You Get What You Pay For: An Adore Me Lingerie Review
Editor's Note: Since publication of this article, we've written a new series with updated information on Adore Me. This new series is not a review, but is meant to inform consumers about specific changes to the company since the publication of this piece. To access that series, please visit the following pages: Part 1 - why we're revisiting Adore Me, Part 2a - thoughts on the new collection, Part 2b - more thoughts on the new collection, and Part 3 - a conversation with the CEO, Morgan Hermand-Waiche.
Disclosure: The lingerie in this review was provided by Adore Me. All opinions are my own.
In the lingerie industry, there's a bit of a taboo against actually saying something negative about a brand. Everyone's awesome to work with. Every design is amazingly perfect. Every collection is the best one yet. Even when a brand is doing something that's obviously a problem, no one wants to be the one to actually say it. Today's review of Adore Me probably won't make that company very happy. But there are some things I've noticed about the way Adore Me does business that concern me, and I feel that other customers should be made aware. As a result this review is broken into two parts: my commentary on the issues with the way Adore Me brands itself and a review of the product sample I was sent.
For those who haven't heard of it, Adore Me is a lingerie version of sites like ShoeDazzle. You sign up to become a member, hand over your credit card info, and every month a "curated" selection of products is placed in your showroom. All the products are the same price ($39.95 if you're an Adore Me member; $49.95 if you're not a member), and that amount is automatically charged to your credit card each month... like a subscription service.
In their various press releases and marketing materials, Adore Me pitches itself as a place to get "designer lingerie" for less money. This article about Adore Me published on The Lingerie Journal says the company works with a "team of designers." This Business Week profile says Adore Me brings the "best in French, UK, US, and Brazilian fashion" to their customers. This letter, enclosed with a blogger's review sample from a year ago, says Adore Me provides the "finest lingerie, created by prestigious designers." Finally, in this TechCrunch article from a year ago, Adore Me makes the claim that they design and manufacture all their lingerie sets in house.
The only problem? Adore Me's lingerie is neither designed nor manufactured by them. It's not designer, and it doesn't come from the finest houses of anywhere. The lingerie Adore Me sells is sourced from the same brands I see at the International Lingerie Show every year --- brands like Parfait by Affinitas, Jezebel, Felina, Rene Rofe, Leg Avenue, and Seven 'til Midnight. Now there's nothing wrong with selling items from these brands. Nordstrom Rack sells items from Rene Rofe, and Macy's sells items from Jezebel. However, I do take issue with a company using buzzwords that imply high-end, expensive, luxury lingerie when they're really just relabeling items and selling the same stuff everyone else does.
In the TechCrunch article mentioned earlier, I tweeted at Sarah to tell her none of Adore Me's designs are made in-house, and the article was revised to say the following, "Adore Me designs and manufactures its own products. This is (and from far) the essence of our business. Then, it is true that we also have a few partners amongst some of the finest brands across the U.S. and Europe, but we unfortunately have strong non disclosure agreements with these selected brands so we can’t quote them publicly.”
I still believe that statement is somewhat less than true, but it shouldn't take a blogger who's familiar with what goes on behind the scenes "calling a brand" out to get them to recant a lie. Most women aren't going to know any better, and for a company to claim they're doing something they're not (working with a team of designers to sell luxury lingerie for less) strikes me as incredibly dishonest. Plain and simple: be open about what you're selling and where it's from. Don't try to feed me a line about how it's actually really expensive, designer stuff from Europe when it isn't.
The 10 pieces shown above are just the first handful I got around to making comparison photos of; there are plenty more. In addition, I noticed that several of the pieces Adore Me sells are significantly more expensive than they'd be from other websites selling the same brands (like Yandy.com). So not only are you not actually buying designer lingerie, in some cases, you're even paying more for the privilege.
For my review, I ordered the sheer chemise shown at the top of this post in size M/L. I had no issues with either the ordering or shipping process. Though the lingerie came with an Adore Me label, the item was actually made by Rene Rofe and is a knock-off of another garter dress made by Trashy Lingerie (a piece I actually own in leopard print). The camidress also came with a g-string, which I promptly threw away (I've never viewed those flimsy g-strings as much of a "bonus").
Despite the seaming details, this lingerie is strictly for the bedroom only. Unlike the Trashy Lingerie piece it's a derivative of, Adore Me/Rene Rofe's mesh camidress offers neither shaping nor support... just plenty of stretch. The mesh and the lace aren't terrible (I've worn worse), but they aren't remarkable either, and the quality is about what I would expect for lingerie of this price point. Surprisingly, the garter grips are metal, however, they're not removable. The garters are slightly adjustable, but the grips were still more or less at my knees (which doesn't make this an ideal piece to wear with stockings either, in my opinion). The medium large did fit, but I was definitely on the outer edge of the size range, and I'd say this item maxes out at around size US10 (maybe a 12 if you're not especially curvy). The hem of the camidress hit about where it does on the model --- right around the fullest part of my hips.
If I didn't know who actually made this camidress and who it was inspired by (that is, if I thought I was getting designer deal on the cheap), I would probably think this was a fairly inoccuous piece of lingerie. It's cute. It's retro. It's inexpensive enough that you'll get your money's worth after only a few wears. Aside from the pin-up and retro details, there's nothing really "special" about it, but it's harder to get specialness at this price point.
I have to say though, I would never pay $50 for this item (Adore Me's non-member price) or even $40 (the member price). It's selling for around $20 in a lot of places, and I'd pay around that much. I might go as high as the mid to low $30s, but no more than that. If you're really digging the retro style, I honestly think taking that $50 and putting it towards a Rago Corselette would be a better use of your money.
Some of you may be wondering why this review is somewhat harsh compared to most of my reviews. As I said above, the issue isn't that Adore Me is selling cheap lingerie (assuming the cheap lingerie is being made ethically, of course). And while I happen to personally dislike knockoffs and relabeling, this article isn't about those things, either. Lots of places, from Bare Necessities to ModCloth to Nordstrom Rack, are getting into the cheap lingerie game. It's an easy money maker for them. And lots of companies, from Hips & Curves to Frederick's of Hollywood to Secrets in Lace, play the relabeling game (which, for the record, I think is really unfair to customers). Some of the pieces Adore Me sells are nice (the Affinitas sets in particular are a good value), and I know fully well that many women cannot afford to drop three or four figures on their lingerie. So this article isn't about them selling cheap goods.
What I don't like, though, is when a brand acts like it's scouring the streets of France, England, and Brazil looking for exclusive deals when really they're just hanging out at the same Las Vegas tradeshow I go to every season. I understand the value of a story; I know that branding and marketing and PR are important to the success of any brand. But it's not okay to pretend to be something you're not.
I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about this is because I remember how little I knew about designer lingerie when I first started writing this blog. If I had run across a site like AdoreMe back in 2008, I would have genuinely thought I was getting a great deal on lingerie from "prestigious designers." Because I simply wouldn't have known any better. Not only would that have skewed my opinion on what designer lingerie is and how it should feel and how much it should cost, I probably would have felt taken advantage of once I wised up (assuming I ever did wise up, of course). Most customers aren't in a position to do the kind of research I do on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean brands should take advantage of their ignorance.
You can't have it both ways, Adore Me. Either find honest-to-goodness discount designer lingerie to sell, or just be honest about where you're getting these fabulous "deals" from.
Have you tried Adore Me before? What did you think of them?