When you buy a second-hand luxury jacket or a pair of rare sneakers, your first concern is always the same: are they real? Authentication, the process of detecting whether a product is fake or not, is the backbone of the reselling world, and it’s also its best-kept secret.

Vestiaire Collective, Europe’s biggest platform for preloved luxury fashion, has one of the most sophisticated and efficient authentication systems in the world. Across five authentication centers, 80 experts, who have all undergone at least 750 hours of training, verify up to 40,000 items a year each. Since 2019, 1.5 million products have been physically verified by the team—with a 99.9 percent success rate.

To get an insight into the mysterious art of luxury legitimizing, we visited Vestiaire Collective’s largest authentication center in Tourcoing. Located in Northern France close to the Belgium border, Tourcoing was a hub for the French textile industry until the late ’80s when deindustrialization forced many factories to close, causing high levels of unemployment. In 2017, Vestiaire opened a facility in the town in a former wool factory to reinvigorate the local job market and leverage the fashion and design savoir-faire in the area.

Image on Highsnobiety
Image on Highsnobiety
Highsnobiety, Highsnobiety

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, an unassuming brick factory with no signs, but inside, it's a treasure trove of luxury fashion. On the ground floor, conveyor belts whirl bringing in a steady stream of packages to be opened, sorted, and registered. If the buyer has chosen to have their purchase verified or if the item costs over €1000, it’ll then land on the desks of one of the authenticators before being quality controlled and then shipped on to the buyer.

It’s on the second floor where the kid in a candy shop experience really kicks in. Room after room is filled with products that are stored as part of Vestiaire’s VIP consignment service, which entitles frequent sellers to a suite of perks, including storage of their listed items in the state-of-the-art facility. We enter into one secured room with rows of shelves and racks filled with extremely rare and exclusive pieces from every luxury house you can think of. I clock a Rolex watch, a pair of Tom Sach’s Mars Yard Shoe 2.0, a polka dot tote from Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama’s first collaboration in 2012, several Gucci x The North Face puffers and, locked in a cage, three Hermès Himalaya bags, which are valued at over €140,000.

Your Highsnobiety privacy settings have blocked this JW Player video.

We collect a pair of Dior Jordan 1 Lows and Charleine Bejuy, one of 33 authenticators who works at the French facility, talks me through the process of verifying a sneaker and sniffing out whether it's fake. And I literally mean sniffing. “That’s smell,” she comments as she lifts a pair of Dior Jordan 1s to her nose. “That’s the smell of calf leather. It’s very distinct.” She pulls back the tongue to show me inside the shoe. “You see the font on the sizing label? That’s Nike’s specific size label font. So even though this collab was made in Dior’s Italian factory, the label follows Nike’s standard design.” Taking a magnifying glass from her desk, she inspects the swoosh, “the Swoosh is canvas printed with the Dior monogram. It's a vintage print but was reissued a few years ago.”

The process of verifying a product isn’t such a surprise. The first step is digital. Products are cross-referenced with a huge database of information, which includes an extensive archive of counterfeit pictures, swatches and products. Physical authentication follows for items that have been validated by buyers and above €1000, which starts by checking the packaging and dustbag, then the product and any accessories. Logo placement, font, fabric, construction, stitching, hardware and size and care labels are all closely examined to ensure they match the brand’s standards. If there are any concerns about the product's authenticity, a second expert will examine it, and if in doubt, it’ll be rejected. About eight percent of items don’t make the cut.

What is most awe-inspiring is Charleine’s knowledge—she can identify the creative director behind an item just by looking at it. I point to a bright green workwear-style Louis Vuitton jacket. “Oh, that piece is super nice,” she enthuses. “It’s a Virgil Abloh design, a Japanese exclusive from 2021.” She explains to me that you can tell it was released after 2015 because of the color of the inside label—yellow, almost orange Louis Vuitton font set against royal blue.

Charleine's expertise comes from years of experience as well as time spent at the "Vestiaire Academy". Given the acute degree of knowledge required for the job, each authenticator must undertake 750 hours of study in materials, production techniques, and brand hallmarks when they first join. Once they’ve “graduated”, they can start authenticating. They continue to attend training sessions throughout their career to ensure they stay up-to-date with new luxury brands, products, and counterfeit techniques.

Although Vestiaire continuously invests in its digital database and new opportunities like blockchain technology, nothing yet surpasses the human touch. “We believe in the combined expertise of people and tech to continue to improve our process. Human expertise is key as technology cannot replace the senses used by an expert to authenticate an item,” shares Victoire Boyard Chammard, the Head of Authentication.

Vestiaire’s reputation and its success hinge on trust, which it has earned over the years through its meticulous methods. Letting a counterfeit product slip through is out of the question. As the second-hand luxury goods market continues to expand rapidly—according to McKinsey, is predicted to grow by 10-15 percent annually over the next decade—so do the number and quality of counterfeits. The Business of Fashion state that the fake and pirated goods market reached $3 trillion in 2022, triple the amount in 2013.

With its two-step approach of state-of-the-art digital verification and human authentication, Vestiaire is determined to stay one step ahead. The trust exhibited by its growing user base and brands—Chloé recently announced a new partnership with Vestiaire allowing direct resale of its goods through the platform—suggests that it will, bringing Vestiaire one step close to its founding ambition of giving “people’s fashion pieces a second—or even third—life.”

We Recommend
  • black luxury bag
    Florals? No, These Are The Best Black Pieces For Your Spring Wardrobe
    • Style
    • sponsored
  • not in london main
    Acne Studios, Stone Island & More: Browse This Season's Latest Drops
    • Style
  • Victoria Beckham's Breitling watch collab
    Today's Best Luxury Watches? All Designed By Women
    • Style
  • apple-vision-pro
    Will Apple Vision Be Our Next Luxury Obsession?
    • Culture
  • Image on Highsnobiety
    MSCHF: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Art Collective
    • Culture
  • Image on Highsnobiety
What To Read Next
  • new balance 480 2024 colorways
    New Balance's Skate Sneakers Have No Business Looking This Good
    • Sneakers
  • union clarks collab 2024
    These Ain't Your Typical Clarks
    • Sneakers
  • satisfy our legacy
    Satisfy & Our Legacy Have Mastered Running Gear (Again)
    • Style
  • salehe bembury saru release
    Salehe Bembury's Crocs Mules Are Dropping Before His Sneakers
    • Sneakers
  • alexander mcqueen fw24
    Welcome to Seán McGirr's McQueen Era
    • Style
  • balenciaga winter 2024 show
    At Balenciaga's Winter 2024, Anything for Demna's Aesthetic
    • Style
*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titel Media GmbH (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titel Media GmbH strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titel Media GmbH tests, remediates and maintains the Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.