Real or fake?

Checking for crooked stitching or logo flaws often reveal a fashion fraud. But sometimes, designer knockoffs are crafted with such care that the average shopper can't spot the signs. Fortunately, some researchers in the U.K. with an eye for fashion devised a radiation technique to reveal knockoffs versus the real deal.

The method involves terahertz radiation, a range of light not visible to the human eye. Using terahertz spectroscopy, researchers from the National Physical Laboratory were able to determine the specific textile makeup of the fabric being scanned.

Though the team formulated the technique to help customs officials, the radiation technology has the potential to be used in a less official setting; for example, if a shopper or wholesale buyer wanted to detect synthetic silk versus the authentic material.

John Molloy, a research engineer who worked on the project, described the process as a "fast, safe and reliable test."

"Counterfeit clothes can look and feel almost exactly like the real thing and so customs officials need technological assistance to spot them," he said in a statement.

While some varieties of fabric may not feel very different to the touch, each type of textile gives off a distinct signature under terahertz radiation. So a terahertz spectrometer could be used to distinguish between, say, genuine cashmere and fake.

However, as Salon notes, certain counterfeits could still fool the system -- but only if they were made with the same type of fabric as the original.

So don't be too quick to abandon your tried and true methods of spotting a fake. A few tips when it comes to designer handbags:

1. See how heavy the metal hardware is. Light hardware often indicates a fake.

2. Too-perfect stitching is actually an indicator -- a real Hermes bag, for example, is made by hand and will thus have slight imperfections.

3. For Chanel 2.55 bags, listen to how the chain straps sound when rubbed together -- the gold plated metal of the authentic Chanel chains rustle differently than the plastic-sounding fake chain.

Click here for more tips on spotting fakes.

Beware of copiers:

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