You’ve probably heard of the “superfake” allegations levelled against luxury Australian retailer Cosette. The brand, which sells designer bags at a (relative) bargain, has been accused of selling inauthentic products by customers.
A superfake is not a replica. You’re not going to see ‘Balenciaga’ spelt ‘Balciega’ or LV symbols where the ‘L’ isn’t on a slant. The inconsistencies are nearly undetectable to the naked eye, unless you know a lot about bags and the quality level to expect of authentic designer goods.
I nearly bought the bag that kicked off this firestorm, the Saint Laurent Medium Envelope Matelassé bag in supple ‘smooth’ leather from Cosette. Instead, I bought a different bag from them, a Saint Laurent Medium Kate bag in grain de poudre ‘pebbled’ leather — and since the allegations broke, have been stressing if I paid for nothing more than a fake.
So, I decided to have it authenticated.
My Purchasing Journey With Cosette
Having just started a new job in fashion, I decided it was high time to purchase my first designer bag. Straight away I knew I was keen for a black and gold Saint Laurent envelope-style bag. It’s a classic shape and something that would go with my all-black wardrobe and all-black soul (joking, kind of).
I’d done my research. I knew that Cosette had premises in Sydney’s The Rocks. I knew it was a reputable third-party retailer, and I also knew they had a sale going that included some black YSL bags.
Not one to take chances on such a big purchase (I’ve referred to my bag as my ‘baby’ ever since I’ve had it so you can only imagine the emotional attachment I have to it), I decided to head into the Saint Laurent store in Sydney’s CBD on my own one weekend, to try out all the styles that were available.
It was a magical experience, getting to try out the bags, the different sizes, and deciding how much I was willing to drop on this investment.
I loved the Envelope Matelassé style, which the Saint Laurent store only stocked in ‘grain de poudre’ pebbled leather (it is more scratch resistant than ‘supple’ smooth leather).
Looking it up online, I noticed Cosette only had smooth leather available, but one of the images on the website was of the pebbled leather. I emailed Cosette in March to check which bag it was.
“The Saint Laurent grain de poudre envelope medium chain bag in black with gold hardware is out of stock and we are not sure if or when we will be restocking this style, as we do not have the exact visibility on our Italian supplier’s listing yet,” they responded.
I thought it was strange that they were using images of a bag with different leather to market the smooth leather but brushed past it. Maybe no images existed of the smooth leather styled on body?
Deciding that this was the kind of purchase I wanted to last (and noting my own clumsiness) I opted for the YSL Medium Kate bag in the pebbled leather, which still offered around a $500 saving on Cosette.
I was over the moon with my decision, and quickly became obsessed (and protective) of my ‘baby’.
Cosette Makes Headlines With Superfake Allegations
Come mid-July, with my Cosette-purchased bag just a few months old, a colleague sent me the heart-breaking news of other women who had purchased from Cosette and found out later that their bags were not authentic.
The Age reported that one customer, Louise Cameron, had purchased the exact bag I almost bought in April, only to feel that something was not right about it. She had it authenticated and was told it was not authentic.
You can only imagine the panic I felt hearing this news. That was nearly me, could my ‘baby’ be fake too?
I Decided To Get My Bag Authenticated
Naturally, I decided it was only right to take my bag to be checked out. A little doctor’s trip shall we say?
I’d already taken a detailed look at it at home and Googled the hallmark signs of a superfake for my specific bag and couldn’t see any signs from my quick review. Yet, I didn’t trust my eye.
So, during a trip to Melbourne, I took my bag into the Royal Bag Spa on Bourke St. It was an anxious taxi ride there and tram back home, biting at my nails and expecting the worst.
Everything went wrong that day. I stubbed my toe, I missed the tram, my luggage came out of the wrong carousel at the airport.
However, one thing went right: the team confirmed ‘my baby’ was authentic.
How Many Cosette Bags Are Authentic?
It’s an interesting twist on Cosette tale. I was so sure I’d been tricked into purchasing a fake, only to learn it was the real deal. It is important to note that the retailer has strenuously denied selling superfakes, despite refunding customers.
“Despite (and not because of) the incorrect belief that the bags were fake … the customers were immediately and fully refunded under Cosette’s returns policy or as a gesture of goodwill as we care about customer satisfaction. Any claims that we sell fake bags or that these refunds imply that we have admitted that we sell fake bags are false,” a spokesperson told The Age.
Yet, when you see a headline that Cosette has sold a bag that is alleged to be a superfake’ and you’ve personally purchased from the retailer around the same time, you expect the worst. Thoughts go through your head—if one was fake, are all of them? What is going on with how they’re sourcing these bags?
It’s good to know that at least some of them are legitimate designer goods.
For those with bags from Cosette who are still waiting to get their bags authenticated, my tale is one that can soothe the soul until your results come through.
Authenticators Are Worked Off Their Feet
On the topic of authentication, you might find it a little difficult these days to get your results back quickly. There’s no denying that bag authenticators are overworked right now.
When I visited the Royal Bag Spa in Melbourne, they told me they’d been inundated with anxious Cosette customers desperate to have their bags authenticated. They can only do so much.
The final unveiling of the extent of this issue remains the job of the Department of Fair Trading, which is currently investigating how many, if any, of the bags being sold at Cosette were superfakes and how much the retailer knew of the issue. Since the story broke, nine.com.au reports that Fair Trading has received 373 complaints against the business.
We will have to wait and see the results of that investigation. Those who are concerned about the authenticity of their bags, or have been told they’re not authentic, are urged to get in touch with the department.
For now, while my result was a good one, I can’t help but hold a heavy heart on behalf of the other women who have been given the news I dreaded. If I hadn’t been so specific about the type of leather on my bag, I too would be in that position.
They’re just like me. They made a purchase in full confidence, expecting to get the product they paid for, and since been told they were duped.
For now, I will hug my ‘baby’ a little tighter, look after her a little better and be grateful for the peace of mind. For the future, it’s a good reminder that the safest way to purchase designer goods is directly from the brand itself.