Some people don’t believe in fairies. I don’t believe in sample sales. Paying $150 for a $300 top isn’t how I get my kicks.
I realized I wasn’t the only shopper to abandon sample sales for secondhand pastures this past weekend, when I swung by Housing Works Chelsea location and checked out the “New Designer Clothing” rack.
The bulk of the moolah spent by trendtastic brands doesn’t go toward manufacturing the clothes: It goes toward advertising, marketing, product placement, et. al. The brand’s value has less to do with the quality of its material goodies than your perception of said goodies.
If X celebutard is wearing Y $300 Vogue-endorsed top, then Z shopper will want, and possibly buy Y top. When Y top goes on sale, the odds of Z shopper buying it increase, but only to a point. Y top still has to retain some degree of exclusivity and status in order for you to keep wanting it. Once a highbrow brand enters 50 – 75% off territory and still doesn’t sell, it has two options: Reduce the prices further, or cut and run.
The first option is retail suicide – if shoppers knew they could snag a NWT $300 top for $30 at a sample sale, they’d never consider paying full price again. The second option allows the brand to maintain some semblance of dignity: If it donates the unsold sample sale goodies, it ensures that its usual customers never sees in its cheapest state.
Unless the customer in question has a seasoned knowledge of brands and their retail price points a la moi, in which case, all bets are off.
Now, there’s no science for tracking the from-sample-sale-to-thrift trajectory, but Ideeli did have a Walter Sample Sale a few weeks back. My powers of observation point to the NWT Walter Blazer pictured as an unsold leftover. Innnnteresting.
Alexander Wang isn’t having its Sample Sale until August 5th, so clearly clairvoyance is at work. That top is too effing ugly to sell at 50 – 75% off, so it went straight to the thrift. Smart move on behalf of the line. Asinine response from the brand-blind HWorks, who has the audacity to charge $70.00 for fugliness of this ilk. Barf.
The last known Society for Rational Dress sample sale occurred in March. The fact that they’re still unloading the goods can be attributed to false marketing: Rational isn’t an adjective for $160 tops and $380 dresses so much as an epic advertising fail. The line also bears the distinction of the most pretentious brand moniker in the history of fashion. But I digress.
Wang debacle aside, Housing Works’ price points for the above NWT designer items aren’t all that ludicrous in comparison with said items’ retail cost. Still, I heard grumblings from my fellow shoppers upon seeing the goods – kvetching in the “this place gets more expensive every time I come in here” vein – and they’re not entirely unfounded. I might be willing to pay $60 for a mint condition NWT item at a resale or consignment shop, but at a thrift store? Beotch please.
Housing Works: It’s time to stop pissing off your regulars and address your identity crisis. If you want to deal in both donated merch and sample sale castoffs, a name change is in order. Housing Works Thrift Boutique has a nice ring to it.