Well, here is yet another review of eShakti by a blogger, though it’s probably not what they had in mind. If you were not aware, eShakti is an India-based clothing company that offers the option to customize almost everything they sell, either by creating pieces to your personal measurements, or by customizing things like sleeve length, skirt length, or neckline. Sounds like a great idea, right? They seem to have offered every female blogger on the internet a free item of clothing to review, and all the reviews are glowing. But if you just search a little deeper, you’ll see that non-compensated reviews are quite negative, complaining about the experience and the quality of clothing, and there are also quite a few BBB reports on them. So I always read those compensated reviews with a skeptical eye.
So imagine my surprise when “Jennifer” from eShakti e-mailed to offer me the opportunity to select a free item of clothing to review! They must have finally come to the end of the internet! I wrote back the next day to accept the offer and see what information they would need from me and how this would work. She said that I could select any item from the site, and could try the custom sizing if I wanted. I deliberated for a couple days, trying to decide what item to choose that I would actually wear, that I could also take advantage of the custom sizing, so I was looking for some kind of button-down shirt or something (I always have a problem with those, hmm). In the end, I ended up writing back four days after I received that initial e-mail, with all my measurements for a custom jacket.
The next day, the jacket was gone from the web site. That seems to be a common problem – items appear and disappear from the site all the time. I understand that if they just have small quantities or are creating custom items, they may not have a ton of stock, but it would be nice to get some warning (e.g. posting on the item’s page when there are only 5-10 left, or leaving the item posted for a time with a “sold out” note, rather than having it just mysteriously disappear).
Since then, I received no communication from Jennifer, even though I followed up again with an e-mail a week later, asking if I should select a different item. I still hadn’t provided my address, so you’d think they would have at least wanted that piece of information.
Meanwhile, I created an account on the site and placed my own order. Per the web site, orders are shipped the morning of the fourth business day after they are placed (even custom orders), and received within seven to ten days. Though I did get an e-mail after a few days from “Gina” advising me that my credit card had been charged, looking at my account on the web site, the status was “Processing at ESHAKTI,” as of the evening of business day seven. What does that mean? Has it shipped yet? Have my custom items even been produced? Finally, the morning of business day eight, I received a notification that my order was shipping, with a DHL tracking number.
I came home on the evening of business day twelve to see that DHL had been here and wanted my signature. For clothes?! I signed the back of the form they left and stuck it on the door. Finally, on business day thirteen a small box arrived. Surely this couldn’t contain a dress, shirt, and two scarves..? But it did! Each piece was packed in its own plastic bag, and for some reason the order also included a tape measure (I sent you my custom measurements, so obviously I already have one, but whatever, I’ll take it). The scarves were in good shape, but the shirt and dress were horribly wrinkled. I’m going to have to work some major steam magic on those pieces. The fabrics were also much stiffer and rougher than I was expecting. However, thanks to the custom sizing, for the first time ever I am able to wear shirts that have a defined “area” where your chest is supposed to go, and have things actually fall in the right place (for the most part). I love the shirt. The dress has some other issues, as I can’t really move my arms, but I’ll have to deal with that because it’s otherwise fine and I don’t really want to return it. So here’s my piece-by-piece review:
This dress is cute and fits like a glove. I used the custom sizing to fit it to my measurements, and with the custom styling options I kept the neckline and cap sleeve as shown, but changed the length to knee length. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are pockets! However, the skirt is a bit fuller than I’d expected, so I don’t know that I’d be able to pull off wearing it so casually. The fabric is very stiff, and it was a little tight getting on and off, despite the side zipper. Also, I can’t raise my arms with the little cap sleeves, I wish I had gone sleeveless.
Knot Front Tee
I liked this shirt as soon as I saw it, because it reminded me of another shirt I have that I like, even though it’s kind of blobby on me. Thanks to the custom measurements, this one fits perfectly. I also customized the sleeves to elbow length. The neckline is pretty deep, though, so it definitely needs a camisole or something under it. The color is beautiful, but the “cotton jersey knit” is rougher and stiffer than I expected. Also, it was really tough to get on. It wasn’t until after I’d tried it on and taken it off the first time that I noticed there was a small side zipper – I used it the second time I tried the shirt on, and it was a little easier.
Ruffled Row Scarf
I’m not a fan of this scarf‘s pom-poms, but I love the color. Today was the first really cold day we’ve had in a while, and I wore this scarf as part of my bundling and it kept me warm. But because of its bulk, I don’t know if I’ll ever end up wearing it just as part of an outfit. I have no clue how to drape it to look like the picture on the web site. Also, the texture is a little rough and it has kind of a smell to it (plastic?).
Fin-de-Siecle Loop Scarf
I really like this circle scarf. It’s completely not my usual style, but it was fun to wear out on New Year’s Eve (and a very cool-looking girl outside a tattoo shop took a break from her cell phone call to call out “Cool scarf!” as I walked past). Doubled up it’s a little awkward looking, and draped just once it’s a bit bulky, so it definitely calls for wearing the right clothes underneath. And I wouldn’t wear it for keeping warm (it was warm, but not for cold weather).
My verdict: I am not a fan of the customer service, and especially not with being led on with the promise of a free item to review. The fabrics are not what I was expecting. But if you want a really custom-fit piece, this is a reasonable option (if you consider the cost of buying an item of clothing and having it tailored). There is also no reason to pay full price, they are constantly having sales and special offers, or you can easily find a discount code via a blogger who’s partnered with them, and if you use eBates, they will give you 10% cash back. I probably would order from them again, if there was something I was really interested in and there was a good sale or discount code available. But take those compensated reviews with a grain of salt, because the experience and products are not as amazing as they make it sound.
[Edit - 1/5] The day after I wrote this, “Jennifer” e-mailed me, thanking me for my candid review, and apologizing for overlooking my last message to her. She offered to still send a sample item for me to review, so if she doesn’t lose my e-mail this time, I may still do the sponsored review. She also mentioned that people are more likely to complain on the internet than to take the time to write good comments, which I agree with, and assured me that sponsored bloggers are not provided text for their reviews, which I was not insinuating at all. I just find it fishy that all the sponsored reviews are very positive, and all the non-sponsored reviews are negative. So I’m glad to have had the opportunity to share my non-sponsored, unbiased opinions, both positive and negative. And watch for a future follow-up review from me, I hope. [/Edit]
[Edit - 1/16] The other morning I got an e-mail from my credit card company saying there was a potential security issue. When I called, they said someone in China had tried charging over $500 on my card, so when I verified that I was not buying anything in China the day before, they canceled the card and will be sending me a new one. How did someone in China get my credit card info? The last place I used it … was Amazon. But the last place before that? None other than eShakti! Now, I’m not saying they leaked my info, but… I’m not saying they didn’t. [/Edit]
[Edit - 7/21/13] I still don’t fully trust eShakti, but I recently had a much better experience with them. [/Edit]