Weddings are a very expensive business and most savvy brides-to-be will be looking for ways to reduce expenditure. One tempting money saver is to look at buying your wedding dress on-line directly from a factory overseas, but in reality this can often be a false economy. We regularly speak to brides who have been hugely disappointed with a wedding dress that either hasn’t arrived, or has arrived but is of shockingly poor quality, or has required such major alteration work that the cost of seamstress work has been as much as, or more than, the dress itself.
So before you make your decision about whether to buy your dress directly from a factory overseas, take a few minutes to read through the following and then decide if you still want to take the risk…
Firstly, bear in mind that the major designers will NEVER allow their authorised manufacturers to sell their designs directly over the internet. If a factory claims to be selling you a Maggie Sottero gown, it definitely won’t be the real deal. Factories commonly use the designers own copy written imagery to pass themselves off as selling the genuine dress but what you receive will be a fake that has had the dress pattern put together on the basis of a photograph of the gown. Designers spend many months sourcing the right fabrics and embellishments for their gowns and the factories copying the designs will cut costs by using cheap, poor quality fabrics that are unlikely to look good or hang well.
We all know that there are many factories overseas who use unscrupulous tactics to make money and increase profits. In some cases, these factories will use cheap labour in poor conditions and they rely on buyers to overlook this. Genuine designer dresses will normally only be manufactured in factories that have been visited by the designers and/or their support staff who will have checked out the working conditions.
When you buy your dress directly from a factory overseas you will be quoted by the factory for the headline price of the manufacture of the gown and the materials. You may not be quoted for the cost of delivery and it is unlikely that the factory will make you aware that you will have to pay VAT and Duty when the dress enters the UK. As the purchaser you are legally recognised as the Importer and you become responsible for the information provided by the factory regarding goods entering the country. In some instances, the factory will advise you to inform HMRC that the dress is a ‘sample only’ or a ‘gift’ for a value of less than £40, which means that you are declaring to the HMRC that the dress does not incur VAT and Duty charges, which it obviously does. This is a huge gamble to take as HMRC do look out for items entering the country labelled as ‘sample only’ or ‘gift’ and as you are formally recognised as the importer of the goods you will be answerable to HMRC for any fraudulent VAT and Duty avoidance.
Any wedding dress sent to you from overseas will be tightly packed and often vac-packed. This means that the dress will be very creased and will require professional steaming, which can usually cost up to £50 by a professional dry cleaner. It is quite common for wedding gowns to have some small spots that require cleaning and this is usually undertaken by the designer or shop before you see it. You will therefore also need to budget for spot cleaning of the gown, or risk doing this yourself.
Let’s say you went to a shop and tried a gown on, decided that you liked it and then found it cheaper on-line from a factory abroad. As the dress is being made by a completely different factory, using different manufacture techniques and fabrics, there is very little chance that the dress will fit the same as when you tried it on in the store. You are also taking a gamble on the fit of the gown as different factories work to different size charts so the strong likelihood is that you will need to budget for additional seamstress work. And when it comes to finding a seamstress, you may have trouble too – most seamstresses will prioritise the work that they receive through bridal shop recommendations. The seamstresses will always want to work on dresses that are bought from the stores that they work alongside so as to keep their reputation intact with the bridal stores (which are the source of most of their work) and are less likely to alter gowns that have been bought elsewhere – why would a bridal shop owner keep referring work to a seamstress who is altering imported dresses?
We hear so many stories from brides who have desperately regretted buying their gown on-line – all too frequently we see brides who come to us days before the wedding saying the dress hasn’t arrived yet, or it has arrived but it is terrible quality, the wrong fabric or colour, poorly fitting or simply doesn’t look right. So if it seems too good to be true, it probably is…
At the Wedding Dress Factory Outlet we are able to sell genuine designer wedding dresses at a fraction of the normal high street prices because we have developed great relationships with designers who are looking for ways to sell their excess stock, which has accumulated through cancelled orders, reference gowns used for photo shoots and catwalks and for many other reasons. All of our dresses are priced between £150 and £450 and are of outstanding quality and we pride ourselves on our fantastic service.