The ethics of a cheap off-shore wedding dress #Fashion Advice#budgeting#china#copyright#custom dress#dress shopping March 25 2009 | Ariel arielmstallings By: Taylor McBride – CC BY 2.0 I think that stealing a wedding dress design and having it made in China (in a place that is probably a sweatshop) is really unethical. It upsets me, as it both screws the original designer (who is probably a creative type who you would want to hang out with) and the workers … all for a dress you will wear once. Then again, I am not poor, and I can afford to pay the designer direct for some of the dresses I like and I will check that they are not made unethically. Am I just being a judgmental bitch cos I have the money to "do the right thing" here? Am I assuming that people have not thought about these issue, but actually they have and are fine with it? -Anonymous What a thick and meaty ethical question! Thanks so much for bringing the issue up. Ultimately, it's up to each of us to decide where their consumer values align — this is bigger than weddings. This is about pirating music, buying local produce, and world trade issues. I'm no consumer values expert, so really all I can do is share my personal perspective and values… Since I tend towards slightly odd clothes that I generally can't find in mainstream stores, I get a thrill out of supporting independent designers — I love the individuality that indie designs provide. When I was planning my wedding, this value translated into not being attracted in the big ticket dresses that I couldn't afford. My goal was to work with a couple local indie designers/seamstresses to custom-make something awesome and unique that I could re-wear. I had about a $500 budget, and integrated pieces of a cheap prom dress made in China and hand-crafted elements. While I personally had no interest in wearing a designer dress, I will say that I have no qualms with off-shore reproduction of name-brand designer wedding dresses through online spots like Kaersen. Many of the commercially-made dresses available at mainstream wedding boutiques are made in China anyway, and I don't think you're doing something inherently awful by taking money out of a big name designer's pocket. Vera Wang is a rich woman who dresses movie stars. The $5k you're not spending on one of her wedding dresses isn't going to put her in the poor house. I kind of equate reproducing a designer wedding dress with pirating a Beyonce album. Related Post Tips for buying eBay wedding dresses or accessories made in China Having now bought not one, but TWO of my important items from China (specifically for my wedding day, not to mention a raft of other... Read more That said, I think it's a different game if you're reproducing a dress made by a small, independent designer. And heaven forbid if you're reproducing a dress by an indie seamstress. That just doesn't fit with my personal values of prioritizing indie designers. (Then again, part of the magic of indie designers is that they create dresses that aren't easy to rip off. What off-shore dress factory is going to crank-out hand-dyed silk in your custom colors?) This is a way bigger question than just wedding dresses though, and you're right, anonymous: having money gives you the luxury of thinking through this decision with your consumer values held high. For some brides, their consumer values are a big priority in their lives that they translate into their wedding planning. Other brides may be focused on different offbeat aspects of their wedding — like hand-knitting scarves for each of their bridesmaides, or making sure their gay minister friend officiates, or hand-baking 200+ wedding cupcakes. These folks may think to themselves, "I like that dress I saw in the window, but I spent all my budget on organic catering and my amazing photographer. I'll just have the dress made in China." Like every other wedding decision, it's an issue of picking your battles, identifying your priorities, and compromising to make the best choice you can. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Author of the Offbeat Bride book, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives in Seattle with her son, and if she's not reading or writing books, chances are good that she's dancing or happy-crying. You can get to know her better on her Insta stories. PREVIOUS Offbeat Utah wedding NEXT Kristi & John's Crafty Rainy Day Wedding Show/Hide comments [ 161 ] The ethics that really need to be considered here are not necessarily those which are typically considered "right vs wrong" but those of the designer. Perhaps the designer would be extremely upset if their designs were used without express permission. Perhaps not. Sidestep to another arena of creativity and you'll see what I mean. In punk music, many bands who are unwilling to succumb to the ball-and-chain that accompany being signed to a major label and prefer to record, produce, perform, and distribute their music/merchandise independently. Many of them will expressly say "we don't care if you download our music for free, as long as you come to our shows and support us there". The point is that word of mouth gets more people listening to their music and gets more people to their shows. The indie dress designer may or may not have the same view. If they have the view of "sure, use our design as long as you acknowledge where it came from", then you know where you stand. If not, then as several people have said, look at designs and dresses you can afford. Reply Don't generalise. I had my dress made in Thailand, and I didn't not "send off" for it. I'd lived there fore many years, went on a trip two winters ago with my fiance, and happened upon a seamstress. She had a tiny little showroom in the basement/food court area of the shopping/office complex attached to our condo. I was not even intending to look for wedding dresses at the time (was thinking of some other fancy Thai tailor), but the design caught my eye. It was the cut and the flow of the dress seated on a fabric bust in front of her tiny showroom that contained two racks of casual and special even gowns. It wasn't even finished, just pinned together, but I could see her artistic talent in that piece. I asked her about it, and we ended up sitting down talking about fabrics and final cuts. We talked for about 30 minutes and negotiated a price. It ended up costing about $750 for a BEAUTIFUL dress made head to toe of AlenÃ§on lace, with a ruched soft chiffon band on the lower waist, hand-beading over the lace on the bodice, and a lace-up back with darling little cord loops for the cord to go through. I could not be happier. And I was even more amazed that she managed to finish it in 2 weeks, as we were only staying for 3, and I hadn't discovered her until the end of my first week there. In that time I'd gone in for 2 fittings. The little details make all the difference. The lining is the softest, most comfortable satin I'd ever felt, and all the seams and edges are finished to lay down flat and not scrape at or "print" me under the dress. The bodice has structure so that I don't have to wear a bra, but I hardly feel it, as it doesn't feel like boning, and I can move and dance easily. If I'd opted for a cheaper but still elegant fabric – just chiffon instead of AlenÃ§on lace, for example – I probably could have gotten it for $100-$200. It probably would have cost that much if I'd ordered it online too, plus the shipping and insurance, but it doesn't mean it was made with poor or sweatshop labour. I am very happy with my elegant indie designer dress that fits like a glove and would have been worth $6000 with all little hand-sewn details and touches. No sweat shop labour here, just fabulous work from a fabulous designer! 1 agrees Reply I'm trying to stick to a pretty small budget. I talked to a relatively local designer and it would have been over $1000. Basically the same cost as the Maggie Sottero dress I was looking at. The bridal shops I went to had all these white dresses that I wasn't interested in. Pardon me for wanting something with color and a train. I thought about making a dress myself, but decided that was not the best idea since I haven't done much besides hem pants. I didn't want to risk spending hundreds and dye a dress to have it not work out. I found a shop online where I could buy the dress I wanted, made to my measurements, for around $200! I was never going to buy the expensive designer dress, so I'm not taking away a sale from them (I'd wear a prom dress before that). The bridal shops didn't have what I wanted and many treated me horribly (and most wouldn't have been able to meet my 4 month deadline), so I wasn't going to buy from there either. Many of you who posted think I'm doing something wrong. I'm not stealing from anyone. I'm buying a dress that's made to be my size in the color I want, and it can be made and shipped faster than if I bought from a bridal store. I couldn't get what I wanted locally so I bought from somewhere that I could. 1 agrees Reply i think that Frustrated Bride makes such a great point. offshore traders aren't always the enemies. when planning my own wedding, i found that getting the help you NEED and WANT was of coincident importance as the budget. there should be no judgement directed at individual choice. we each of us have to deal with the consequences of our own decisions,and that should be enough. Reply […] Offbeat Bride | The ethics of a cheap off-shore wedding dress […] Reply I have to say that not everything is made is sweatshops. I went to Hong Kong last year with my dad, as well as southern china and we had several dress/suits made for us whilst there. We spoke to the people who owned these stores, learnt about their family and how far our money went with them, such as one father and daughter couple whos income supported an almost entire village of their extended family. They also told me that they traded online through ebay incase i wanted more things made once i returned home. I had my graduation ball gown made in under a day there by very happy girls. I know some of you will say that I only saw the happy rainbow side of the store, but I actually asked to have a tour of their work space, to see if it was really a 'sweat shop'. This is a tip I would give for anyone visiting China, if someone will not show you where they work, do not give them your money! Another thing, foreigners are incrediably inimidating to chinese people, they are extremely eager to please you. The few companies that will rip you off are most likiely not even from china, but a western website design to collect to money from you and then disappear. Reply I didn't pay a lot for my dress, probably about the equivalent of $40 here, so I didnt just accidentally stumble into a nice tailors by accident. We went to several different custom clothing stores whilst there and all were the same. Sewing is a very important occupation in China and even though alot of people are factory workers there, being a seamstress is also a very important profession. I felt good that I got quality for money, a custom dress, high quality fabrics, and also a good feeling about who and where my money was going. I think people assume too mcuh that china made = sweat shop, child labour or machine made, when really there are people there, doing this to make a living, and making their money go a long way. Reply If a knock off wedding dress was all you could afford, you wouldn't feel guilty….putting myself through school is a little more important than supporting designers by purchasing a couple thousand dollar dress! Reply My two cents: When it comes to cloth design or making movies or music, I think all there is has been done already. Creative people steal ideas from each other all the time: this is a known fact. I myself write books, and most of my ideas are recreations of things that have happened a million times in other books. What makes mine unique in this light? I do a great amount of work to come up with a plot, gather the little pieces into one whole picture and then write it down, but deep down I know: Someone else has already done those pieces, and now I'm just putting them in this picture in different order and they get different meanings. To me it seems creativity is just skill to copy others in a new way. I'm rather poor. I study while I write. I live in a country where it's impossible to even become the cleaning lady without a degree, so this is my only option. I get some support money, but I cannot afford buy all the music, designer clothes or decoration for my rented flat. In this light I hope you have understanding when I copy music from my friend's computer, buy clothes resembling designer clothes from supermarket and let my mother get me a copycat vase. I wish myself and my home to look decent. If I too had money pouring out of my ears, I'd pay the musicians extra, I'd never buy from anyone else besides the designers, and IKEA would never see me again. 1 agrees Reply The way I see it… I am only going to wear that dress one day. If my dress is $5000, I am soooooo going to resell it lol. Often the only thing a person pays for is a tag (obviously) and is THAT morally correct? If a shop in china can sell the same dress for $88 and still make a profit, who is taking from who? Its sort of like going to see a cover band. You can pay $5 to see a cover band playing AC/DC at joes bar and they might absolutley fit the bill. Just like the real thing. Someone else owns the songs but they are free to sing them. Its not the same as seeing angus in the flesh, but if you enjoy it who cares. Do you really think AC/DC is going to notice you werent at the concert? On the other hand if you want to see an indie band… someone local… something truley unique… there ultimatley is no cheap knock off. But you can just about bet yer boots, the indie band is not going to cost ya what a typical mainstream concert ticket would… 2 agree Reply Well you can have bad experiences here in the states, too, with similar shops. I am one of those financially challenged brides and went with a group in La Puente, CA called Mrs. Moran's Bridal and got a disaster for a dress… doesn't even come close to fitting, not to mention 30% of the detail is missing and I lost $370 in the process. The wedding is in a week and I am left to wear a 10 year old party dress. Stay with a seamstress in your hometown and get to know them. You'll be glad you did and can save yourself lots of aggrevation, too. Better safe then sorry! Reply Point blank? You can't copyright a clothing design. It's not stealing if it's not anyone's legal property. Reply Umm… who would really know whether a dress is a copy? I wouldn't! There are so many dresses! Also, Fancy Pony Land appropriates other artists work (ie, Klimt) – why is this fine in comparison? Reply I think it's funny how the debate is often includes not supporting "those sweatshops in China". I'm living in China now, and I have a hard time choosing not to buy something just because it's made in China. Now Chinese businesses are my local businesses, and the ones exporting fancy dresses (and everything else) are the ones making it possible for people to pay the rent, get heat in their house, and feed their kids. Ok, the factory workers have to deal with uncomfortable conditions and long hours. They would be putting up with the same conditions without international trade, just without the bump in salary. Conditions are constantly improving here, and I have a sort of 'it's got to start somewhere' mentality. Soon, the Chinese will have enough development and money to make the majority of their high-end products for Chinese consumers. For now, they rely on foreign hunger for cheap stuff. As far as copying, any reproduction dress you have made here is not going to come close to a $5,000 original. I agree that you're paying for the expertise and quality when you go designer. If you like a design so much that you're willing to sacrifice the essence to get the form, I don't think it's a problem, it's like accidental charity on the designers part, giving a less experienced foreign seamstress a chance to hone her skills and giving her a chunk of cash for it. I can have a silk qipao made here for $30. I'm sure that the knockoff will cost the internet shopper much (much) more than that. Of course, there are other aspects of international trade I'm against, mostly environmental. But I think not buying something because it was produced in a sweat shop could be a little unfair to the workers in factories here. In most instances, they think you're taking advantage of them only as much as they're taking advantage of you. Reply To Anonymous, Good for you that you have alot of money and as you said NOT POOR!!!!!! I to can spend $5000 on a dress but I choose not to. I just wanted to say do you know that even the designers get their dresses made in CHINA , WHY? because it is to expensive to make them in the USA. Have a look at all your cloths alot of things are made in china…. Not all of them are sweatshop iether you just have to research it. Reply I don't mean to sound insensitive but I don't see this as an ethically wrong thing to do. If you don't have your wedding dress made in the assumed "sweat shops" then these poor people won't have money at all. I'm in the middle of my economics requirements for college at the moment, so allow me to reference the invisible hand concept. The invisible hand essentially is when consumers make the best economical/advantageous choices which are of greatest personal benefit and so do the companies. All this super selfish commerce leads to the correct balance of prices, wages, production, etc. So if you purchase from sweat shops you are increasing their demand, paying their workers, and at the same time you are denying the wedding machine the ability once again to take a sweat shop dress and mark it up by adding a zero or two. Stick it too "The Man" /wedding industry. That's just how I see it. Reply I don't care about designer names. When my MIL suggested I bought a cheap dress off eBay from China, I responded with a comment on sweat shops and cheap labour. My MIL replied: "They need to earn money some how." Made me think. Do I stick to my ethics and avoid endorsing cheap labour, or save some money and give a factory-working family a meal? Reply The "invisible hand" is constrained by a lot of things. one of those things is that workers do not have the rights to demand a fair price for their work. Sure, people who work in sweatshops are happy to have any job at all and not to starve. But why should Vera Wang be a millionaire while her workers live in absolute poverty? Why should they be grateful to have only food while other people are incredibly rich of their work? Sure, Vera Wang, or whoever, works hard. So do the people who stitch together their clothing. Everyone deserves dignity. It's been proven many times that people will work for less than starvation wages if that is all they can get, because if they have no other choice they would rather starve slower. There is no excuse for justifying horrible living conditions of the people who make what is a luxury item- a wedding dress. This is true if they live in China or if they live off food stamps in America. You can't place it all on the market: the market for labour is unfair because people have no right no negotiate a fair price for their labour, through unions or otherwise through state regulations that pay a minimum wage that allows one to live (min wage is too low to really in most parts of north america, and most craftpeople don't even make that) 3 agree Reply The "I kind of equate reproducing a designer wedding dress with pirating a Beyonce album." comment hit a nerve with me :p The thing is there, that it's not only Vera Wangs/Beyonce's pocket that you're taking from. There are other people behind all of that that make it all work and they all need to get paid too. I work in an independantly owned video store, and I can tell you that people who condone and participate in pirating DVDs really DOES hurt our business. They seem to think it's ok because apparently the movies make enough money. I can tell you it's not that easy. I'm assuming it could be somewhat similar in the Wedding industry. There are other people involved in the creation and sale of a dress I'm sure, and it probably affects them, even if Vera doesn't notice. 2 agree Reply Just wanted to say that those that buy from the chinese dress shops online are keeping a chinese family happy. The people that work in the sweat shops are making money to feed their families and probably really loved making your dress. I have visited sweatshops in India and while they are seriously underpaid. They are not unhappy. All they ask for is good working conditions and there are people working towards that as we speak. It is not unethical to support the industry as if we didnt then these people might not have a job. Thats my 2c. (I used to be really upset about it all until I visited a factory and really thought about the people involved) If you have the money then buy from the artist, if you dont then I see no problem buying from these 'sweatshops' 🙂 Personally I would want someting more original….. 1 agrees Reply i love this dress, i have to design a dress for school and i got the perfect ideas of this dress. =) Reply I am thinking that most of you are missing the point in regards to bridal gowns. The first and formost problem is that entities from outside of the US are stealing photos of wedding gowns, tagging the pictures with the name of the designer and misleading consumers into thinking that they have anything to do with the production of the original designer dresses. No, they are not simply sewing in their spare time. Good seamstresses have all the hours they need at the factory. I have been to China. There are beautiful, modern factories where the workers are paid a living wage. There were people standing outside the gates hoping for a job. The better designers are very mindful of the treatment of their workers but when you order directly from a China Knock off website or Ebay you are contributing to the guy who has no conscience and is stealing not only the work of the designer, the images that are property of the designer and is hiring slave labor to make dresses. Believe me, I know what it costs to make and ship dresses to the U.S. and what the knock off sites are charging is not even close. I also know that once you send your money out of the country you have little or no recourse and have listened to and read numerous sad stories about crappy, salvageable dresses ordered directly from China. 3 agree Reply I know this is late, but I believe that buying a dress that was ripped off means that designers will try harder to make what people will want to buy from them and not a reseller. This is why I think sometimes that all wedding dresses look the same: most times, designers are catering to the people who will shell out the money to buy from them. People with more money can oftentimes be more conservative and search for a more traditional-classic-wedding-industrial-complex look, and therefore designers create dresses for THEM, not creative offbeat people like us. They also create these designs for places like David's Bridal because the designs they make can be bought by people who normally can't afford their designs and would normally go to a reseller (akin to celebrity for Target collections.). Buying a dress from a designer means that they will see that their creative designs have value, and therefore will make more offbeat-friendly designs. It's all simple supply and demand, and we shouldn't make that demand go to someone that'll give you a poor-quality, cheap and ill-fitting knockoff. 2 agree Reply I am a bride who is paying for her own wedding along with her fiancé. Our budget is not tiny but it is small enough that we are having to compromise in some places. The dress was a big struggle for me. Part of me said that it's my only wedding dress and if I love a $2000 designer dress I should get it. But at the same time I will only wear it once so that seems an absurd amount to spend considering our total budget. If I can get a similar dress from China why not? After all, So Many of the products we use every day whether knowingly or not are made by people in conditions that I would not wish on anyone. I spent many hours stressing over this decisions for a great many reasons many of which had nothing to do with the humanity question and some of which did. In the end I went the route of having a local seamstress make my dress ness somewhat on a Maggie dress and also on our own ideas. All that said my only actual comment on this post is that it seems very judgmental in a way that I am not used to seeing on this site and I'm sad to see that. Just because someone makes a decision you do not agree with that does not make them thoughtless or uncaring. Reply I long for the day when the marriage is as important as the dress and the ceremony. Sure, everyone wants to be the prettiest bride, but come on. What happened to a small ceremony with just close friends, a sensible gown (or lovely cocktail dress), an officiant and cake? When did weddings become productions? One of my friends was married in her yard in a vintage sundress, her husband in a vintage suit. They played an old record on an old record player to walk down "the aisle". A cake made by a relative and some homemade food. Their marriage is one of the strongest I've seen. I've also seen friends married in extravagant ceremonies only to divorce two years later. Weddings were always meant to be intimate – in "the day", only rich people held large weddings to show off their wealth to their friends and clients. You want to be ultra ethical? Have a dress made – buy a vintage dress, or wear someone elses (moms, sisters, etc.) Make the dress mean something other than the price tag. Just my humble, old lady opinion. Reply Barbara, you're preaching to the choir here… we feature a ton of small and simple weddings, if you're looking for a palette cleanser: http://offbeatbride.com/tag/small-wedding http://offbeatbride.com/tag/simple-wedding Reply As a bespoke bridal wear designer I often get approached and asked to copy another dress. And I have to say no, I can't just copy someone else's work. Not only does it actually breach copyright, but goes against my entire ethics as a designer. I am happy to use it as an inspirational starting point which I then help the bride develop into something completely unique to her. Cost is a whole different matter. I appreciate that my services aren't the cheapest option and that there will always be a place for the imported, mass produced wedding dress. I get that. I just ask that you don't rip off someone else's design. Whether it's a big designer brand or not. That designer still had to work to get where they are, had to go to college or be apprenticed, had to learn how to sew and work with fabrics, create patterns from measurements. I just ask that you think about what's involved in the actual making of a wedding dress and appreciate that a small independent designer has just as much creativity and skill as a large brand. Don't insult them by saying can you just copy this! 1 agrees Reply I bought my dress at David's bridal… It was on clearance for $299. Much less than a designer dress, gorgeous, and fit well with minimal alterations… And I'm plus sized so finding that was sheer luck to get it off the rack. But this is another alternative. I didn't steal from anyone. No one at my wedding (besides those who went dress shopping with me) knew that it was "last year's design"… And I did not have to steal or pirate anything. I supported indie businesses by using a local seamstress for alterations and I had custom accessories made. 1 agrees Reply Thank You! Ugh don't get me started on the big ugly China subject. Or Etsy sellers pretending to be a girl in Seattle who likes to sew who's really a Chinese Gown Pirate in disguise. You can tell a real Indy Designer from them if you take a minute to read between the lines and really look at the photos. Every year we get a teary 11th hour help phone call from a Bride who got burned for her entire dress budget by some China.com site. Fabric is garbage, fit is not at all the measurements she sent, beads glued on, cigarette burns, etc. It's tragic, and worse 5 minutes of Googling the subject should have told her not to do it. A real Designer here in the US is Here For You every step of the way! Reply My problem with offshore internet dresses is not the design steal, it is the sweat shops. I saw pictures companies sent to brides of their beautiful dress and on the background you can see the dangerous electrical system, the seamstresses working with winter coats on. I have a friend who is a seamstress for a bridal salon. Now she makes all the dresses from scratch, but her old boss would buy some dresses from China, and before selecting a company she would go and visit the place. She saw places where the seamstresses were literaly chained to their sewing machine. I earn little more than minimum wage, and I don't work full time, but I rather buy a very simple dress in my price range second hand or costum made than celebrate my happiness at the expense of some one elses suffering. But, I am fully aware that this is a very personal decision and that other people priorise other fields to live according to their values and that it helps that I didn't dream all my life of my perfect wedding, giving up dreams can be very hard. 2 agree Reply One thing you have to take into account is materials, not just design. The designer dresses are made with high quality materials and are immaculately constructed. Offshore dresses are likely made with lower quality materials and lower quality construction. So it raises the question of what are you really paying for? The design, the materials, the construction or the "brand". When you pay for a designer dress, you pay for all of those and you get all of those. When you buy a knock-off, you are paying for a lower quality product that looks similar to a designer product but IS NOT the same. I would love to see some of these top designers release consumer sewing patterns for some of their dresses, giving those of us with modest budgets the opportunity to purchase the design and then keep the material and construction costs within our scope of reality. 2 agree Reply Okay, I'm an up and coming designer before you buy a dress understand how it all works. The 10 grand Vera Wang dress likely only cost 3k to make raw. Then it is marked up x2 for the retailer who buys it wholesale. then the retailer marks it up another 2xs when they sell it to you and that is how your dress cost 10k. The same logic applies with a 200 dollar David's bridal dress except it likely only cost 30-50 to make. 1 agrees Reply Love your non judgemental take on the issue. Everyone prioritizes differently. 2 agree Reply I want to preface this by saying that I absolutely understand not everyone can afford or just don't want to spend upwards of $3000 on a dress they will wear once. I can sympathize, I certainly don't have that kind of money laying around. For 10 years I worked for an independent, completely Australian made Bridal designer. None of us, the owner included, got paid big money because the cost of producing quality custom made gowns was so much higher – none of us minded so much though, because we all believed that we were creating something special for our brides. Before the boom in Chinese knockoffsold online, the designer was able to keep 2o0staff employed. over (20 staff, not 200 – tech probs) As of the end of last year i was made redundant, as were most of the other staff and there is now only 1 full time machinist and 2 part timers that do a bit of everything. The only way the designer has been able to keep the business afloat is to produce a range of gowns in China – something she swore she would never do. She cried when the first gowns arrived. I'veben working from home, and the number of girls coming to me asking to alter their online purchased dresses has left me feeling hopeless. $35 bridesmaid dresses – cheap and nasty, and a complete nightmare to alter, but the girls don't seem to care. $300 wedding dress bought online, literally falling apart before she even tried it on, so she decided to buy a second one for $180. I'm refusing to alter dresses bought online now, and I'm not the only dressmaker to do so. Buying knockoffs affects the entire industry, not just one rich big name designer who can afford it. It has a flow on effect. It has left me with the question of whether I even want to be involved in the industry anymore, because it seems to be the way everything is heading. 2 agree Reply In addition to the fair trade problems and environmental impact of Chinese sweatshop gowns, there is also a direct impact on local businesses. When you buy Chinese knockoffs, you're helping put small bridal shops out of business. My friend who owns one tells me all the time how brides come in to shop the designs she carries, try the dresses on, have a full bridal appointment and waste her time, and then just relay all the info to the Chinese company. The thing is, sometimes, the brides come crying to her after their rip-off gown arrives and is cheap looking or not sewn well. They want her to help them fix their crap dress that they stole from her in the first place! So if 'buying local' matters to you, just know that knockoff gowns are putting local retailers out of business. Also, I am appalled at the number of people, Ariel included, who feel like it's ok to steal. Newsflash: theft is a crime. It's not ok to steal from indie designers, and it's not ok to steal from walmart. If you were raised that it's ok to steal, I feel sorry for you. 1 agrees Reply I worked for a bridal shop for a short time, and I think the woman who owned it had a similar issue. It was so rude and such a waste of time! A very inconsiderate thing to do! Reply I don't think it's fair to say that such-and-such big designed has enough money – that's not our place to say! Getting a knock-off dress is just not a nice thing to do – you're ripping off the designer, and cheapening their product by doing so (over saturating the market with a crappy knock-off). I didn't necessarily have the money to blow on a Vera Wang, but I found something beautiful in my price range that made me look like a super model, and I think it's better to find something that you CAN afford that is legit. 1 agrees Reply While I understand that anything "for" buying from sweat shops sounds like justification I will say that the moment the minimum wage in a country goes up high enough they will move to yet another and the cycle will continue. Though I hope ethics pick up one day it helps me sleep until I can afford more ethical goods. That being said my wedding dress (much like the rest of my wardrobe) will probably be bought from a thrift store and altered to fit me, unless I just go for something already in my closet. The simplistic "wearing your best dress" philosophy of my Spanish ancestors appeals to me a lot though I love oggling some of the off shore dresses that can be made in different colors and are (almost) within my budget's reach. Reply There are a ton of ways to save big on a wedding dress without buying a knock-off or from a sweatshop. Check out bridal consignment shops, get a dress custom-made (cheaper than you might think), shop Etsy, Tradesy, or PreOwnedWeddingDresses. No need to hit the ethical wall with something that is supposed to be a fun experience! Reply Look at it this way – if Offbeat Bride gets super popular (I'm talking millions of daily views and being well known outside of OB circles), is it okay for a smaller website to steal your articles and publish them as their own? They will justify it by saying you guys don't need the page views or the ad clicks. Obviously that's not okay! Stealing is stealing no matter how popular or mainstream the company being stolen from is. Reply Read more comments ‹ 1 2 3 Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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