The One Dress China’s Manufacturers Won’t Copycat and Why

What’s the one top high-fashion look you can’t get in China today, a nation otherwise famous for lightning-fast sewing and identical knock-offs? Surprise: it’s Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.

While U.S fashion sites are bursting with news on where to buy replicas of Markle’s Givenchy wedding gown, Chinese manufacturers, and the brides they cater to,  are spurning the severe look. Some fashion insiders assumed the industry was just getting off on a slow start, but weeks after the royal wedding, there’s still not a whisper of a fake in China’s booming e-tail industry. Yet seven years on from her big day, replicas of Kate Middleton’s lace Alexander McQueen wedding gown remain widely available in China.

Left: Misguided’s tribute to Markle, Right: Madeline Gardner’s royal wedding replica

Left: Misguided’s tribute to Markle, Right: Madeline Gardner’s royal wedding replica.

On the other side of the globe, designers in the U.S were working around the clock from the moment Markle said “I do.” Brands were scrambling to be the first to release a dress inspired by the classic tailored gown – the original created by British designer Clare Waight Kelle. Brides-to-be and wedding enthusiasts can now purchase dresses similar to Markle’s, ranging from $60 dollars for a gown by high street brand Misguided, to a $999 dollar Meghan Markle “knockoff” by luxury designers Madeline Gardner New York.

Chantal Khoueiry, Chief Culture Officer at Value Retail, and Founder of Brides Do Good, analyzed the disparate reactions to the bridal wear of the two Duchesses: “The fairy-tale design of Kate Middleton’s dress became an icon overnight with many brides-to-be around the world choosing to emulate the serene style, most notably perhaps in China where dressmakers reported to have replicas available within a week of the wedding.” Khoueiry told Jing Daily: “The nipped-in waist and the subtle shoulder pads is a silhouette that suits a petite frame very well.”

Khoueiry explains that she believes replicas of Markle’s look will eventually occur, but in a style that better suits Chinese tastes, “Certainly, from our experience, our Chinese brides are looking for that ultimate Princess dress…they look for fitted silhouettes and intricate detailing; lace, pearls, and embroidery.  I think we will see designs emulating Meghan’s dress, but possibly with more intricate detailing,” she said.

Jing Daily readers have weighed in, too. One user commented, “Perhaps for China, the dress is just too simple, without enough detail or intricate design work.” Another stated “Not enough bling for Asia. Asia has yet to discover subtlety and minimalism. I speak from experience, I teach fashion in Hong Kong where maximalism in design appears to prevail.”

It apparently now takes more to impress, with Chinese fashionistas demanding their own tastes be catered to. Times are slowly changing, and many are no longer happy to bow to western designs and brands.


Consumer Insights, Market Analysis, Marketing