Websites of the week: online sample sales
Sample sales hold a certain mystique: The idea of unearthing designer clothing, jewelry, or accessories for dirt-cheap is definitely enticing, and I have certainly scored some fabulous finds over the years. The reality, however, is often less glamorous--far-flung locations, ridiculously crowded spaces, unappealing merchandise. That, and with the exception of a handful of designers and showrooms in L.A., most sample sales are purely a New York City phenomenon. But now a handful of websites are letting everyone in on the action, allowing you to shop from the comfort of your own home, wherever that may be. The downside is that you don't get to try anything on, but the upside is that you don't have to try stuff on in your underwear, in front of a roomful of strangers. There are bunch of online sample-sale sites popping up (even Billion Dollar Babes got in on the action, recently holding a Valentino sale in conjunction with Yoox), but here are my two favorites.

Ideeli
specializes in accessories--think jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags--from heavy hitters like YSL, Burberry, Prada, and Derek Lam. Some of these items are available for sale, at 50%-90% off retail; members get periodic emails that preview upcoming sales, then you get an email approximately 30 minutes before it goes on sale. The exact day and time any given item goes on sale is pretty much a surprise, making shopping at Ideeli a very spontaneous experience. Membership at Ideeli is free (2nd Row membership is what they call it), but if, unlike me, you don't have a moral opposition for paying for the privilege to shop, you can become a 1st Row member for $7.99 a month. 1st Row members receive a text message at the start of each sale, and they are allowed to shop for an hour before 2nd Row members. The better perk of membership is that 1st Row members are eligible for giveaways, which are often more luxe than the items available for sale. Of course, the more people who join, the worse your odds. Upcoming items for sale include bags from Tod's, Gryson, Gustto, and Kooba; and jewelry from Pade Vavra and M2. Membership is by invitation only, but thankfully I am equipped to share the love, so email me if you want to join.

If Ideeli sounds complicated--and it is, somewhat--you might like Gilt Groupe a bit better. They hold four or so sales a week; each begins at noon and lasts for 24 hours (or until everything is sold out). You get an email as soon as the sale starts, and be forewarned, items go quickly--I've logged on at 12:05 and found slim pickings. Gilt Groupe primarily features clothing from contemporary and designer labels (everyone from Tibi and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent to Behnaz Sarafpour and Alessandro dell'Acqua), but they also add lingerie, sunglasses, jewelry, and handbags to the mix. Since this is Oscar week, Badgley Mischka and Judith Ripka are already in play; Robert Marc starts Wednesday at noon, and Notte by Marchesa begins Thursday. Every sale features a cute little movie, and the photography is hip without being too "editorial" (in other words, you can actually see the clothes). For those worried about fit, clothes and shoes can be returned for credit within 14 days; accessories are final sale. Again, you need to be a member to shop these sales; but if you email me, I will gladly hook you up.

I have yet to buy anything on either of these sites (although I've tried on Gilt Groupe--I was just too slow), but I find the online sample-sale concept a welcome one--I'm all about democratizing fashion.

4 comments

Anonymous said...

Great post but what about HauteLook.com? I think they are the best and most diverse online sample sale out there currently.

mina k said...

mega shout out to gilt groupe! I first saw their site at the NY Tech meetup and have been following the sales ever since.

imaflamingo said...

if you need an invite to ideeli, here's the link:

http://www.ideeli.com/invitations/facebook/qh5nxx

KlothesPony said...

I love hautelook.com! They have such incredible designers and I can't wait for the Thomas Wylde sale tomorrow May 28th!