully textured — but it can scuff and stain easily.
This commonly used fabric, created by Miuccia Prada, is thick, durable and easy to clean. It has a slight shimmer that makes it look as gloriously luxurious as it feels.
Prada Canapa (Canvas)
Prada’s canvas bags are more susceptible to stains than the leather or nylon ones, but the canvas is of the highest quality — sturdy, durable and easy to clean.
The first nylon Prada backpack, introduced in 1984, showed the world that nylon could be luxurious. Prada’s nylon bags are made of high-quality material and entirely stitched together — any nylon bag that appears to be glued is probably a fake. A fake Prada nylon bag may also appear lumpy because it wasn’t stitched correctly.
Nylon bags by Prada may come with a leather tag known as a clochette. The two vertical stitches at the top of the tag are symmetrical, and its bottom edges are rounded. A fake Prada bag may have uneven stitches at the top of the tag, which may also have squared-off bottom edges and an inconsistent font.
Consider the Source
Finally, where you purchase your Prada may indicate whether or not your bag may is authentic. When shopping for pre-owned and vintage Prada bags, stick with reputable or authorized dealers, or shop on a platform, like 1stDibs, that vets all sellers and offers buyer protection.