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How to Find Cheap Designer Clothes

How Reader prblms4loki Bought Designer Dresses For $15

I recently wrote about a New York Times reporter who decided to make copies of designer clothes in China for cheap after getting the OK from law experts. Well, turns out reader prblms4loki had already done that and she kindly decided to share her experience with us. Read on for the highlights of the interview:


  • Traveling to China: My parents decided to take a trip back to China this summer and I went along. I'm from China so I was just visiting home. I decided to take all of my fabric back to China with me and find a seamstress to make them for me.
  • Finding a seamstress: My relatives asked around for me and recommended asking around at some of the booths in a nearby mall (for lack of a better word, it was more like a flea market in a building, quite common in China). Most seamstresses in the mall had pre-made stock and the customers simply picked a fabric and it was tailor-made for them. Oftentimes, this was comparable to buying something off the rack (approximately $20/30USD including fabric cost).

To find out how much prblms4loki saved in total and more, read on!


  • Picking patterns: I spent almost 3 hours picking out patterns in a book — some were typical dress-making books, with basic sheaths and A-Line dresses, mostly old-fashioned styles. There was also a book of what I called modern clothes. These literally included pictures that I recognized from high end American department stores.
  • Dress fitting: I chose to get two much-loved dresses copied in new fabrics as well, and the seamstress measured me for each piece. She noted down exactly where I wanted slits, how fitted everything was to be, the scoop of the neckline (since Chinese people tend to be more conservative in necklines and slits), and the length of the dresses (all of my purchases were dresses). All in all, I had approximately 16 dresses made (some of which I have not received yet). I was told it would take approximately 4 weeks to complete.
  • Saving money: I saved, I can't even imagine, how much money. Given that this particular designer dress costs almost $400 USD, and the rest of my dresses were sourced from the same department store styles and suiting dresses, I would say I saved easily more than $1000 USD. I paid approximately $15 USD per dress plus the cost of fabric.
Image Source: Thinkstock
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prblms4loki prblms4loki 6 years
Maybe look for a local seamstress who'd be willing to help make samples for you? Or pick up some new skills and learn to thrift and alter thrifted goodies! I'm a firm believer in knowing how to sew and knowing the basic operating principles of a sewing machine!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 6 years
As long as you have a reason to go to China, this is a great idea. However, for most people, this is pretty impractical. Any tips for those of us who aren't heading off to China anytime soon? :)
prblms4loki prblms4loki 6 years
I loved my experience, clearly. I was extremely specific with my seamstress about seams and lengths. I knew that my body shape was definitely not the norm and I'd need seaming to the max to make it work. Thanks Savvy for including me!
suzieleung suzieleung 6 years
I did this when I was in China too, but the results were hit-or-miss. Sometimes they were cute, but other times the cut of the shirt/dress was just off. Overall, I don't think I'd do it again, even though it was initially a good deal. A bit too unpredictable.
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