Buying a Wedding Dress from China
This is a topic that we've wanted to cover for a while now and due to the heightened media coverage and horror stories about imported Chinese wedding dresses we realise it's probably the right time.
Now, we all know we only hear of horror stories in the news - and the subject of Chinese wedding dresses is no different. The story about the happy bride who received her lovely her dress from China isn't reported... that simply wouldn't sell their magazine! So, taking this into consideration and how being in the bridal industry may bias our opinions (whether rightly or wrongly), we decided to form this article from the experience of our clients own families and friends.
We should start by saying that there can be some fantastic budget dresses which are custom made in the far east; and, after a little internet research we found that there are many happy customers from these companies. However; on the flip side, there also appears to be a lot of unhappy people too.
After speaking to the brides who come to us, it seems that everyone has got an opinion about China's wedding dress industry. We've highlighted and summarised the most frequently raised issues / concerns.
1. Many mail order wedding dress companies will let you specify your measurements for the dress. The problem here is how to take these measurements. Yes there are guides on the internet; but, this is probably the first and only time you'll be measuring for a wedding dress, something a professional seamstress has spent years perfecting.
2. If you go for the “custom made” or "customised" wedding dress made to your exact measurements and requirements then the dress will be non-refundable; so in essence, they could send you any old dress and you're unable to send the dress back.
Many mail order sites have disclaimers on their adverts/websites that state the colour of the dress you receive may differ to the colour you see on screen. Whilst this is true - it's pretty annoying when that ivory looking wedding dress turns out to be yellow!
The difference in the fabric of a China dress and a designer dress is like night and day. Basically you are getting what you pay for. If you want a cheap Chinese dress you will have to compromise on the quality.
Well this one's a given, you can't try on the dress until its paid for and been mailed out to you. We would always advise to try on as many dresses in as many styles as you can, your wedding dress will always look better if you have tried it on first. Isn't trying them on part of the fun?
Now this one is very important. The photo of the dress you see on their website is probably a photo of a designer dress and not the actual dress you receive. The dress you receive is a replica, made with inferior fabrics and detailing. If you ask to see another image, one of the actual dress then you get a generic email back saying "the dresses are of great quality but we don’t have any more pictures".
Communications between yourself and the mail order company will normally happen via email. Even though their English is a million times better than our Chinese will ever be, there's still a language barrier and it can take a few emails to get your point across or worse case your requirements will be misconstrued in translation.
Time Frame / Delivery
The time from order to completion (when you actually receive your wedding dress) can vary wildly, from as little as 10 to 60 days. A big factor here will be shipping, depending on how the dress is shipped this can easily amount to 30 days on shipping time alone. Something we found in our research was that the dresses are shipped over in batches, so your order may be delayed while they fill up a shipping order. Additionally, a lot of deliveries are sent to the UK in shipping container, taking this into account and the distance it's travelling will increase the likelihood of the wedding dress being lost in transit.
Payments / Refunds / Moneyback Guarantee
What to do if something was to go wrong with the order was the most raised concern from our research. For instance, if the dress didn't arrive, or the dress was nothing like what you believed you were receiving - then what next? Well, this is where it gets a bit tricky. Depending on payment method you used will determine how smoothly any issues are fixed:If you pay via PayPal or Credit card (not Debit) you will have some protection from the payment provider, however this i purely down to whether the payment provider decides in your favour.If you paid via debit card or bank transfer you will have little or no protection.If you paid via money transfer (Western Union, Moneygram) then you have no protection whatsoever.
Our ConclusionIf you are going to buy from China please do your research into the company your purchasing from. There are genuine outlets over there, finding one that can supply the same quality as a UK outlet is few and far between . To limit the chances of being disappointed and potentially ruining your wedding plans please follow this check-list:1. Have you given them the correctly taken measurements?2. Do they accept returns of customised dresses?3. Can they send you a sample of the materials?4. Can they send you photo of the actual dress?5. Can you contact and communicate with them easily?6. Will your dress arrive within a reasonable time-frame?7. Do they accept payment via PayPal or via credit card?
So, remember and be aware that there are no laws regulating your purchase with someone in China. If you are buying a wedding dress from China try to take as many precautions as possible to protect yourself.