Jan. 5, 2017
The U.S. fashion industry is bedeviled by counterfeiters. This is a particularly severe problem for prom dress retailers. A common occurrence is for a teenage girl to come into their boutique, look at a designer dress, and then “showroom” the boutique by searching on Google, where they can find links to websites of offshore online stores with photo’s of the exact same dress, and buy it for less than half the price. Of course, the result of buying a special occasion dress from an offshore retailer is fairly similar to that of buying a “rolex” from a New York street peddler. When the dress arrives, if it does arrive, there are lots of tears flowing from the naive teenager buyer who wanted a special dress for her once in a lifetime experience of going to prom.
Side by side comparison of a Mac Duggal original design and a poorly made, badly fitted counterfeit copy. Sold as Mac Duggal 3434A, the counterfeit copy barely zipped up and severely bunched at the hips for an unflattering look.
Provided below are reports from retailers on counterfeit prom dress nightmares:
Several young girls have stopped by my Prom dress stores recently. They shared their experience with ordering counterfeit dresses from one of these countless faceless websites that seem to be popping up all over the internet like weeds. The dress was too short — and the girl is only 5’6”. And the dress looked like crap. She had to take Benadryl because she broke out in red hives. At first I wasn’t sure if I was the dress or the anxiety from getting ripped-off. It seems her skin was only red in the areas where she had contact with the dress. I hope she doesn’t forget to take her Benadryl on Prom night.
Another customer told me her daughter received her dress and the dress was beautiful and of fine quality but it was made for a 12” doll.
We recently had a local Marine’s wife come in urgent need to purchase a dress for their military ball that weekend. Being on a tight budget she had shopped on line and found a deeply discounted a “designer” dress. She loved it and placed the order a month before the event. Worries that it may not arrive in time started when she learned it was being sent from China. She was relieved when it was delivered just 4 days before the ball. But nightmare really started when she put it on….. While the dress was fully lined and appeared to be well sewn, it would have only fit a “lopsided alien”. She quickly took it to see if she could have it altered, but was told it was too far out of shape for any Human Being”. That is when she came through our doors nearly in tears. She found a beautiful dress, but this soldier’s family, in trying to save some money ended up getting ripped off by a website selling counterfeit dresses.
Creations by sECOnd Evolution
I own a prom dress store and also do alterations in my store. I had a least a dozen girls come in last year that had a bad experience from what we call “china” dresses. Everything from not receiving the dress on time (or at all) and purchased a second dress from me; or it came in the wrong size, color, damaged or unfinished. I actually had to fix one dress that came in still with the pins in it, holding it together. I would estimate that 75% of these dresses that I did see, I would not sell in my store. The quality, weight of fabric, color, and/or embellishment was a joke. I actually had to change the alteration policy for my store, and now will only alter the dresses that are purchased from my store. There were too many “bad” dresses or last minute (day before) dresses to deal with.
Every year we hear the same story from dozens of customers. In an attempt to save money, they purchase a prom dress from what appears to be a legitimate website selling their dream dress at an unbelievable price. These counterfeit websites operate outside the U.S. and steal copyrighted images of designer prom dresses enabling them to sell their inferior copies. If the customer receives their dress at all, it is poorly made and unwearable.These counterfeit websites use Google Adwords to advertise which confers legitimacy on their business and gains the trust of unsuspecting customers while American Prom Designers and Retailers lose business to these illegitimate websites every day.
Last prom season, we saw at least a dozen girls who thought they were ordering a designers’ prom gown on line. A couple of girls never got their dresses; they tried to check on the status of their dresses only to find that the web sites they ordered from were no longer there. Several others received dresses that didn’t look anything like the dresses they had ordered. They then had to contend with trying to return the dresses and get their money back.
A Day To Remember Bridal Boutique and Uniquely Couture Bridal
It is heartbreaking to have girls come into the store in tears because they ordered their prom gown from a knockoff website and the size, quality, etc. is horrible, nothing like it was advertised. I track gowns to make sure I sell them only once to each school so when they come in at the last minute to find a new gown, their selection is limited. They should not have to experience such disappointment!
Wedding Expressions by Geri
We have been selling prom dresses online since 2004. Over the past few years, we have had an increase in the number of girls contacting us to ask whether or not the dresses we sell are authentic. They say the exact same dress can be purchased on other websites for half the price as ours. They end up purchasing their dream dress from a fake/scam site and call us back in tears telling us their prom has been ruined.
Who’s to blame for this horrible experience? Google is! As an advertiser with Google I know that the larger my daily budget, the higher my product ranking will be and the more impressions my ad will receive. Buyer Beware – just because you see an ad in Google at the top doesn’t always mean the products the site is selling are legit.
We received a call from a desperate girl in Brazil. She had gone through our site trying to find a dress, but, she ended up buying from another site that had the same image we had on our store, but the dress was literally 20% of our price. 5 days before her graduation she received her dress from the other site, but the dress was nothing like the one advertised. The beads were off, the fabric was horrible. She called crying. She needed another dress in Brazil in less than 5 days.
We overnighted a dress and she received the correct dress on the day of her graduation, with no time for any adjustments, but at least she could wear the dress she wanted so badly. In the end she had paid for the counterfeited dress, the original dress, plus all the overnight shipping costs.
A girl came into our store last prom season, carrying a box, and told me she had bought a S____ H___ dress online, and this is what she received. All it contained was cut pieces of fabric and some sequins & stones. Since I was an “authorized” retailer of this designer, would I assemble this dress for her?? Obviously, this was not possible, and when I tried to explain this was not possible, the customer became upset, when I had to tell her that authorized retailers only sold authentic designs, and that websites featuring pirated images, offering “too good to be true” prices were preying on people like her to make their living. Unfortunately, this customer felt that I was the cause of their problem, since I wouldn’t fix their mistake. Their perception of who was the culprit in this mess caused a problem in my ability to assist them properly. No customer or retailer should ever be put in this position!
Isabella Grape Boutique
I have had several girls that came in after purchasing from one of these sites. The complaints included the quality, beadwork and fit, and not being able to contact anyone to return the gowns. They use the actual gown photos to lure people in with a ridiculously lower price.
The girl ordered a dress from an online company . It showed a designer ombré prom dress, but did not name the designer. When it arrived, the material was faded cotton !!!
The buyer thought they were getting a dress that would look just like the designer’s dress at a fraction of the cost because the counterfeiter used the designer’s photo to advertise and sell the dress. What the buyer received looked nothing like the designer dress. The dress advertised was loaded with stones and the dress they received was embroidered.
Chloe’s Choice Formals
Many girls that have come into our store have had horrible experiences with these chinese counterfeiters. We have had girls say they thought they were ordering from a website in the U.S. because it looked so similar to the authorized retailers they had checked out. They saw the great price and ordered before realizing that this was not the same website they visited before. Others have said the item they received looks nothing like the photo and does not fit like they expected. One girl reported that she had received materials with instructions on how to sew the dress together herself. All of the girls have agreed that the deceptively low price and the belief that they were buying authentic designer dresses were the factors in why they made their purchase. Google’s poor search results have caused the heartache for these girls. Google has allowed these overseas retailers to dominate the paid results as well as the organic results. For many websites it takes years of hard work to reach top results in Google search but somehow these counterfeiters manage to rank well for websites that are just weeks old. These counterfeiters push out new websites nearly every week and Google is not doing their part to protect legitimate businesses and consumers.
I own a dress store in New York. These websites are hurting Americans in so many ways. By selling direct to the public they are cutting out many jobs for people in this country that really need them. The stores get less and less business, they have to cut back on their staff and eventually go out of business themselves. The customer receives a dress that no way resembles the dress they ordered if they get the dress at all. These websites go down as soon as they are found out about, leaving the customer no way to contact them. Now the customer has to buy another dress and they originally bought from one of theses sites because they were cheap and they have to spend more money for another dress. A lot of times the girls can’t afford it and end up not going to their event.
I had this experience myself before being a retailer. I wanted to get a sample of the dresses and ordered from 2 websites that I found on Google for evening dresses that said they had Mac Duggal, Jovani, and BG Haute dresses. I paid for both. One of the websites took the money and I never saw the dress or heard from them, and the other website sent me a cheap dress that didn’t look at like the one in the photo. It is not even worth $1.00. I can’t even give it to anyone because its so bad!! Since opening my own store, I have had a number of customers complaining about the same problem.
Credit card was stolen. Never got dress.
Dress looked nothing like the picture on the website, no zipper, no liner and dress was not sewn well.
A prom girl came in 1 week before her prom and still had not received her dress and had no way of contacting the company she had ordered from. A bogus site.
I never thought that trying on a prom dress could be hazardous to my health. But, then again, I had never before tried on a Chinese counterfeit dress. Not only was this dress the wrong color, but it was also too small for the size four that I ordered. Worst of all, the tiny sequins scratched against my skin. I still have scratch marks on my arms even though I tried the dress on yesterday. After taking off the dress, I realized the dress had caused me to break out in hives all along my arms and sides. Trying on that dress was totally embarrassing and I have the scars to prove it.
Mac Duggal Social Media Manager
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