Author Bobette Kyle
I recently wrote a blog post giving tips for successfully buying a wedding gown online. It hit a nerve. Some were grateful for guidance and asked to re-post it. Others jumped to the conclusion that every gown sold online is a fake designer dress sold from a clandestine underground location in the bowels of China (or maybe that I was talking about buying from those nefarious creatures, I’m not sure which).
So I found the need to set the record straight and give some of the many legitimate online sellers a chance to explain their businesses. Yes, there *are* designers who sell online themselves or license retailers to do so. And there *are* talented seamstresses who make a living sewing custom gowns. There are also legitimate second hand marketplaces where you can buy authentic upscale designer gowns. Here are some of their stories.
Roanna Rose, TJ Formal
Roanna has been in business since 1969, with boutiques in Joplin MO and in Charleston SC, and has had the e-commerce site for 15 years. You can buy Casablanca, Allure, Mori Lee, David Tutera, Sophia Tolli, and a few others online at TJ Formal.
Roanna is on the board of the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA) and is fighting the counterfeiter operations. In fact, they won a lawsuit in November, 2012 against 16 counterfeit websites and the judge is allowing them to send additional sites through using the same court order. She’s also been working with PayPal, Homeland Security, the ABPIA attorney, and others as well as put together a list of counterfeit websites to help the media.
Theresa Markosian, District 5 Boutique
Theresa sells new, mostly non-traditional gowns online from designers such as Sue Wong, Tadashi Shoji, Badgley Mischka, Theia, and Allure. She is able to keep prices low because of reduced overhead, as she has no brick and mortar store. Theresa has, however, had customers come in from the surrounding areas to see her in Paramus, NJ.
Theresa acts as a personal shopper at no extra charge to help brides find a gown to fit their vision. She hand selects each dress she carries and often displays future collections on the website so they can order a gown that is not even in the stores yet. This level of service has earned her a 5.0 out of 5.0 rating on Wedding Wire.
Catherine Wang, Business Relations Manager, SimplyBridal
SimplyBridal sells custom-made wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses that are 100% made-to-measure. Catherine works with bloggers and businesses to help educate us on their unique business. “We believe in providing outstanding quality in fabric, materials and fit without the inconvenience and costs of traditional bridal boutiques and retailers,” she explains. In fact, they offer a 30 day no risk return policy.
Their design team, which has created over 600 wedding dress styles selling for under $600 each, is made up of graduates from Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. In addition to online ordering, they have two showrooms–in Los Angeles and New York–where brides may come to order and be fitted for a custom gown.
In addition to these ladies, numerous clothing retailers, specialty, and department stores sell wedding gowns online. To name a few: Nordstrom, BHLDN, David’s Bridal, IGIGI, Ann Taylor, and–most recently–Target.
There are designers who choose to sell directly to customers rather than sell through an intermediate retailer. The ability to more easily customize and keep costs lower are a couple of reasons a designer may choose to sell this way.
Maria Lucia Squillari, Larimeloom
Lucia sells only dresses she makes herself, from her own designs and ideas. Much is custom work and one of a kind pieces she sews at her workshop in Alba, Italy. Her customers (mostly from other countries since she originally sold only online) appreciate the handmade quality of her dresses and the fact that they have a distinct, unique, and easy feel that is different from a typical wedding dress.
Lucia explains she’s “strived over the years to build myself a positive reputation on the web as a reliable attentive designer with a careful customer service. I make sure the garment is exactly what you envisioned, delivered within the accorded time-frame with ready communication and I also offer a full money back guarantee if for any reason at all the dress was not what you had in mind.” Her 100% positive feedback on Etsy, from over 2,700 reviewers, bears that out.
Ting and JOJO, Ting Bridal
Sisters Ting and JOJO, based in Washington DC, sew one-of-a-kind wedding gowns made in their home-based studios and sell them online through Etsy.
The sisters customize each piece by request and are able to offer many custom options, such as interchanging skirts and bodices, different lengths, addition or removal of sleeves, and custom colors. Still, their gowns are often priced less than a non-custom dress bought at a brick and mortar shop. Around 50% of their customers come to them for these reasons.
Tova Marc, Wedding Dress Fantasy
Tova sells her own line of wedding gowns–Tova Marc Signature Collection–on her website, through Etsy, and in her Teaneck NJ bridal salon, Couture De Bride. The line includes a range of styles, including vintage inspired, gothic, colorful, and designer inspired dresses.
Around 50% of Tova’s sales are online. She explains one of the reason is “brides are interested in having a gown custom designed just for them by combining design elements from different gowns, which is something I do offer.” Customers can also choose from around 200 different high-end fabrics for their dresses.
In Part 2 I will discuss about two points : The Resellers and Why Buy Online, Stay Tuned! …. to be continued
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Bobette is publisher of MyOnlineWeddingHelp.com, which helps inspire you to create a dream wedding with a limited budget. You will find tips, tutorials, and videos, as well as a product search engine with items from over 300 partners.
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