VAT is, as it's been said, included by the seller in the final price of the item. As clothes are considered a luxury item, maximum rate applies. But that being said, VAT rates varies from country to country. There's a minimum a country must apply (which I don't remember). But I've seen VAT rates ranging from 16% to 25%. I'm always talking about EEC countries (not only EU ones). Purchasing goods from and to these countries is not subject to duties.
As for me, I purchase from US based stores because:
· Better selection of items
· More competitive prices
· Tax free
· US weakness against Euro (these last weeks it's getting worst for us to purchase there)
The main problem I find are Customs. So far I've never paid them because it's quite random. Also some policies like declaring an inferior value of the content of the package helps a lot. But whenever I buy online outside the EU, I always take into account how much I should pay if Customs make me pay. Also, Customs are not charging always the same: packages with a value less than X, pay only VAT, whereas packages with a value over X, have to pay both VAT and import duties.