Ever done anything unethical, immoral or illegal? If you’ve bought a fake designer wedding dress, you might have done all three. If you haven’t bought one but have been tempted, here’s how to avoid being duped, and why if something seems too good to be true it’s usually because it is.
We all know that replicating designs is against copyright laws and that fake, replica or counterfeit goods are illegal. Many of us have been so seduced by the promise of a designer dress for a ridiculous price, that we’ve given in to temptation and parted with our hard earned cash – only to realise, too late, that we’ve been conned. It is estimated that the market for counterfeit goods could account for as much as 10% of world trade.
Counterfeit trade is not a victimless crime and the buyers of often sub‐standard designer copies are not the only victims. The original dress designer is illegally robbed of copyright protected designs and may have its reputation and profits significantly damaged.
Fake Designer Wedding Dress Online
For those who have given in to temptation, their saving is, in many cases, their loss as the cheap dress is often very different to the original in terms of material, workmanship and fit. Brides who buy online are unable to see what they’re buying until they’ve parted with the full price of the dress and if the company is not UK based then they’ll need to pay for shipping costs plus insurance, in case it gets lost on its way overseas.
Once they receive their dress, assuming they are not horrified by what turns up in the post, the bride is almost certainly going to need to have it altered to fit at a local dressmaker’s, so the £100 price tag that tempted them will have by now probably doubled.
The returns policy on some of these sites is questionable too as only some goods are returnable. The bride will have to foot the bill for any returns or exchanges so if it’s not what they were hoping for then they’ll be out of pocket to the tune of a two‐way round the globe shipping cost ‐ with no dress to speak of at the end of it. So their attempt to save money backfires and ends up costing them more in the long run.
Some websites that sell fakes show photos of the dresses straight from the designer’s website but their copy of the dress can look very different. They offer reassurances that the reason their prices are so low is because they are selling directly from the factory and do not have large overheads to pay like many UK bridal stores.
The reality is more likely to be that they are using different materials to the high quality materials and workmanship the designer would use. Without this knowledge, when faced with a £1000 designer dress for just £100 – who wouldn’t feel tempted to ‘save’ £900? It’s important to understand that this saving, however, is someone else’s loss and there are better, and certainly more ethical ways to save money.
One bride, who posted her warning on ebay.co.uk, now admits she was naïve for having bought a designer dupe online. She said “Having looked through a lot of websites, at various wedding dresses, I discovered the same photographs reappearing on numerous sites, with the wording ‘direct from my factory’. Being naïve, I decided to purchase a wedding dress online. The price was £24.99 with postage of £70.00 plus £3.00 postage and packing and the photograph which had attracted me showed a very expensive‐looking designer dress. The dress arrived in a small A3 size padded envelope, with a veil and stole. The veil had a paper edging around it as you would find on a paper doily and the dress did not resemble the photo in any way. The finish on the dress was so amateurish I could have wept, the zip was badly put in and the material was substandard… Girls, please be warned, be careful about buying from some of these companies, you’ll only get your fingers burnt.”
Online brand protection experts, MarkMonitor, have compiled the following five top tips to avoid fake frocks online:
Counterfeiters are wising up and realising that sometimes it can be more convincing the less the dress is reduced. Search around for the recommended retail price (RRP) and even if the dress only has a small discount, such as 20%, it is worth checking other elements of the website to see if they stack up.
2 The site itself
Although some websites look professional at first glance, counterfeiters aren’t always so careful with the ‘About’ or ‘FAQ’ page. These sections need to be examined, including the delivery details and where the company is based, to ensure it matches up with the designer dress company’s credentials.
3 Returns and Privacy Policies
4 Check the web address
Impersonation of a brand’s website and what is referred to as ‘cybersquatting’ are on the rise. When doing an initial search for the brand name, the link should be checked for spelling mistakes on both the website and the URL address. If the address begins with https://, the ‘s’ tells you it’s a secure site. Some of the big brands have dedicated pages on their websites so consumers can check whether a seller is authorised.
5 Online marketplaces
Even if the marketplace itself is a known brand, the reviews of the seller should be thoroughly checked before that dream dress is purchased.
If you want to save money on your wedding dress then there are plenty of other ways to do so. By far the best way to get your hands on an amazing designer dress for less is to buy from a designer’s last season collection as these can be snapped up for a lot less at UK designer sample sales.
Affordable bridal gowns are on the high street and not just in your local or city bridal boutiques. There are so many high street shops and department stores that now do beautiful and affordable wedding dresses that you can try on and take home straight away. There are also many designers who offer a ‘diffusion range’ at lower prices and, of course, manufactured dresses can be picked up for very reasonable prices too. A variety of dress designers in the wedding dress showcase on Confetti also feature details of the latest designer dress sales, so there are bargains to be had if you know where to look.
Your wedding dress should be the most special outfit you ever wear and there’s a lot of sense in the old adage that you get what you pay for. Just remember, if something seems too good to be true, that’s because it probably is.
You can see more gorgeous designer gowns and find out more about those designer’s latest collections and past collection samples sales in Wedding Dresses.
Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.