Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag , 2017;  YSL Sac Ligne Y, Counterfeit Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag , 2018. Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc. Photographed by Aanchal Bakshi for NYU Costume Studies, 2018. Image © Aanchal Bakshi.

Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag, 2017; YSL Sac Ligne Y, Counterfeit Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag, 2018. Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc. Photographed by Aanchal Bakshi for NYU Costume Studies, 2018. Image © Aanchal Bakshi.

The “It Bag” Under Examination

Decreasing production costs, casual oversight, and ecommerce expansion have fostered a trillion- dollar counterfeit market in handbags and other goods— behind which lies child labor, drug trade, and other criminal activities. This deceptively similar pair of genuine and counterfeit Saint Laurent handbags illustrate a challenge that consumers and resellers encounter daily: how can the authenticity and value of supposed luxury products proliferating on and off the web be verified? Since the mid-twentieth century, fashion legends like Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin have helped fuel desire for “It bags”—costly, visually distinctive, purses—that signify privileged status. In 1961, Yves Saint Laurent commissioned famous graphic artist Cassandre to create the logo for his new fashion house. The emblem has remained so iconic that successive creative directors have regularly utilized it as a central design element. In 2014, Hedi Slimane featured it on the Monogram series of Saint Laurent handbags. This crossbody bag from the 2017 Monogram Collège line features the latter’s distinctive chevron- quilted leather and chain strap. Until recently, only authenticity cards, markings, and visual and tactile inspection (of materials and stitching quality), could identify imitations. But the rise of “superfakes” has created the need to ensure buyer confidence through technology. Entrupy’s groundbreaking invention uses artificial intelligence to identify handbags by fifteen brands with 99.1 percent accuracy. Object photographs are taken at 200x magnification, then cross-checked against an image database. Within minutes, a digital certificate of authenticity is generated for a genuine item.

exhibition objects

Yves Saint Laurent (French, founded 1961), Hedi Slimane (French, born 1968), Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag, 2017, Lambskin, brushed metal, and grosgrain lining; store label with barcode; lambskin swatch Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc.

YSL Sac Ligne Y, Counterfeit Saint Laurent Monogram Collège Handbag, Unknown maker, 2018, Leather, brushed metal, and grosgrain lining; description card and copy of authenticity card; leather swatch Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc.

Cassandre (Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron), (Ukrainian-French, 1901–1968), YSL Logo Art, 1962, Scan reproduction Copyright of Mouron.Cassandre, 2000

Entrupy, Inc. (American, founded 2012), Entrupy Authentication Device, 2018, Configured for Apple iOS application using AI and machine learning technology; brushed aluminum casing, plastic, and glass Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc.

Entrupy, Inc. (American, founded 2012), Entrupy Authentication Solution Demo Video, 2018, Mp4 video, duration 1 min. 57 sec. Courtesy of Entrupy, Inc.