My Experience as a Corset Reviewer
Let me start by saying that I never went through a “corset review” course or was bestowed the title of ‘Official Corset Reviewer of Youtube’. It just kinda happened through my obsession. Here are my answers to some of the most common questions I get as a corset reviewer.
Why did you start doing reviews?
I was a little frustrated with the corset reviews given on websites and Youtube. Most of them were “I like it and it’s pretty” or “it’s really painful” and not much detail was given. It was difficult to gauge exactly what I was getting when I saw a full-body shot of a model in a corset on a website, or the equivalent distance in video. I really wished someone would get up-close and personal and show the details of the corset.
Where did you learn what to look for in a corset?
There were two general places that I learned how to critique a corset – the first was on corset making websites and forums like Foundations Revealed and Livejournal. The second was Romantasy’s book ‘Corset Magic‘. Before I had done my first review on a purchased corset, I had already constructed 4 or 5 corsets myself and knew how much time and skill went into each part of a well-made corset.
In the beginning (before doing reviews), for each corset I purchased I told myself “this one will be the end of all other corsets – I’ll use this one for daily training and it will be my favourite” and inevitably after a few months, I’d want to try something else. It later turned into the aspiration to buy one corset from each major OTR company so I can study their construction and do a review. I thought that this would help the companies’ potential customers decide what was the best choice for them, it would help me and other corset enthusiasts fine-tune their conceptions on “what is a good corset” as well as helping me to make better corsets myself.
Do you get free corset samples?
Corsets are not like makeup or cheap accessories, and I’ve never had a corset company introduce itself to me and simply throw free corsets at me. I’ve always been honest about my arrangement with What Katie Did – I asked them for one damaged item I could buy at discount, and ended up receiving 8 new corsets – one each of underbust and overbust corset styles – in exchange for detailed review (even though I purchased another three from them later on). That was an extremely lucky break, but is certainly not typical. It’s important that my viewers know that I have “something to lose” by having these corsets – it gives them comfort in knowing that I’ll be upset if something breaks, and will give honest reviews. (In reality, my reviews are 90% objective and factual, so how much I paid shouldn’t really affect the review.)
I know more than anyone that corsets are expensive, which is why I include tips on searching out boutiques or waiting for sales (some companies aren’t happy that I do this, but I’m more dedicated to getting my viewers a deal). Sometimes I buy the corsets 2nd hand, which is why they may not fit well or be the right size. After I’d been doing reviews for about a year, sometimes when I approached a company they would already know who I am. I have on two occasions received a wholesale price in exchange for giving a review and permission to use the review, but once again, this is far from typical – and I still sacrificed something. I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, and I had spent upwards of $6000 in 2011 alone on corsets/ materials/ camera and gear for my Youtube channel last year, the vast majority of that going toward review corsets.
Have you ever been sponsored/ hired/ paid to show certain corsets?
I have never been paid to do any review, or to feature/wear a corset in any of my videos. I have been approached in the past to do videos/reviews exclusively for certain companies or websites, but have declined because I don’t feel right about it. I like the freedom of trying new corset companies/ makers without being seen as ‘betraying’ any one company. I’ve purchased corsets from several companies who greatly dislike one another. And they may not be happy that I did that, but they understand that I’m on a mission to find well-constructed, well-fitting corsets for my own purposes and I put no weight on the makers’ personalities (only their customer service).
How do you know that the company isn’t giving you special treatment or giving you a better quality corset than they usually make?
A lot of the time, I don’t know. However I have been disappointed in ripped seams or popped grommets just the same as anyone else – if that’s a better quality corset, I cringe to think what their “standard” corsets are like. A lot of the time when this happens, I will contact customer service and they will exchange the corset for me, just like they would with anyone else.
Sometimes when I contact a new company, my reputation will precede me and they will be delighted that I’m paying them attention. Other times they may ignore my inquiries or ask me to not review certain products. Being the stubborn person that I am, I’ve sometimes used an alias or asked a friend to order on my behalf if I really want the corset or want to see what they’re ‘trying to hide’.
Have you had any negative experiences with companies you’ve reviewed?
Fortunately I have never had a company come to me and ask/ demand that I take down a review. Usually if there’s an aspect of their corsets that viewers don’t like, they will change the corset or provide an explanation for why they do things or use certain materials. I encourage viewers and customers of the same company to write comments sharing their experiences with the company, since I know that my experience may not be typical.
I do have to be careful about some of my reviews, though. I had been contacted after purchasing and asked to NOT take apart or open up their corsets on camera, or not go into too much detail about construction, in order to protect their trade secrets. I respect these requests. I understand that there is the danger of other makers and ‘knock-off companies’ alike using my reviews to learn how to recreate the garment, and I don’t want to be known for assisting the copycats. The typical viewer doesn’t need to know every step in how a corset is stitched together to make a decision on whether it’s good quality or not. I’m quite fine with showing the complete process with my own corsets, but I know that others aren’t.
I heard this rumor about a certain company/ companies, blah blah blah…
I haven’t been on the corset scene for more than a couple of years, so I don’t know the whole story of certain makers’ or companies’ pasts, how they conducted their business or what their corsets were like back then. I do know a lot of things about a lot of companies today, and I know that their work changes over time – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The vast majority of corset makers get along, since different customers go to different companies that suit their body type, their purpose for corseting, their personal style and their budget. But there are also a few corset makers who are quite snarky or dramatic about others’ work or business ethic. Whatever is said in confidence between a maker and me stays confidential, although it has never prevented me from purchasing from a company that I genuinely want to try, or forced me to pick sides.
How do you see your corset reviews changing in the future?
I think my reviews have a pretty good structure, and make it easy to contrast/ compare between different brands and styles. I still have a long list of corsets to still review (I believe 17 corsets now) but I would like to feature more independent, one-person businesses. My personal corset collection is slowly moving away from factory-made items and being replaced with more pieces by individual corset designers. That’s not to say that I’ll get rid of all of my off-the-rack items. I will still do the occasional review from a larger company, and I will continue to support those companies that I believe still do a good job, but I would like to dedicate a decent chunk of my reviews to the creative work of individual corsetieres.