Changes in the world’s economy have forced changes in the way bridal manufacturers, and therefore independent bridal salons, do business. Previously, labor was inexpensive and abundant in China and other countries in that region where the majority of gowns are manufactured. Workers who used to regard these jobs at gown factories as good positions often moved far from home to secure one. As China’s economy continues to westernize, these same workers are leaving their jobs to take new ones closer to home and possibly with better pay. New cutters, seamstresses and beaders need to be trained to fill these highly skilled niches in the gown assembly process with no guarantee they will remain in them for any length of time, when the cycle will begin again. This has lengthened the delivery time for special order gowns, driven gown costs up dramatically and spawned dishonest internet sites promising designer gowns at impossibly low prices.
Delivery times in the past have averaged 10-14 weeks with rush cuts available in just a few weeks from most major manufacturers. In the past a standard answer for “How long before my wedding should I order?” was “6 Months”. In many cases it now takes up to 6 months for a store to receive a special order bridal gown for a customer after the order is placed. Brides will need to shop much earlier to insure delivery of the gown they’ve dreamed of and to allow ample time for alterations and pressing before the big day.
From the Allure Bridals Blog: a counterfeit gown (left)
next to the Allure Couture Original.
The unstable labor force and rapidly rising cost for fabrics, beads, etc. (also produced primarily in Asia) are causing a rapid rise in costs at every stage of the bridal gown sale. Manufacturers have done their best to hold down prices, yet they continue to rise at an unprecedented rate.
Higher prices inspire brides to look for bargains, and unscrupulous websites are there to “provide” them. Posting pictures of beautiful designer gowns, these sites claim to be selling these gowns for a fraction of what they would cost if purchased from an authorized retailer. What unsuspecting customers actually receive is a poorly made copy of the designer original fashioned from cheap materials which may or may not even fit. Buyer Beware! By the time many brides get their counterfeit gowns, they have no way to get their money back and very little time to order a replacement. Designers of the “real” gown the bride thought she was getting are not affiliated with these discounters and cannot do anything to help a bride who believed she was buying one of their creations.
Counterfeit bodice next to the Allure Couture original.
Quality and design differences are obvious
When gown shopping, whether it’s for bridal, bridesmaids, mothers or prom, it’s important to listen to the advice of an independent formalwear retailer. When your consultant tells you your gown needs to be ordered much sooner or tries to explain why you’ll pay a little more for your gown than your older sister had to a few years ago, rest assured that person has your best interests at heart. Working with a bridal store you trust means you will have an advocate at every stage of your purchase if you have a problem. Remember, you get what you pay for.