Reader Request: International Shopping Resources

Reader Megan e-mailed me this request:

As an international reader (from Sydney, Aus!), I was thinking it’d be great if you could write up your favourite online shopping stores that are reliable, do free or inexpensive international shipping, have decent returns policies and sell some of the gorgeous brands you are fond of.

So I’ll tell you right now that I did as much digging as I could and input as much info as I could at these sites, but since I don’t have valid mailing addresses for most locales I couldn’t follow through to confirm that shipping costs were totally accurate right down to clicking, “Buy.” If you attempt to purchase from any of these retailers and find my research to be wrong, PLEASE stop back and let me know. I can edit the post to be as accurate as possible!

And those are the disclaimers. Here are the recommendations, starting with the sure things:

ASOS

Megan is already familiar with this fashion powerhouse, but it’s well worth mentioning here for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the wondrous world of ASOS. Essentially, so long as you’re willing to wait up to two weeks for your order and spend more than $40, it will ship free. Anywhere. No, really, anywhere. Plus returns are free. And ASOS will supply you with everything from maxi skirts and leather jackets to satchels, shoes, and jewelry. They also carry petite and maternity items, and their Curve line of plus-sized garments is small but gorgeous. A great bet overall.

Etsy

Each artisan who has set up a storefront within the Etsy system sets her/his own shipping prices, and lists them toward the end of each item’s description. So it can be a bit of a crapshoot in terms of cost and timing, and many vendors don’t accept returns. BUT! You get handmade goods at decent prices ordered directly from their makers, the option to custom order certain items, and total shipping transparency.

Topshop

This UK standby offers free worldwide delivery on all orders over £75 from their website. NICE! I’ve ordered two items from Topshop myself: A pair of boots and a scarf. The boots were returned for a fit issue, but were utterly gorgeous and extremely well made, so I was truly sad to send them back. I’m wearing my cat scarf as I type this.

Ted & Muffy

Now, I know that Ted & Muffy gets mixed reviews in the customer service department, and those mixed reviews are generally polarized: People adore Ted & Muffy or they hate the site. But I want to include them in this list because they offer both narrow and wide calf boots and have offered free international shipping on all full price orders several times over the past few months.

J.Crew

Now we’re getting into dicey territory. J.Crew ships to Canada, France, the U.K., Italy, Germany, and Japan. From what I can gather by pretending to be Canadian and Japanese shoppers, shipping prices are decent. $10 to Canada, $25 to Japan. That said, I wasn’t able to get much further than the first few checkout steps. If any of you can and find costs to be much higher/different, please yell.

Boden

Also a bit sketchy. £4 in the UK generally, but they have frequent free shipping offers. Sign up for e-mail notices to be kept in the loop. Anyone outside the U.S. or U.K. who has ordered from Boden care to share further details? Since they’re so closed about it, I’m betting it varies widely from country to country, and based on your total order cost. (This is true of most vendors.)

DaWanda

Another artisan marketplace, but originally based in Germany so very Euro-friendly when it comes to shipping!

Yoox

This massive site focuses on designer brands, but also includes plenty of smaller European labels that won’t deplete your bank account. Yoox is owned by the Net-a-Porter group, which has offices and operations in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, and Hong Kong, so international shipping is built into everything the site does. Yoox ships to 100 countries, many at affordable flat rates. A great resource for shoes and bags, too.

Amazon

I’ve had international readers tell me that linking to Zappos and 6pm doesn’t help them, but Amazon owns both and typically has the same stock! Never overlook this behemoth as a possible source for fashion items, including jewelry and accessories.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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  • Miriana

    It would also be sensible to consider the cost of returning an item. Very few internet retailer provide a free returns service, and I suspect that those that do may not extend it to international returns. I’ve stopped buying things from the US (I’m in the UK) as I get hammered on import / export tax.

  • I’m really liking Dorothy Perkins lately. They just opened a US site a couple of months ago, although they would have shipped to us before that, just for a higher price. They have reasonable-priced basics, they go up to a US size 16 or so on most items, and they take PayPal.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, Dorothy Perkins has some cute dresses. Can anyone speak to their quality and sizing/fit?

      • Secret Squirrel

        They are from the same ‘family’ as Topshop, so a similar fit if you know that? I tend to run true to size, with the Petites range also fittting well (am a little taller than the petite size but still fairly small). Hope that helps..

      • I order in US sizes and most of their items seem to fit true to size. Their quality is maybe a little better than items you find at the same price points from familiar US sellers. I got a little ponte suit jacket from them that was around $50 and it’s fully lined! I also have a dress that I bought from them recently (green, twist front) that seems well made and went through the wash OK, but it’s a little on the thin side. If you are accustomed to the heavy jersey from Boden, DP’s may seem thin to you but then the dresses cost about 1/3 as much.

      • Anonymous from above

        Thanks for the input. I have a little trouble with “true to size” – sizes are so wacky I really don’t know what my “true” size is! But there are some pretty cute things on that site, may have to give them a try. Thanks (I guess, but my wallet does not thank you so much) for giving me a new place to shop!

        • Thursday

          I have shopped a few pieces from DP and the quality has been variable – some great, some quite rubbish. You really have to read the product info and reviews to get a good sense of what you’ll end up with. I’ve also shopped the plus-size offerings at New Look, but don’t expect much in terms of quality from them. For shipping to Australia, if total cost is under $1000, you don’t pay any duties or taxes. It’s worth checking out Asia-based fashion site YesStyle (with at least US and Australian directed sites that I’m aware of) – but you really have to pay attention to sizing info as it collects a vast range of mostly Asia-based brands! If lingerie is your thing by any chance, I highly recommend the UK’s Hepburn and Leigh for retro and vintage inspired pieces, and StockingsHQ for hosiery of all kinds.

  • Elizabeth Ann

    I’m currently living in Austria and can confirm that J. Crew recently rolled out shipping to a good number of European countries, most with a flat 11.95 EUR shipping fee. However, that doesn’t include duties and tariffs. More information on their website here: http://www.jcrew.com/help/international_orders.jsp

    Anthropologie (women’s clothing chain owned by Urban Outfitters) might also be a good bet for those in Europe. Because you can order directly from their European site you won’t have to deal with the crazy duties and tariffs you’ll get from other American retailers who ship internationally. Their shipping rates vary by country so details can be found here: http://www.anthropologie.eu/en/europe/delivery-information/page/shippinginformation/

    Nordstrom (a large American department store chain) also ships to quite a few places around the world (including Australia). Duties and tariffs will apply in addition to shipping charges.

    It’s important to remember that when ordering from a website whose business is based outside of your home country (or in the case of the EU, outside the EU) that duties and tariffs can radically increase the final cost of the item to you the buyer. Generally speaking the closer to home you can purchase something (regardless of where the item actually originated) the less you’ll pay in taxes. This might be different with sites like Etsy and other small retailers where it’s possible you can convince the seller to list the item as a gift or it’s value as 0 on the customs form.

    • Sal

      Very true – the duties and tariffs are real killers, which I think is why Megan was looking for good shipping deals. If there’s a whopping shipping charge ON TOP of the duties, it’s hardly worth the effort to order at all.

  • Katherine

    Check out Zara! Free shipping! And amazing clothes.

  • Katharine

    I only have Canadian experience, but here we go.

    I was very pleased with Tobi when I ordered my Prairie Underground hoodie; the online sales assistant was super-helpful, the item arrived quickly.

    Revolve/Reverse and Solestruck have also been easy to deal with, had friendly staff on call by email, and returns were uncomplicated. Returns cost shipping, of course, but the Free Return is but an airy dream in most cases for international orders. I only order at all if the item is so covetable that I’m willing to pay c. $20-$40 for the mere privilege of trying something on.

    I actually like ordering from Amazon, because duties are rolled into the purchase price. For some reason, the duties done that way often wind up lower than those charged by Customs on items of similar value. The same applies to the “international order company” that handles orders from Doc Marten online, although there’s something about their presentation that always strikes me as AWFULLY sketchy! (I’ve never run into any trouble, though.)

    Companies that have been GIANT pains in the butt to deal with, for various reasons: Shopbop, and oh, man, Allsaints. Not only does Allsaints have really inconsistent sizing, their staff are completely incompetent, and have regularly screwed up both orders and returns for me. I will never buy from them again unless I’m standing in a physical store.

    Make sure you save and document all of your customs invoices, particularly in exchange situations. You can’t get your return shipping back, but Customs will pay you back duties on returned items. (A very long time later, after you have almost forgotten what you ordered and when.) Exchanges are often charged double duty, and this can also be reclaimed, IF you have a full paper trail.

    • Jen

      Do you shop from Amazon.com? I’ve tried ordering from two different cities and it says it can’t ship to my location. Amazon.ca has limited choice.

      • Katharine

        Amazon.com used to not ship anything but books and DVDs to Canada, Jen, but in the last two years I’ve ordered two pairs of shoes from there. It can still be hit and miss depending on export regulations and country of manufacture. (Tragically, they still can’t ship, for example, camera equipment to Canada as far as I know… there have been several glorious deals on lenses that I haven’t been able to jump on.)

        The only thing with Amazon that I should mention is that one should be sure that the thing is in fact shipping from Amazon.com — or that one checks into the reputation of their “affiliated dealer”. I’ve never been done over by an affiliated dealer, but I know several people who have. Amazon seems to be good about making sure that you aren’t out money in the end, but it’s still disappointing and a pain.

      • Caro

        When you’re ordering shoes or whatever from Amazon.com, you must make sure that you are searching what the main site has to offer. To do this, tick the box for Amazon.com on the left of the page. Many Amazon Marketplace (or whatever other purveyors of goods are called on the site) will NOT ship to Canada. Eevn if they do, you will probably pay more shipping when ordering from them. In addition, certain goods (like Boutique 9 shoes, I think) cannot be shipped from Amazon to Canada.

    • Caro

      Many companies now will collect duties for items shipped to Canada, so you don’t have someone knocking on the door demanding an extra fifty dollars. Amazon.com and their affiliate companies (Endless, My Habit) do this, as do Haute Look, Lands End, and LL Bean. Both LE and LLB offer free shipping to Canada. I do A LOT of international ordering because I don’t generally patronize a mall or want the same items that everyone else is wearing, so international ordering is a given. Canadian shoppers should also be aware that if something comes from the US and it is not sent via USPS or through a company that collects tax and duty before shipment, then brokerage fees might be added, which quickly makes the price of the goods prohibitively expensive. Return shipping from Canada is also far more expensive than the cost of initial shipping, in most cases. When I order something internationally, I usually commit to owning it!

  • Melissa

    Romwe has free shipping world wide, but shipping is pretty slow. I ordered a dress from them in early jan, and still waiting for it. They also have a year long return policy but you have to pay for return shipping.

  • Jen

    I will only order from the U.S if the item is shipped via USPS. The other shipping companies have to pay extra fees to bring stuff over the border which you don’t get charged for until they knock on your door.

  • philomene

    i live in the netherlands and the only stuff i order in de us are sewingpatterns.
    (they have no return policy).
    i order by sewingpatterns.com
    they have great sales
    greetings philomene

  • Jo

    Boden international shipping to Australia is $12 regardless of how many items you purchase. I have sadly never seen free shipping to Australia from Boden.

    Endless ship free to Australia when you spend over $100.

  • Patricia

    Pure Collection offers affordable international shipping, which I really appreciate. Unfortunately, you must pay for return shipping.

  • Please, please, please DO NOT ask etsy sellers to lie on customs forms to save you from paying duties and taxes when ordering internationally. If the seller is based in the US, you’re asking the seller to commit a federal offense, and if they’re caught claiming merchandise is a “gift”, they risk extremely steep fines ($10k +) and possible jail time.

    I know customs fees can be incredibly steep. A better bet is to research exactly the fees you’d expect to pay for customs, and figure that mentally into your purchase price. If you get lucky and don’t need to pay it, it’s like an unexpected tax refund.

  • Clair McLaughlin

    Re: Boden and international shipping: whilst living in South Africa, they started shipping there for a very reasonable £12. I did though have to add on customs, etc. But was still a good deal. Sites like Old Navy, Gap, etc now ship international, and using FiftyOne, shipping includes all customs/extra charges.

  • I’m in New Zealand and I did my own version of an international online shopping post a few months ago, with some specific eBay and Etsy pointers;

    http://www.eversoscrumptious.com/2011/11/the-mondo-online-shopping-post/

    Thanks for all the other tips and ideas, everyone! Boden and Zara were news to me (I do focus on petites for myself).

  • I’m in New Zealand and I did my own version of an international online shopping post a few months ago, with some specific eBay and Etsy pointers;

    http://www.eversoscrumptious.com/2011/11/the-mondo-online-shopping-post/

    Thanks for all the other tips and ideas, everyone! Boden and Zara were news to me (I do focus on petites for myself).

  • Ellen

    I’ve bought a few things from ModCloth, which has cute vintage-inspired clothes that are generally targeted at a young demographic. They ship to Australia usually in under 2 weeks, and postage was around $15-20 both times. The sizing charts are spot on and the reviews of the clothes really helpful, and you can return items although I’ve never done so. Definitely worth a look!

  • Lydia

    I have ordered from New Look in the UK, and they ship pretty quickly to Canada. Their items are similar to Forever 21, but I do like some of their dresses and jeans, and they have a good range of sizes. I have also bought items from Dorothy Perkins — but it can be hit or miss. Depending on how much my total order costs, sometimes I had to pay brokerage fees, and sometimes I did not.

    I would love to order more items online, but it is really the brokerage fees, and customs fees that make shopping online more prohibitive. These fees can almost double the cost of the total order. I guess I have to just keep shopping in stores, and order the odd piece online!

  • Carol Bee

    I’m in Australia and have purchased items from REI (hiking/travel/leisure) a number of times. Shipping varies but because the prices are so much lower than here (and some items I can’t buy in Oz) and I usually get a number of items at once the overall cost is reasonable. I’ve been very happy with the fit, I am a size 18 and ALWAYS have trouble getting trousers to fit. But I used the REI size guide and was amazed at how well they fit. They sell lots of brands, some items have varying reviews so do your research first. Delivery took about 2 weeks. Note: In Australia if your goods are under $1000 you would not normally have to pay GST.

  • Hannah

    This has nothing to do with clothes, but I was delighted to discover that betterworldbooks.com will ship free internationally.

    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! I am saving this page for when I move from America sometime in the next year or so (although I will obviously check the information for myself and not hold any accountable 🙂

  • mary

    I order merino/cashmere blend knits from Woolovers in the UK–non-itchy, machine washable sweaters in lots of styles and colors–they arrive in less than a week and shipping is reasonable–they have frequent sales and free shipping offers as well. The prices are really reasonable, too!

  • Genevieve

    I ordered from Talbots for shipping to The Netherlands, and even with duty on top of it, it was still a great deal (final clearance items). Shipping, though, takes way, way longer than they say on the site.

  • Meg

    Hi, thanks Sal, and everyone else for all the tips! What a great resource.

    For those in Aus, a great Australian site is http://www.hardtofind.com.au/ which has a lot of unique and hand made accessories. My friend bought me some beautiful hand made ceramic owl earrings there.

    Also, I usually use the US Amazon site, but I’ve been told that the UK site often has free shipping to Aus.

    Sadie I’ll definitely be checking out your resource.

    Thanks again for such an awesome response to my query, Sally and everyone!

  • NastyGal, Ruche and Forever21 have been superb for me (I live in Canada). Usually free shipping, and no extra customs/duties fees at my doorstep when they arrive.

    However, I have to mention that I ordered from ASOS once before (2 moderately priced dresses) and once delivered to my door, they were asking me to pay an extra whopping 90$ in fees to receive my package. Insane.

    I found the same thing happened with ShopStyle when I ordered a BBDakota blazer valued at about 100$, the fees at my doorstep were an extra 100$….The blazer basically ended up costing me $200. Not fun.

  • Checkout http://ship2u.info/ there it lists all shops with worldwide shipping.