Review: Puresilks

This post is going to be a bit different from my usual posts about my sewing projects and processes. This is a review of sorts of my experiences purchasing from a website that I learned about from other costumers. I’ve only been able to find one other blogger’s review of their experiences with the site, so I want to contribute my narrative to the community in hopes that it will help someone else make an informed decision when deciding where to purchase their fabrics.

Puresilks.us is, as the title implies, a website that focuses on selling a huge selection of silk and silk blend fabrics. They are based in India, and their prices, while not necessarily wholesale, are enticingly low for the products that they advertise, even when the shipping cost is factored in. Most taffetas are priced around $19-$22 USD, and their Duchess silk satins are priced at a bargain $40 USD (compared to the $50 I’ve seen on US-based sites). And the shipping from India for 10 yards of taffeta was only $20.

The first time I ordered from Puresilks in December of 2018, I purchased 8 yards of a bottle green taffeta that I wanted to use to make a gown for an event the following March. I was charged $16 for shipping, was sent a DHL tracking number, and while I don’t remember the exact date that the fabric arrived, I do remember it was within a reasonable time frame, and I had it in plenty of time to start sewing my dress and have it ready for the event. The taffeta that arrived was an absolutely gorgeous color, exactly the one I was expecting based on the listing photos, and the fabric had a lovely light crisp feel.

I did not do a burn test on this fabric to test the fiber content. While the dress that I was using it for was a historical dress, I was not so much of a stickler about fiber content that I would have nixed the fabric already in my possession if I found out that it was a polyester blend. I did notice, however, as I started sewing, that while the lustrous green fibers looked similar and frayed into thin filaments just like other silk I had used, the cross threads, which were black, were thinner and coarser than the green and did not fray like other silk threads when cut. I started to suspect that the black cross threads may be polyester rather than silk. But as I said, I was not such a stickler about historical accuracy on this dress that it would deter me from using the fabric. It was the color, hand, and sheen that I wanted for the dress, which still came out absolutely lovely, so I let the fiber content suspicions go.

My second time ordering from Puresilks would not go so smoothly. As I describe in my other blog posts, in March of 2019 I was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from Saratoga Arts to reconstruct a dress found in a historic image of Saratoga Springs. I had a somewhat complicated dress to make, and a somewhat short amount of time to make it in, so the time line that I set for the project had to be strict. I found the base fabric that I wanted on the Puresilks website, a royal blue taffeta, and placed my order for ten yards in April of 2019. Within a couple of days I received a tracking number, but the very next day I received an email stating that they were out of my fabric and it would take 45 days to re-manufacture the taffeta that I wanted.

Thinking it must be an error, since I already had a tracking number, and since I was out of town for a couple days, I ignored the email at first and waited to see what the tracking number would do. The package spent a couple days touring the US before the tracking info suddenly said the package had been recalled back to the sender. At that point I emailed back Puresilks to find out what was going on.

What I was told was that the tracking number was for a package that had been sent to me erroneously, and was actually a different customer’s fabric. The fabric I ordered, I was told, was out of stock and would be available again in 45 days, but they encouraged me to take a silk dupioni in the same color instead. Not only is silk dupioni a totally different type of silk (and not historically accurate for the grant project, in which I was concerned about being a sticker for HA fabrics), but the dupioni I was being offered was a lower price than the taffeta, and no mention of a refund for the difference had been mentioned.

I told the customer service agent via email that I absolutely did not want the dupioni, and I needed the taffeta sooner than 45 days, so I told them that if the taffeta could not be obtained sooner than 45 days, I needed a refund so that I could find the fabric elsewhere. I received no response for three days, after which I emailed them again to insist that because they did not have the product that I ordered, and could not deliver it in the time frame that I needed, I needed a refund. The reply insisted again that I should take the silk dupioni instead of the taffeta. I again said that no, I needed taffeta and taffeta only. The next email I received contained a slightly alarming and confusing note that said “ok give me 2 days i will either refund or send you the fabric.”

I wasn’t sure what I would be getting if they suddenly sent me fabric after insisting they didn’t have what I wanted, so I responded with a firmly worded, slightly angry email, that they should refund my money or I would be filing a Paypal claim. The response I received to this was a short “YES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE STAY BLESSED.”

About an hour later, I did get a notification from Paypal that I had a refund. I emailed them back and told them that I had received the refund, and thanked them for their assistance. In all, it took five days of emailing back and forth before they agreed to refund my money for a product that they could not provide.

In the middle of this back and forth I vented my frustrations about the situation on Facebook and on my Instagram, and I asked if anyone I knew had had any similar problems with the company. The gist of the comments seemed to be “if they have what you order in stock, everything goes fine, but if they are short on your order or have none of the fabric left, problems occur.” I had at least two people tell me that they received different fabric from what they ordered. One costumer told me that when she emailed the company to inform them, they wanted her to send the incorrect fabric back at her own cost before they would send her the correct fabric. I also heard reports of fabrics being listed on the site as “100% silk,” which upon being burn tested, proved to be silk-poly blends.

In the end, this is a mixed review. Back in April in the middle of fighting with their customer service, when I was concerned about my money and about the time line of my project, I regretted that I had ever tried to order from Puresilks (especially once I found a very similar shade taffeta on a website based in California). Once I had the refund and had calmed down a bit, I can recognize that fabrics very well can go out of stock on occasion and they do take time to remake. The insistence that the dupioni would be just as good as the taffeta was still annoying, though.

Would I order from Puresilks again? Assuming they have not blacklisted me because of our issue over the blue taffeta, I may order from them again if 1. I confirm that the fabric I want is only available on their site, and there is no other fabric elsewhere that I could make do with 2. I have at least a couple months of lead time so that if they are out of stock, I can wait for the fabric to (hopefully) be re-manufactured. I’m going to focus on trying to source from US based companies I trust first, and tailor my fabric expectations to what they actually have in stock, rather than dreaming up what I want and then trying every far-flung place I can to find it.

Final verdict: proceed with caution, and give yourself plenty of leeway on time.

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