Speaking of luck, I've been very lucky lately to have been contacted to do a variety of reviews. I've been fairly selective and was hoping against running them back to back so not to bore you, but sometimes that's just the way things have to go!
In early August, eShakti contacted me to do a review of one of their pieces. I took my sweet time getting around to picking one out, not only because of the selection, but also because of the move at the end of that month. With a family wedding on the horizon, the potential for a new job, and the frivolity of essentially spending someone else's money, I floated on clouds for weeks at this opportunity. I ultimately settled on this dress, which unfortunately is now temporarily unavailable.
The website is fairly straightforward, though I do notice it frequently runs slowly. It's also a little strange to navigate given that the categories are 100% logical, in my opinion. Why distinguish a solid dress from a day dress? Can't my day dress be a solid colour? And isn't a little back dress (another option) also a solid? It's not really a downfall - it does mean you have to browse through all the sections to get a good idea of the stock, but they're beautiful dresses. I'm still browsing the site regularly!
This is one area where eShakti loses points with me. The dress is placed in a plastic bag and taped up. It then travels from India (where it is produced), to the United Arab Emirates, to Germany, to the US to Canada. The bag showed signs of damage, from stretch marks, to holes to dirt. Fortunately, it was all superficial and the dress was fine, but I consider that more luck than anything. A good steaming got most of the wrinkles out (thank goodness my grandmother just gave me her old travel steamer!)
Secondly, and this will mostly affect my Canadian readers, the customs fees are excessive. I paid 48% of the value of the dress in customs fees. I realize that this is mostly out of eShakti's hands, but with more people buying online, I've found that company's are more likely to broker the fees themselves (which would have reduced my fees by 35%) AND be able to provide information about customs fees at the time of purchase, with some even allowing you to pay them at the time of order - much easier if you wish to have the package dropped at a safe location should you not be available when it is scheduled to be delivered.
Thirdly, the "ships in three days" and "in transit for 3-7 days" is only marginally accurate. It took over 9 days to ship, but then arrived within 3 days, though it could have been 2 if the FedEx guy hadn't forgotten it in the back of his truck the first day (silly boy. He looked to be about 12, so I couldn't be too mad)
Quality of Product
Initially, there were only minor knitpicks I had - it would have been nice if the cotton lining had been tacked to the cotton skirt in a couple places, so when I put it on, I wouldn't have to reach all the way up my own skirt to pull it all down into place (which borders on dangerous if you choose to pair it with cotton tights. In fact, putting your hand in the pocket with 3 layers of cotton will likely result in static electrocution). There was also some issues with puckering in the seam around the zipper. The seams in general seem solid, but do not maintain a straight line along the seam allowance.
However, the biggest problem was that when I went to wear the dress for the first time, the zipper split. Half way up. On my first day of work. I actually got a blister trying to get myself out of the dress. Funny now, but at the time, I certainly was not impressed. I did correspond with eShakti over the problem and was told it would be addressed. They did offer me a replacement product, which I declined, knowing that the $1.90 I would spend on the zipper at my fabric store would be significantly less than the $28.80 I'd have to pay in customs fees.
Problems and Temporary Fixes
I did customize the size of the dress. This is the strongest point in favour of eShakti. I definitely recommend spending the extra $7.50 (presumably US) to have it custom fit to your measurements. I lack the chest that usually accompanies, well, females, so finding dresses that don't need tailoring is difficult. For the most part the measuring process is fairly thorough, but they are missing the torso measurement. This is key, especially for people like me, where I'm petite on top but long on the bottom. However, with a fitted chest, it is somewhat less of a problem than usual. I noticed in the pictures, there is some appearance of "boob sag" from the torso being a touch long, but it's hard to tell whether that would be remedied by a proper working zipper or not.
Along with custom sizing, you can also have custom changes made - the neckline, sleeve style, the skirt length. I kept the neck and sleeves as shown (though may have changed the sleeve as it appeared more voluminous in the picture), but had the skirt come to above the knee. While their options are a little vague at times (below the knee... as in just below? as in midi? as in maxi?), they do have wonderful diagrams which do explain what exactly they mean. And speaking of customizing, it would be nice if there were multiple colour options for more of the dresses. I like the green, but having this in a wine would have blown my mind.
The clothes fit properly, which is to say that you won't "feel the fit" (to borrow Stacey & Clinton's term for the tendency to go a touch too small so you can feel the clothing touching your body). I certainly am guilty of my desire to "feel the fit" so my insecurities of "it makes my hips look big" or "it doesn't cinch in my waist enough" are likely more related to a properly fitted garment than anything else.
I do like their use of predominantly natural fibres, their reasonable prices, and their variety of styles. However, I can't look past the outrageous customs charges and the quality issues. It would be more affordable, and only slightly more frustrating to make the dress myself (which I'm fairly confident I could do, as the styles are quite simple).
If you're in the States, and are looking for a fun dress, by all means, check out eShakti, but I'm not likely to make eShakti one of my frequent online shopping options.