Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sad Knockoff Story

No Amount of Money Saved Can Compensate for a Bad Dress

Knock Off Disaster
Yesterday afternoon, one of
my brides visited my store with her mom and asked if I could show her mom a
Maggie Sottero gown recently purchased by one of her friends.  No
problem.  As an authorized retailer,  I'm familiar with almost all of
the Maggie Sottero styles.  However,  the description of her friend's
gown was vague.  It didn't match any of the Maggie Sottero styles in my
store.   I was confused.

The bride then told me that her friend bought the gown online.  Her friend
ordered it from a website that guaranteed that the style was
"identical" to a Maggie Sottero gown pictured in an ad.  The web
site represents a Chinese manufacturer that sells $200 knock-offs of many
popular designer gowns.  According to her friend, the price was low
because there was no middle-man in the negotiation.  It was a
"factory direct" cost. 

$200 would be a great price for a good Maggie Sottero copy if all things were
equal.   However, "good" is a relative term when describing
a knock-off and all things definitely were not equal.  Based upon the
brides description, her friend's gown couldn't be categorized as a
"good" copy of anything.  

Everyone should be suspect of a deal that offers an "identical" copy
for 10% of the original cost.  Realistically, $200 couldn't even pay for
the fabric to make the dress.  If a deal sounds too good to be true, it
usually is. 

The bride went on to say that her friend was on a tight budget and felt that
buying a knock-off was her best option under the circumstances.  However,
she wasn't prepared for how different the original and the
"identical" copy would look.  She also wasn't prepared for how
differently the gowns would fit.

My heart goes out to anyone in a desperate situation.   Many people
take risks -- hoping that they can cut corners and still fulfill their
fantasies for a dream wedding.  Truthfully, sometimes it is possible to
cut corners -- but not always.  Sometimes the cards are stacked against
you.  In the end, the money is lost and the dream can  become a

It makes me sad when I encounter the disappointment and tears shed after
precious resources are wasted by gullible girls who want to believe that they
will get an unbelievable deal by buying "direct" from a factory in
China.   Several girls told me that they were assured that the gown that
they ordered would be "identical" to a popular designer style.
Not one gown has been identical so far.  Some factories take it a step
further and assure the bride that the gown will be custom made to her
measurements to avoid alteration costs. 

To the best of my knowledge, this never turns out to be true.  I lost
track of the number of calls that my seamstress receives from

girls who are desperate to obtain professional alterations on gowns

ordered from a factory in China.   I don't believe that my seamstress
has been able to help even one bride because the gowns they received were made
of such inferior quality fabrics and were sewn so poorly at the factory that
alterations couldn't be made.  

If the quality concerns aren't enough to discourage you from off- shore, online
buying, think about this:  all gowns shipped to the United States are
subject to Customs Inspections.  There are numerous laws that prohibit the
distribution of knock-offs in the United States.  Customs Inspectors can
enforce these laws and confiscate your knock-off gown.  The money you
spend on the gown and the shipping will not be refunded.

In some instances, Customs Inspectors make an arbitrary decision that the gown
may be worth more than the price specified.  In these instances, the
Customs Inspector is permitted to increase the import duty from 17% to 20% --
up to an additional $1,000 in duty charges.  Again, you are responsible
for these charges. 

Consumers who select to use their personal checking accounts or credit cards to
pay for their online purchases are faced with a legal battle.  While a
gown may be 100% refundable, shipping charges (ranging from $50 to $150) are
not refundable.  Therefore, some consumers are caught between a rock and a
hard place -- paying as much as $300 in shipping charges on a gown that they
will never receive.

Even if you receive the gown you ordered -- even if it looks vaguely similar to
the gown you wanted -- even if it's wearable -- you're still not out of the
woods.   The fabrics used to make knock-off gowns are so inexpensive
that pressing the gown becomes a major issue.  In most cases, you can't
use an iron.  Instead, the gown must be professionally steamed.  Many
professionals will refuse the job because the substandard fabric, lace, and
beading will make it impossible to achieve good results.  In fact,
steaming could damage the gown.  Similarly, many professional dry cleaners
may refuse to clean the gown after the wedding because it won't withstand the
cleaning solvents or the cleaning process. 

Problems with gowns order from factories in China are becoming common.  If
you've had a problem with a knock-off gown, we'd love to hear from you.
Your experiences may help to save someone from disaster. 

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