I know a salesman in Manhattan who acts like an undercover agent. He’s just about the opposite of what you expect from a person who’s supposed to be selling you designer outfits: not outgoing, doesn’t come up to you when you enter the store, slinks back into corners whenever he can. How he makes any commissions is beyond me. But the funny thing is that he has become my secret link to some fantastic deals on designer clothing.
THE PLACE TO FIND DESIGNER CLOTHING
Sergio, let’s call him, is a tall dark-haired guy who speaks in hushed tones and is actually very knowledgeable about everything in Men’s Wearhouse. Today, that’s one of the best places in Manhattan to get men’s designer clothing at a low price since Daffy’s and Syms closed their doors after they took a beating from Internet sites and outlet stores.
Women interested in Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Prada can shop in T. J. Maxx and Century 21, but for them, too, it’s increasingly a challenge to find low-cost designer items in stores. The fact is that the Internet is changing the way we shop for designer clothing. True, you can still wander through Saks and Bergdorf Goodman and pay full price, but for smart shoppers who like to save money and find designer bargains, here are a few tips and tricks for outfitting yourself in high style and doing it economically.
One of the first things we recommend is searching for the remaining outlets in your area. Talk with salespeople and find one you trust and let him show you what they have in your size. An experienced salesperson can help you discover designer clothing that is available at a significant discount.
FLASH SALE SITES
The modern approach, of course, is to take advantage of flash sales of designer clothing and accessories. Flash sales are offers to sell for a very short period of time during which an Internet site reduces prices much lower than usual. The period of time items are available may be from a few days to as little as a few hours. The important thing to keep in mind when buying online is the return policy. Most flash sales are returnable for a full refund, usually minus a shipping fee. The value of a flash sale is that it allows you to dress like Donald Trump or Paris Hilton without having to be a multimillionaire.
Where to get flash sales? Some popular locations online include Ideel, Gilt, Fab, and Rue La La. These and similar flash sites offer Tommy Hilfiger, Theory, Givenchy and other designer clothing and accessories at deeply discounted prices.
THE DOWN SIDE OF FLASH SALES
But let the savvy shopper beware: there are four significant disadvantages to indulging in flash sales. First and foremost, you can’t try it on to see how it looks before you purchase it. Second, you may have to wait four to six weeks to receive your spiffy new Theory dress or shirt. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 44 percent of the comments on top flash Facebook pages were negative, with most complaints pertaining to overlong shipping delays. When you buy from an e-Commerce site such as Amazon, by contrast, you can often get your order in 10 days or less. A third disadvantage of flash sites is that you have to log in to browse them, an annoyance that turns some potential customers away before they even have a chance to shop. Last but not least, you can’t get alterations when buying online, and an inexpensive suit that doesn’t fit isn’t worth the cloth it’s made from.
OTHER DISCOUNT DESIGNER SITES
If you’re still interested in finding discount designer clothing online, three other sites deserve mention. Neiman Marcus’ Lastcall has the advantage of presenting shoppers with discount designer items both in-store and online, so you can try before you buy. A wide selection of designers is available. An example of what they offer is a Diane von Furstenberg sheath dress marked down from $365 to $181, a savings of $184. There are also various shipping options, including two-day and overnight delivery. Standard delivery can be expected to arrive within 3 to 6 business days after shipping if ordered by 12:00 noon CST.
Nordstromrack ships by truck from California, so the further West you live, the sooner you’ll get the goods. New Yorkers can expect to wait about 15 days since orders may take a few days to ship. Like Lastcall, a wide selection is available, and there is a 90-day return policy. Significant savings can be realized on designer items: for example, a Tahari wool coat is marked down from $400 to $100, and a Halogen suit jacket is marked down from $120 to $32, a 75 percent discount.
Bluefly has a good selection of designer items, and they also link to many other stores from their Web pages, giving you an even wider selection to choose from. Their discounts range from fair to excellent, an example of the latter being the markdown of a Wyatt blazer from $250 to $58. Standard shipping is $7.95 and items are delivered in 4-8 business days from the ship date. Various expedited shipping options are also available, but instead of providing a return shipping label with each item, they require you to follow an online process to generate a return authorization number and shipping label.
Here’s one more for the road: Banana Republic almost always has a 40-percent-off sale online. If you sign up for their email list you get a 25-percent-off promo coupon that is stackable onto the 40 percent promo, which comes to a total discount of 55 percent. Not bad for an armchair shopper.
But despite the allure and excitement of online sales, I have to confess that I’m going to stick with Sergio. Sure, I know it’s not logical, but I get such a kick out of watching him in action.