We often get asked by friends and readers where we buy clothes in Lausanne. It’s always a little hard to break it to new arrivals in the city that unless you have an unlimited budget, staying fashionable in Lausanne means you only have a few shops to work from. It doesn’t take long to exhaust all of your possibilities, especially if you are accustomed to prices outside of Switzerland.
Recently, we’ve given two online shopping sites a try and thought we would share our experience…
One of us placed an order for a pair of shoes and an overcoat on Zalando this summer. The shoes were a slam dunk, while the overcoat was far too big. However, NO PROBLEM. The box that delivers your purchase also serves as the box in which you can send back items that don’t work. All we needed to do was print off a return label for the item on the Zalando website, put it in the box, tape the box up and drop it at the post. Return shipping is covered. It was awesome and easy. We will definitely do it again!
Also, there was no import tax applied to our package. We can’t pretend to fully understand Switzerland’s import tax rules – perhaps this is always the case with Zalando orders, perhaps it was a fluke. In any case, we are loving our new fall booties and hugely appreciated how easy the return was on the coat.
Zalando’s prices aren’t terribly competitive, but shopping the site gives you access to a much wider range of options than you’ll find in Lausanne. And the easy returns policy makes taking a risk on items you’re not too sure about completely worth it.
ASOS is a UK-based outfit that sells brand items along with their own lines. Clothing is in general competitively priced and very trendy, which is fun if you want to test out the latest trend without spending a fortune on something that may be passé in six months…
Something that we loved: They have petites! The vertically-challenged of Lausanne can rejoice along with us. Also, they have a great selection of affordable but fashion-forward maternity wear – which, frankly, you’re never going to find in town.
There are a couple of drawbacks to ASOS, however. Firstly, you definitely do pay an import tax at the border. On our most recent order that amount reached almost 25% of the cost of the order. That’s a hefty tax! Secondly, return shipping is NOT included**. This means that on our 120chf coat that we needed to return (can you tell what item we are desperately looking for these day?), we had to pay nearly 65chf in de-tax and return shipping (the shipping alone was over 40chf).
**Since this article was published in 2013, ASOS has updated their return policy and now returns are free in selected countries, including Switzerland!**
Not sure that it was worth it…
Based on our experience, we will still shop ASOS for trendy, inexpensive, low-risk-of-not-fitting items, and during future pregnancies. But for anything where we are looking for quality or if we are not sure of our size, Zalando will be our choice.
Hope this is helpful for anyone thinking of giving the online shopping route a try!


Have you shopped on either of these two sites? Or on any others? What have your experiences been?


  1. Hi there!
    I use both sites regularly! Zalando items do not have additional tax because they are sold by swiss-based company and already include VAT. And that's why zalando.ch prices can be quite(!) higher than on zalando.es or zalando.fr site (got a dress by 120euro that was 300chf on swiss site … ).
    Asos is great for accessories and t-shirts etc. A tip: a general rule is that you won't have to pay the income tax if your order is less than 50-60chf. It dependends what tax it has (different for different goods, for example very low % for books), and if the value is too small they don't bother to do the whole custom thing.

  2. I love and used both sites regularly, though Zalando much more often than Asos, for exactly the reasons you stated above (import VAT dan expensive return). As already mentioned in another comment, you can try avoid the tax by buying less than the minimum taxable value, currently at CHF62. Very important to remember, shipping is included in that minimum value, and if there is NO shipping fee stated on the parcel (yes, even when the free delivery is offered by the store), the Swiss custom will add local postage price on it, so CHF9-11 more (depending on the weight). This makes the the limit of value even lower, around CHF50 tops when delivery is free, and CHF62 minus shipping when shipping is not free.
    See this post that I made regarding Swiss import VAT: http://www.lausannemom.com/?p=1455

  3. I'm one of those "new arrivals" who would like your advice about where to shop in Lausanne, before I move to online! Any suggestions for nice but affordable? Thanks!

  4. Meta, Thanks so much for your helpful suggestions and tips! Especially the fact that shipping is included in the minimum taxable value–we had no idea! Diana, there are a few options (note: a few) for affordable (though the definition of 'affordable' tends to skew a bit the longer you stay here in Switzerland): the obvious but less exciting choices would be H&M, Zara, Manor, Mango, Vera Moda, etc. (though some of those stores gear toward the younger market most of the time)–you also have Mossimo Dutti which is owned by Zara but a bit more upscale. For shoes, one of our favorite stores is Pompes Funebres located in the Flon–great selection and quality, and also have sales quite often. If you're in the market for cute, one-of-a-kind, remastered vintage attire, our very favorite store is Viva Frida on Rue Marterey. Hope this helps!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for bringing their newly updated shipping policy to our attention! This post was written in 2013, so things have changed since then. We’ve put an updated disclaimer in the text.


      TLG Team

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