First things first: all modern Louis Vuitton items have date codes. LV bags do not have serial numbers, instead, Louis Vuitton handbags have “date codes” stamped on interior tags or directly on interior linings or in a hidden location on the exterior of the bag. These date codes serve to identify the manufacturing location and date for a Louis Vuitton handbag, not to verify its authenticity. Louis Vuitton date codes are a combination of letters and numbers. The letters indicated the country in which the item was made while the numbers indicate the month/year of the production date. Note, vintage Louis Vuitton items (pre-1980) do not have date codes, and on some old materials, the date codes may have faded out.
Note that because date codes are not unique serial numbers, meaning multiple items will have the same date code if they were made in the same Louis Vuitton artisan workshops at the same time.
For example, Louis Vuitton may have created 15 Pochette Metis bags in their workshop in France during August (the 34th week) of 2017. All 15 of those Pochette Metis bags would have the same date code printed on a small leather tag in the back zip pocket: FL3147. The date code dissected: FL for France, the first and third number indicate the week 34, and the second and last number indicates 17, the year.
Most date codes are a combination of letters and numbers. The letters indicated the country in which the item was made while the numbers indicate the month/year of the production date. The format of the date codes are as follows:
- Prior to the early 1980s.No date codes.
- Early 1980s.Three or four numbers with the first two numbers representing the year and last number(s) representing the month. E.g. “836” would indicate a manufacturing date of June 1983.
- Early to late 1980s.Three or four numbers followed by two letters with the first two numbers representing the year, the next number(s) representing the month, and the last two letters representing the country (see right sidebar for factory location codes). E.g. “874VX” would indicate a manufacturing date of April 1987 and factory location in France. Late in the 1980s, the letters representing the factory location came before the three or four numbers representing the manufacturing date.
- 1990 to 2006.Two letters followed by four numbers with the first two letters representing the factory location, the first and third numbers representing the month, and the second and fourth numbers representing the year. For example, “VI1025” would indicate a factory location in France and a manufacturing date of December 2005.
- 2007 and newer.Two letters followed by four numbers with the first two letters representing the factory location, the first and third numbers representing the week of the year, and the second and fourth numbers representing the year. For example, “SD2057” would indicate a factory location in USA and a manufacturing date of the 25 week (or June) of 2007.
Keep in mind that the fact that an item has a date code does not guarantee that it’s authentic since many counterfeit items have date codes. A valid and properly stamped date code is just one of many parameters that are checked to guarantee the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Authentic Handbags with No Date Code?
Authentic Louis Vuitton handbags with Alcantara linings may have date codes that are very hard to read or have disappeared altogether. This is sometimes the case for older bags or if the bags have had their linings cleaned.
Why Are Date Codes Important For Authenticating Louis Vuitton?
What do date codes have to do with the authenticity of a Louis Vuitton accessory? Well, deciphering the date code of a Louis Vuitton is our first step in authenticating any Louis Vuitton item. A date code tells us the history of the bag. Everything we look at from that point on will be framed around the information date code. Is it the right font? What year is the bag? When is supposed to be made? Does the Louis Vuitton ‘Made In’ heat stamp correspond with the date code? Was that bag ever produced in that country? Does the production characteristics of the bag match that year?
It’s important to note that a date code does not automatically indicate authenticity on a Louis Vuitton item. Many counterfeit items have date codes that match the correct format. Date codes are just one piece of the authenticity puzzle. There are many factors to indicate whether or not a Louis Vuitton item is authentic. Every aspect of the item such as font, size, stampings, symmetry, stitching, hardware, authenticity stamps, as well as overall workmanship and materials are inspected and determined to be consistent with the manufacturer’s established standards of quality need to pass a rigorous test in order to be deemed authentic.