Buying a Gown on the Internet


Here is a firsthand look of the horrors of counterfeit prom dresses.

Mori Lee prom gown and knock off
The beautiful prom dress to the left is an authentic Mori Lee dress.  The dress on the right is what a disappointed customer received off a website.

Before Ordering Your Prom or Bridal Gown Online Beware!
You’ve searched months online scanning dozens of websites for your dream dress.  Then you find a site with fantastic prices that beat the competition.  The site features the same photos of dresses from the designers that you recognize and respect.  But the prices are half or even less.  Better yet, they offer to custom make your dress to fit your measurements instead of buying an off-the-rack size.  Sound too good to be true?  Well, then it probably is!  Instead of getting an authentic designer dress at a ridiculously low price, what you risk getting is a cheap counterfeit version from a factory in China.
Delivery to your home is unpredictable and might not reach you in time for your event if you even receive it at all.
If you do get a dress from a knock-off site, it may or may not look like the picture on their website.  The sellers behind the slick websites are using the designers’ copyrighted photos without permission.  The sites also lack the original patterns needed to sew the dresses.  Instead, they try to duplicate them by the designers’ original photo.  As a result, a lot of guess work goes into the dress when it comes to construction, fabric, beading and lace.
Do you really want to leave your once-in-a-lifetime-event dress to chance?

Here are some ways to spot a website selling counterfeit dresses:

  • PRICE- If the price is too good to be true, it’s probably a fake! This is the most important rule you need to know. The designer determines the price of prom dresses and retailers MUST sell the dress at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Therefore, if you see a dress on every legit website and retail store for $298, and then find it on a website for 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% or 50% off that price, it is a FAKE dress.
  • AUTHORIZED RETAILER- If the designer’s name is on a website, find that designer’s website.  Then check the Store Locator for a list of retailers authorized to sell their dresses.  If the website/store is not listed, then beware that they may not be selling true designer gowns. There are some exceptions to this~ if a store just recently became a retailer with a designer it might be a time issue. Use this along with other tips below.
  • CONTACT INFORMATION- The “Contact” page should have a phone number and PHYSICAL address listed (preferably in the U.S.), not just an email, for customer service.  If the phone number is in China, that is a red flag.  It might be difficult to contact them with the language barrier.  Some U.S  phone numbers forward the calls to China so ask where you are calling.
  • RETURNS POLICY- If the website claims you can return the dress for a full refund you can be certain that this is a China website. Many people who order from these websites are not able to get refunds unless the item is shipped back to China which can be very time consuming and costly.  ($50-$150 or more). Reputable formal wear shops do not allow returns/refunds on special orders.
  • SIZING- The websites requests more of your body measurements.  Professional formal wear shops in the USA typically rely on three or four measurements and use the provided on size charts created by the designers.The website offers to custom make the dress for you based on your specific measurements or to customize the dress.
  • PHOTOS- If the models heads are cropped off in the photos, this could be to disguise copyrighted photos the counterfeit sites are using without designer permission.
  • SHIPPING-The shipping info on the Chinese website tells you that they will send the dress to you as a gift to save on shipping costs. What these Chinese factories are really trying to avoid is detection by custom officials for shipping counterfeit goods into the US. They also could get you into a heap of trouble because normally there would be customs and duty taxes that you would have to pay. Avoiding these taxes is a violation of Federal Law.
Before placing your order directly from a Chinese website please understand:
  • You may not be able to get a refund if the dress you ordered is not as pictured.
  • You may end up with no dress and no money.
  • You may have a dress that is horribly made and/or does not fit without anyway to alter the dress to a usable state. BELIEVE US; we have seen it many times!
  • Your local gown shops have no connection to these sites and can not help you with a refund nor do they want to buy or trade the dress you acquired for a dress that they have or can get. They are typically able to help you find a dress that you look good in so you at least have something to wear.
  • There is pending lawsuits against some of these counterfeit websites.  Once the lawsuit is won, shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS could begin seizing packages that arrive at the U.S. customs that have shipped from China, so that the American consumer can avoid paying the duties and taxes that are legally required.  Your package can be one of the seized packages and may be until the required taxed are paid or you may not get it at all.

View other “Knockoff Nightmares” at

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