(The Market for) Lemons

August 12, 2016

Some time ago I went through a phase during which I became extremely curious about Asian e-commerce sites, and will indiscriminately order with every retailer that I come across. Since then I've become wary of ordering from Asian e-tailers because of their cumbersome return process and often unreliable stock photos (though the simpler truth is that my curiosity was satisfied).

(For anyone curious, the conclusion I drew from my experience was that many fly-by-night Asian e-tailers are just TaoBao aggregators with few distinguishing marks among them. As there are innumerable vendors producing the same designs and often using the same photos, it's almost impossible to know what kind of quality to expect, though the default is "unwearable." Price is an occasionally useful, if not consistent, indicator of quality. Treat placing an order as though you just burned money to ashes.)

(The above observation applies only to some Asian e-tailers; there are plenty of reputable Asian brands that operate wholesale and retail outlets, like Dahong—formerly Zipia—and CherryKoko, both of which I frequent.)
Romwe Open-Shoulder Ruffled Lemon Print Dress | c/o Ann Taylor Rattan Straw Bag (past season) | Steve Madden Stecy Sandal (reviewed here; buy here, here, here, and here)
So it's been several years since I've even contemplated ordering from a retailer like Romwe. I would only do it if someone I trust offers an unbiased positive review of a specific item. Last month I stumbled upon this Open-Shoulder Ruffled Lemon Print Dress, which copies a Dolce & Gabbana print (not exactly a legal gray area, but that's a discussion for another time). I was so consumed by its potential that I ordered it immediately (it helps that it's only $12.99 + $3.99 for shipping). 

Many sites like Romwe are currently under investigation by the FTC for questionable business practices, though they have made improvements (my order took only 7 business days to arrive by FedEx SmartPost and I was able to track the package once it was stateside) to add transparency to the process.

Luckily, the dress arrived as pictured and the quality was adequate. I could not have asked for a better outcome. 

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  1. Since I gained weight, my experience with these sites have been even worse. I agreed on a collaboration with a newer asian site and let's just say it was pretty disastrous. I need to stay far, far away at this point but your dress looks absolutely adorable and like a winner for sure!


    1. The fit on styles that Asian e-tailers sell definitely skews short and small. Agreed that it's almost always a prudent decision to stay away. I certainly was prepared for this purchase to be a disaster so was pleasantly surprised. :)

  2. Hey Elle! I hope all has been well :)

    I agree that Asian e-commerce sites are a hit or miss (usually a miss most of the time). Most of the items I purchased from such places have never seen the day of light since it arrived at my doorstep. The dress looks cute on you! It looks decent for a $13 dress (and it's trendy!). I wish markets in korea would sell their clothes online... the quality is better than chinese e-commerce sites (although more expensive), but cheaper than zipia.

    On another note, I purchased the j.crew promotion dress after seeing your previous post and I think I got fatter within the last year or so...I was so shocked to see my stomach bulging out (yikes!).

    1. Hi you! Long time no talk. :)

      Things have been good. It's so good of you to check in. I hope you are doing well.

      Agreed that there should be more Korean e-tailers available to American shoppers... though I really can't call myself a fan of DHL express shipping charges. Taking a trip to S. Korea in the near future, do you have any recommendations for shops that I should check out while I am there?

      And I am sorry to hear that the Promotion Dress didn't work out for you. J. Crew will definitely allow you to return it. Just say the measurements you got from CS didn't match the dress's actual measurements.



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