Fordham Law

Retailers Crack Down on 'Wardrobing' Fashionistas Who Wear and Return Party Outfits

Susan Scafidi in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online, September 20, 2013

Media Source

Retailers are cracking down on fashionistas who buy high-end dresses and other garments and return them to the store after wearing them to a party -- a phenomenon known as wardrobing.

Bloomingdale's has started fixing 3-inch black plastic tags to its high-fashion garments in highly visible places to keep customers from buying clothes, wearing them and returning them. Bloomingdale's warns it won't take the garments back without the tags.

Similar huge tags have made their way to stores in the greater Milwaukee area, such as Boston Store.

Wardrobing is a fairly big problem in the apparel business. Retailers estimate about 3% of returns last year involved used clothes, stolen merchandise or some other form of fraud, according to a National Retail Federation survey. In a recent survey, 65% of retailers said shoppers had returned used products.

According to Business Week, the problem has been exacerbated by social media because people post selfies.

"More items become single-wear, in effect, because everybody has seen you in it," said law professor Susan Scafidi of Fordham University, who specializes in fashion.

Online retailers are already using prominent tags because consumers find it easier to return items from online retailers than in store.