Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disciples of Shirley Russell Alert: Bernie Dexter The Low Life Libelling Plagiarist

(I prefer to keep my business relationships and day job off of any public forum but I feel I should say something given the fact I was libelled yesterday on Bernie Dexter's Facebook page. The events that precipitated this occurred five months ago and I've said nothing about them until now.)

Though it hasn't been mentioned here on my blog, Facebook fan page or even my fashion posts, since Summer 2012 I've been selling Bernie Dexter dresses and other vintage repro both on Ebay and privately. Despite my business being a success I have chosen not to cross promote it with my blog and Pinup ventures. Tonight PST on Facebook and on her Twitter page, Bernie Dexter libelled me, falsely claiming I was "selling counterfeit dresses" on Ebay. She even spelled '"beware" as "be ware" and  "consent" as "content" which just tops it off. She later caved in and deleted the entire post because she lacks the audacity to own up to her words within a public forum. Screen grab is above.

Bernie Dexter is a Pinup model whom I believe is known solely for being a blatant Bettie Page imitator and for designing dresses which are made from mostly commercial produced Michael Miller, Alexander Henry and Robert Kaufman quilting fabrics which are found at fabrics stores across the globe and online.

Like most in vintage reproduction, Bernie Dexter's patterns are unoriginal (see last photo) and 99% of the fabrics she uses are commercially available to the public and non exclusive to her label.  Nonetheless she offers a decent factory sewn, non custom product made in the USA. This was the primary reason why selling her items appealed to me and why, in the past year I'd spent well into the lower five figures on stock including many discontinued plus size items (more on this later). Most of what I made I reinvested right back into Bernie's business by buying more dresses and building up stock. And of my own volition, without being compensated,  I praised, referenced and promoted her clothing line whenever I could because I sincerely believed in her as an inspirational, talented and decent individual.

At the end of May 2013 after a nearly year of a very clean, trouble free business relationship, out of the blue, with no warning, whatsoever, I received the following email from Bernie Dexter:

bernadette dexter 
May 26
to me

 i wondered why you are buying sample yardage of my dresses?
 BIG RED FLAG for me..
 i am sure you understand.
 but it makes me very uncomfortable…

 Positive feedback rating Thank you for an easy, pleasant transaction.Excellent buyer. A++++++. Seller: paramedic513 ( 2759Red star icon for feedback score in between 1,000 to 4,999 May-06-13 10:23 Feedback conversation
  -- (#310093199916) -- View Item
Positive feedback rating Quick response and fast payment. Perfect! THANKS!! Seller: paramedic513 ( 2759Red star icon for feedback score in between 1,000 to 4,999 May-06-13 10:23 Feedback conversation
  -- (#310093199916) -- View Item
Positive feedback rating Effortless sale; fast payment; nice customer Seller: keepingyouinstitches2012 ( 148Teal star icon for feedback score in between 100 to 499 May-03-13 07:34 Feedback conversation
  -- (#151029382692)

Yes. Bernie Dexter went into my selling partner's feedback and read through our personal purchases. While she's illegally as a vendor calling the prints her "dress fabric" as mentioned Bernie Dexter has zero exclusivity or licensing to Michael Miller fabrics.  Buying a few yards of fabric and a few dinky panels (two of which she's never made dresses from) for my own personal use is not a threat to a recognized business regardless of how niche it may be. After explaining the details and that I had no idea never purchasing Michael Miller fabrics (which I was buying at Beyond Fabrics on Columbia Road before I'd ever heard of her)  was a condition of selling her product and that I had no intention of threatening her business. Here was her response: 

"I check up on e bay periodically to see what is selling. i just happened apron (sic) those by reviewing feedbacks .
your(sic) right, i do not own Michael Miller fabrics, but you are buying the same print that you are selling of mine, find it a conflict of interest & will not be selling to you any more.

Thank you for your business,

Bernie Dexter"

Bernie Dexter did me a wonderful favour because being her  wholesale client became a nightmare.

You see what initially drew me to invest in her brand was that she made well designed larger sizes and designs that work on taller, fuller, buxom figures like my own in 100% high thread count cotton fabrics which are very hard to find.  After about 6 weeks, and after building up a clientèle including over half a dozen well endowed and/or plus size clients I was told rather unceremoniously by Bernie that she'd be "discontinuing all plus sizes because no one ever buys them."  I did not say anything at the time but I was stunned as I knew that many plus size buyers had helped build up her business.
Bernie Dexter should have had the courtesy to let me know before I became a wholesale client that she was discontinuing all plus sizes but clearly she wanted my money. 

100% cotton fabrics also require that you size up so many non-plus gals wear her 1X and 2Xs, especially if the bust line is cut small as it is on the Paris style. Justifiably there were many disappointed customers on Facebook voicing their opinions but Bernie Dexter couldn't have cared less.  As Bernie Dexter still had plus size back stock she no longer wanted,  I continued to buy what was left, carefully explaining the sizing to interested buyers and low and behold I not only started selling out but by the end of 2012 I was proportionately outselling Bernie on Ebay. I reinvested much of what I made right back into her business.

Then in Spring 2013 Bernie took all of the plus sizes down to cost on her website and with no advance notice to wholesale clients began under cutting wholesalers on even new sizes and styles by selling those too at cost (78.00 for most of the dresses, 88.00 to 100.00 for the sarongs and Jubilee respectively). This went on for weeks. Stock which, had she known how to promote via giving Plus and buxom customers a proper fit guide, would have sold above retail she practically gave away. 

An intelligent business person would have approached me to ask what my methods of selling were to be so successful and networked instead of price gutting but Bernie Dexter is not intelligent. Within a month or so my business dwindled to where I needed to move on or my business would have collapsed. As there was now nothing to reinvest,  I ceased placing orders with any dependable frequency. 

This after being a stalwart client who was honest enough to send back a duplicate order box of 10 dresses I never ordered which Bernie accidentally shipped once and to send my Pay Pal transactions to her as gifts so I covered all the fees.  It is of course the business owner's right to devalue and depreciate their own product but then that clearly comes with a cause and effect result. I feel for the sellers who are being undercut now as literally dozens of even her new items go down to cost each week. Bernie Dexter's price gutting has become much worse than when I was a client. Sellers will buy 10 units of a new design and not one piece will move because a few weeks later Bernie has decided to take it down to cost.  I also feel for the customer who buys a newer issue dress at 156.00 on Mod Cloth and then a few days later sees it for sale for 68.00 to 99.00 on her website.

So while Bernie did act unprofessional and childish over fabric, clearly her attack was over the fact that I'd out sold her on Ebay, had mostly stopped placing orders and was no longer useful. The above libel was because I'm still selling and doing well with her product and there is nothing she can do about it.  There is now a new Ebay app that allows anyone one too see what sells on Ebay and a quick glance over the past years show the plus sizes she discontinued (and which I sold)  as outselling her Ebay store. The result of this was that she back tracked and magically started offering plus size again. Not because she respects and values her loyal 1X and 2X customers whom she virtually told to fuck off last year but empirically because of greed. 

But even after Bernie's pitiful behaviour I still liked her product and respected her brand primarily because the fabrics which she did zero to create are superior and delightful to the eye (I also had over 50 pieces of stock to move.) Many nice gals I've met online wear her label and I enjoyed hunting rare issues down for clients  

But just like the image that I believe she plagiarised from the superiorly endowed and mint original icon Bettie Page (Page's licensing entity CMG Worldwide has also expressed concern about Bernie's "homage"), Bernie Dexter did nothing to create the Michael Miller et al fabrics which draws people to her brand.  We all know that without the fabrics that other designers created no one would have looked twice at Bernie Dexter's dresses.

I've moved onto fabric sales and vintage reproduction couture, enjoying the step up. Hopefully one day Bernie herself will take a step up and cease libelling and attacking individuals ( I'm one of many) on her Facebook page- which coincidentally only saw a recent growth spurt in likes because it was once attached to my own- because some of us will take legal action against her.

As for "using her image without her content (sic)", after I stopped buying wholesale I'd used her stock photos up until a few days ago with not a word from her.  It is of course my pleasure to never again use her heavily retouched and radically altered photosHad she even a modicum of class, Bernie Dexter would have simply emailed me privately and requested that I not use them any more. That was clearly a low class move on her part to give a shard of credence to her libel about counterfeiting.

Finally, I believe Bernie Dexter whom I no longer have any respect for is a dim bulb intellectually at best and at worst, a dithering two faced harpy lacking both the competency to communicate and the skills to do business properly. 


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,