The woman sensed something was amiss after finding there were no brand labels or tags attached to the dress, only a small “Made in China” label sewn into the fabric providing the company’s VAT number, Il Fatto Quotidian reported.
After tracking an address down through the tax office she paid a visit to Centro Ingresso Cina, a Chinese wholesale oulet, on Corso Stati Uniti in the northern Italian city, where she was shocked to find the same dress being sold for €8.
On its website, the business describes itself as a “small commercial village” selling “top quality Chinese products at reasonable prices.”
She reported the case to the police and Federconsumatori, an Italian consumers association. Nobody at the Chinese store or Federconsumatori was available for comment.
“I reported it because I wonder how many more of the items on display in the shop were from the Chinese outlet, because many other clothes did not have brands or tags,” she was quoted in Il Fatto as saying.
Meanwhile, the owner of the popular boutique claimed the dress was bought at a trade fair in Paris.
“I have the bill to prove it,” the owner reportedly said.
Danilo Mimmi, a coordinator for consumer relations at another Italian association, Altroconsumo, told The Local that it was rare to hear of cases involving such a huge price difference, but that buyers can be easily duped in Italy’s big cities, especially those that attract tourists.
But as companies become more dependent on manufacturing clothes in cheaper markets, Mimmi warned consumers to be extra vigilant.
“Sellers are able to fix any price on garments, but if they’re claiming that a product is highly priced because it’s a high quality then the labels must clearly reflect this,” Mimmi said.
“We advise consumers to pay attention to the brand and ask questions if there is any doubt on the quality before they buy. In this case, it could be that the shop owner was also duped in Paris; it can easily happen.”