7/11 Anatomy of a Chinese-Made Wedding Gown

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This post, written in 2011, is strictly for informational purposes. In no way is The Broke-Ass Bride promoting the products or companies mentioned, however we do recognize that many of our readers are in search of gowns that may look like those of a designer but cost a fraction of the price. The author of this post specifically commissioned a gown to look like that of a designer gown, which may infringe on some ethical issues. Copying another’s work is copying another’s work, period, however everyone has a different moral compass. While we can not, and will not, dictate right versus wrong, we can provide information on what one may expect when ordering one of these gowns. This post on Offbeat Bride makes some great points about ethics and individual consumer morals. As always, The Broke-Ass Bride urges you to do your research before purchasing anything online or in-store, regardless of whether it’s from an independent salon, a mass manufacturer or an overseas provider.
When reader Angela sent in this review of her chinese-made replica vs. actual designer wedding gown, I knew in my bones we had to repost it. With a weekly calendar of Can’t Afford It/Get Over It styles, and Dana F.’s dress-for-less designs each Saturday, it seemed like my blogger-blood responsibility to share more genius when it makes itself known, especially with the number of overseas-replica gowns I receive.  So please welcome Angela from Oh So Joyous {Blog} as heartily as our regular contributors! This gown comes courtesy of KettyBridal — her store on eBay is: http://stores.ebay.com/goodweddingdress. Please give a warm hello to guest writer Angela!
Like every other detail when planning your wedding, you will need to weigh up what is most important to you, if the dress is one of your top priorities then buying a custom made one from China might not be best for you. If on the other hand you have a small budget or you prefer to spend more of your budget in other areas then this might be a good option for you.
This review is based on one dress by one Chinese dressmaker so please remember that experiences vary especially when shopping online.
Left: picture of the Romona Keveza dress I sent to the dressmaker. Right: The dress I received. Note how the copy lacks the layering in the skirt of the original.
The dress purchased was a copy of a Romona Keveza dress and cost $149 US including delivery (the dress was packaged well and came without any creasing). From the images it is noticeable that the Chinese made dress lacks the layering often found in pricey wedding dresses. However for the price paid I was surprised to find that this dress is better than “you get what you pay for”.

There are 2 layers, 1 chiffon layer on top and satin beneath it, the satin layer is lined with an unknown fabric. For a wedding dress I would expect at least 2 layers of chiffon above the satin layer underneath.
The fabric is soft and behaves the way chiffon should with a nice flow.
The satin layer beneath it has a low thread count and high sheen, it looks like a cheaper satin, however it feels fine and soft against the skin, because this satin cannot be seen it’s fine as the under-layer.
There is a small stain on the front of the skirt, probably caused by a fabric pen as it came right off with a little bit of water.
Small stain on the front of the skirt, however this came off easily with a bit of water so I suspect it was made by fabric pen.
Overall the stitching is good there is some string that has not been chopped off entirely (but I was able to remove this easily) and a little uneven stitching in some places but nothing at all that would be obvious without taking a really good look.
Some uneven stitching
Some string that was not chopped off. This was very small (sorry for no scale!), not very noticeable and was easily chopped off
The hem is a bit uneven in stitching and in fabric shape but this is not noticeable at all while wearing the dress.
The stitching of the chiffon to the satin on the bodice is hidden behind the ruching and the boning could not be seen (this does not appear so in the photographs but that damage was caused by me when I carelessly left the dress folded in a bag that had weight on it which resulted in the slight deformation of the bodice that you see in the picture).
The belt was not as detailed as the one in the image.
The belt was not as detailed as the one in the picture given to the dressmaker. Please note that the ruching was in better condition and the boning of the bodice was not visible when I purchased the dress (this damage was caused by my own carelessness).
Good. Like most Chinese wedding dresses bought online this dress is custom made to measure, it is common that Chinese dressmakers also make the dress lace up at the back so that it fits perfectly when tied. This is a good idea as it also allows you room to loose (or gain) a little more weight before the big day without worrying that the dress will either not fit or that you will have to pay for expensive alterations.
Back of the dress was lace up for a good fit
The bodice also had a stretchy strap with clip at the back for extra support.
Stretchy clip strap for extra support
Tips for purchasing a wedding dress from a Chinese dressmaker
Many wedding dresses stocked in salons are made in China to begin with, these dresses are often made to a list of specifications that make sure the workmanship is good, there is no reason why you yourself can not request your own specifications like these to make sure your dress is also well made, generally Chinese dressmakers are very cooperative and helpful so they should be able to fulfill your wishes. Some things you might want to ask before you buy:
  • For a nicer fabric. It will drive up the cost a little but there is nothing wrong with asking them to use a better quality fabric. Ask for a natural or silk based fabric rather than a polyester/man-made fabric.
  • As well as the above, if you’re buying lace, ask them not to use a stiff one, good lace should be soft. Stiff laces look cheap and can make a wedding dress look and feel awful when worn.
  • As well as the first point, if you’re buying satin ask for one with a high thread count
  • Ask for fabric samples (especially if your dress requires lace and/or satin)
  • That the fabric has no stains or marks and is not pulled anywhere
  • That the stitching is more carefully done
  • To make sure the ends of the string used in the stitching is cut
  • For more layers in the skirt! This will also drive up the cost a little but it will be well worth the extra cost

Other Tips
  • If you’re unsure about using DH Gate try EBay as many of these Chinese dressmakers can also be found on there.
  • Make sure the seller has sold a lot of dresses and has a good feedback store (personally I wouldn’t go below 98%)
  • Always ask for pictures of previous work and if possible close up photos of the details and stitching.
  • If you’re unsure about taking your own measurements have a seamstress do it for you
  • Order it well ahead of your wedding day, custom made dresses can take up to 6 months to arrive (just like when you buy them in a salon), you might also want to allow for more time so that you can have it replaced if you don’t like it.
The Broke-Ass Bride
Dana is the head woman in charge here, the original Broke-Ass Bride. Learn more about her here. And, follow her on Twitter (@brokeassbride), Pinterest (@brokeassbride), Facebook (/thebrokeassbride) and Instagram (@brokeassbride). Affiliate links, which might be included in the post above, help make her a few dollars here and there to keep her off the streets and in the business of blogging for your ass. So thanks for coming! :)
  • This is a very interesting and informative read. Thank you very much for sharing it!

  • Carrie

    Not totally custom style, but I got a dress from light in the box and I was surprised how good the quality was.

    • Nellie

      I ordered a custom-made cocktail dress from Lightinthebox.com as well; I was presently surprised as well. It was slightly different from the picture, but still gorgeous! I am seriously going to consider purchasing my wedding gown from this seller too!

  • Rachel Shannon

    I just recieved my dress from one chinese company on ebay. They had great ratings…. Sadly my dress was horrible. It was all lace and the lace looked cheap stif and an ugly flower pattern that was far from the picture. When I tried to return it they would give me $10 back out of the $150 I paid. It said free shipping when I bought it so I argued that the dress was the price of $150 not $10 and shipping $140. I am paying the shipping back and she agreed to give me a full refund.

  • Arykah

    I bought my dress from thecustomdress.com, and it looked great! It wasnt as well made as the dress in the picture, but for 150$, I didn’t expect it to be. After $30 worth of alterations, it looked great, and looked great in the pictures. Why spend more on a dress you’re going to wear once?

    • Kelley

      i had a similar experience with a seller on ebay, my dress looks absolutely NOTHING like the one pictured. I would go so far as to say it looks like a halloween costume level copy. Maybe there are some good "Chinese dress sites" out there but I don't think I could ever trust one again. That was my dream dress, and now I have to start looking all over again. this experience has made me hate wedding dress shopping. If anyone knows a good american site with a good reputation, please point me in that direction because there is no affordable selection where i live.

      • Heather

        omg i did the samething and icant get my money back its terrible!!

  • This is super helpful! But what about like, these "bargain" dress sites, like weddingdressesbrand.com/ ? Same guidelines? I ask because I'm in LOVE (lovelovelove) with a 2009 Vera Wang but would never be able to afford it otherwise, but am SUPER nervous about ordering online.

    • Kim

      did u buy it?

  • Stephanie

    I used DH Gate and while I had no issues with the site, I would caution other people about ordering sight unseen. I think the tips at the top about only doing it if you're ok with it not being exactly what the picture showed is noteworthy. Like the dress in this post, the one I ordered had a very full skirt, something that the dress from China did not replicate at all. I did end up ordering a new dress the 'regular' way from a local bridal store because I decided that the dress I bought from China wasn't usable. However, if the dress I had ordered had been more of a basic a-line or empire shape, I think I would have had more success. In the end, I wasted about $200, but I knew that was a risk going in. If it had worked, I would have saved about $1300! You win some, you lose some.

  • I get a lot of reviews from brides who have ordered from cheap Chinese wedding dress suppliers and most of them are very upset at the quality of the dress they receive. Please check out http://www.my-wedding-reception-planning.com/wedd… to read through them.

    I do feel so badly when a bride is taken by a scam company. A lot of the problems they encounter are quality, dress received too late, poor communication, bait and switch (even ordering fabric samples didn't help as they used a different material anyways).

    I also caught a number of these really bad companies padding their reviews with good reviews to offset the bad ones.

    If you do find that you are taken by one of these companies, the best way to deal with them is to file a dispute with your credit card company or Paypal, write a review either on a site such as mine or another complaint site (believe me, they find them and don't like them!) and you can also contact the Chinese version of the Better Business Bureau for help at their Consumer Council.

    Awesome post…thanks for writing!

  • PKW

    I tried ordering a dress online – they had a storefront in the US, but I'm pretty sure their ultra cheap dresses were ordered from China (or a comparable place of origin.) The beading and the lining were just too low quality by my opinion…when I found a local dressmaker she was able to use that dress as a pattern (though she also designs completely custom patterns too!) I have a completely customized gown made locally for under $500 – I was able to go to a few fabric stores and pick out whatever fabric I wanted, we were able to have fittings throughout the process of making the dress ensuring the perfect silhouette and fit, and I was able to make small changes like adding cups and changing my mind about details (corset to covered buttons) based on our first fitting. So I would urge anyone who is nervous about buying a "knock off" dress to look into local options. (And if you're any where near Southwest Michigan, look into foxglovetailoring.com)

  • Angela

    PKW – local dressmakers are a great idea too! etsy is also a good place to find one, I have seen some really great designs and copies on there.

  • Jenny

    Has anyone ordered a dress from http://www.goweddingdress.com? They claim to have dresses from the actual designer for around $300. If I can get a real Jim Hjelm, Vera Wang, or other designer dress for 90% off, I am all for it! It does say that the dresses come from somewhere in China (my coworker is from Hong Kong and told me where it was!)

    I am a little skeptical though…

  • robertnautumn

    I ordered from romanticgowns.com and so did a friend of mine after I purchased my own. The gowns are gorgeous and custom fit very inexpensive. I recommend them to brides on a budget, my own seamstress here who did my alterations says that dress is of high quality and nicely put together. So good luck!

  • K L

    This post was extremely helpful. Thanks for addressing a question that so many of us have!

  • Hayley

    has anyone ordered from weddingdressbrand.com?

    they claim to have designer gowns etc….. but I am worried it is fake?

  • Val

    I orderes from weddingdressesbrand.com a vera wang gown that I could never afford to buy otherwise. My wedding is coming up in 30 days and it still hasn’t shipped. I am afraid it will not make it on time. They are pretty good at replying to emails, but unfortunately that hasn’t helped with gettng the dress shipped. They had a 10-15 days delivery option but I think this refers to how long it takes to get here once shipped… I ordered it off their size chart – not even custom made. Has anyone else ordered form them, and how long did it take to get it? I am so worried, and I can;t afford to buy antoher dress.

    In addition has anyone had a sucess in canceling their order and getting a refund?

    • Emily

      OH goodness. IF you got your dress, and you want to return it, prepare for a GOOD fight! They claim that all you have to do is send them the required information, and they will send you the address to return to. There is a time limit on this, 7 days after the dress has arrived to your house. It took 5 days of solid harassing to get that address. They kept telling me to just keep the dress and they will give me $125 back of my $405.

      Once I returned the dress (with a tracking number given to them) the website says you will be refunded within three days. HA! I'm sitting on almost a month and I can't get a straight answer at all! They basically want you to forget about it so they will keep their money.

      If I can warn ANY new bride, it is DON'T ORDER from weddingdressesbrand.com!

  • the one I ordered had a very full formal dressesskirt, something that the dress from China did not replicate at all. I did end up ordering a new dress the 'regular' way from a local bridal store because I decided that the dress Ibridal boutiques bought from China wasn't usable. However, if the dress I had ordered had been more of a basic a-line or empire shape, I think I would have had more success. In the end, I wasted about $200, but I knew that was bridal shopa risk going in. If it had worked, I would have saved about $1300! You win some, you lose some.

  • rosy

    If you do find that you are taken by one of these companies, the best way to deal with them is discount bridal shops to file a dispute with your credit card company or Paypal, write a review either on a site such as mine bridal factory or another complaint site (believe me, they find them and don't like them!) wedding sellers and you can also contact the Chinese version of the Better Business Bureau for help at their Consumer Council.

  • Val

    I ended up canceling my order from weddingdressesbrand.com because they kept on telling me that dress is ready and it will be shipped but ne’er happened. Their return and cancelations policy states that you will get 90% refund if you cancel later than 24 hours, but the way it is looking I am not getting anything. I will wait a week and dispute… Otherwise that’s $400 gone forever.

  • Faye

    I ordered from DH Gate. The dress was 6 inches too small- even with sending my measurements in. There is no way I can wear it. The company refused to do anything about it. After paying $169 they offered to give $30 refund at best. They argue and swear they made the dress according to my measurements. I know how to sew- they didn't come close. I do not recommed this company unless you have money to burn. But then again- if you did, you would not be looking for cheap. Make life easier on yourself. Stay away from DH Gate.

  • Laura-E

    Great tips!!! I also have some experiences of this topic, and i totally agree with you. I have ordered a wedding dress for myself, two dresses for my mother, two occasion dresses for myself. I have tried milanoo, fishinthesky and weddingdressbee. I don't recommend fishinthesky, the dress i received was terrible! I tried to call them, but their phone number on the website seem to be bogus. milanoo's only cost me $149, worth the money. But their pictures are much better compare to the dress i received. I ordered evening dress from wedding dress bee early this year. They have best quality compare to the other two sites. Also more expensive, the girl i touched was very nice, i got informed of every step and received photos of the finished dress. They shipped to me after i approve the photos. I would recommend weddingdressbee most among three sites. And keep away from fishinthesky!!!

    • Winne

      Hi Laura,
      I've been looking at weddingdressbee, and was wondering if you could show pictures of the dress you got from them.

  • christracey

    anyone bought wedding dress from dressingpod.com

  • Denise

    Has anyone ever used weddingdressbee.com? I'm contemplating buying a dress I'm IN LOVE with from them, but I'm skeptical. I'd be ordering a dress that they've designed, not having them "copy" one as described above. I haven't found any negative reviews online, but I also can't seem to find anything positive. It seems there's nothing on them! I've seen two comments on two different message boards on wedding websites, but those positive "reviews" are clearly from Asian English speakers, which makes me more skeptical. They have a "live chat" option (which I used with success) and I can pay via PayPal, both of which make it seem credible to me. Being that the dress is so cheap, I think I might put my faith in my credit card company and hope that if something does go wrong they have the power to investigate it for me. I also plan to ask to credit card company and PayPal if they've had any difficulties with this site before.

    Any help, suggestions, or personal stories are welcome!

  • ericov

    I received my dress on April 1st!! It was shoved in a small box and inside out, but It’s beautiful. You can for sure tell that it’s a knock-off. But that’s fine, I would much rather pay $250.00 for a dress that has a few issues that pay $1100.00 for a dress that I will wear once.

  • mckinneyg

    I ordered a custom made dress from weddingdressbee.com. The dress arrived in perfect condition and is very well made in all areas. The fabric is good quality and the stitching is perfect. I ordered mine slightly shorter than the measured length and it is perfect, no alterations needed there. I have one small adjustment to make on the off shoulder area of the dress at the front which gapes very slightly near the underarm but being a perfectionist I prefer to tighten it up. I could wear it as is though and I probably should have taken a centimeter off the bust measurement but I was worried about it being too small. The waist, hips and length are perfect. I followed the guide provided to measure myself and took a centimetre off here and there to ensure a perfect fit. All in all I am absolutely thrilled with the dress. I love the way it looks and feels with the boning etc. For the price, the dress is outstanding and exceeded my expectations.

    • Monica

      I have come across the weddingdressbee.com website. I have found several dresses that I love on there but I am very nervous to order from overseas. Do you mind sharing a picture of your dress? One of the dresses I am looking at has boning and lots of detail. Did you have good communication with them? Also, did they send you a picture before they mailed it to you? Any info would be greatly appreciate.
      Thank you

    • mememe

      Would you be able to post a pic of your dress? I would love to see the final result.
      Many thanks!

  • Ana

    Has anyone ever ordered from weddingdressbee.com I want to know if these dresses are as good as the reviews say.

    • gaylen

      HI Anna,

      How long did it take for your dress to arrive? So you recommend Weddingdressbee? they have an adorable flower girl dress on there that my fiance and i want to get for our niece. i'm just skeptical.

      this is the first time i've seen any reviews on the website for weddingdressbee.com

  • HeleneSaunders

    Whatever you do do not buy anything from a company called Fishinthesky.com – these people will rip you off big time. I am happy to back up my claim with all details. For now I will say that they take your money and you either do not get the dress (my case so far) of if you do, based on other people which got ripped off too, the dress is a disaster. Consumer beware!!

  • Rb3

    Has anyone ordered from everytide.com?? I'd really like to buy from them, but their reviews look a little fishy.

  • Jessica

    I am looking at a few dresses on ULovedresses.net.
    Has anyone had any experience with them?

  • Britany

    Instead of ordering a cheap dress online you can try to order a dress that is cheaply priced or on sale at a bridal shop. I just ordered a dress from david's bridal $99.00 sale. It was marked down from $599.00. It is very pretty and I know I am getting a good quality. This was my alternative to ordering a chinese made dress. I am very happy with my decision.

  • diana

    hello!does anyone know anything about http://www.tidebuy.com?

  • Megan

    Of course, ordering a dress from China has huge ethical concerns. It's unethical to pay somebody to copy another person's design, analogous to being hired to make a database (or do some other type of work), and have your company do a quick copy and paste– and then say that because it's not your work, they're not going to pay you. If you use somebody's work, whether design or labor, you're morally obligated to recompense them for that. There are some extremely interesting documentaries about labor conditions in China, too. Of course, there are always people who will decide that the savings are worth it– but I'd prefer that ignorance not be a valid excuse. I second Etsy as a far-superior source for inexpensive, custom dresses.

  • Vicki

    I purchased a simple tea length dress from Dino Direct for $80. I'm not planning to wear it, only because I've decided to go with something longer. I wouldn't expect a luxury look for $80 (and free shipping). The quality of the fabric is not excellent, but overall it's a pretty dress that I'll probably change into for my reception. I plan to buy my full length dress online too! Been married before and spent $4k on that dress. Where is it now? In a box in the back of my closet! For $80, or even another $200 for the one I'm considering, if it's not perfect – – that's to be expected. I sent in my measurements and the dress fits perfectly. I think if you get something on the simple side instead of something elaborate, you're more likely to be satisfied. And, also, the pictures they post are snatched from the REAL designers –they're not picture of dresses that they themselves made.

  • Hmph

    Unethical?? Like charging $4000 for a damn dress? Now THAT is unethical.

    Not to mention, if you’ve ever actually gone to a third world country or an industrial country, rather than just watching documentaries about them, you’d know that the solution to the horrific labour issues in these places will not be fixed by simply not buying. These people would just starve without any custom, and China would leave them to starve.

    • trixietimez

      Ripping off someone’s design is still ripping it off. Regardless of what you think is unethical about the prices, it’s still intellectual property that’s being stolen.

  • Sally

    These dresses leave me speachless, they make me want to marry again lol! I ordered my dress from HouseOfBrides(dot)com, and it was so beautiful!

  • esra birsay

    Hi Brides , you are totally right , as i wedding dress maker , our competetitor is always Chinese companies .
    But i did not have any idea about refund , do they give refund and pay 10 Usd back and 140 Usd shipping cost ?

  • Whatsupdoc777

    ❌Before you Say Yes to that Knock Off, you just may want to do yourself some homework.❌‼️
    ****❗️This is classified as “Fraud”
    Read here: http://www.abpia.org/how-to-spot-a-fake/
    And here: http://www.abpia.org/category/updates/
    ***❗️For Actual Testimonies, read here: https://www.facebook.com/KnockoffNightmares/

    • Hi Laurie,

      This is precisely why we’ve written this article — as research for our readers and to provide the information they need so they can make their own decision.


    OK, so I was looking for a Mother of the Groom dress and Im a plus size Lady, so decided to try them out. I was a bit scared when I found out they were out of China but I ordered the dress anyway because I fell in love with the style online. Got the dress on time, problem was it was black on the bottom and blue on the top(it was suppose to be all blue) and it was not made like the photo they showed(cheaply made material was way to heavy and not lite like the photo.) On the top of the empire dress it showed the stitching instead of the lace covering the stitching. Just looked cheap and not beautiful like the photo. I got ahold of the Company asap and it took about a week of back and forth e-mailing to get them to finally agree to credit my card with 70% of the cost I paid for the dress. Which I was grateful to even get that. So lessen learned no matter how beautiful a dress may look on Pintress don’t do it, the dress will not look as beautiful as they make it look!!