Buyer Beware: Counterfeit Wedding Dresses

Imagine the excitement and joy you feel when your dream wedding dress shows up on your doorstep. The anticipation results in butterflies in your stomach as you giddily open such a special parcel. Now imagine the shock and utter disgust as a lump forms in your throat, your heart sinks, and tears begin to fall as you look at an impostor of a wedding dress.

For many brides, your wedding dress may be one of the most sentimental (and expensive) dresses you ever purchase. At Essense Designs – which creates the bridal brands Essense of Australia, Stella York, and Martina Liana – we work tirelessly with our authorized retailers to ensure that you not only get the wedding gown of your dreams, but that you get the experience of a lifetime as well. It is heartbreaking when we hear horror stories from brides who innocently bought their wedding dresses online, only to receive it in a shamble, looking nothing like the beautiful photo they fell in love with – brides like Meghan who shares her story below:

Buyer Beware

Left: The Stella York wedding dress she thought she ordered. Right: the wedding dress she received. Read more of Meghan’s story here.

Stella York, Martina Liana, and Essense of Australia wedding dresses are not available to purchase online. A wedding dress is more than just a dress – it is an experience that should be cared for by experienced bridal professionals that will ensure everything happens as it should – not only when selecting your dream wedding gown, but all the way through your wedding day.   With this in mind, we are committed to providing superior customer service in partnership with our authorized retailers. We want our brides to be able to try on wedding gowns, to feel the way they move, how the luxurious fabrics and intricate details will sparkle in the spotlight, and to relish in the moment when she’s found ‘the one’.

Buying your wedding dress can be a big decision – and investment – and buying your gown online from an unauthorized website can become a huge mistake, actually costing you more than a boutique dress. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many of the sites that sell counterfeit gowns will duplicate designer photos without authorization, and pass them off as their own. The designer dress you see in the image and the dress that you receive will be very different.  Most online gowns are a cheaply made version of the original, comprised of stiff, itchy fabrics, and without the internal construction that shapes to the bride’s body. Brides have reported receiving the wrong size or even the wrong color, with different bodice and skirt styles than what they originally ordered. When you try to return the gown, you may be shocked to find the website has either been shut down, or they have a no return policy – which is very common.  Counterfeit bridal gown websites rename themselves and secure new URL addresses on a very regular basis so that they cannot be contacted – or found – by their customers.

Jim Verraros, Vice President of Bridal Expo Chicago + Milwaukee luxury bridal shows, speaks truthfully about brides who are tricked into buying counterfeit wedding gowns from unauthorized websites, warning brides of the risk they take when purchasing their wedding dress online:

These impostor gowns may claim to be a designer original. But Stella York, Martina Liana, and Essense of Australia wedding dresses are only available from one of our authorized retail partners which you can find here.

Tips for avoiding counterfeit gowns:

  • A couture bridal gown with intricate detailing and delicate fabrics can often take 4-6 months in production. If you’re ordering a gown that can be available in a few weeks, it’s most likely a knock-off.
  • Make sure you’re purchasing your wedding dress from a reputable source. Double check they’re listed as an authorized retailer by the designer.
  • Check the label – a huge red flag is if the designer’s name is spelled incorrectly on the inside label of the dress.

Don’t let this nightmare become your reality. Again, for a complete list of Stella York, Martina Liana, and Essense of Australia authorized retailers we encourage you to visit our store locator.

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