Shopping for Indian Clothes Online

I have never shopped for Indian clothes online before. I’ve always purchased in-store so I can try, touch, and talk to someone face-to-face.

But the variety and better prices online are undeniable. So, I decided to give it a go.

Bottomline: Service wasn’t good. Pieces weren’t as good quality as I expected. Pieces had minor issues. But if I had to – I’d probably do it again if and only if I don’t find anything at the brick and mortar stores. Why? Because even though I live in southern California, our Little India is pretty small. Amongst the options, there are less than a handful of stores whose pieces I like. Shopping online is often the only alternative.

Shopping Online vs. Brick and Mortar

To be honest, shopping online vs. brick and mortar is like selecting between two evils. The brick and mortar stores will never be on time with alterations. If they say your alterations will be ready by x date what it really means is, if you’re lucky, they’ll be ready the morning the day after. I always go to Little India on the agreed on date, when they open at about 11am and I always make sure I have at least 3 hours of things to do in the area because I expect my items to not be ready. I’m not going to drive 45 miles back home and then come back again so I make sure I have things to do while I wait around.

Don’t expect items to be ready/ship when they say they will. You have to pressure them by being at their door and then they’ll prioritize your pieces – even though there was an agreed on date. One time we bought some pieces for my mom and we honestly didn’t need them for 1.5 months after. So we left them there and gave them 1.5 months to do the alterations.

Starting 10 days ahead of the due date I called them to check in, at least 3 times to confirm that pieces are ready. The way they say “yes yes” with such ease actually makes me uneasy because I know they are not actually checking. They’re just telling the customer what they think they want to hear and focused on getting me off the phone ASAP. I even called them out on that, but nothing changed.

They confirmed every time I called. We went late in the afternoon on the due date only to find they hadn’t even started the work!

Best Practices For Shopping For Indian Clothes

When buying Indian clothes, whether brick and mortar or online give yourself at least 5 weeks of lead time. The lead time will help you minimize stress because you’ll have buffer.

Don’t expect customer service you’re accustomed to. You will be disappointed and frustrated and the only person who will suffer is you. Expect unclear info, alterations delays and expect to ask to be compensated if there are problems – they won’t offer to take care of you.

I stopped asking to be compensated. By the end I’m so worm down I just want to leave.

Context Of My Online Shopping Experience

I purchased pieces from the company that has the best reputation in terms of selection. They carry higher-end designer pieces so I thought (hoped) their customer service would be better. It wasn’t.

I was a first time customer and purchased 4 items totaling $1600USD. I’m not going to name the company because I’m currently waiting to receive 3 of 4 items.

Online Companies’ Supply Chain

One important thing to know is that most of the online shopping sites do not hold inventory. They partner with designers and manufacturers. When a consumer places an order then the piece(s) are shipped to the online company who does a quality control check, then they ship to the customer.

Thus they’re never or hardly ever able to ship within 24-48 hours. They need time to receive the item(s) first. I purchased on a Sunday morning and one of the items was supposed to ship by 8 days later.

Since I purchased from abroad they sent me a payment link to enter my credit card info. That invoice did not list nor mention the pieces in my order – it just had a total and a company name that I didn’t recognize. It felt shady. So before paying I asked the customer service rep to confirm the pieces, sizes and fees for each.

I’m a business person. If this was my company I’d recognize these issues and do something about it. But customer service and user experience is just out of their wheelhouse.

When I made the payment there was a link to download the receipt…that didn’t work. But after I made the payment, I received a payment conformation with estimated shipping dates for each item.

Poor Service

They tell you one thing which turns out to be not true. When I was browsing online, the description for two of the items I was interested in didn’t mention built-in cups in the bust, so I asked, “do the two pieces from x designer have cups in the bust?” They said yes.

I received one dress and there were no cups. I emailed them. They apologized and said they’d talk to the designer to see if cups could be put into the piece I hadn’t received. Not to confirm that the cups would be put in. The next day I received an email confirming they spoke to the designer and cups will be put in.

Aside from an apology there was no offer to compensate me for the error in the piece I’d already received and…can do nothing about. I mean what am I gonna do, ship it back to India?

I had to ask to be compensated for their error.

Shady Business

As I mentioned I purchased 4 items. Each had an estimated ship date – to be clear the estimated ship dates are given as estimated to ship by x date – not ship on. The first item had a ship by of April 30. On April 30 morning in southern California (which is April 30 night in India) I had not heard anything from them so I reached out on WhatsApp.

They said they have two of my items ready and are waiting for the other two to send all four in one shipment. But the last item was not estimated to ship until the beginning of June. I wrote back saying that’s not what was agreed on. So he said he’d go ahead and ship the two items that are ready but I needed to do something for him first.

He instructed me to write a positive review on Trust Pilot, that it must mention his name and send him a screen capture. Then he’d release the items to ship. Super shady! But I didn’t see any option so I did it.

Then he didn’t ship them. He said, “give me 24-48 hours.” Forty-eight hours later, I didn’t hear anything so I reached out again and then he said, “I’m sorry but one of the two items had to be shipped back to the designer because it needed some final touches.“ Then he said they’ll wait to receive that item and then send me the two pieces together.

I felt completely duped.

I told him again that’s not what we agreed on. Only then did he offer to ship the one item that was ready, which I have now received, which did not have the bust cups as they told me it would – and only after asking how they’d compensate me – they offered a 15% credit.

Unnecessary Stress

I have had to constantly chase after them and be aggressive. I rarely encounter such poor experiences as this. When it does happen, if I feel like I need to be compensated for a really poor experience I’m still professional about it and I’ll say, “hey we’ve had a really poor experience and would appreciate if you could do something to help us make up for the time and money we’ve lost and the disappointment.”

But with them I felt like I needed to be aggressive. I emailed, “How are you going to compensate me for the fact that I was told there would be cups and there weren’t?” Only then they offered a 15% discount.

Remember at this point I have received 1 of 4 items.

The Story Gets Better

Remember at the beginning, they said one item had to be sent back to the designer for additional work? Well they said, they’d receive it back by May 4 and then they’d ship it by May 5. On May 7, I reached out because, once again, I hadn’t heard anything and they said the item had to be shipped back to the designer. And they are refusing to answer if it had to be sent back again or if it was never shipped back to them at all. They are literally deflecting and patronizingly tell me, “not to worry”.

I also found out they received item 3 of 4 and have just been sitting on it. They haven’t shipped it.

This saga is ongoing and I’ll update this post as I go through it.


I hope this was helpful to you if you are heading to an Indian wedding and considering buying clothes online. You might be wondering if the process is so bad why keep buying? Well, I love wearing Indian clothes. I love that at our our weddings and events it’s the norm. So I have decided to put up with the unpleasant process of buying which really is unfortunate because it should be the opposite.

It should be fun and exciting like wedding dress shopping. And if only the shopkeepers would realize that they’d win the hearts and loyalty of their clients.

I did have an experience about two years ago shopping in one of Little India’s most popular stores for jewelry. The staff person was so unpleasant and was taking the fun out of the day I had excitedly set aside for this purpose. So I left and I have never stepped foot in that store since then.

Whether you’re buying Indian clothes online or in-store:

  • give yourself at least 5 weeks lead time
  • you have to follow up – they won’t
  • be aggressive – ask for what you want/expect because they won’t offer
  • if there are problems ask to be compensated because they will offer only an empty apology


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