Thursday, June 17, 2010

Buying direct from European websites

Update: customs bills comparisons: FedEx v DHL

FedEx: While the customs fees themselves are pretty reasonable: 10% tax and a .21% "Merchandise Processing Fee" on each item. The sucker punch: a self-imposed 'minimum' Merchandise Processing Fee of $25. Then a $5.50 advancement fee. So my bill was $42.50 in customs duties + $25 in processing charges + $5.50 advancement fee. $73.00 on $425 worth of goods.

DHL: 2.8% duty on my one pair of boots + $5.50 advancement fee, a grand total of $16.42 on $390 worth of goods. No processing fees.

Moral of the story: ask your international vendor to ship DHL if possible!!!

As I keep mentioning, the Euro is dropping, which I am fully embracing, online-shopping wise! Today I finally got my order in from a pair of Margiela 22 knee high boots and two pairs of Prada leather peeptoe slingbacks... all for a whopping $468. They arrived in perfect condition, and I had them only send the boot box and not the Prada boxes to save on shipping. It seems some people were interested in my shopping experience, so I thought I'd share!

Why would I shop from a European site versus an American one? Mostly to avoid designer mark-ups. It's no secret that French designer goods retail for lower in France (like Longchamp, Vanessa Bruno) or that in all of Europe, Giorgio Armani and Valentino are not as hideously expensive as they are here. (And don't even THINK about Asia! I was pretty aghast to see the average price of Manolos around $800-900.) Plus a lot of designers make things that never come to the US-- shoe styles, bags, or small accessories, like scarves or gloves.

Besides, many European vendors with better prices (and sales!) are happy to ship state-side. and have US warehouses, so we don't have to worry about VAT, customs duties, or crazy shipping fees. Just remember that returns or exchanges might be a real pain to deal with!

No brainers: [Italy, US] [UK, US] (N-A-P's outlet site) [UK, US] [Italy]

Set shipping costs, but you'll have to pay customs duties: [Germany] - standard 2-day international shipping is pretty steep at 45 Euro, which is ok if you are buying a lot, but sometimes they have periods where the int'l shipping is only 10 Euro! Sale items are usually final sale, but for full-priced items, returns are free. [various EU] - a little marketplace of EU boutiques, and 2-day shipping is very reasonable
Matches [UK] - shipping is very expensive! (but returns are free)
Browns [UK] - shipping is pricey

You need to do the legwork on pricing out shipping, and you'll also have to pay customs: [Italy, in Italian only although they email back in English] - they are having an amazing sale on sunglasses right now. And remember the price is: (online-price-with-VAT) / [(what-you'll-actually-pay)*1.2]. You must use PayPal. [Italy] - if you know what size you wear, this is a great treasure trove for clothes **Note: They DO NOT ship to the US at this time -- they are aiming to by the end of this year**

Remember to make sure that VAT is not included (most sites have prices with VAT, which is about 20%). I got a pair of YSL boots from MyTheresa for 293 Euro + 10 Euro shipping ($394 USD at the time), and I got a DHL invoice for customs of $17. So a total cost of $411 for boots that retail for 630 Euro! uses FedEx for shipping, and since my order was over $250 USD, I had to fill out paperwork with the Dept of Homeland Security (!) as an importer. Obviously I am not a reseller, but it was kind of interesting nonetheless. I'll report back when I get that customs bill :)


  1. Yeah the Euro is on a big discount now ... :-)


  2. Tullika6/09/2010

    That sounds very interesting . Thank you sharing your EU experience . Here in UK , we dont see much unprejudiced information on fashion sales , so this is great.
    I know what you mean about the customs issue . I have had huge issues in the UK with this which is why ordering from States is soo difficult ! But recently I found a shop called Gotham Online on ebay who after much difficulty shipped shoes off to my sis in law in LA . But they do have some cools deals on designer sample shoes !

  3. Tullika, wow, I never even considered buying from the US to EU. There are online sites like or which ship internationally, but you won't get around that customs issue :)

    You're so lucky to be in the UK as Burberry and Anya Hindmarch don't have State-side sample sales :)

  4. Tullika6/10/2010

    I dont think Burberry has had a UK sample sale so far either :(

  5. Thanks so much for posting this! I've always wondered about ordering from Luisa Via Roma and been afraid to due to customs.

    And doesn't Anya Hindmarch do a seasonal sale? I remember getting a card for a preview sale back in May.

  6. Hi Perry! Yes, Anya Hindmarch did have a sale in March (I think?). Burberry does also have a sample sale, but it's invitation only. If only they would have one in the US!

  7. Anonymous6/17/2010

    I've been to a Burberry Sample Sale in NY but it was not in Manhattan. It was actually at Woodbury Commons. They have an Outlet there but once a year (usually during the summer) they open up a temp Sample Sale location.

  8. Anonymous3/16/2011

    I've been buying on Yoox a lot lately. (US site). Half the items are shipped from Europe to their US warehouse and half are already in their US warehouse. In your opinion, I want to order an item that is only on the UK Yoox. So there's a 50/50 chance it's in the US or Europe.

    Do you think they'll charge me customs and int'l shipping if in Europe or just ship to US warehouse and bill normally? Thanks!!!

  9. In the past I've ordered things off the US site that were located in their Italy warehouse, and they've transferred it to their US warehouse before shipping to me. I didn't have to pay any additional customs or shipping charges at all. However, I have not placed any orders from a non-US site. I would go ahead and try it, but I'd make sure the costs look normal (i.e. normal shipping costs).


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