The cake is a lie. A big, fat one.
Little more irks me in the fashion industry than retailers trying to rip their customers off. They do it everywhere, and most of the time you have to just bite your tongue and go elsewhere, or elsewhile wait for sale time to roll around and pray your item of choice doesn’t disappear from those shelves forever. I’m not sure I used that word in the correct context. Anyways. But what if they were selling you things for double, triple, quadruple the price of an identical item that you can get elsewhere for a mere fraction of the price?
This is a special edition of Carbon Copies which will expose these retailers that do that, both in the real world and online, and give you a few tips and tricks that will prevent you from being ripped off.
We’ll first focus on the real-life retailer Hi, Beauty–a store in the Myer Centre in Brisbane. I was lured inside by the sale signs but when I flipped through a few dresses and shirts, the horrors that awaited me were more than a poor frugalista could bear.. There in the shop I saw my eBay wishlist staring right back at me! I wasn’t sure whether to cry about the prices or whether to whoop with joy that I could finally try on my wishlist items without having to purchase them first. I kind of did both, and subsequently pulled out my camera in the dressing room.
I could have posted images from the Internet instead of the images from my camera, but I really needed to show you firsthand what they’re selling. Here’s the rundown, from top to bottom (excluding my picture):
1. Patchwork Dress, $52 | eBay, $14
2. Contrast Collar Dress, $50 | AliExpress, $16 (UPDATED)
3. Orange & Blue Colour Block Dress, $35 | eBay, $14
4. Scoop Neck Yellow Dress, $40 | eBay, $18.70
5. Multi-Colour Polka Dot Dress, $50 | eBay, $16.80
I’m not done yet, though. Online retailers are the worst of the bunch, because they go about this in unethical ways. They pretend that they are exclusive, the next best thing to ASOS, and trick bloggers into supporting them, while they use the professional photos generated on the bloggers’ blogs of those items as advertising for their website. And of course, for the free clothing that they send off to that popular blogger that in reality probably only costs a few dollars to make in some cheap Chinese sweatshop, the followers of those bloggers get directed back to that website and naturally think everything there is awesome and worth the exorbitant prices that the store is charging. Meanwhile, most have no idea that you can find the exact same items (not just the replica, but the same-same items!), minus the 400% or so price hike, directly from Aliexpress or eBay.
Two big-time perpetrators are Sheinside and Romwe. Please note that I’ve chosen the following items because they were the easiest to find, not because they’re fashionable. With enough patience I could probably find most of the things they sell on their website listed for cheaper on eBay or Alibaba/Aliexpress.
Romwe has all the cards in their hands. They only allow bloggers with over 2000 followers to participate in their affiliate program, and every time a blogger buys something from them and posts up a picture of it, it’s Romwe’s to use for free. Beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes lends to making them a beautiful website, even if the beauty is only surface-deep. Here are a few things I spotted while perusing Romwe. Keep in mind that unlike most Carbon Copies posts where I show you where to find the replica of a particular item, all the items listed in this post are the exact same as the listings on eBay.
1. Retro Sleeveless Pleated Mustard Dress, $83 | eBay, $13
2. Multi-level Flouncing Sleeveless Orange Dress, $30 | eBay, $9.20
3. Aztek Pattern Cardigan, $52 | eBay, $19
4. Dog Print Blouse, $37 | eBay, $10
5. Multi-spike Charm Layered Necklace, $19 | eBay, $2.30
6. Retro Style Ring Suit, $13 | eBay, $1.30
7. Small Mouse Open Copper Ring, $11 | eBay, $1
8. Hollowed Carving Detachable Collar, $16 | eBay, $3.30
The differences in prices are absolutely insane. From a ring that is marked up 1000% to a dress marked up 600%. Sure you can find the odd thing on Romwe that is near impossible to find anywhere else, but for what they’re doing to their buyers’ wallets, I wouldn’t touch their company with a ten foot barge pole.
If it weren’t for another blogger, I wouldn’t have found this store either, which just goes to show you the power that these two online companies are harnessing! It was a lot easier to find “replicas” here and I had to cull the enormous list that I had built up, but yeah, mostly everything you see on that website you can find on eBay/AliExpress.
1. Leopard Dress, $32 | AliExpress, $10
2. White Lace Bodycon Dress, $34 | eBay, $13
3. Yellow Skater Dress with Contrast Collar, $45 | eBay, $15.30
4. Bird Print Chiffon Shirt, $32 | eBay, $16
5. Winged Ring, $14.20 | eBay, $1.35
6. Tassel Necklace, $13 | eBay, $2
7. Silver Leaves Necklace, $15.50 | eBay, $1.80
8. Bronze Octopus Necklace, $12.30 | eBay, $1
As I said, Sheinside had many, many items that I’ve seen before on eBay, but the list had to be massively culled because I didn’t want to go overboard or I’d be writing this post for hours!
Tips to avoid being sold the cake:
- If the models on the website are mostly Asian or from ASOS or Zara (and the website you’re on is not in fact ASOS or Zara), run very far away..
- If the clothing is photographed on coat hangers instead of real people, same as above
- If the listings mostly contain the word “chiffon” in the titles
- If the website is written in Engrish
All of these tips should help you avoid getting severely ripped off, but it’s no reason to leave the site prematurely either. Browse a bit, note your favorite garments, and look them up on eBay instead.
Note: All these items were researched on eBay and AliExpress on the fly–please don’t post to tell me you found a cheaper version because they probably do exist but the main purpose of this post was to show the differences in pricing between retailers, not to bring you bargains (sorry!).