Sample Sales NYC

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Learn how to find and shop NYC sample sales from fashion editor Verena von Pfetten in this Howcast video.

One of the best things about being in New York is that most designers and stores are based here. They have big flagship stores, or their design houses, or their wholesale operation is based in New York. That means there’s a lot of sample sales. You can expect a sample sale on almost every brand at least once a season.

A sample sale is when they take all the product that either they couldn’t sell, it was maybe excess, they made too much, or it’s the sample product so it’s usually in a specific size, and they want to sell it. And they sell it at a steep, steep, steep discount. We’re talking at least 75 percent off retail. So, if you’re a bargain hunter or in the mood for a high end brand, the best way to shop that is to wait for the sample sales.

Most websites list sample sales. You want to look at something that’s local or retail based. DailyCandy newsletter they send one out every single day. They usually send a list of sample sales once a week. Another great opportunity is Racked which is a local New York retail site. They focus on all the shopping, all the stores, who’s opening, who’s closing, and they also do a daily list of sample sales. So, if you keep an eye out for those and their specific brands you’re looking for that’s where you’re going to find the sales. The other option, again, if you know you want a Marc Jacobs bag and you have just been drooling over it, go to the Marc Jacobs website and there’s probably somewhere you can sign up to find out about the sample sales.

Most sample sales take place in large warehouses or big open spaces, and they are a bit of a madhouse. It’s big, big racks of clothing. There’re piles everywhere. Most of them start out very well organized, so if you’re there on the front end it’s going to be great. If you’re there an hour or two in things are a little crazy.

You want to dig, you want to look, and you want to try things on. When it comes to trying things on make sure you’re wearing a really, really simple outfit. There’re usually change rooms, but you don’t want to have to wait for a change room. You want to be able to just try things on and get in and out as quickly as possible. I really recommend something that’s form fitting that maybe you can even put on over your clothes. So, leggings, a form fitting tank top, maybe a loose sweater or something that you can take on and off. That way you can throw a dress on if you need to try it on and you don’t have to wait in line for the change rooms. Because I can tell you that that’s where you’re going to spend all your time.

When it comes to looking for what you want the one thing to keep in mind with sample sales is just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it. Sometimes we sort of get into that sales fever. You’re in a store and you think, oh my God it’s 75 percent off I have to have it. Just think. Would you buy it if it were full price? Is it something you really want and just can’t afford, or is it something that you like and you think because it’s cheap and it has a designer label on it you should buy it? That’s not when you should buy things.

I really recommend going in with a plan and thinking, OK this is my chance to buy a few statement pieces or a classic blazer that I’ve always wanted but I can’t afford. So I’m going to go to the Diane von Furstenberg sample sale and I’m going to look for a classic black blazer. That’s the best way to do it.

Find the pieces that you know you love and are really important to you. Then go to the sample sale and look for it. And if something catches your eye and you love it, go for it. But don’t feel just because you’re there you have to spend a lot of money because it’s a good deal. Those things are just going to sit in your closet and you won’t end up wearing them.