Who’s screwing who?

EDIT: I posted the link to this on Modcloth’s facebook page. It remained there for about an hour, received a few comments, and was just deleted by someone on Modcloth’s staff. What are they trying to hide?

EDIT: Laurel left a comment at about 6:00 PM EST saying she added the link to Modcloth’s Facebook page again, because she appreciated the dialog it was creating. Modcloth removed it AGAIN, making it the THIRD time they removed a comment mentioning this post from their Facebook page. I am also still waiting for a response. This posted at 10:50 AM EST, and as I type this, it’s 7:30 PM. That’s almost EIGHT hours later… Timely response? Not so much…

EDIT: If you scroll down, you can read the message I sent to Modcloth’s PR people, hoping to get a response.

EDIT: Modcloth has responded! Thankfully, it appears as if they weren’t aware of these items being sold at Forever 21 for such drastically different prices (yay!). Scroll down to see their response (copied from the comments section).


Apparently it is normal to repackage goods and resell them at astronomical markups. I never knew about this practice until late last night when I discovered this necklace for sale on Modcloth:


It’s selling on their site for $37.99. The only problem?
Forever 21 sold this necklace (in three colors) a year ago. I own it in black.
Their price? $9.80.

That’s almost four times LESS the cost to purchase it through Modcloth.

My point? Who’s screwing who? Is Modcloth purchasing these necklaces at rock-bottom prices, only to resell them for 4x what they cost to purchase? Or is Modcloth’s supplier ripping them off?

Oh, and just so you don’t think I’m crazy, here are three more examples (with photos) comparing Modcloth and Forever 21’s merchandise:


Like I said earlier, this isn’t a practice I was aware of until now (or, I at least didn’t want to admit that it happens). But, apparently it’s a common practice. Through a little research yesterday (by prompting from Hillary), I found a cosmetics company that allegedly does this all the time. They’ve even go so far as to threaten legal action if bloggers don’t remove negative reviews or posts containing their brand name! (This is why I’m not posting it here.)

I want to be clear: I’m not calling out places that sell the same merchandise for similar, but different prices. That seems to be very common. I can usually find the same items on Modcloth, Lulus, Tulle, Urban Originals and Go Jane for varying prices, but they’re not usually $20 or $30 cheaper. They’re usually within $5-10 different (in most cases).

I’m calling out the supplier or store that snatches these items up at rock bottom prices and resells them for crazy amounts. There are sellers on Etsy that do this all the time. Go through the archives of Regretsy. April does a great job at pointing them out.

So here are my questions to Modcloth and Forever 21: where are you getting your merchandise? Who is supplying you with these pieces? Are you aware that you’re each selling the same items for dramatically different prices? What are you going to do about it?

And my question to you readers: how does it make YOU feel?

Personally, I’m pissed. I work hard for my money and I don’t like getting ripped off, or seeing others get ripped off.

-Suze

(PS: Polyvore is a great resource for clipping and saving items that were in stores long ago. That’s where I got my pricing info.)

PPS: This post isn’t meant to be a “hey Modcloth, you suck!” post. It’s meant to point out a trend I noticed between two different stores and ask the questions of “why, how and what?” I’m still waiting for a response from Modcloth and Forever 21, and will post them if I receive them.


I sent the following message to Modcloth’s PR people:

Dear Turi,
I wanted to give Modcloth a chance to respond to something that’s brewing right now on my blog and on twitter. I wrote a post this morning (https://missvinylahoy.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/whos-screwing-who/) using Modcloth and Forever 21 as examples, showing how businesses can get the same items from suppliers and whether it’s the supplier or the store, are charging crazy mark-ups for them. It was, in no way, meant to be anti Modcloth. I posted it, tweet it and put it on Modcloth’s Facebook page.

That is where things took a dramatic turn.

It was on the page, with no comments, for about an hour. Then, as about six comments come in the span a few minutes, someone from the Modcloth staff chose to delete the entire thread and a subsequent comment left on the Facebook page about the post from someone else.

The link posted on the Modcloth page was not meant to create any controversy, but was a way to make sure someone at Modcloth saw it. I was hoping to get a response from someone, hopefully explaining that you were unaware of your suppliers selling the same merchandise to these fast-fashion stores.
(I am aware the Modcloth doesn’t produce their own clothing, but purchases it through smaller designers. I am also aware that Modcloth usually isn’t the only venue selling these brands).

I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous mentions of @modcloth on Twitter, yet I’ve have no one attempt to respond to this issue.

This has changed from a potential supplier issue to one of censorship. None of the comments on the Facebook post were rude, inflammatory, sexually explicit or using harsh language. The majority of them were in support of Modcloth, and telling me that my argument was a poor one. I was able to respond to these people, letting them know that the post wasn’t anti-Modcloth, you and Forever 21 were just the venues I chose to use as an example. I could’ve easily used Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters or any of the other stores out there, but because I had examples of Modcloth and Forever 21 items, I chose to use those.

I apologize for any inconvenience this caused your employees, but I am surprised it took over five hours to get a response.

If you’d like to respond, I’d be happy to post it.

Thanks,
Suze


From Modcloth:

Sorry it’s taken us some time to respond; we’ve been investigating the items you raised, and it’s our busiest time of the year. Thank you for your post and for giving us the chance to weigh in on this topic! We’re sorry we removed your post on our Facebook wall; it violated our comments policy, which does not allow posts that link to competitors’ sites… We realize, however, that there are grey areas and we don’t want to discourage healthy conversation in our communities, and we certainly aren’t trying to hide anything. We’re excited for the chance to join the conversation here.

First, it’s important everyone know that we never repackage goods! We’re strictly a retailer, and we source our items from designers all over the country and the world. We can’t know whether other retailers will carry similar or the same items. In fact, trade shows are often months ahead of when we receive our inventory, and it’s not possible for us to know whether items we’ve bought will turn up on other retailers’ sites until we actually see them online. It is never our intention to “steal a style.”

Additionally, we don’t have the buying power of larger retailers, as we make much smaller orders. In those cases where we are offering the same items as other retailers, we may not be able to negotiate the best price with the designer due to our order size. And, sadly, we’ll never have visibility into what suppliers are charging others.

Here’s what we’ve learned on the items you raised. We spoke to the necklace designer who confirmed that the item is unique and she has never sold it to Forever 21; and so they’re likely similar, but of very different construction. We couldn’t reach the designer of the Show in Seattle Dress (red, grey, and black plaid), and so we have taken the item off the site until we can confirm its origin; if it’s the same item, we will return it to the designer or donate it. We cannot confirm if the last two items are the same items, but they are not in stock and we don’t intend to restock them.

Eight years ago, we started out as a small company that was operated by a college student out of her dorm room. We’re happy to be where we are today, and we’re even happier to be growing so quickly! Now, we’re launching between 25 and 50 new products every day! Even if we knew of all the items being simultaneously carried by other retailers, it’s nearly impossible for us to cross check all of our designs and prices against them. We try to offer the best shopping experience through our fast shipping, generous returns policy, beautiful images and descriptions, and great customer service, and sometimes that means we can’t offer the lowest prices. We strive to, though, and can use your help!

So, what can you do as shoppers? If you like the items we offer and you want to continue shopping with us, let us know when you see ModCloth items carried on a competitor’s site at another price by emailing us at support@modcloth.com. This will help us be more informed and work more closely with our designers in offering the best prices and the most unique items.

The best way to grow is through criticism and feedback, and we are listening. Thank you so much for your thoughts – we really do appreciate them!

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247 thoughts on “Who’s screwing who?

  1. Forever 21 gets their stuff form warehouses in Korea and China- owned by the same family that owns the entire company, I saw an interview with them a few months ago. They may be inspired by designers and such… but it’s definitely their own sourcing… Perhaps they sell to other distributors….

    • Forever 21 doesn’t get everything from Korea or China- they sell shoes of other brands (such as Bamboo or Anne Michele) and put their own brand name on the sole or the inside of the shoe. I’ve also bought a few things from Forever 21 that are of the brand “Renee Co” or “Ambiance” (which is also sold at Wet Seal).

      They distribute other brands, just like most other stores. They’re just better at hiding it or changing tags to say “Forever 21.”

      • Actually most fast fashion houses like Forever21 will copy from other brands. They only need the garment to be 30% different so usually the fabrication is changed. Forever21 makes such huge purchases that there costs are typically lower than other merchandisers. Modcloth though buys all their clothes at wholesale price so they need to mark up to make a profit. Hence the price changes. My recommendation is to always check the fabrication. I only know this because I’ve had a few friends who have “designed” at Forever21. Who is also known to fire head designers often, but yes you are right they do their own sourcing Modcloth does not. This also brings in a great point about the Copyright law that is working it’s way through senate and I believe was just passed. It protects original creations up to 3 years. Though people are worried that people will get lawsuit crazy on brands like Forever21. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but no need to attack until you research sourcing practices and such. Surely that necklace was copied by Forever21 with different materials over a year ago. Sometimes you can see designs for 5-10 years after creation so am I surprised by this not at all. It’s just the way the fashion industry is.

        • These items, with the exception of the plaid dress, and obviously the necklace, were sold at Forever 21 and Modcloth at the SAME TIME. That’s not one copying the other- thats them both from the same place, at least it seems that way to me!

          • They copied from someone else. It’s very possible someone gave them the design. I know for a fact that the designs were most likely copied off of another designer brand. Whether it’s the same time or not hard to say because Modcloth can buy their items about 3 months or so before they can put them on sale. Also, Forever21 can make the dress much faster in less time. So there is time to pull a copy. Most of the articles Modcloth deals with start getting made a year before the season they are selling them for.

        • LOL that’s true, but I’m not the only one in LA who knows this. Forever21 it quite well known for their business practices in this city. Sort of like how everyone knows American Apparels CEO is not a decent man to be fair, but yeah if they didn’t do the manufacturing and change the clothing a little they would have lost all the lawsuits they have been involved with for copying the others work. Again though if they re-label it’s because someone let’s them re-label and sure it’s always possible to buy a piece of clothing from a manufacuter if the manufacturer has the right to sell it, but that’s really getting into the legalese of it. I mean if say Donna Karen walked into Forever21 and saw they re-labeled her garment she would sue in second…so then your argument just really gets into the law of fashion which of course is currently under a lot of scrutiny.

    • This is what I was going to comment, so I’m glad someone else beat me to it. Those suppliers sell to all sorts of other stores and middle-man suppliers. I used to work at a high-end, well-known boutique. We would have a shirt for $50 that Forever 21 had for $10. Same print, same fabric, same cut. Just a different label and price tag. It’s not uncommon at all.

      • It had to be different otherwise Forever21 would get sued. Take a look at the fabrication certainly it couldn’t have been completely the same perhaps something seems like 100% cotton, but then they go and change it to 50% acrylic and 50% cotton this would allow for the copy. Otherwise copying exactly would get them in trouble.

        • I guess what I’m trying to point out (and the reason for the post) is that F21 and Modcloth are distributors- they SELL clothes. Modcloth doesn’t actually make any of their own merchandise, and F21 sells other brands, with their tags sew in (thus the distribution part). It’s entirely possible that the creator of these designs sold them to both F21 and Modcloth, making neither of them the bad guy, but making the markup the issue.
          That was my intention with the post. 🙂

          • Modcloth buys from wholesalers so then the blame is on the wholesalers not on Modcloth. Modcloth doesn’t buy direct from the manufacturers. Forever21 does source their own clothing. They are not re-labeling.

          • That’s what the post is saying. I do not blame Modcloth for selling the same items as F21. I am just asking the question of “are you aware?”

            And F21 DOES relabel. They sell shoes that are manufactured by brand such as Bamboo and Anne Michelle (which are also sold via Modcloth, Amazon and Go Jane).

            The comments section is where everything turned anti-Modcloth, and I cannot be held responsible for what people leave as comments.

          • The shoes and jewelry can be resourced and re-sold if they want, but the relabeling is probably the manufacturer doing that. If you see shoes or jewerly okay that I can probably give you, but not the clothing. I know they source that themselves. I mean I KNOW. There is a good chance they run immediates though. The issue with the necklace is that, as my friend pointed out, is that Modcloth has one platform to sell on Forever21 has a lot more so they can order a large quantity and re-sell for way less than Modcloth ever could. It’s like comparing Lady Gaga to an Indie artist. It doesn’t work. The problem is the article did cause an issue for Modcloth. Chances are give them some time to draft a response when things like this happen a company has to take time, though if they learned anything from the DKNY disaster they wont ignore it. Just wait and see they are too good at the social media scene to ignore it.

        • Forever 21 wouldn’t be sued for this if they purchased the clothing or clothing design from the same distributor as the boutique. I have seen dresses at department stores sold by one designer and then have seen the EXACT same dress sold at TJ Maxx by a different designer.

          • TJMaxx sells a lot of things seen at places like Macy’s. TJMaxx buys clothes and overstock so that would make sense. Forever21 though does make copies so you should really check fabrication. If they buy overstock it’s because they would need to fill a store fast and wouldn’t have time for production, but I’m telling you replacing the label without the companies permission is illegal they can do it if they pay for it though. You can take whatever stance on this you like, but it’s common knowledge about how Forever21 works and their are a million articles out there about them getting sued. Look up Express vs. Forever21 if you will. Again though if they buy overstock or something like that and they go through the legal ways yes they can replace labels.

        • Hey Katie,
          Forever 21 and Modcloth both buy from companies that are private label manufactures. They both buy from the manufactures direct. If you buy 200 to 300 garments the manufacture will sew your label in for FREE! If you buy less pieces it will cost you on average 25 cents a garment. You can also choose to buy the garments with the manufactures label. One you may recognize is Bozzolo, they make basic tanks and tees that retail any were from $4.95 to 19.95. You can find these tanks at Forever 21, Wet Seal and the list goes on and on. The thing that I find most funny is when we get an order in with another companies label.

          • Neeka sometimes we get in orders with different labels from our old line entirely. If a manufacturer runs out of our main lines labels they will use a past lines or an old label. I do know they do that, but I had already said if Forever21 buys overstock they need to pay for it and such and go through the correct means of doing it. Granted no one ever said manufacturers were 100% honest, but I may have explained that in a different thread. I work for a wholesaler of clothing so I know the production get’s tricky and the costs associated with it. China has been raising their prices and now with that new Copyright law it should be interesting to see what happens if anything.

    • Mod Cloth is 100% correct when they say they “we don’t have the buying power of larger retailers” Forever is like the “walmart” of online shopping and MC is like a small boutique.

      I own a small boutique in Northern California and have been surrounded by the clothing business since I was a small child; I went to my 1st trade show at the age of 4. I remember the 1st time this issue came up in my parents business. I was in the 4th grade and my mom was selling a dress made by Karen Alexandria for around $200 and the Mervyns across the street had what looked to be the same dress for less the $80! My mom was so mad, I remember her yelling at the sales rep, who was her good friend. Then next time we were in LA they showed us the difference from the Mervyns dress and our dress. The first difference was the fabric, they used a rayon with smaller thread count; this was the early 90’s so it was long flowy panel dress, our dress had about 3 or 4 panels more then theirs make the fit a lot better. Last but not least our dress was made in the USA and theirs was made in China. To the eye the dress looked exactly the same but it was not.

      The next thing I must talk about is indie designers.
      We all buy from the same people; by we I mean, Forever, Lulus, Spool 72, Shop Ruch, Mod Cloth, My company Anika Burke and the list goes on and on. In the mid 90’s the sewing contractors/ pattern makers; mostly Koren immigrant, started private label company’s. In fashion everyone is copying everyone so they thought they would do the same thing. Why not they were already sewing all the designer clothes! What they did was take away the middle man letting companies buy direct; this brought down cost a lot. For the longest time not many people knew about private labels. Some of the shops that sell private labels are Wet Seal, Forever 21, and Nordstrom.

      I noticed in last couple of years that private label companies have all of sudden become “Indie Designers” this makes me laugh because they are not designers at all, just clothing makers! I know of one company that we all buy from that took my $250 denim BEBE jacket and made a pattern for it during the time it took me to make my order. 2 months later I retailed the same style jacket as my bebe for under $100!

      So for all who are saying that forever is buying different clothing then mod, in some cases they are correct meaning they are not the same quality even if made by the same manufacturer/ sewing contractor. In some cases they are wrong, it is the exact same item Forever 21 just ordered 10000 pieces, Mod Cloth 200 pieces and The small boutique that you love in your local downtown shopping area only got 6 pieces. The one thing I do know for sure is that we are all buying from the same people but are getting charged different prices based on our buying power. This is why not all items are priced the same.

      In this link you will find the 3 different prices I sell items at, http://www.anikaburke.com/daily_steals/daily_steal.html.

      I will now explain why we have the 3 different prices.
      The first prices is the shop prices; this is how much you would pay for the item if you came in to one of our boutiques; as you can see this prices is quite a bit higher due to the overhead of running a brick and mortar store. Just to let you know this price is never higher then the MSRP.
      The next price is our normal price “The AnikaBurke.com Price”; this is the price we need to sell items online to make a profit.
      The next price is our Boutique Steal Price. All items are priced at the boutique steal price for the first 24 hours they are on the site so we can compete with companies like Forever 21, even though we will make a very small profit if any.
      I hope this helps you understand a little more about how the clothing industry works.
      Great Blog,
      Neeka B.

      • I forgot to say one thing, when shopping online don’t forget to compare garment measurements. If an items is way less expensive it is most likely is a Junior cut and not a contemporary cut. If you do not know what these terms mean it is just how many garments you can get out of a bolt of fabric. A run of Juniors would be 2 Smalls 2 Mediums and 2 Larges. A contemporary run you would get 2 Smalls 2 Mediums and 1 Large. On average contemporary sizes are 1.5″ large then JR’s.

      • You are right in a lot of respect, but it’s really hard to catch Forever21 because of the copies so unless you are comparing the garments fabrication and lines down to every little detail how can you actually tell if they bought it or re-created it Not that Forever21 isn’t known for doing shady things remember this little problem they had http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=792 anyway your store works differently by offering the lower prices first and then raising to suggested retail. It is hard to compete with Forever21 that’s why they need copyright protection. I think on my blog I went into the jewelry and shoe issue. Honestly their are so many ways to operate with sourcing that they could have those clothes in a million different ways. It may matter it may not, but F21 is never going to stop getting sued for what they do.

  2. I hardly ever shop at Forever 21, and I have never shopped at ModCloth because it bothers me how they pimp out so many bloggers. Now I am especially glad I have never given them my money. I wondered if they bought the same things from trade shows as Forever 21 and this was a chance happening, but after reading Elle’s comment, I really would love to hear ModCloth’s reaction!

    Thanks bloggers for bringing this to light!

  3. This really is a great post. Awesome food for thought. Is it just me or has ModCloth really, really increased their price over the last year or so. I mean, I know it’s business, but I like to pay rock bottom for my clothes that are made in China. :0)

    • Modcloth really has increased their prices. I can’t imagine they NEED more money. Oh wait. They do sponsor TONS of blogs, so maybe they’re trying to regain some of that expense? 🙂

      • But isn’t their most common form of sponsorship giving the bloggers a monthly allowance and allowing them to pick the items? If they are buying the items in question in bulk for a low amount, they are actually coming out ahead since the blogger will most likely pick something they like, thus increasing the advertising for Modcloth when they wear it consecutive times.

        • But, if that’s the case, why are they charging so much more for the item?

          And I’m not sure about their sponsorship. I’ve never worked with them, and I’m pretty sure they’ll stay as far away from me as possible from now on 🙂

  4. Let me preface this by saying that as a retailer, I strongly disapprove of this behavior. It is definitely ripping off the consumer and ultimately ripping off your own business. A retailer is shooting themselves in the foot for short-term margin benefits.

    However, I also strongly believe in a free market. It’s our job to be informed consumers and with blogs such as yours, it’s getting harder for retailers to play these mark-up games and not get called on it. Ultimately the system balances out, but if we try to force it with price controls then we limit consumer choice and we limit profitable business.

    I’m disappointed that a site such as Modcloth would do this to their customers, but I believe they have the right to charge whatever they want for their clothes.

    • “I’m disappointed that a site such as Modcloth would do this to their customers, but I believe they have the right to charge whatever they want for their clothes.”
      Agreed. It is their site, but I’d hate to see people get ripped off, which is why I chose to post about it. I believe we need to be informed, as the buyers. If we want to support a company that does this, that is our choice. I’m the type that wants to go into a situation with all the knowledge I can, so I can make the decision that’s right for me.

      That being said, we don’t know if Modcloth (or Forever 21 for that matter) are even aware that this is going on. They could both be getting screwed by the same distributor, without even knowing it.

      I don’t like this behavior either, and I’m saddened to know that it goes on. I guess I live in candy-land and assume everything is always good and pure, LOL 🙂

      • They definitely know what they’re doing. As a retail buyer, it’s your job to know your supply chain and to be aware of what other retailers are doing in the market. Considering the crossover of Modcloth and F21 customers, I’m really surprised they made such a boneheaded business decision. It is beyond stupid – their target customer is incredibly connected and outspoken.

  5. Actually, I’m quite surprised as well. :/ Who’s at fault, Modcloth or the supplier? I’d say both…

    In here (Asia), when I go shopping, there’s a chance that I’d see some pieces on different stores with different tags but the prices doesn’t differ that much so I don’t really pay much attention to it. But in this case about Modcloth, $20 difference is so huge that it’s hard to just let it go. Modcloth being a clothing company, just in case their supplier is asking for a higher price from them, are they that clueless that what’s being sold to them is overpriced? I guess not. Of course they’ll know that instant so I have doubts that they’re getting their goods at a higher price.

    If the supplier’s just being greedy (which I think we can’t really control), then I guess we can’t blame Modcloth either. But I still find it fishy cause even though the supplier will raise their price, I doubt it will be that big that Modcloth needs to sell it $20 to $30 dollars more.

  6. Modcloth, tulle, Pitaya (you know in RO they don’t have much online presence but they are national), and what not get all their clothes from the same suppliers in China and asia. I haven’t bought anything from Modcloth because I can find something the same quality at places like pitaya, and even though they are getting their clothes from the same source Pitaya is at least paying people I know and live in my community. I personally don’t shop much at F21 because of some affiliations they keep but not because they get clothes from china, well also I actually have more money then I did when I shopped there, I can afford grown up clothes! haha. Everything I personally have seen firsthand from Modcloth is poor quality for the price, not saying everything will be, but personally I think many of the cuts and fabrics are not worth their prices. I do enjoy their small business sense even though again they use the same suppliers as the big stores. I also would buy f21 over modcloth because I’d be able to look at the garment and check its quality in sewing, but that’s just me. I mean in reality clothes come from china, and really it’s been like that for centuries. China and asia has almost always been a source for fabrics, so it makes sense to me that of course their will be clothing manufacturing there, this whole chinese clothes thing isn’t anything new. I mean even the places that make their clothes here in the US most of the time get their fabric from asia, so is there that much difference? A little but still it happens and I thinks what you are doing, informing yourself as a consumer is the best thing one can do. If you educate yourself you can make better decisions and not necessarily feed blindly into our culture of consumption.

    Ok sorry for the rant hun 🙂 And you know those clothes are the exact same, I think Modcloth just frills and poofs their dresses better for their photos probably because they don’t have as much merchandise to photograph like F21 does. And I agree with Allie, Modcloth is kinda a blog pimp haha not that I would ever deny sponsorship from them 😀

    • Modcloth doesn’t make there clothes. They re-sell. Look it up and Forever21 has been sued numerous times for copyright. Also the pricing on garments is usually based of design and fabrication. Think of the sourcing and shipping costs. To say the quality isn’t there isn’t fair at all to all the work that goes behind making a garment. Fashion is expensive and China is raising the production costs on everyone who works in fashion so you will see higher prices. It’s called inflation. Retailers with large orders and huge chain stores like H&M make such large orders that they save money it’s like Costco, but in the fashion sense. You save by buying bulk, but please don’t diminish all the people that work behind the scenes that’s just sad. I know good people who work in this industry and what your saying about quality puts it on the brand when really quality control should be done before it leaves China, but that get’s into a whole other issue.

      • I don’t think you can really argue that the clothes at Forever 21 are “great quality.” I’ve had items fall apart after one wash. Their return policy is much more strick on worn items too. If I bought something at J. Crew that fell apart after one wash they would most definitely replace the item. At Forever 21 that doesn’t happen. Not that I don’t shop from there because I do but when I do shop from there normally it is for a trendier item that I am not expecting to last more than a couple of seasons.

    • I only afford Modcloth when I have a gift certificate. I’ve purchased things from them, but only when on sale or when I have a gift card. They do offer some really nice pieces, but I can’t afford a $100 dress!

  7. This is disheartening. Like someone already said even if the suppliers are charging ModCloth more… I can’t imagine it’s such a significant amount as to warrant them hiking their prices up $20+. I’ve noticed ModCloth’s prices going steadily up in the last year and have been disappointed by this. The quality of their products are not better than Fover21 so I am not surprised to find they more than likely use some of the same suppliers. And then their move to standardized sizing was the kicker for me to pretty much give up shopping on their site. This is just icing on the proverbial cake of missteps on the part of ModCloth. I am very curious to see if they have any comment on this at all. My guess is no and if they do they’re going to play the dumb card and say they had no idea… but ModCloth of all businesses should know that consumers are not the easily fooled. They work with bloggers… the modern heartbeat of the fashion world. It’s almost insulting if they choose not to make a statement about this.

    • I’m sure they’ll say something, but like any good PR person, they’re using this time to gather information and write up a good statement. 🙂

  8. Wow! I definitely remember that necklace, and the plaid dress at Forever 21! I didn’t even know that happened. I’ve seen really similar at Forever 21 and other major retailers like K-Mart but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the exact same items….now I’ll be on better lookout!

    followthepiratescode.blogspot.com

  9. Wow. I always thought Modcloth was like the holy grail of fashion bloggers. This thread has been really helpful. I’m quite stingy when it comes to buying clothes, and Modcloth has always been out of my league, not to mention how scary it can be ordering something expensive without being able to touch it or try it on. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad to read that their quality is equivalent to Forever 21. A little of both, perhaps.

    Great post!

    • Modcloth offers really nice clothes, but after noticing these similarities, I’m with you and Alyson- what’s the quality?

      Thanks!! 🙂

  10. first off, Suze, you are a total rock star for doing the research and bringing some of this issue to light!

    i think its a bit naive to assume ModCloth isn’t aware the market and the availability of their inventory with other companies. they know their competition. i cant say for sure, but my guess is MC is buying at the same prices as other companies, they just hike up the prices. and people pay what they ask, so can you blame them!? BUT – with more consumer awareness about where their items come from, that would possibly change.

    i have personally bought from MC in the past, but only when items are on sale and its something i REALLY love and plan on getting LOTS of wear out of. however, i am increasingly disappointed with the quality, and after my last purchase combined with their new “universal sizing” policy, i am SWORN OFF. i refuse to give them one more dollar of my money. as you said – i work hard for my cash, and i don’t want to support a company that disregards quality in favor of profit.

    • LOL! I’m a rock star!:) I’m still waiting for Modcloth and F21 to weigh in. I tweeted them the link, so we’ll see if they respond.

      I like being naive, it fits me well, haha. I’m wearing a modcloth necklace as I type my responses to these comments… is that bad? I do own items for F21 and from Modcloth, and am now beginning to wonder if they were the best purchases I could’ve made. Oh well.

      • I’m sure you’ll hear from ModCloth – they’re always trolling the blogs and always respond to critical posts. And don’t feel bad about wearing a MC/F21 – like I said, I have bought both! BUT the real question is, now that you have this information, does it inform your future purchases? I hope so! Will you be buying ModCloth in the future? Would you consider taking them on as a sponsor if they offered? My answer is NO to both!

        Personally, I can’t comfortably ever shop at ModCloth again. This, combined with their relationship with blogs and their customers (totally separate issue), I find their business practices unethical.

        Another recent and insightful post by Huzzah Vintage is worth a read, too! http://huzzahvintage.blogspot.com/2010/12/modcloth-and-work-of-shopping.html

        • Whoops. Wrote a response and delete it, haha.

          I doubt I’ll ever shop there again. If they ever offered me sponsorship, I’d be really surprised. I’m sure they pretty much hate me. 🙂 I posted this link to their Facebook page… Watch the hate mail and hateful comments come in now!! 🙂

  11. In the end, this type of retailer and consumer behavior hurts everyone. It hurts the workers in China and Korea who slave over these pieces only to receive barely enough money and to work in terrible conditions.

    It hurts the retailer, because there is no exclusivity to the merchandise. Meaning it can be relabeled and sold under whatever you want to call it, at whatever price point.

    Finally, it hurts the consumer because we will spend money on clothing that could be incredibly low quality, but we are being duped.

    Personally, I have never bought clothing from tulle, modcloth, lulus, whatevers because I don’t necessarily trust the quality or the company. There is really something to be assumed by companies that get so many bloggers to pimp their companies. Its this, “We sell a shitty product, but we can definitely make it look cool and desirable by giving it away to women that other women look up to.” I honestly would rather thrift in local stores so my money either goes back into the local economy (or goes towards creating jobs for people in need) or buying from local vintage sellers. I also prefer to purchase from companies whose quality I trust.

    My point of view is VERY jaded though. I just got off a no shopping ban for an entire year and it really has completely transformed the way I think about fast fashion (which all of those above stores are exactly that… fast fashion). I would rather spend my money on pieces that I know will not twist, shrink, or fall apart in the wash. I would also rather the money I’m spending go to a company that I believe in their corporate philosophy. The only exceptions to that are Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and DSW. For those stores, I’m not aware of the corporate philosophy.

    In some areas, no I really cannot afford to buy a dress from Anthropologie vs a dress from Forever 21. But, if the root of that is that I cannot afford it, should I really be buying it in the first place?

    The only way this practice is going to stop is off we stop buying the clothes. Its the only thing that will get retailers and manufacturers attention. They aren’t moved by letters or concerns, they are only interested in money and only money.

    • LOL! Is it sad that I like writing more investigative posts like this? I used to write for a newspaper, so maybe it’s always been in me 🙂

  12. I’ve ordered a bunch of stuff from ModCloth – but almost everything has been on sale. One thing that keeps me going back is that I’ve received really good customer service from them. If you want to hear from them, shot them an email and ask for comments. The prices may be higher, but they seem to want to provide service and products that customers want. You’ve done your homework, now go directly to the source and ask them about it.

    • I own stuff from them too, most of it has been purchased on sale as well. I haven’t had to deal with their customer service, so I have no first-hand knowledge of it.
      I’m really not trying to put down Modcloth- I’m just asking the question of who’s getting screwed- the customer or the business selling to the customer.

      I did ask Modcloth and Forever 21 to weigh in, so I’m just waiting for a response from them.

      • You’re being really wishy-washy, here. You’re saying you’re not trying to put ModCloth down, yet two posts above this, you’re reveling in the fact that they probably hate you because of the negative comments. In my humble opinion, you’re just a really good troll.

        • Yes, because I created the blog with the sole purpose to troll myself. You’ve figured me out. I can go back to my cave in peace now!!

          And I said they probably hate me because, even though this post IS NOT anti-Modcloth, some people are reading it that way, as evident with your “troll” comment.

  13. Great post, Suze! I don’t have any great answer for this. While F21 has a habit of ripping of designers and popular designs, rarely would it be something or someone in such a similar price point. Like, they’re going to rip of McQueen, not Modcloth. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get things from similar suppliers…I’ve noticed that going on through the plus-sized companies, as more stores are trying to branch out to plus-sizes…what you think are exclusive or designed for pieces aren’t… you can find them on other sites, sometimes for $10+ cheaper….

    Downside of the internet, retailers! You get busted for shady actions.

    • I’m really not sure if it’s the stores or if it’s the suppliers. It’s common practice to sell the same items in multiple stores, but usually you know what brand it is (e.g. BB Dakota), and the stores all sell it for very similar prices.
      This issue to me is more about saying you’re selling a unique product, and instead finding out it’s the same thing that’s been sold at a fast-fashion store.

      • “This issue to me is more about saying you’re selling a unique product, and instead finding out it’s the same thing that’s been sold at a fast-fashion store.”

        Yes, I think that’s the biggest problem too. Modcloth always tried to promote itself as a friend of independent fashion, for unique girls, etc., and to see their product, or a very similar product, being sold at a fast fashion store really tarnishes that reputation.

  14. Modcloth DOES suck, though!

    I think anyone who has ever had the pleasure of being a retail buyer (I used to be, for a home goods shop) is fairly familiar with this sort of thing. When I used to buy furniture and home accessories, a 300% markup off wholesale was standard and in fact, low. I can only imagine what it is for clothing and personal accessories.

  15. this is great food for thought. i think that you’re right when you say that it’s up to consumers to make good choices when purchasing from companies. oftentimes, i encounter small markups when hoping to find the items from local businesses in my area, and choose to save the few dollars and get it from a larger-than-life chain store. (i am a bit ashamed of this.) i think the fact is that it comes down to whether or not consumers will still be foolish when spending their money without doing research first on what the items are actually worth.

  16. I’m surprised even though I shouldn’t be. I really liked the idea and origins and designs sold at ModCloth… about a year ago. Then as they’ve grown, I’ve felt they’ve changed. They do a great job with social media and keeping their consumers engaged but I do think they sponsor some bloggers to an excess and it’s really off-putting – both against the bloggers’ site and ModCloth. It makes me want to avoid both.

    I think it is the job of a company’s buyers to be out there researching their competition and trends and have an extensive knowledge of what is and has been sold. If you can find these examples, they should be able to even more so. I’ve been finding that more and more they are supporting knock-off styles when before they promoted themselves as unique (A direct quote from their site – “Specialize in indie, retro, and vintage apparel, accessories, shoes, and decor from independent designers and artists.) – http://shoedaydreams.blogspot.com/2010/08/imitation-flattery-chole-and-modcloth.html – they did respond and said they were not aware of this similarity, which in regards to a extremely popular shoe style I find surprising.

    ModCloth just got almost $20 million from investors. I wonder if that huge change is creating a stealthy change in their business goals and practices – http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/accel-invests-in-modcloth-a-social-shopping-site/

  17. Ah this is a great post! Lately, I’ve been less inclined to buy fast fashion for some of these reasons. I really hate the quality and how dated it becomes in no time flat. I’ve never been a Modcloth shopper because I’ve always felt that they charge too much for something that could be similarly found at Forever 21 (little did I know, I actually could!) and because I refuse to pay for shipping when I don’t know if it’s going to fit or look good.

    To be honest, I think Modcloth is upping the prices, not the distributor. Lately, I’ve seen ads for them on sites like E! and the like and I think they are trying to capitalize on the larger market. I don’t think they’re the small town business that they once were and their prices will continue to reflect that.

    Finally, you should look over at Embracing your inner cupcake’s post about how Modcloth has ripped off Anthropologie items. While I love the ides of getting Anthro items for less, I think it points to a more systemic problem for Modcloth. (http://innercupcake.blogspot.com/2010/12/hey-anthropologie-lovers.html)

    • I think people are soon going to stop shopping from them, because of issues like this and the whole anthro thing. Even though it’s not Modcloth CREATING the items they’re selling, they’re still deciding to sell them. You can’t tell me that they didn’t realize the similarities. (I’ve heard of Anthro ripping off vintage designs, but that’s another issue!).

      • Oh hey! That’s my post. I tried to keep an opinion out of it because really, I go back and forth on it. On the one hand, I do love the idea of being able to find vintage inspired items for not a great amount of money, but it’s a bit unsettling just how similar some of these items are. I have heard about Anthro ripping off vintage designs and saw a really good post on it somewhere, although I can’t recall where now, which is also somewhat unsettling if it’s an exact rip-off, but for me personally, I feel like vintage-inspired modern clothing fits me better than actual vintage, and allows me the ability to be able to return clothes that I’ve purchased online if it doesn’t fit or if I don’t feel like the quality matches up to the price tag. And that decision is up to the consumer (as well as shopping around for the best bargain). One of the things I liked best about Modcloth was that they gave measurements for the sizes of their clothing so that fit was better able to be predicted, but unfortunately they’re marketing it as a change the customers wanted even though I know they got a lot of comments requesting that they switch back to the old system. With that loss, I suppose I might as well be shopping at a place like F21.

    • It’s production upping the costs. No lie there read up on some of the sourcing issues. Basically what’s happening is luxe retailers are raising prices while the lower end ones have to fight for the customers by running promotion after promotion…hence why Modcloth is so good at working with bloggers and such because they have to be. Besides no one complains when Coach or F21 pimps out bloggers or vloggers for that matter and F21 doesn’t pay anyone usually. Instead they say hey we will use you in a national campaign if you do this for us. Bleh sad days.

  18. oops I forgot to mention its just the stuff with their brand name in the tags, sometimes I forget they carry a few other whole sale brands. Thanks for correcting me! Very interesting topic indeed… I’ve never shopped at Modcloth but have considered it in the past but it was too pricy for me.

  19. Really great post. Thanks for digging about this. I have only bought from Modcloth a few times, and now I will definitely think twice before paying for their clothes.

  20. I haven’t ever shopped at ModCloth and now I am quite sure I won’t … Also, why I never shopped ever there is because I never though their prices were justified and I always got a feeling that if I search more I will find a better deal else where and I always DID! So your post makes me feel much better about my choices. Nonetheless great post! 🙂

  21. Actually, this is highlarious. F21 rips off more expensive designers, and then a more expensive place rips THEM off! It’s the circle of life!

  22. wow. that is crazy. I have actually been wondering the same thing, as recently a reader linked me to my gray ruffle dress on Ruche (http://www.shopruche.com/posh-with-pearls-sweater-tunic-p-3534.html). Same exact thing, but I bought mine over a year ago for about $5 more, and the tag inside doesn’t say “Ruche” but “Esley.” Weird stuff goes on with retailers and manufacturers that I don’t understand, but it is interesting to know that it’s not just a one-off coincidence. I understand more with Ruche and Esley, since they’re more “boutique” brands, but it does seem weird that Modcloth would try to compete with higher prices with a common national chain that already is known for shady practices and shoddy quality.

  23. I would never buy from either, because I don’t support sweatshop / child labor / unfair practices. I also don’t wear synthetics. You get what you pay for. Why demand ethics from companies that clearly don’t have any?

  24. it bothers me like WOAH but at the same time I know WHY they do it. My family owns a business and I know they have relabeled for other companies. But the price is negliable in most those cases. These high markups are creating a “prestige” because it’s from ModCloth obviously it is cool. I personally prefer to pay less for my cool. Etsy is rampant with people doing this. I caught someone selling Target stuff as vintage with a huge markup. So I guess I see where doing this is ok but a lot of the examples of things I have seen have been a total ripoff and that I am not OK with.

    • I blame you for writing this, because you pointed out the cosmetics company to me, then I kept digging!! 🙂

      People on Etsy do it all the time, which makes it really hard for legitimate business to continue!

      • EXACTLY! Please, please, PLEASE report an item when you see it is not vintage! You can do so in the lower right hand corner of a listing. When people do this, it cheapens and devalues the rest of us hard working HONEST vintage sellers! 🙂

        • As a vintage seller, I agree whole heartedly. Someone was trying to sell a pair of Blowfish boots that were BRAND NEW as vintage. I flagged them and posted about it on twitter and they removed it soon after. Either the person was a complete moron or a major scammer. either way they give the rest of us bad reps!

  25. Great post Suze!! About a month ago I was shopping here in Boston and fell in love with this oversized sweatshirt vest thing (hard to describe.) Anyway it was selling at a store here called 344 for roughly $60. I debated buying it and decided I didn’t need it. Then on Black Friday as I was getting some Christmas shopping done I stopped in Forever21 and they had the same sweater for a little less than $30. This was the first time I had seen the EXACT same thing being sold by two retailers at such a huge price point difference. It’s so annoying, because unless you are a constant shopper you’d never know there might be a cheaper alternative and you might end up getting the higher priced piece. – Katy

    • So true! I was slightly furious when I saw the necklace on Modcloth yesterday because the $10 version is hanging in my closet right now! It’s not worth $40! Eh. At least i pointed it out!

  26. oh a small aside. I grew up by a shoe factory and we could go and buy seconds for wicked cheap and it would be hilarious when it would have an expensive brand label in one and cheap in another.

  27. So although I think this is a great post, I am still flying the ModCloth flag for a few reasons:
    1. They are good at some very specific things. I don’t wear dresses above my knee (religious modesty purposes) and I know others have the same self imposed dress code for other reasons. Forever 21 rarely has skirts or dresses that fit those parameters. The dress and skirt posted above certainly don’t look like the type of thing I would be buying from ModCloth anyways. For someone who wants/needs longer length dresses ModCloth is still pretty dang amazing.
    2. ModCloth sells more product than just the stuff you see at Forever 21, Lulus, or whatever other stores that have some overlap. I have only seen once, ever, someone wearing something I wanted on ModCloth in person. In addition, they put up so much stuff daily that you aren’t waiting for a new season of clothes.
    3. They have set up a Made in USA section. I know, take ‘Made in America’ with a grain of salt these days, but the fact that someone requested it on their facebook page and 24 hours later it was up is pretty impressive response in my book.
    I’ve never bought in to their stuff that just screams hipster, redic, or dramatic dresser, but I’m not ready to give up on them yet. When it comes to the type of consumer I am, ModCloth still rocks. If you are they type of person that goes shopping at Forever 21 though, I totally understand getting miffed.

    • They have a made in the USA section on their website? That’s awesome. Do you know where I can find that section, because I looked on their site and was unable to find it. That’s a great thing to be proud of!

  28. I think it’s not so much the prices that are sad, it’s the marketing approach Modcloth takes to their inventory. Indie, Vintage, Unique, these are buzzwords that appear over and over when Modcloth’s wielding the pen (or the keyboard) but the fact that they are stocking the exact same items time and again that are available at Forever 21, GoJane.com, Urbanog.com and the like makes these items mass-marketed, plentiful items…exactly the opposite of what Modcloth seems to be trying to make its audience think. It’s one thing to be a “Walmart” and sell Wal-Mart goods… it’s another thing to be a “Bergdorf Goodman” and sell Wal-Mart goods. And that “thing” is integrity.

  29. Wow. First of all, big investigative blogger props to you.
    Secondly, I would rather be “ripped off” by Modcloth, if they are paying their employees and suppliers more, because you know F21 is trying to lowball every single person in their supply chain, including their retail employees.
    Finally, am I missing something, or is there really no transparency at Modcloth as to what “indie” designers they are repping?
    I love their style, but there’s too much mystery there for me to fork over my hard-earned dolla billz.

    • Agreed.

      Let’s talk about transparency. Suze posted on Modcloth’s FB wall and they DELETED THE THREAD after several comments. That’s rather opaque!

      Modcloth, shame on you. Enough of these situations and your reputation WILL be destroyed. How can they not understand that?!??

      • I was wondering why I couldn’t find the link on their Facebook. That’s incredibly shady of Modcloth! They could’ve just as easily responded to the criticism. Deleting seems to show guilt, if you ask me.

        • I got a twitter message saying they’re “joining the conversation soon.”

          The conversations been ongoing for over 5 hours… 🙂

          • I don’t have conversations with MEN for five hours, I’m surprised you’d give the time to a silly clothes vendor. 😛

  30. What an eye opening post! Why dont you send it to both Modcloth and F21 and get their feedback that would be interesting. Also I cant beleive about that make-up brand, I didnt even know you could sue someone over a review, what ever happened to freedom of speech!

  31. i was eyeing this post on facebook.. just thought id let you know that it has been removed from their wall.. although i am a fan of modcloth i really don’t like that they would do that

    • I don’t think they should’ve deleted it from the FB page… It’s just going to start a bunch of crap for them now (I’m already seeing the tweets about it!!)

  32. My blog will affirm the fact that I am a ModCloth customer, and in complete transparency, I have received c/o from both F21 and ModCloth. I like them both for different reasons, but at my core, I am a bargain shopper. I’ll pay a little more for ModCloth to not have to go to the mall, and I think their website is easier to navigate and not so overwhelming.

    However, it is totally UNCOOL that some MC PR/ social media person deleted your Facebook comment. C’mon! This is a healthy dialog and you are simply requesting a response.

    Keep up the good work, friend. Keep asking the good questions. Keep pushing the good dialog. I LOVE that your fashion blog has this depth and these sort of topics time and time again.

    • I do think that Modcloth offers very pretty, girlie clothes. But I really dislike that they deleted the link on their FB page. Way uncool.

      Obviously they have something to hide!

  33. I haven’t read through all these comments yet, so I’m probably repeating others, but:

    Modcloth knows what it’s doing. It knows where its products are made, for how much they’re made, and how much of a profit it will be making when it sells those products for $40 instead of $4. It’s a savvy, well-marketed business that doesn’t just buy things without knowing how to make a buck. And part of making that buck is by jacking up prices. That’s the whole idea behind profit. It’s what every business does. It’s how it makes the leap from overhead to reinvesting. It’s the epitome of the Marxian notion of “capital.”

    I respect the investigative nature of this post, but let’s face it: this is business. Modcloth’s practices are nothing new; they’re industry standards. We live in a country where capitalism is the driving force behind the vast majority of relationships…certainly behind economic ones. Modcloth can and will charge whatever it’s able to get people to pay. And people will pay a great deal because they associate Modcloth with cool bloggers and clever marketing copy. It’s the responsibility of consumers to be educated about what they’re buying and from whom they’re buying it. If you choose to pay $70 for a shirt you could’ve gotten for $10, that’s your choice. And if you choose to buy from a company that we all already know gets its merchandise from a factory in China (and how many are there that don’t? Few.) then don’t be surprised that there are other shady dealings going on. Modcloth isn’t doing anything wrong, per se. It’s just taking advantage of the power of trends and laziness.

    This comment isn’t meant to imply a negative view of your post, Suze. I think it’s good that people point out such things, particularly to those who don’t do their research. In the world of fashion/style blogging the second or third look at the practices of retailers is rare. And when you do discover practices or view that don’t jive w your own, it’s inconvenient to take a stand, because it means that you can’t get that great $15 sweater without wondering/feeling guilty about who made it, how that person lived and was treated in the process of making that sweater, etc etc etc.

    I think the real question here is not how much Modcloth charges or whether or not it knows what it’s doing (and I maintain that it certainly does, as do all the other companies like it) but how fashion/style bloggers are participating in an industry and a lifestyle that, at times, is genuinely objectionable. I include myself in this and it’s something I think about all the time. What do other people think?

    • Honestly Emily, I didn’t read it as being negative 🙂 This is meant for open discussion, whatever your opinion may be. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond! You raise many good points that I didn’t think of myself.

    • I think this is definitely the deeper issue. I don’t know if it’s age or increased awareness, but I find myself more and more disgusted by fast fashion. It feels as though it’s getting worse – cheaper, more of it, and more wasteful than ever. I’m nowhere near perfect on this matter, but I’m trying really harder to pay attention and DEAL with the facts behind the clothing I’m buying. I would rather buy a fraction of the clothes I used to if I know they are coming from fair-trade/eco-conscious brands, small businesses, made in America or even handmade/vintage/secondhand. I really had no intention of doing this until my husband started taking a stand a few months back. I have to admit, it’s made a really positive impact on my wallet and my conscience. Like Emily said, business practices like what Modcloth is doing run rampant in our economy. It’s really up to us to set the standard. As long as they keep selling clothes, they have no incentive to change. Great topic and healthy dicussion.

      • Word, sister Kyla. I’ve felt the same for a long time and specifically don’t shop at places like Wal-Mart, Modcloth, or Forever 21 because of it. There are other places I should strike off, too, and it’s just a matter of willpower.

        And on a broader note, this is also about consumption in general. It’s about not having to own a million things to be happy and about being selective and healthy in your buying practices.

        This sort of discussion is one that has been happening here and there for a while (see http://interrobangsanon.wordpress.com/category/ethics/

        http://sartoriography.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/american-apparel-ads-a-totally-f-ed-up-portrait-of-the-ideal-woman/

        and I’m glad to see it continue. Because Modcloth, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!

        PS- There was a great blog post recently on how Modcloth is having customers do their work for them. Who wrote it?! Can’t remember.

      • Word, sister Kyla. I’ve felt the same for a long time and specifically don’t shop at places like Wal-Mart, Modcloth, or Forever 21 because of it. There are other places I should strike off, too, and it’s just a matter of willpower.

        And on a broader note, this is also about consumption in general. It’s about not having to own a million things to be happy and about being selective and healthy in your buying practices.

        This sort of discussion is one that has been happening here and there for a while- see http://interrobangsanon.wordpress.com/category/ethics/

        http://sartoriography.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/american-apparel-ads-a-totally-f-ed-up-portrait-of-the-ideal-woman/

        -and I’m glad to see it continue. Because Modcloth, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do!

        PS- There was a great blog post recently on how Modcloth is having customers do their work for them. Who wrote it?! Can’t remember.

        • Thanks for linking to our posts, love!

          I’m so impressed with the caliber of comments that have been left for this post – it thrills me to hear how many other people are really thinking about the provenance of their clothing. And, as with everything in life, knowledge is key. Stores that sell identical pieces for different prices are banking on the fact that shoppers won’t do their homework or just won’t care. Posts like this one help us do our homework, and now the ball (or dress) is in our court. What do we do with this information?

          Sadly, there’s rarely an easy answer to that question, and I don’t want to judge people on their shopping choices because my choices aren’t perfect, either. I do hope, however, that this information will give some readers pause to think before their next shopping trip.

  34. Having worked at a local clothing store in my hometown I know how much these items cost. We often carried the same items as Forever 21 and Modcloth. Our prices were typically somewhere between the two stores and we were marking clothes at 50-75% markup in order to stay afloat in the economy. I imagine that Modcloth is raising their prices a little high but not much higher than other stores with the same product (with the exception of Forever 21). In Forever 21’s case they are probably similar to say Walmart in that they can negotiate with vendors to get very cheap prices because they buy in such large quantities.

  35. I have to be honest….I don’t think this is exactly what it looks like. F21 rips off mid-range shops all the time. They do a ton of ripoffs of some designs you can find at Anthro. I don’t know if they come from the same supplier or whatever, but you can see in the photos that you posted that while the items are strikingly similar, I don’t think they are identical. While I haven’t been too impressed with the few ModCloth items I’ve purchased (in fact I think I’ve sent them all back – cute but the quality did not match the price), I do think the quality was better than F21. And when I’ve compared F21 versions of some anthro clothing, I can tell a difference in fabric/construction even if they are almost identical style-wise.

    I don’t know if Modcloth/Anthro items are $40 better than F21, but I do think there is a difference between the two and I don’t think F21 is selling the same exact pieces as Modcloth.

    • I saw the skirt (both skirts) first hand. It was the EXACT same skirt. Right down the to line green zipper down the backside. Same black waistband. Everything. The skirt and the yellow/leopard dress were sold at the EXACT same time in the stores, meaning it was produced at the same time, so I assume it’s the same.

      Who cares if it IS the same? The least Modcloth can do is either admit it, or deny they knew. So far they have done nothing other than ignore all the comments, tweets and they deleted the thread on the FB wall about it. To me, that says they have something to hide.

    • It wouldnt be exactly the same because they both are using their individual samples to photograph, which would then be cut from different parts of the fabric. Don’t kid yourself, these are the exact same things! sorry

  36. Wow – thanks for bringing this to light! I’m thinking I’ll stick with F21 for my cheapo purchases – at least you know you’re getting the lowest price. Very weird and annoying that Modcloth removed your comments on their Facebook page. Clearly they don’t want their retail practices being common knowledge.

  37. It was really uncool that modcloth deleted that post and i really hope they respond to these questions.. but as far as as the price difference goes.. i can see how that can happen in either two ways. one. forever 21 is such a large company that the may not be buying from suppliers/distributors.. they may very well have their own manufacturing warehouse in china/korea (like the gap/old navy or many other large chain stores) there’s no middle man which is why you can buy $5 camis or why they are so easily able to rip off designs. but they would also change the labels and become a supplier for other stores such as modcloth which of course is done with marking up the price.. what kind of business would they be if they didn’t. or two. if they do buy from suppliers they are so large.. i mean come one they have a couple hundred stores around the world.. that they get a really good volume discount that stores like modcloth just can’t compete with

  38. Great, enlightening post. I do admire Modcloth’s pretty items and the way they’re displayed but have never been able to buy because of price, which seems to have only increased within the last year or so. I go back/forth with F21, but tend to rely on them quite a bit for trends at affordable prices. But this post really makes me want to seek out local boutiques for trends instead and just fork over the extra cash to support local businesses…money better spent.

  39. This is a very thought-provoking post. I have never purchased from Modcloth, but usually check their daily additions. And I’ve been wondering if I wasn’t interested in their “new” stuff or their quality of designs are lacking – but now I really see it. RTing this post link.

  40. I’ve always distrusted ModCloth due to their crazy PR strategies and pimping their goods via fashion bloggers – I could go on (and on and on) — just another reason to keep distrusting them. Thanks for the investigative reporting!

  41. and on top of that they are slave made while most of modcloth’s items are made in the USA by fairly paid people.

    • Well that wouldn’t be true if they are both purchasing from the same supplier, now would it? Like someone said earlier “Made in America” should be taken with a grain of salt, especially in regards to apparel.

    • Actually, there is no way to verify that. Modcloth boasts that they get their merchandise from “all over the globe.” They even promote when certain designers are English or from other countries. Modcloth doesn’t produce or create any of the clothing they sell- they purchase it from vendors and merchants and resell it back to us, so there is no way to verify that it’s been made in the USA by fairly paid people…

    • The only people paid fairly in the US are unionized garment industry workers. Most ‘Made in the USA’ clothing is made in US outposts like Guam where labor is cheaper and laws relating to labor are laxer. Some retailers, like American Apparel, manufacture their clothing in the US, but are notorious union-busters who discourage unionization among their shop workers via threats of layoffs.

      The only way to know that your apparel was ethically produced (labor-wise) is to purchase items with a ‘union-made’ label.

  42. As a retailer, I can tell you that Forever21 is like WalMart to the fashion small business world. I’ve seen my own products (which I buy through various wholesale vendors) being sold at Forever 21 for less than what I bought it for at wholesale cost… Someone could see my site and say I’m over charging when I’m really not. Forever21 just buys such a huge quantity that they get it for ridiculously less than I do. Does it frustrate me? Very much so but alas, that’s business and although it’s frustrating, I also respect it. I’ve just continued to keep an eye on what I buy and hope Forever 21 buyers don’t pick the same items. I price my products as competitively as I can – but I cannot afford to price as low as Forever 21 without taking a dramatic loss.

    • I think this one’s right too. Suppliers depend their price on how many piece/s you’re going to get. Bulk items means cheaper price. F21 being a bigger company than Modcloth probably gets twice or thrice more items in bulk so they could get each piece at a much cheaper price.

  43. wow suze! I had no idea, but this is really fascinating. I have never shopped at Modcloth because it’s a little pricier than I would like to spend, but the similarities are pretty shocking!

    I am curious about what the response will be. What a great post and dialogue!

  44. Having visited several trade shows before, a retailer will purchase a whole size run say like 5 smalls, 7 medium, 5 large for X amount wholesale. A dress could be 5 dollars, at said trade show a booth is set up for who ever to visit and buy these items – it can be Macy’s, Forever 21, Modcloth whoever. There are no name brands, celebrity brands, and indie brands etc… A retailer will mark it up whatever they choose once it is in their hands. Even if modcloth was being ripped off by the wholesaler it wouldn’t be by much, maybe a few dollars, and it wouldn’t reflect that much in the markup. They have to know what they are doing. I personally have never bought anything from Modcloth because I find them expensive, but I think what they have going on is pretty cool. I have a handful of things from Forever 21, most that I borrow from my sister who buys their samples for even cheaper at a swapmeet in California.

    What it boils down to is being a concious and responsible consumer! So thank you for bringing this to light. I prefer to buy thrift, second hand, Buffalo Exchange is my shopping mecca because I get new, old, designer, high street for the best prices.

    • Actually Modcloth uses suggested Retail so they don’t go above the retail price that the manufacturer recommends. Though other boutiques that’s hard to say after that it all comes down to ethics. They can however put it on sale if they want. Look at Apple Products if you will they have a strict no sale policy on their products especially with re-sellers.

        • Because when you look up the items on Modcloth and then go to the manufacturers site and look at the prices they are the same. Also, I have insider knowledge, but I don’t want to get into that here because etc etc all thoughts and opinions are my own and such and I don’t want to get in trouble, but honestly they do use suggested retail and because they are so cool some companies will put together products just for them to sell so you might see some variation with prices in that because the products are made for them.

          • Ok, but it’s not always possible to look up their manufacturers b/c they don’t always list them. Could you give us an example?

            You say that this is your opinion, but you’ve also stated else where here that you “know” stuff to be factual. It’s just hard to decipher what’s your opinion vs. fact. And really – please note the real issue that has developed here issue here ModCloth’s censorship of Suze’s comment on their facebook page, and their silence regarding her question to them.

          • I have to say opinion in terms of my work, but I know factually because of where I work that what I say is true. Look up BB Dakota the prices are the same. Look up Tulle the prices are the same. If they list the wholesaler they can do that. Depending on the Wholesaler they may or may not list the name it really depends, but for the most part I think if they can list it they do. Sorry didn’t mean to confuse you there, but there is a legal way to say it and such and I’m just covering my butt. It’s like how people make peace corps blogs and can talk factually about their experiences, but they have to put disclaimers on the blog that all opinions are there own.

          • Also, to note about the censorship I already wrote to Suze and told her to give them time. If they ignore it that is bad that would be like a DKNY nightmare…if you didn’t hear about that one look it up they stopped people from commenting on their wall. Everyone company has procedure so it really depends. If it were me monitoring I would have taken it to the owner and said what do you want to do? But I would be shocked if Modcloth didn’t reply in one way or another.

  45. Excellent, excellent post, and something I’ve pondered about for awhile. I used to work in retail and was around the mall so much at one point that I began to notice that inventory was very similar across many different stores.

    Regardless of what ModCloth’s and F21’s business practices are, the more important story to me is the one of censorship here about those business practices.

    • And that’s exactly what this issue has turned into. It’s no longer “oh, look at the prices!” It’s turned into them censoring what we have to say. 105 comments don’t lie. We’ve got something to say about this!

      • I really hope they get back to you today with some kind of response. The way this is kind of evolving, it’s really bad PR to just sit on it, and it’s making it look bad to its blogger fanbase.

        Keep on pushing for answers!

  46. I’m in Sheena’s boat. I’ve worked at two small business boutiques (of varying price points) and it’s so common that the post didn’t phase me. I assumed most avid shoppers were aware of this. However, the internet makes these similarities much easier to see.
    If you think about it, it’s true with virtually everything. Someone out there has an identical product/service that they are offering for less or more money.

    • So very true. And the only thing we can do as the consumer is be aware of it and make an informed decision. If you want to buy the more expensive item, more power to you! It’s your money and your choice!

  47. veeeery interesting. i don’t mind seeing the same clothes in multiple stores, but yeah when it’s $50 less that feels like i’m getting ripped off. just bought a dress from modcloth and now i’m wondering if i could have gotten the same thing for less.

  48. I also found and blogged about a discrepancy in pricing between Lulus and Cutiemus: http://stylefyles.tumblr.com/post/124933255/tip-top-shop

    The price wasn’t THAT different….just about $8, but when I mentioned it to the great customer service rep at Cutiemus, she didn’t seem at all surprised about it. $20 is a lot different than $20, but three $8 differences sure adds up quickly. It’s a lesson to us consumers to shop smartly.

    Growing up, my mom always knew whether pop was cheaper at Target or the grocery, which store had cheaper chips, etc. The difference was always one or two bucks, but if you can keep track and always score the lower deal, it really DOES make a difference.

  49. I thought this was a very interesting discussion, and can’t fathom why they removed your post! Well, anyhow, I wanted to see where it was headed so I put the link back up there. Hope my doing that doesn’t upset you! I was learning quite a lot from the comments and just wanted it to continue.

  50. Thank you for bringing this issue to light! I have long thought that the two retailers sell similar items and wondered why MC would choose to hike up their prices when consumers can go elsewhere. I understand that certain of their items may be exclusive to them but in the age of the internet with google and etsy and numerous vintage sites, why would I overpay for an item that I can find a similar version of at better cost? I take particular offense to the prices they set for jewelry and other accessories- I paid $16 for a necklace (my only MC purchase) that appeared to be huge and incredible on the site but in person it was cheap, flimsy and of poor quality. I have time and time again seen the same jewelry on their site at F21 and Target. You bring up a great point though- is Modcloth just not aware of this? They would have to be! As much time as they spend browsing the internet for their own name in blogs and FB posts, one would think they would be out there checking the competitors’ supplies and costs as well, right?

    And to your joke/observation about not being sponsored by MC…. honestly, while I adore the styles of many bloggers who are sponsored by MC, I take issue with MC’s complete ownership of them. I mean there are some who wear exclusively gifted wardrobes from MC, which is fine and all except that it’s questionable how valuable their opinions are when they’re constantly lavished with free goodies. It’s a bit of overkill at times.

    I do browse the MC website for ideas, but often I can thrift and rework an item to the exact style of those overpriced products.

    Thanks for being a brave voice…

  51. Well, my readers know how I feel about Modcloth and their fluffy talk of ‘democratizing fashion’ (the link has already been posted in this thread, so I won’t repeat it here), but this question of pricing is a whole other matter that (naturally) also galls me. For a discussion and comparison, see here: http://huzzahvintage.blogspot.com/2010/10/when-only-thing-unique-is-price.html

    I recognize that retail pricing will be different based on operating costs, brand awareness and web traffic, and supplier relations, but what really makes my brain hurt is the way that Modcloth essentially traffics in the same mall-ternative shit that so many other companies sell, and yet simultaneously markets itself as an ‘indie’ retailer with an exclusive collection of clothing, shoes and accessories! In the aforementioned link, I compare their ‘exclusive’ dresses to supermarket brand generic foodstuffs that get slapped with the supermarket’s branded label, but which are the same products found in every supermarket across America with a generic store brand label.

    Basically, their dresses are like a generic can of frijoles.

    • My favorite part about the link above besides the content itself is the fact that Kendi commented agreeing with you but showed up on her own blog today in a “c/o” Lulu’s dress! I’m not a ” fashion blogger” myself but the behavior of some fashion bloggers is “disheartening” (in the words of Kendi herself, whose blog I used to love and adore reading).

      • I wasn’t going to weigh in but I think that I should say in Kendi’s behalf… She was given the dress. It was a courtesy dress. I purchase dresses from Rue 21 (not Forever) that are $3 and $5 because that’s what I can afford, regardless of the conditions in which they were made. My wardrobe consists of thrifted items, gifted items, hand-me-downs, and pieces that I pick up myself for insane deals. If Kendi likes the dress and wears it, I don’t really think that she should be criticized for wearing it. It would be wasteful and silly to throw out a free dress that fits you and that you like. Maybe I’m biased, because I love Kendi’s blog, but I don’t “blame” her for wearing a dress from Lulu’s.

        • I have to agree with you Laurel. As bloggers, we are often given the opportunity to work with differet stores, and sometimes even review different items (I’ve done both).
          Just because someone says they find the trend of the same items at different markups does not mean that they shouldn’t accept an item if it’s offered to them.
          Often Lulu’s is the store with the lower price (at least in the cases I’ve checked out).
          There were a few bloggers that Modcloth sponsors that sent me emails AGREEING with what I wrote. They wouldn’t comment, because it would make them look bad, but they agreed that the practice was wrong.
          Just food for thought! 🙂

          • Oh I’m not criticizing Kendi because she wore it, I’m criticizing her because she said she didn’t agree with the practices these sites use but then wore it anyway and accepted a sponsorship from that company. In my mind, that’s kind of hypocritical, and almost worse than if she had bought it herself. And Suze, are you saying it’s okay for a blogger to think that these practices are wrong but accept free goods and promote the companies that use these practices anyway? I’m honestly asking, I’m not sure I understand your response. But if so, shouldn’t fashion bloggers be the ones promoting awareness and change?

            Fashion bloggers aside, this is a great post. I think it would be interesting to find out how much Modcloth spends on marketing compared to Lulu’s, Ruche, and other stores with similar profiles – and see how they could reduce that to bring their prices down. I just have a very hard time believing (as was mentioned in other comments) that Modcloth has a lower purchasing power than those comparable stores and therefore has to charge higher prices to make a profit.

          • Personally, I wouldn’t do it. If Modcloth sent me an email tomorrow, asking me to be one of their sponsored bloggers, I would decline. I do think they have beautiful pieces, and I love looking at their store. But I, personally, wouldn’t accept anything from them.
            I suppose I meant it’s more of a personal thing. That bloggers needs to make whatever the best decision is for them. For all we know, this sponsorship could’ve been in the works long before that comment was ever made.

            I guess I’m one of those bloggers promoting awareness and change… 🙂
            I think Lulus is just getting in the game to sponsor, because they probably see how well Modcloth does it (because, let’s admit, they do it REALLY well).

          • But Modcloth doesn’t have the same purchasing power. Think of it this way Modcloth only has one online store with an average visitor base of a million uniques per month. Market share is 1% minimum and then you have them who are probably pulling in around 10% off an average order value of around $70( going by price point) so then you would have a good revenue, but with the way Modcloth expands and needs to pay employees and keep an over head it adds up not to mention taxes. Anyway you have to figure Forever21 does about 3 million per month online and has brick and mortar stores all over the world so Forever21 has to make larger purchase orders. Forever21 would say order 100 units of something to meet a demand where as Modcloth would maybe make 25 Units to meet the online demand. This would mean that Forever21 can make a better deal because they are spending more money. It’s what I like to think of as the Costco effect. If you buy in bulk you save. Hence Forever21 does have more purchasing power. Also, Forever21 works with manufacturers directly this means there is an agent who works for them getting them better deals on textiles…again Modcloth doesn’t have that. It would be Modcloths wholesalers that have to negotiate the overall pricing options of textiles. I think the best option for anyone here would be to contact a manufacturer and ask them how it works because all these arguments basically come down to the price of the textiles.

          • Suze – I LOVED Lulu’s when it first got somewhat well-known. Their selection was much smaller but I thought more well edited. Their clothes are lower quality but their prices in general reflected that. Even though I haven’t bought anything from there in a while, I still look at the site and I feel like they’ve been steadily raising prices over the last year. I’m kind of nervous to see where their new involvement with blogs and sponsorships takes them.

            And Kate, I’m not comparing Modcloth to Forever21. As I said in my comment, I’m comparing it to other online shops like Lulu’s, Ruche, etc that I believe have similar profiles and purchasing power. And actually, like I said, I tend to think those stores have less purchasing power than Modcloth. And 8 or 9 times out of 10, when Lulu’s and Modcloth have the same product, Lulu’s is cheaper by more than 10 dollars. I wish I would have kept track.

            Modcloth has an ad on perezhilton.com and has for years. And that’s actually how I heard about them a few years back. So maybe their costs are higher because they pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for marketing. And that’s fine. They probably sell more because of their marketing – as Suze mentioned, they do a damn good job. I’m not hating on Modcloth – I don’t think what they are doing is MORALLY wrong by any means, and I don’t think they’re trying to rip off their customers, and I understand where their prices come from completely. I work in sales and we sell the same product to one customer for 5 dollars and another customer for 10 dollars – it all has to do with how much research the customer does and how much they’re willing and able to pay. I like to be a well-informed customer and I choose not to shop at Modcloth. My problem is more with the way the company (and other companies too, not just Modcloth!) works with some bloggers and with the bloggers themselves.

          • Oops, just reread that. I don’t mean I have a problem with the bloggers – most of the bloggers sponsored by Modcloth I have read for a long time and really love. But it’s obvious how much influence Modcloth has on some bloggers. Whether that’s a good or bad thing I guess is a matter of opinion!!

          • I need to turn comments off on my email notifications, which I probably will. Leah I work for a wholesaler that has it’s clothing on all of those websites. The owners of those websites, those companies are actually quiet nice to work with. The thing is Modcloth can not cut the same deals as Forever21, but can they do larger orders than the other websites mentioned? Yes, but that doesn’t mean the wholesalers give them a break on the same price. The one I work for charges the same we can’t afford to go less because production costs are up in China. This past month has been horrible over there actually and if we can’t get good deals on the textiles we have to charge the re-sellers more. Their prices are not going up out of greed I monitor their websites for content since they often feature our brand and I tweet with them and such, but the fact is maybe smaller boutiques raise costs, but none of these resellers do. They actually put items on sale sometimes, which they can if they want. The fact is the pricing is coming from the manufacturers and we cut those deals as foes F21, but Modcloth, Lulu’s and a few others I believe have always bought directly from a wholesaler and have not delt with the the factories in China so no they really can’t negotiate better prices. The only reason I am commenting because I do have access to the information and so does everyone else who uses google. This story isn’t anything new, but the fact is research it. Costs are up around the board and it’s dog eat dog right now. As for the bloggers well each company handles that on their own perspective. Modcloth just happened to have the right business platform for growth and were able to sponsor blogs. They have an affiliate program through commission junction and I know they get bloggers all the time writing and asking for samples because we do as well, but we can’t say yes to all of them there is only so much overhead to work with. I hope that explains it a little more. Anything I have stated here was learned from experience in dealing with the area I work with. I have also worked with designers when they first begin and can’t do large production orders at all it’s really a complicated process and sure not every retailer is going to be honest or have good policies, but these ones have really good people behind them who really put their customers first and the fact is you can’t please everyone so there are always going to be complaints about everything. It sucks, but this is why they have such great PR so they can handle things like this and these people get paid for the work they do. It’s not easy doing marketing or PR in the digital age and it has to be handled with finess that not everyone has.

  52. I’ve seen modcloth/f21 duplication before, and I just assumed that modcloth was marking things up because of their cute descriptions, and because they can.

    Modcloth deleting your facebook posts is not cool and makes me dislike them.
    Honestly, there has been so much negativity going on about modcloth lately it makes me not want to shop there at all.

    Last winter there was this ADORABLE hat at mod cloth for about $40.
    I found the same hat in a local (typically overpriced store) on sale for $15.

  53. It happens, it exists, it is a business practice reality. What customers can do is to do their research and buy what ever fits their bill. Don’t blame the company and make so much fuzz about it. It seems to me, someone is just in dire need of attention, trying to point things out just to be Ms.Know-It-All.

    Here’s an analogy: You can buy a burger for X amount from company A while it’s twice as much in company B. Why? Because Company A has different costing such as marketing, rent, etc.

    (Suze’s note- this person left this EXACT same note on FB, then come over here and left it under the name of “You are poor.” So I went to his FB and put in his name and FB address. Have fun!)

  54. Sorry it’s taken us some time to respond; we’ve been investigating the items you raised, and it’s our busiest time of the year. Thank you for your post and for giving us the chance to weigh in on this topic! We’re sorry we removed your post on our Facebook wall; it violated our comments policy, which does not allow posts that link to competitors’ sites… We realize, however, that there are grey areas and we don’t want to discourage healthy conversation in our communities, and we certainly aren’t trying to hide anything. We’re excited for the chance to join the conversation here.

    First, it’s important everyone know that we never repackage goods! We’re strictly a retailer, and we source our items from designers all over the country and the world. We can’t know whether other retailers will carry similar or the same items. In fact, trade shows are often months ahead of when we receive our inventory, and it’s not possible for us to know whether items we’ve bought will turn up on other retailers’ sites until we actually see them online. It is never our intention to “steal a style.”

    Additionally, we don’t have the buying power of larger retailers, as we make much smaller orders. In those cases where we are offering the same items as other retailers, we may not be able to negotiate the best price with the designer due to our order size. And, sadly, we’ll never have visibility into what suppliers are charging others.

    Here’s what we’ve learned on the items you raised. We spoke to the necklace designer who confirmed that the item is unique and she has never sold it to Forever 21; and so they’re likely similar, but of very different construction. We couldn’t reach the designer of the Show in Seattle Dress (red, grey, and black plaid), and so we have taken the item off the site until we can confirm its origin; if it’s the same item, we will return it to the designer or donate it. We cannot confirm if the last two items are the same items, but they are not in stock and we don’t intend to restock them.

    Eight years ago, we started out as a small company that was operated by a college student out of her dorm room. We’re happy to be where we are today, and we’re even happier to be growing so quickly! Now, we’re launching between 25 and 50 new products every day! Even if we knew of all the items being simultaneously carried by other retailers, it’s nearly impossible for us to cross check all of our designs and prices against them. We try to offer the best shopping experience through our fast shipping, generous returns policy, beautiful images and descriptions, and great customer service, and sometimes that means we can’t offer the lowest prices. We strive to, though, and can use your help!

    So, what can you do as shoppers? If you like the items we offer and you want to continue shopping with us, let us know when you see ModCloth items carried on a competitor’s site at another price by emailing us at support@modcloth.com. This will help us be more informed and work more closely with our designers in offering the best prices and the most unique items.

    The best way to grow is through criticism and feedback, and we are listening. Thank you so much for your thoughts – we really do appreciate them!

    • “We’re sorry we removed your post on our Facebook wall; it violated our comments policy, which does not allow posts that link to competitors’ sites…”

      vs (their Facebook response):

      “ModCloth ‎@Alyson – Thanks for the feedback, lady. We can truthfully say that we did not take down the second post. Facebook tried to upgrade their fanpages today, and that might have caused some error.”

      PR FAIL.

      • The first post was deleted due to policy violation. The above comment says the SECOND was not deleted by Mod Cloth. Reading comprehension fail.

      • Hi Gina,

        The Facebook response you’ve quoted here was directed to another customer who tried to post a link to this blog post. We suspect the link may not have made it because Facebook was down earlier today. As we explained, we don’t allow discussion of competitors on our Facebook group, but we understand there are still some grey areas with this policy, so we rethought our stance on leaving links to this post on our wall until we could respond here!

  55. Really, this is ridiculous, don’t be so naive. Go a $1 shop tomorrow and go to the kitchen items section like the spatulas etc and take a good look at them, the packaging and the naming, where they are made etc. Then go to Safeway to the same kitchen items section and take a good hard look. You’ll notice that many of the items are exactly the same just in different packaging and look ‘nicer’ with better names but they are 300%-400% more expensive!

    My point is you would probably prefer to shop in Safeway and pay that little bit more as it’s safer and cleaner and nicer than the $1 store, well the same thing is happening here! Also Modcloth does work with up and coming designers and supports them, I know a few who have done very well from Modcloth support. This can’t happen unless Modcloth are making a decent profit from other items where they can, it all balances out in the end.

    • I appreciate you using your real name, unlike the other person who came here via Facebook…

      Obviously you don’t know me well and didn’t read what the post was REALLY saying. It wasn’t calling out Modcloth for marking items up- it was point out that SOMEONE is getting screw. If modcloth is aware- its the customer. If they’re unaware- it’s THEM.

      I own items from Modcloth. I’ve shopped there. But, I’ll always pick my thrift stores dresses over a $60 dress anyday… Therefore, I’d go to the $1 store instead of a Safeway (not even sure what kind of store that is…)

      Thank you for being one of the only men to comment.

      • Who else came via Facebook? Hmmm anyway I can see your sentiments about the dress. It sucks this is the manufacturer in this case, but I get the pricing. Really there are so many issues in production right now. I think Apparel News had a great article about the sourcing issues going on right now. Sad oh and of course WWD had one as well.

  56. I’m really impressed by this article. A friend sent me this link because she knew my stance on Modcloth. They sell some really great items but others will be well over $50 and I will read the reviews and the people say that the item seems to be Forever 21 quality, so it’s really ironic that you posted this. Sure, the marketing of Modcloth may be “hip”.. but really, who wants to pay three times as much for an item just so Modcloth can sponsor blogs (essentially taking over the entire blog in many cases.. I’ve stopped reading several blogs because they only post Modcloth items and related posts), and have cool photos. I get it, I get that there is a need for marketing, but I wish it would all come down to quality. Thanks for opening my eyes and once again reminding me why I RARELY buy new clothes & pretty much only thrift!

  57. hhhmmmm…… i guess my reaction to all this is surprise. i’m surprised that people are surprised by this. i am pretty cynical about retail in general (and mod cloth specifically for the blog world takeover). but if we’re being realistic….that’s just the nature of any retail business isn’t it? profits must be made, and mod cloth has to have a large markup so they can buy off all the big fashion bloggers 😉 I agree with Antony as well, you pay higher prices for ‘nicer’ stores. and again, i’m surprised that that would be a surprise to anyone. so buy handmade! buy local! buy fair trade! buy secondhand!

  58. Pingback: Sourcing and Copyright aka Here We Go Again «

  59. Kudos to all of this. It was refreshing to read Suze’s original posts, to the dialogue raised in the comments section, and ModCloth’s response and efforts to be straightforward and transparent about their designer/distributing process.

    This is a really fascinating issue, and one that extends past fashion retail too. I’d be interested in knowing if in some cases, if it wasn’t an issue of the same designer distributing to many different retailers, if it was more a case of intellectual property infringement (though can you copyright something as ubiquitous as a plaid dress?). Very interesting consumer awareness issues.

  60. um… yikes… this is kind of insane… those items were identical! sheesh! still gonna throw out love to Modcloth and F21 cause i love them both but this is sort of shocking my system over here, i have always said if you want a look you saw hit the runway or in a magazine last week you can find it at F21 and i meant it as a good thing because most people can’t afford what they see in the magazines (as it is i usualy shop clearance at F21) but i am shocked to see that those items are identical… to be fair i can’t imagine how Modcloth would be able to keep track of everything F21 has… i get dizzy walking into that store they have so much out!
    ~selina

  61. Pingback: Who’s screwing who update (AKA- the day after) | Miss Vinyl Ahoy

  62. I don’t think this is uncommon at all. As consumers we have to “shop around” and make sure we are getting good value. Its harder on line because things can look very similar but, when you actually get to touch the item the quality can be very different.

  63. I think the original post was good for highlighting that you can get the same items from different retailers at varying prices so that consumers can make wise shopping decisions and save themselves some money. I do however think that it is unfair that ModCloth were called out because you have no idea what their overheads are and how much profit they actually make on each item they sell. I think it’s a little sad that they had to explain themselves as I have seen examples of this so many times as it is common practice for many reasons.

    Also I think it is unreasonable to expect a retailer to basically advertise on their Facebook page that you can buy items from their site cheaper somewhere else.

    Hannah x

    http://www.hananhdomingo.wordpress.com
    @hannah_domingo

    • I agree with this. Comparing the financials of Modcloth to a giant retailer like F21 is like comparing apples and oranges. At the end of the day the decision IS up to the consumer (and usually people try to save a buck or two and go to chain stores) which is why we now have such a push for small businesses. They just can’t compete.

  64. Thank you for this, Suze. I will for sure be more careful when buying from ModCloth. If I am going to spend $50 on a dress, it better be unique and I better NOT find it on F21 for $20. Thank you for this article. I actually feel very naive right now. I had no idea things like this went on. Thanks again for the heads up!

  65. Great post- I would like to say that while neither Forever 21 nor Modcloth are exactly “fantastic” retailers to purchase from, as someone who works in retail and marketing there are several reasons why I will no longer shop at Modcloth:

    1. A pointed out here, the price. They are slightly ridiculous, especially if I can find the same thing at Lulus.com, Go Jane, or as mentioned- Forever 21.

    2. They are extremely un-customer-service friendly. I’ve read several instances and have unfortunately been through it myself with replies taking *forever* when emailed a simple question; as someone who is willing to pay $$$$$ for handbags and shoes (I love bargains but also luxury items!), I have certain expectations for customer service. If you’re going to charge an arm and a leg for an item I can find cheaper at Lulus.com or F21, Modcloth, at least give me some decent customer service with a smile? Lulus.com has great customer service- have never had an issue with them!

    3. They are insanely affiliate un-friendly. As an affiliate marketer, they only want to push promotions and sales to their “chosen few”- meaning a very, very small handful of mainly bloggers that they hand-pick and choose. While it’s their company and they can certainly run their marketing program however they’d like, as someone who used to make $$$$ MONTHLY for them through sales and promotions, after being contacted from one of their reps to stop promoting coupon codes my sales for them have dwindled to $0. If you don’t give shoppers an incentive to buy, Modcloth, they’re not going to buy- duh. Why even bother?

    A good affiliate program knows this- look at Shopbop (who doesn’t run promos too often, but still emails coupon codes and details out to all of their affiliates early so they’ll be ready to promote when it hits), Philosophy Skincare (they’re known for giving “affiliate only” promotions out OFTEN to ALL AFFILIATES!), and others- by telling me to essentially stop promoting for you and pushing sales, you’ve not only lost any traffic and money I was giving you, but me as a customer as well. I used to buy with you often; no more. Why even accept me into your program if I don’t fall into your “ideal” blogger to have? I have more than enough followers to court and work with retailers like Sephora, Nordstroms, and more. Apparently you don’t want to make money that badly- your loss.

    I used to love Modcloth- from what I understand, their company started out small and the family pug (Winston) is adorable. But if you’re going to be snobby with your affiliate program, be snobby with your prices, and be snobby with your lack of customer service- and sell cheap clothing that fits poorly and falls apart way too easily? Sorry! I will happily take my money and affiliate traffic to retailers that are happy to have me, done & done. 🙂

    • Em I have to ask what type of affiliate you are? See Modcloth has two types of affiliations one they run on Commission Junction the other is sponsorships of bloggers. The bloggers, the good ones, with high traffic volumes are contacted by companies and sometimes they solicit for sponsorship. Many of them will refuse to join an affiliate program like commission junction so that type of affiliation has to be handled differently than that of the affiliate network so that’s why it probably seems unfavorable.

      My issue with affiliate networks is coupon code sites. See Retail Me Not is on every single affiliate network and uses SEM practices that often steal organic traffic and so the companies, in order to stop these SEM or SEO Marketers needs to tighten the reigns on the affiliation or lose organic sales to them. If however you are a content only marketer who doesn’t practice SEM then perhaps you should bring this up with them. All I know is I had to adjust our affiliate program because the coupon code sites were outranking our main site and our top keywords. Super annoying and completely cannibalistic.

      Also the ones who practice Black Hat SEO are the worst and will often use spamming methods to gain sales. We have even had some affiliate marketers steal credit card numbers and make purchases through an affiliate link. They of course were taken off the affiliate network and the persons money was recovered, but still it’s a nasty practice.

  66. I recently started a webstore and a couple months after I get an item sometimes I’ll see it at forever for way cheaper than I even paid for it originally and there’s nothing I can do about it but be screwed.

  67. I’ve worked as a buyer in a couple small boutiques in NYC, and it isn’t always the retailer snatching things up “at rock bottom prices” what happens most of the time is that you buy something, and then your supplier decides to have a sample sale or sell off their merchandise that’s left at the end of the season, or from a season before, to stores like century 21, loehmann’s, etc. In this case, whoever is supplying modcloth and/or forever 21, might be doing somewhat of the same thing, since the price point of the two retailers is somewhat similar. A store like forever 21 can afford to sell things cheaper because their distribution is wider, while a smaller boutique cannot afford to not mark their merch up at least 150%, nor do they probably receive the same prices, their orders are much smaller. From modcloth’s response, this is what I would assume is the case with some of the items, but for example, the cafe pomplona dress, altho similar, is clearly made differently, maybe they just used the same fabric.

  68. I used to personally work for a showroom that supplies Forever21, Modcloth, TjMaxx, Joyce Leslie, Aj Wright, Mandee, Rainbow, Body Central, and even Destination Maternity. That is only a fraction of the store that we served with the same goods over and over and over. The head of the company and the sales girls literally go to the mall, buy stuff sometimes from Forever21, send it to their factories in China, figure out how to create a similar look or the exact same look for a drastically lower price and then sell it back to Forever21 and many of the stores that they bought products from. They don’t do any trend forecasting or any designing in house. None. It is something I like to call “Fashion Cannibalism” and its happening all over the garment district in New York and in LA. I don’t love it but I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I am so happy to say I no longer work for them!

  69. This is so interesting. I work in a buying office for a department store so I think I have a slightly different opinion then most, however I feel like this whole expose shows several weaknesses of ModCloth, as a business. They should have responded to you much sooner, especially since your article gives them the benefit of the doubt. I feel like since they pose themselves as so pre-blogger and internet savvy, they need to back it up a little bit more. I also think this is partly caused by a small company that’s grown quickly. Growing pains are called that for a reason. I’m not really a shopper of ModCloth because I think they are a little pricey, for what they offer so this won’t really change my buying habits but it’s very interesting. ANd lastly, I want to commend you on your research and fair treatment in your writing. You’ve really set some fire – I’ve been reading curious tweets and hints to this article for the last day but didn’t have a chance to read it till now. Well done.

  70. I thought the reply from ModCloth was great- courteous and helpful. It looks like they’re concerned with the issues, too!

    I work for a furniture company in the sourcing department, so I can tell you that a ton of negotiating goes into getting the first cost on a product, whether it was designed by my company or an “off-line” product (meaning someone else’s design that can be sold anywhere). Then so many things factor into the calculation of the retail price– shipping, customs, etc. Because we’re a small company, we run into some of the same issues that ModCloth mentioned. For example, with towels, vendors will give us first costs based on minimum order quantities (500 pieces, 1000 pieces, etc.). The price goes up as the order quantity goes down, and thus, the retail price goes up.

    As a consumer, it’s interesting to be on this side of the business and see what goes into making the customer happy and meeting a point where we can make money off the product.

    I hope this helps? And wasn’t too confusing? haha.
    Best wishes. x.

    • The necklace and the plaid dress were in stores at Forever 21 a year ago. They’re just now being sold at Modcloth.
      The skirt and the yellow dress were in both stores at the same time…

  71. As the owner of an online boutique, I’m really intrigued by this discussion. I have sold a dress that was very similar (by all appearances) to a dress sold an Anthropologie. Our price was $46.50 and theirs around $175. The difference was largely in the fabric, polyester vs. silk, and their dress was lined. Our customers were okay with the difference and appreciated the different price point. In my opinion, this does not make either store wrong as each meets the needs of their customer.

    Labeling is an interesting little beast. We buy from both manufacturers and wholesalers/distributors. Some distributors remove the manufacturers label and replace with their own, a practice of which I’m not a fan. This same distributor offers us the option to put in our own store label. We made the business decision not do to so as it would increase cost and thus price and to me it is just deceiving as these items are not exclusive to our store.

    In large part when we shop we are buying into a brand, if we like to admit it or not. We are buying into trendy or cost effective or convenient and many other factors that go into our buying decision. You may choose to save money and possibly have a less personal customer service experience. You may choose to pay a bit more at a store that does not charge additional shipping costs. My point is that we pay for the whole experience, and so I definitely agree with discussions such as these to make us all more educated buyers. This is also the beauty of thousands of retails, spend your money where your needs are best met.

    I can definitely echo Modcloth’s comment about the bulk purchasing power of the big box stores. If the necklaces are in fact the same necklace, it may feel like the buyer is getting screwed. If so, I bet it is to the distributor/manufacturers gain not as much ModCloth’s. At the end of the day ModCloth and Forever 21 have different business models, and sometimes these situations occur.

    Thanks Suze for opening this discussion, which I think encourages us all to be educated consumers. Thank you to J’s Everday Fashion for turning me onto this blog and hot topic.

  72. I’ve actually bought a dress from lulu’s that was $37 and was marked to above $50 on modcloth. MC’s response about purchasing power is a valid one, but doesn’t lulu’s have about the same purchasing power as MC? How could they offer a dress that is significantly cheaper?

    And no, not plugging for lulu’s…or “hating on” modcloth. I love them both and stalk their sites daily enough to know this fact. 🙂

  73. Thank you for this article, I am astonishing to read about MC and Forever 21 are selling same stuffs but with such big price difference. It sucks that MC have the same merchandises as F21 because I have no animosity towards Forever 21, this article definitely change my thoughts to make future purchase in MC.

    By shopping at Forever 21 is tolerance the whole copying, mass chain retail vs. indie retail problems, and form an awful cycle in retail and fashion industry. After reading many articles about Forever 21 (Designer copyright infringement, Sweatshop labor), I stopped to shop at Forever 21.

    I understand Forever 21 offers high fashion in a lower price, and we all love to shop, but continue to shop at Forever 21 definitely not retail and fashion industry. I rather save a bit more money and purchase at somewhere else.

  74. Thank you so much for writing this. I have to say, I think ModCloth was really classy in how they handled this.

    And I’ve never ordered from ModCloth but I hope their products are as much nicer than Forever21 in real life as in photos for the reach-y prices they charge.

  75. I think it was pretty crass to call them out publicly in a way that, to some customers (who have NO knowledge about retail practices), might make them look bad. If you were genuinely concerned and wanted answers why not email modcloth and get the info, before writing a blog and posting (what might be viewed as) accusatory messages on their public wall, demanding they to stop everything and give you some answers, and then getting your panties in a bunch over the comments that were deleted because other retailers being mentioned on their wall is not allowed (completely understandable, you don’t go put an ad for your boutique up in another boutique’s window…) and also, let’s not forget that the person who mans the FB page is probably not one of the head honchos at modcloth, and have to make fast, executive decisions in the event that something like that is posted on their wall. Really it was common sense the whole time, if you have ANY knowledge whatsoever about retail.

    • Fantastic point. You can visit Modcloths page and see how many people run their social media accounts. It probably took a while to get it to action, but they did respond. Not everything can be shot gun and right away.

    • I don’t work in retail, and never have. I wasn’t calling out Modcloth- I was using them and Forever 21 as an example. Does a newspaper hold off a story because they think their readers might think badly of the subject? No. I felt it was my duty to post something I observed. Obviously it needed to be addressed- Modcloth has even taken down one of the dresses because they were unable to verify where it came from.

      And my post on facebook didn’t say “stop everything you’re doing and give me answers,” it had a link to this post and encouraged them to join in ther conversation. I also sent them an email, as you seem to think I didn’t. I specifially asked them to join the conversation, telling them I’d post whatever they sent over, and I did so when they sent something.

      • I feel it could have been handled much more classily, if you had refrained from posting on their wall, which did, in fact, seem like a ‘call-out’, contrary to what you say. You should have gathered the real facts before writing, in which case there’d be no need to make them out to be assholish by saying ‘they deleted my comments! (they must be guilty!)’. Obviously you didn’t outright demand answers immediately, but did seem to get a bit miffed when 8 hours went by with no response. This is a company. The top dogs of the company who would have access to the info you wanted to discuss are not manning the FB page. Really, you are in no position to bitch about them taking 8, or even 24 hours torespond. This is a busy time of year in retail and, contrary to what you may think, the world doesn’t revolve around you. Just because you don’t work in retail doesn’t mean it is that hard to comprehend the way these things work. Why not do some google research next time you think you’ve uncovered some sinister retail plot to rip everyone off.

        • I posted it on their wall ONE time. The post that’s currently up isn’t one I added. Someone who read this posted it up there.

          I wasn’t trying to “call-out” anyone or bully them into giving a response.

          Again, if you read the post, you’d know that it WASN’T calling out Modcloth for marking stuff up- they were the example I used, because I had pictures of the products that I could use. I could’ve easily used any other stores. I gave Modcloth the benefit of the doubt, even suggesting that THEY are the ones getting screwed over in this situation.

          If you go through the comments, you’ll see others that are also unaware of this practice, so it’s obviously not just me that’s a bit confused.

          And, I’m sorry, I’m not sure where I said the “world revolves around me.” I wrote a POST on MY blog, pointing out something I thought was a little odd, and something I thought my readers would have good thoughts about. I sent Modcloth tweets, messages, left ONE facebook post and sent an email asking if they’d like to comment. And I didn’t “demand” answers. I asked Modcloth (and Forever 21), if they wanted to make a statement regarding my post. I asked them that when I first posted this, and throughout the day.

          There were plenty other people urging them to respond, not just me. Other people were questioning why it was taking them so long to answer.

          All I did was write a post. Obviously it ticked you off enough, because you’ve come from Facebook to tell me how wrong I am, and that’s fine. I appreciate your opinion.

          • You shouldn’t have to defend yourself. This is a great post. And I don’t think expecting a prompt response is unreasonable at all especially since Modcloth is very, very heavily involved with all forms of social media and seems to pride itself on that.

          • I agree with Leah, don’t feel like you have to defend yourself. Controversial issues always involve both sides! You expressed concern over something involving Modcloth and gave them a chance to pipe in, which is totally classy. Most people would have posted a rant (rather than a legit concern) and not contacted Modcloth. I think it’s good to hear both sides of it, that’s what discussion is all about after all. 🙂

            I personally don’t think their response time was all that appalling. But other than that, I haven’t seen anything flawed in your argument.

          • I agree 1000000% with Leah. I’m not surprised that forever21 hasn’t responded nor do I think they will. However, again just like Leah said, Modcloth prides itself on being thoroughly entrenched in social media, the largest influence being blogs. Just like I said on twitter, I think you were almost being too nice. You went out of your way to give MC the benefit of the doubt, when you didn’t have to considering the evidence you had scrounged up, and allowing them a chance to respond in a slew of online media outlets. You weren’t ‘calling them out’ you were bringing something to their attention that in hindsight they seem to be almost grateful for. Give me a break about the ‘oh my god it’s christmas retail is SLAMMED” yes the people actually SELLING products are. However the company’s PR rep as well as buyer for the company are not any busier than other times of the years. I’m not saying they are sitting on their hands while they spin on their rolling desk chairs, though I do think a good spin is mandatory every day. The fact that they took so long to respond and even then said they were gathering their information was poor PR. They shouldn’t have deleted all the subsequent links that people have put up, since it just fueled the fire. A simple ‘thank you for bringing this to our attention, we are currently investigating’ would’ve been a much better response.

            sounds like someone found out their are on Santa’s naughty list..

          • Suze has kept it classy and kept it real. She was not rude or derogatory at any point. Nor was she demanding. She asked a question, she opened a dialogue and she remained calm, cool and collected as she did so.

        • Tarren – You make a lot of great points.

          If I was a responsible journalist/blogger, I would research the issue and then write post/article.

          Putting up un-researched information, not contacting the subject of the article, really makes this post the equivalent of grocery store gossip, seeking attention and not credibility.

          • Bailey, if you would’ve read the post, and my response to Tarren you’d see that I’m not making outrageous claims- I’m not even accusing Modcloth of anything- I’m simply asking the question of what’s going on. How does a necklace from Forever 21 from LAST YEAR suddenly show up for sale at Modcloth at 4x the price.

            I contacted Modcloth and Forever 21, and only received a response from Modcloth.

            If you were a responsible reader, you’d already know that, instead of jumping to conclusions about this being “the equivalent of grocery store gossip.” My intention was never to “seek attention” or bully Modcloth is any way- it was to get an answer to the question. I apologize if this offends you at all, but obviously my blog isn’t something you want to be reading if that’s the case.

            Suze

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  78. this is all really interesting but it makes me so glad that i have cut down on my fast fashion shopping. it bothers me to wonder about the unknown sources of clothing, how workers are treated, and how much waste is created. that said, i didn’t know much about the inner workings of retail and this discussion is highly enlightening.

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  80. Hi! I just found your site and I love this article. I thought you were very fair and gave both sides the benefit of the doubt. It was very enlightening and I was happy to see that Modcloth took your complaint seriously. Hopefully more people will now be aware of this and call companies out when overcharging, as Modcloth suggested.

  81. I use to work at a women’s clothing store in Chicago that did the same thing. They sold some of the exact same stuff that you could find at Forever 21, but marked it way up. ($20-$50 higher) I was told that it was legal for them to sew their label into clothing that originally came from another label because everything comes from the same distribution place in China and each company is able to sew their label on the clothes and sell it for as much as they want. Forever 21 is a huge chain that sells cheap clothes, so they can afford to not mark up their prices as much. Whereas the store I worked at – although it is growing-it is still located only in Chicago, so it can’t compete with Forever 21 pricing as has to mark up their merchandise to remain competitive. Personally I think it’s all BS. I looooooove browsing modcloth and making tons of wishlists of what I’d like to buy…but when it comes down to it they are just too expensive! The clothes at the Chicago store I worked at fell apart just as easily as Forever 21 clothing does. So, if Modcloth is selling the same clothing there is no way I’m going to pay more money for something just as cheaply made!!

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  84. I think you raise an interesting point. A point that I, quite frankly, don’t have an opinion on. However, I think it’s a little ridiculous to expect an answer from a company within 5 hours and to actually use that time frame as though it were offensive. I understand that social media and Twitter and blogs operate at the speed of light, but if you’re going to communicate with a business about an issue that you feel is important, try to consider that not everyone has the attention span of a gnat and sometimes things take a little time.

    • I expected something from them a little sooner. Like I said to someone else, I work in PR, you don’t wait for that long without saying something. I did get a message, about 4 PM, from the person who does their Twitter saying “we’re joining the convo shortly.” That’s something they could’ve said hours before, which would’ve made the other people also tweeting, messaging and commenting to them know what was going on as well.

      I’ve had to respond to crisis situations before, and I’ve also had to contact others in, quite frankly, much larger organizations than Modcloth before. They responded within 30 minutes.

  85. I’ve noticed this too with Modcloth and other, cheaper retailers (not just F21), but its not just them – I’ve seen duplicate items at F21 and Anthropologie! A lot of the clothes sourced by most major retailers are made in China or elsewhere, and the factories produce line sheets which buyers can customize to some extent – like the scalloped patchwork T-shirt I got a couple of years a go form F21, in mint green with a banded bottom, for about $17, was sold at the same time at Anthro is pale blue with a straight hem, for about $68 – but the shirt fabric, and patterns and placement of the patchwork were exactly the same. It’s common practice, so Modcloth isn’t being duplicitous, but its not something any company wants to advertise! And its completely possible, probable even, that they don’t knwo what items have been picked up by more than one retailer. But Modcloth has set the expectation of higher price points, so that’s what they charge. They also may actually have higher wholesale costs because they are not buying in the vast quantities that F21 does.

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    • Obviously you have no idea what the post was really about. It’s not about saving money or buying less. I DO shop at Goowdwill. I appreciate your opinion, so thanks for leaving these 4 words.

  87. wow! i just found this through an e-mail and am surprized at this info. i have seen the little prize changes through some websites but three times the prize is ridiculous. thank you for putting this up and informing people about this.

  88. I just found this through twitter. It seems that modcloth did respond in a correct manner to your email though. They took down one piece and are trying to contact all of the designers so they are taking action which is a good sign. We can only hope it was just an honest mistake and not that they really are trying to rip off their costumers.

  89. This is an excellent blog post but the content hardly surprises me. I think the denial on behalf of modcloth is a little far fetched but it fits into their long line of denying knowledge about selling blatant knockoffs and benefiting from glaring price discrepancies (among similar competitors with the same purchasing power as them like Lulu’s, for example).

    For a company to grow at the pace of modcloth they have to be smart and savvy. And I believe they are but their response is so flimsy and transparent. Their repeated claims of ignorance whenever they are called into question are so suspicious.

    BTW, does commenter Kate work for modcloth?

    • Not to my knowledge, but Kelly (https://missvinylahoy.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/whos-screwing-who/#comment-5596) does! Modcloth confirmed it. 🙂 (The IP addresses were the exact same, and Modcloth confirmed “Kelly” works for them, and apologized for her comment.)

      And, if you want to read a little more, check out this post on The Gloss. One of the comments has an interesting response from Modcloth from last August in it: http://thegloss.com/fashion/modcloth-might-be-ripping-you-off/ Posted by Missy
      “8/26/09

      Hi there!

      Thank you for writing in. While we do, from time-to-time, share items with Forever21 and other retailers, it would be an exaggeration to say that we share the “majority” of our pieces. In fact, many of the vendors from whom we buy do not manufacture in a large enough scale to supply chains such as Forever21. We pride ourselves in offering our customers quality care – for instance, you are not receiving an automated response. We also offer social networking opportunities, the ability for customers to voice their opinions/likes/dislikes, and a dedication to carrying a diverse range of styles.

      We understand that some customers prefer to shop with larger retailers who discount prices deeper than we do. Many customers, however, prefer our level of service, belief in quality apparel, and dedication to customer satisfaction.

      If there is anything else with which we can help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

      All the best,
      Chelsey”

    • Hey,

      Actually I was working for Tulle. If anyone would have gone over to my blog they would have realized that. Though, due to budgeting issues and managerial issues I have decided to leave for a better position with a cosmetics company. Basically I was handling all the marketing, but because of an array of things I decided to leave. Because I was working for them I understood the production side. I also know that Forever21 has been in ongoing lawsuits over this for a long time that’s why most of the American desingers have been fighting for copy write protection. Though, Forever21 wont answer if you google search forever21 copywrite you will see a plethora of articles appear they are just over it at this point. Modcloth is simply a re-seller and doesn’t typically deal directly with production. Anyway no shock over this for me that’s why I kept arguing. Also, Modcloth has procedures to follow in cases like this. Probably once this article appeared they had to appeal to the owner and ask her what she wanted to say or whoever was in charge and thus they probably did have to take that long to respond. Plus with their constant promotions they are busy people whether you like to think so or not they are probably preparing for Spring promotions just like Club Manaco is at the moment and a lot of other large retailers. Working 3 months in advance isn’t uncommon.

  90. I was giving ModCloth the benefit of the doubt, then I noticed they’re selling tights for $15 more than the sticker price ( I write about lingerie so stuff like this really sticks out to me).

    These are tights for $34.99 on ModCloth: http://bit.ly/gCZHNZ

    Here they are for $20.69 on ASOS: http://bit.ly/e2xnU1

    It’s one thing for this to happen a couple of seasons apart. It’s totally different for it to happen in the same season. Not good.

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