How much are you losing from buying from boutiques at full price?

Princess Polly She Blooms Dress, $70 | Little JC, $50 (You’re gonna have to take my word for it in absence of an online store)–UPDATE! Now available to buy minus petticoat at SES for the bargain price of $25!

Princess Polly Miss Kiss Collar, $20 | eBay, $2.60 (Lots of colours here!)

Princess Polly The Prodigy, $55 | eBay, $6 (+ however much the turpentine costs to scrape off that multi-coloured paint)

Ally Floral Dressy Short, $25 | AliExpress, $11.70

Ally Short With Floral Organza, $20 | AliExpress, $11.50

Princess Polly Coconut Sky, $70 | Ally Dress in Tropical Print, $25 | Dissh, $70

Princess Polly Cat Eyes, $65 | AliExpress, $21 (Also available in cream)

Princess Polly Floral Jeans, $60 | Ice, $30 (I gave a low estimation of Princess Polly based on their existing range of jeans)

Dish, Princess Polly, Sunnygirl, and many other so-called “high end” boutiques in Australia are no more high end than your local Ice, Temt, or Ally Fashion. (Now with proof!) Everything comes from suppliers in China who make the same stuff as each other. Sometimes they produce lines at high quality, and sometimes their lines come out looking shocking, with loose threads, weak seams, and faulty zippers.

Really, I would argue that boutiques like these are no better than rip-off websites like Romwe, Sheinside and Oasap. They both contain a mixture of ridiculously marked up Alibaba stock and otherwise stock that is seemingly impossible to find anywhere else. I made the purchase of that floral dress in the first picture with full knowledge that I’ve never seen something like that on any of my online trawls (and I’ve been everywhere, man), even though I had already seen it in several different boutiques in Australia for way more than it’s actually worth. Knowing now that it comes in a different colour makes me all the more eager to find it, but it’s trickier than you think!

The difference between “high-end” boutiques and low-end stores like Ally Fashion, Temt, Valleygirl, etc, is not always just a difference in quality. While the latter stores do get their things from Chinese warehouses as well, you will not find them charging half as much as the high-end stores do, and for what? It’s not couture, girls! Same with jewelry and bags–I’ve never failed at tracking down a boutique bag on AliExpress when something pretty catches my eye!

A good indication of whether or not a store mass-buys their items from a Chinese wholesaler is if you’ve got the niggling feeling that you’ve seen that particular print before. Old followers of mine on Instagram will remember the dress that I found in a Queen Street boutique that had that same horrible yellowish -multi-coloured flower print fabric that I’ve seen featured on a pair of pants from Ice. Now, I can’t even unsee that pattern, I recognize it everywhere! Another pattern that I’ve seen everywhere is the tropicana print that you see in this post. I have spotted so many different items utilizing this same print, from bralette tops to short shorts, dresses to leggings. I see it everywhere! A distinct mark of a store that buys their stuff from Chinese wholesalers.

Living near Stones Corner offers me many opportunities to visit the small, humble boutiques that reside there–specifically two of my favorite called Little JC and Oz Jeans. Oz Jeans frequently has “nothing over $30” sales (and they mean $30, unlike those stores in Queen Street mall who have those “Nothing under $30, except for items over $30!” sales) and I’ve taken note of a couple of dresses in there that are also sold on Princess Polly and Dissh, as with the dresses I’ve found in Little JC, which also has frequent sales, albeit not frequent enough!

Now the point of this post wasn’t to shame any aforementioned boutiques, but to serve as a warning to their buyers–before laying down your hard-earned cash on that pricey dress you see in the window.. have a peek online. Check out AliExpress, try to Google it (e.g. “cat face dress” or something like that) and scroll through Google Images for anything familiar. Be aware that Australian retailers are notorious for marking up stock for way more than it’s worth. When you’ve done that–try the dress on in the store, if it fits and the quality is up to par with your standards, buy that baby online!


  1. Is there anyway you could help me find these dresses wholesale?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Demi

      Heyyyyy what am I here, a search engine? D:

      The odd requests I can sometimes fulfill out of the “kindness of my heart”, but it does take me at least an hour of searching to find specific stuff like that! And I mean an hour each item, if not longer, and not always do I end up finding what I look for.

      Like this blouse I was looking for from another blogger who had bought it off Romwe. Took me like two hours but I eventually found it for $11 on AliExpress by entering relevant keywords into the AliExpress search box over and over. That’s all you can do, really. Just type some vaguely related stuff into the search box and hope the results come up gold. You should give it a try, it’s fun, and sometimes you even get nicer results than the item you were originally searching for!

  2. Hey Demi! I cant believe I only just started following your blog now…I’ve been following you on instagram for ages though lol. I love this post and totally agree with everything you said, and now I may spend the whole afternoon trawling through Aliexpress. Thanks alot. lol j/k I love cheap stuff! And I just did a similar post on my blog about cheaper alternatives (though not as pretty as yours…but I’m sure people will get the picture!).

    • Demi

      Haha, fancy that! AliExpress is a great site but it’s not the be-all and end all of Chinese warehouse websites! There are plenty of others, but to prevent myself from becoming too obsessed with cheap Chinese goods, I limit most of my searches to AliExpress. Note to the clever frugalista–eBay is much much better for jewelry than AliExpress, because there’s no minimum order amount on eBay ;)

    • Well I realised ebay is actually heaps cheaper than aliexpress on some items! I also used to shop on … thats one of the biggest chinese wholesale type sites, but it was annoying that you had to order a minimum amount on some items (oh, and the fact that shipping was bloody expensive!!). but it was good cos I’d buy clothes and shoes for $5 at most.

      And yes, I always buy the cheap jewelry on ebay! Statement necklace for $4 with free shipping, yes thanks! haha

    • Demi

      Some stuff is cheaper on eBay, some stuff is cheaper on AliExpress–that’s the nature of all wholesaler websites :)You just need to get a feel for where to look for things. Bags, I’ll only buy on AliExpress, because they’re generally always cheaper. Jewelry, if I’m looking for one piece, I’ll go to eBay, otherwise I’ll put in a bulk order on AliExpress because they have jewelry for 60c etc (whereas eBay’s minimum Buy Now is $1, always). Shoes are cheaper on AliExpress too and clothes are another toss-up, though there’s more range on AliExpress.

  3. I agree with what you are saying and when I was a lot younger I would buy brands such as Sunny Girl from ’boutiques’ thinking I was buying something unique, quirky etc. But now with the online market these places are struggling to survive as its a lot easier for the consumer to do research and buy something very similar for cheaper. So the boutiques I go to tend to stock local designs (as opposed to clothes mass produced from China) or I’ll just go to ASOS for Tempt, Ice etc

    • Demi

      There’s no reason to stop buying from those boutiques if you find something you love–some stuff looks quirky and unique regardless of whether they’re mass-produced (like that floofy floral dress in the first picture that I’ve now found in three different boutiques for varying prices–China-made or not, it’s still a head-turner!). But the downside to buying locally-made things is the price for me, of course :( No full guarantee that it’s better quality, either!

      Still, I wish it was easier to find things like that around here, everyone seems to come from a Chinese warehouse.

  4. Your site is going to become more and more useful to me as I save for Europe, as I can’t afford to be spending too much on clothes and jewellery! Trawling AliExpress at the moment…

    • Demi

      Haha, glad to hear, Jharna! Please do be careful with AliExpress though–like eBay China, it’s sometimes very hit and miss and even I make a few bad buys every now and again.

  5. I agree, I purchased a dress from Princess Polly a while back for something around 60-70 and when I received it I felt as though it was cheap crap that should have only cost me 30 max!

    • Demi

      Oh dear, that really sucks :( It really is pot luck with websites that sell goods like that, sadly.. This is why I like ASOS the best, I get a close-up of the material, a rundown of the components within that material, and I can see the fit of the dress while the model walks down the catwalk so there’s less chance of me grabbing a lemming of an item. But sometimes you just don’t know!

  6. And Australian retail stores wonder why their business is down and people turn to online shops…

    • I used to work at Diva over the summer holidays back when I was 16/17 (so 2006 and 2007) and the manager told me that Diva wouldn’t buy anything that was over 50cents. Often, things were about 10 cents per item.

      So they buy a 10cent necklace and sell it for $25….. insane…

    • Demi

      That’s crazy, Joanne! Often the cost isn’t even justified, I mean I bought a necklace from them and now it’s been the 4th wear and the back of the necklace is horribly tarnished and so is the chain and I fear I won’t be able to wear it much longer without it looking tacky.. if we were calculating the cost per use of the item at the original price, I mean–I wouldn’t have even gotten it down to $5 per wear yet. (Lucky I bought it on special!)

  7. I respect you for you are an informed consumer but must politely disagree with your point. I know – and you’ve certainly demonstrated it many times over – that you can find knock-offs of almost anything online, but the reason people like myself continue to shop instore is because it is convenient. It saves us the hassle of having to go online and search up the item we’re looking for, and when we buy instore we can have that item now as opposed to having to wait for it to arrive in the mail. Of course I don’t condone ridiculous mark-ups but you have to also remember that they are bricks-and-mortar stores that have to pay rent and pay lots of staff, so need a bigger mark-up to some extent.

    …Then again, in the words of a colleague “It’s all bullshit.” ;)

    • Demi

      I don’t know, some markups I think are fine and justified–like for example Temt and Valleygirl and Ice and those other stores that are considered “low-end” fashion shops, they only mark up their stuff a bit in perspective with what the item is worth. But with the “high-end” boutiques, they mark up their stuff 1000% more than the retail price of the same item on a wholesale website that’s open to the public. For a wholesale website that’s only open to mass-sellers like boutiques, the dresses definitely wouldn’t cost around the $15 mark, more like the $5 if you’re lucky, and what does that leave us with then, a 2000% markup in those boutiques? These aren’t simply knock-offs either, these are exactly the same product from arguably the same factory floor.

      Furthermore, would anyone really spend $60 more than they needed to on a dress they could buy for $10 overseas? Especially if they knew that they could buy that dress for $10? You buy things from ASOS/TopShop/RiverIsland/etc and wait around for a week or two to get it, and spend however long browsing the site looking for the perfect dress or top or pants–not much different to buying from China. My main point with this post is to keep people informed that while you might pay top dollar in stores, it doesn’t mean you’re receiving a top quality product there! Besides that, clothing prices are in general hugely inflated in Australia anyways (in comparison to clothing stores in the UK or US), and I don’t think that buyers should have to stand for that.

    • I agree that it’s unfair that we have to pay so much for clothing and apparel here than overseas and unjustifiable as we are no different to other countries and our products are largely the same in quality in that they are just mass manufactured in China.

      It would be great if we as consumers all remembered that $$$ =/= quality but often than not (at least in my case) we get sucked into the “magic” and forget it. It’s ironic, I absolutely loathe Tiffany’s and the exorbitant prices that it charges people for what is cheap sterling silver and the amount of people that buy into the hype, but I readily hand over $200 for a silk dress…(sometimes). When comparing low-end stores and high-end stores, all we’re paying for is the brand name. It’s just sometimes difficult to remember.

      I don’t know if this totally contradicts what I was saying before…oh well.

    • Demi

      Haha, it’s okay Joan, it’s not an either/or sort of stance to take, the ethics of retail is not a black and white issue at all! I also get angry at the artificial inflation situation we have going on in the diamond trade.. Ah, capitalism!

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