I thought that I'd post my experience with an online vender when buying an outfit, along with a few tips to keep in mind should you want to buy online, and haven't done so before. I have ordered from a few different online sellers over the last few years, and have learnt through trial-and-error what the best way to order is, how to judge whether a vendor is trustworthy, and most importantly, how to ensure that you get good value for what you pay and to make sure you are happy with your outfit.
It's always a risk buying online when you can't see the product in real life, apart from the pictures which have been put up by the seller, so it's understandable that some buyers are wary of buying online.
I recently placed an order with Sam at Enchanted Clothings, a new vendor who I have spoken to a few times, and whose designs I really like. I have seen a few dresses which she had previously made for herself, which are made from Karachi by her tailor, so I knew what to expect when I placed an order.
Tip #1: With any vendor, try to read reviews. This is probably the most important research you can do, since it tells you about real experiences from customers, and also how the seller dealt with problems which crop up. It's also useful in weeding out fraudulent sellers, and finding out whether the work on an outfit is good quality or shoddy, and whether it's even worth buying from them.
With Enchanted Clothing, I took a slight risk because this was a new group, so there were not many reviews. However, because I had spoken to Sam before, and I had seen images of outfits that had been made before from Sam, I was fairly confident that I would like whatever I got. I also made sure I looked at the pictures she did have (which were real pieces she had made), which also helped.
Tip #2: Make sure you find out enough information to make you happy. A good vendor will give you all the information you need and will let you know what the normal procedures are. Always feel free to ask questions throughout the process so you know exactly what you are getting.
After doing my research, I then emailed Sam to make enquiries about quotes of different dresses I had selected that I liked. Sam replied back very quickly, which was a great, since it meant I could ask her several things and get answers every quickly. After narrowing down the choice of dress I wanted to make, I asked her key questions like how long it would take, what method of payment she would expect, and what she would need from me.
This is the dress I ended up choosing to make, which is a replica of a Hina Khan design (the replica is on the right):
I actually preferred the Enchanted Clothing version to the original one, because it broke the continuous design of the motif all over into a wide panel at the front, and also had more of an A-line shape to it. I also liked the smaller motifs scattered on the side which made it look sparkly.
Tip #3: Make sure you know what materials, work and styles are being used. Again, a good vendor will tell you all of this, and will also ask you what you prefer - but make sure you also clarify this as well. It's always important to be as accurate as possible - this means less surprises for you! If you're not sure what colours, style or design to put together, ask the vendor what they would suggest, which can be really helpful as they have more experience with clothes, especially what works and what doesn't.
I sent Sam details of the colours I wanted (peach and maroon), and also about what changes I wanted to the outfit itself. I didn't like the jamawar/banarsit hem at the bottom, because I wasn't keen on the design, so asked Sam for suggestions. Sam suggested adding on an applique'd border at the bottom in maroon to keep the colour theme I wanted, and also to add some embellishment, and also suggested adding apple green accents in the embroidery to make the colours really pop. I really liked this idea, so sent her some colour swatches of what I liked, and she told me whether she thought they would go well or not.
Tip #4: Ask the vendor to send you pictures of your actual outfit, so you know what to expect before it's sent out.
Our conversation was done mostly by emails, and also by sending Facebook pictures and attachments so I knew what I would be getting. I didn't make many changes so I didn't think I would be disappointed, but I did request that Sam send me pictures through the process of the dress being made, which she readily agreed. to.
Tip #5: Make sure you are happy with the method of payment. At the end of the day, it is YOUR money being spent, so make sure you can keep track of the payment. Most vendors in Pakistan tend to use something like Western Union, which is quite reliable, but which also does have an extra charge, or otherwise Moneygram, which charges less or not at all. This is where your own judgement about the seller comes in, whether you think they are trustworthy and whether they have good reviews. I haven't been conned yet (so far!) in my own online buying experiences, but I also try not to place too many orders with new vendors unless I have a good recommendation or I have worked with them before.
After finalising the order, I paid a deposit via Western Union (most vendors will ask for a deposit, it can be aroung 50% of the whole price), and emailed Sam to let her know I had paid. She confirmed receipt and then advised me to wait until she had some pictures. Originally she had advised me that it could take up to 7 to 8 make the outfit and post, but to my surprise (and glee!) she emailed me about three and a half weeks later to say that the outfit was complete! She also attached some pictures of the outfit, which I was delighted with.
If a vendor has made an outfit before, it is easier (and sometimes quicker) to make it again for you - if they are making an new outfit or replica from scratch, it can take longer because of the decisions made in putting the outfit together. Vendors have told me in the past that an outfit which is being made the same as one they have already made before is quicker because they can tell their tailors to do the same thing without worrying that it will go wrong.
Tip #6: Make sure you are happy with the outfit before it is posted out to you! The last thing you want is to see something you didn't expect and not liking it. You have rights as a buyer to complain if you genuinely are not happy, and if you think that the vendor is selling you something different to what you expect. Although it also needs to be remembered that when making replicas of designer outfits, what you get may not look exactly like the original, especially if you are paying less that you might for the original.
After the outfit was complete and I was happy with the outfit, I sent the rest of the payment to Sam, and also gavet her my address to post to. The outfit was posted and arrived about a week later, which I was also very happy with, as it meant that I didn't have to wait too long!
All in all, I was very happy with the service I received, as well as the outfit itself. The entire process of ordering and getting the outfit is probably the most easiest I've had so far, there were no hassles, it was done very quickly, - it's definitely made me want to order again from Enchanted Clothing. I'll be posting proper pictures of the outfit soon, but in the meantime, have a look at the group to see her other designs (and let me know what you think!)
Feel free to ask me any questions as well about the ordering experience, and I'll do my best to answer questions!