For decades, serial numbers have been considered a great help in verifying authenticity of luxury handbags. This might surprise you, but Louis Vuitton is one of luxury brands that don’t use serial numbers. Instead, they have date codes. In fact, it’s pretty easy to confuse a date code for a serial number as they both look very similar. There is, however, one major difference. A serial number is unique to an item, while a date code is not. Multiple Louis Vuitton items can have the same date code if they were all made in the same factory. So, in essence, all the date code tells you about is where and when the item was made.
Would you like to learn what the date code on your LV item means? Consider this blog post your complete guide to Louis Vuitton date codes.
Louis Vuitton Date Code Basics
Let’s start with a bit of history. Louis Vuitton has included dates codes with most of their items since the early 1980’s. The date code system has changed several times throughout the years. Date codes on older bags feature just numbers, while on newer items, date codes consist of both letters and numbers. Letters refer to the country in which the item was made and numbers correspond with the month and year of the item’s manufacturing.
But why should we care about Louis Vuitton dates codes in the first place? Well, the thing is that date codes can be particularly helpful if you are considering purchasing a vintage or pre-loved Louis Vuitton anything. Date codes tell you the history of the item. They can also help to tell whether the piece is authentic or not.
However, when it comes to verifying the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton item, date codes are just one piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, counterfeiters have learnt to stamp date codes on their fakes. So, the fact that the item does have a date code on it doesn’t verify that it is authentic.
However, there is one sure sign that can help you identify a fake. Try to match the date code with the “Made in” stamp. Very often, counterfeiters don’t care what letters and numbers to put on their date codes. On authentic Louis Vuitton items, the country indicated on the “Made in” stamp should match the country by the two letter factory code (see the list of factory codes in the table later in the blog post). If, for instance, the date code on your bag includes the letters FC (which means USA), but the bag says “Made in France”, it is a sure sign of a fake!
Where do you find date codes on Louis Vuitton bags?
Typically, you will find a date code on the interior lining of a Louis Vuitton handbag. However, it’s not the only place where the date codes are found. Actually, it can be rather tricky to find the date code on a handbag, as different bags might have them in different places. Here are the three most common places to find the Louis Vuitton date codes:
- Embossed on a leather tab stitched into the handbag lining;
- Embossed on a leather tab stitched onto the pocket’s interior seam;
- Stamped directly on the fabric (also on the handbag interior).
Older LV handbag models have date codes embossed on or near the handles.
How to read a Louis Vuitton date code?
A typical Louis Vuitton date code features two letters and four numbers. The letters indicate where the item was made, while the number shows the month (or week) and the year the item was manufactured. The date code system has changed several times throughout the years.
Where was my Louis Vuitton item made?
If your handbag is from the mid-1980’s or later, in the date code you will find two letters which would indicate where (the country location of the factory) your Louis Vuitton item was made at. Louis Vuitton makes their products in several countries, not just in France. It is actually, a pretty common misconception to deem a bag fake based on the “Made in” tag. Apart from France, Louis Vuitton bags are also made in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and USA. It’s important to state that there is absolutely no difference between Louis Vuitton made in France and Louis Vuitton made in other countries.
Curious to find out in which country was your Louis Vuitton handbag made? See the table below for a full breakdown of Louis Vuitton factory codes.
|Louis Vuitton Factory Codes
|A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS, AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, CO, CT, CX, DR, DT, DU, ET, FL (also applies to USA), LA (also applies to USA), LM (also applies to Spain), LW, MB, MI, ML, MM, NO, RA, RI, SA (also applies to Italy), SD (also applies to USA), SF, SK, SL, SN, SP, SR, TA, TH, TJ, TN, TR, TS, TY, VI, VX
|BC (also applies to Italy), CA, LO, LB, LM (also applies to France), LW, GI, UB
|BC (also applies to Spain), BO, CE, FH (also applies to USA), FO, FP, MA, NZ, OB, PL, RC, RE, SA (also applies to France), TB, TD
|FC, FH (also applies to Italy), FL (also applies to France), LA (also applies to France), OS, SD (also applies to France), TX
* Keep in mind that Louis Vuitton keeps releasing new factory codes. So, at the time you are reading this blog post, the list above might be incomplete.
Production years: Early to mid-1980’s
Around 1982, Louis Vuitton started using 3 or 4 digit codes to represent the year and the month in which the item was made. The first two numbers represent the year and the last number (numbers), the month. For example, a “853” date code on the photo above indicates that the handbag was produced in March, 1985.
Production years: Mid to late 1980’s
In the mid-1980’s, Louis Vuitton changed their date code system for the first time. Now, the date codes were to consist of two letters, representing the factory location country and three or four digits that identified the year and the month the item was manufactured.
Production years: 1990-2006
Louis Vuitton changed their date code system again around 1990. This time to two letters followed by four digits. The first two letters in the date code identify the factory location. The following four digits can be read as follows: the first and third numbers represent the month and the second and fourth numbers represent the year of production. The “SD0072” date code seen on the photo above, indicates that the particular Louis Vuitton handbag was made in either France or the U.S. in July of 2002.
Production years: 2007-2020
In 2007, the Louis Vuitton date code system was changed yet again. However, this time, the change wasn’t so major. The new date codes remained in the old format: as two letters followed by four digits. However, with a slight twist. Now, the first and third numbers represent the week the item was manufactured (instead of the month). The second and forth numbers keep representing the year. For example, the “TR1183” date code on the photo above, indicates that the bag was made in France, during the 18th week of 2013.
Production years: 2000-present
The most significant change to the Louis Vuitton date code system came in 2020, when the brand decided to phase those out entirely in favor of microchips. This was presumably done to tackle the ever-growing counterfeit market. More info in a dedicated article here.
Is my LV Bag fake if it doesn’t have a date code?
Not necessarily. The thing is that vintage LV items (made pre-1982) do not have date codes. Much like many LV items produced after Spring 2020. So, if your vintage, or newer LV handbag doesn’t have a date code in it, don’t worry, as it might simply be an older bag, or a bag produced after the date code system was abolished. Oh, and don’t forget that date codes can also naturally fade with time!
I hope this blog post was helpful!
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