If the stain sticks, pre-warn your customers: Lessons from the Prada skirt debacle

A woman who wore a Prada silk skirt to her 40th birthday party has won a fight in VCAT against the retailer after a champagne stain failed to lift off, according to reports.

Catherine Whitty, of Melbourne, reportedly purchased the blush-coloured delicate silk skirt for $1660 at the luxury brand’s Collins Street flagship.

A guest at her birthday splashed champagne on the skirt, but she was told by a drycleaner that attempts to clean it would fail. The drycleaner reportedly told her that the silk would have been stained even if just water splashed on it.

Whitty took the case to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in a bid to gain compensation from the European brand.

She reportedly argued that she should have been told by sales staff when purchasing the item that stains could not be removed.

VCAT agreed, and ordered Prada Australia refund Witty the full $1660, News stated.

TressCox Lawyers partner Jennifer Huby says this is a “highly unusual” case that wouldn’t happen very often, but stresses that if businesses are selling a product that has special requirements, they should clearly disclose this to consumers.

“It is a fair assumption by most people that when you buy clothes you should be able to wash or dry clean them,” she says.

“In this case I can see why they could have disclosed more to the consumer.”

Huby advises consumers to ask general questions before purchasing expensive items, but thinks when an item is outside of the normal realm, the onus should be on the seller to disclose the information.

“Particularly in relation to high-cost items”, she says.

“Most clothing labels say things about the fabric; if it is delicate, catches, fades or shrinks in the wash, all of those things are disclosed as a matter of practice.

“Things that are delicate need a higher level of disclosure.”

This could be in the form of a sign, advice from the sales person, or specially labelled packaging.


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