Chanel Ditches Their Authenticity Cards for Custom NFC Microchips

This spring, while loyal Chanel customers were still processing the recent price hikes on their favourite Chanel bags, they had another development coming their way; no more authenticity cards. What was once a staple for verified assurance that what you purchased was the real deal, is now no more. Of course, avid high-end fashionistas may be aware of this change, as they keep up on the latest news pertaining to the luxury market, but others may be caught off guard by its absence.

Chanel is just the latest of many luxury brands joining the movement of getting on the next level in their ongoing battle against the counterfeit market. Rest assured, these authenticity cards are not just disappearing in thin air, they’re adapting to the new digital age. 

Replacing the printed card, as well as the corresponding hologram sticker inside the bag that shows the unique authenticity code (pictured left), are NFC microchips. NFC (Near-field Communication) chips are a key facilitator in blockchain technology and are being embedded in goods that have historically fallen victim to counterfeiters. Blockchain is essentially a system of storing information that is virtually impossible to edit. These chips will store a product’s entire history- from creation to distribution to all transactions [1]. Consumers will be able to access every aspect of a product’s life. Counterfeiters will be unable to recreate these markers. Furthermore, superfake producers will be incapable of even coming into possession of this technology and the required tools to produce the tags [1].

According to a blog by Purse Bop, “On the positive side, you’ll no longer worry about misplacing the authenticity card. Moreover, Chanel will have a record of each of its bags and, presumably, its purchaser. So-called “superfake” bags will therefore be easily identifiable as they will lack the imprinted and tracked code” [1]. In addition, when buyers lost the authenticity card for their Chanel bag, it used to bring down the value of the bag as you no longer had that “insurance” of its authenticity [2]. Now there’s no risk of this. 

This new change will take effect on Chanel products from the new 21A product serial numbers onward. These chips can be found on the inside of the handbag in the form of a metal plaque with the classic CC logo and an 8-digit alphanumeric serial code on it [3] (pictured right). It will be relatively easy for superfakes to implement a look-a-like metal chip on the inside of fake bags. However, breaking into Chanel’s system, so that the bag can be authenticated by the brand, will be the thing that sets fakes apart from the real deal [3]. 

So is Chanel’s digital fight against the counterfeit market the reason for the recent dramatic price increase on a handful of their bags? Apparently not. Word on the street is that implementing NFC chips is actually relatively inexpensive at 9 cents per item [3]. We can assume putting the database and tracking technology in place is probably more pricey, but definitely doesn’t equal out to the recent price inflation. 

So what does this mean for the resale market for Chanel goods?

While it hasn’t been explicitly stated anywhere that Chanel has started this new technology in an effort to curb the resale possibilities of its products, we all know that Chanel has a rocky relationship with the resale market. In 2018, the company sued The RealReal and What Goes Around Comes Around, alleging they engaged in false advertising and sold counterfeit handbags bearing its logo. Chanel and The RealReal are attempting to mediate the case, according to the most recent public court documents [4] [5].

While a lot of luxury brands are slowly (but pleasantly) embracing the inevitable growth of the resale market on luxury items, Chanel is reluctantly dragging its feet. 

As some luxury brands are publicly maintaining a distance from resale sites, it’s been said that they are quietly working together to weed out fakes. According to Audrey Depraeter-Montacel, Managing Director - Retail, Fashion & Luxury at consulting agency Accenture, “Some brands work with certain resellers to identify counterfeit goods. They don’t advertise it, but they’re working in a collaborative spirit” [4].

Not only has Chanel stated that it’s the only authority when it comes to certifying its bags, it has also declined to join the Aura Blockchain Consortium, formed last April when LVMH, Prada Group and Compagnie Financière Richemont joined forces to promote the use of a single blockchain solution open to all luxury brands [6]. 

Similar to Chanel, other luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton, have also started implementing microchip authenticators and getting rid of the date codes in their bags [2]. It seems as though this is the direction luxury brands are headed, which only makes sense as counterfeit products get better and better year after year. This has now turned into a digital war with blockades and unique systems to keep the authenticating abilities top secret and inaccessible to anyone outside of the real deal. 

It will be interesting to see how this shapes up in the resale market. While it’s harder for third parties to do the authenticating process, at least buyers can be even more assured if they take their resale purchases into a Chanel store where it can be authenticated with a quick scan from a sales associate. 

To keep up with the latest news and developments as it pertains to everything luxury, keep an eye out here at Lux Second Chance, where authentication is our highest priority and principle. 

Sources:

  1.  “Is Chanel Ditching its Authenticity Cards?”, Purse Bop, 2021. https://www.pursebop.com/is-chanel-ditching-its-authenticity-cards/
  2. Je Suis Lou, “CHANEL IS GETTING RID OF AUTHENTICITY CARDS AND DATE CODES & THEY ARE ADDING MICROCHIPS!”, YouTube Video, May 9, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUlRdc9CuF8 
  3. BonjourAika, CHANEL NEW NFC MICROCHIP BAG UNBOXING 2021 | Will It Help Fighting SUPERFAKES? My Thoughts/Opinion”, YouTube Video, June 29, 2021. ”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeP8CGDbcFg 
  4. Joelle Diderich and Natalie Theodosi, “Why Luxury Brands Are Sitting Out the Resale Market Boom”, WWD, September 1, 2021. https://wwd.com/fashion-news/designer-luxury/luxury-brands-reluctant-to-join-resale-market-1234898376/
  5. Sindhu Sundar, "Chanel’s Fight With The RealReal Heats Up", WWD, April 5, 2019. https://wwd.com/business-news/legal/chanel-the-realreal-luxury-resale-1203099679/
  6. Miles Socha, "LVMH, Richemont and Prada Join Forces in Blockchain Consortium", WWD, April 20, 2021. https://wwd.com/business-news/technology/lvmh-richemont-prada-blockchain-consortium-1234805276/ 

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