Many people have heard of
them but few people know exactly where to
find them. Some people swear by them;
others cannot stand the thought of
attending one. What are they? They are
New York's famous sample sales, where top
fashion designers try to recoup some of
their investment in the sample outfits
they make to show to store buyers by
selling the samples to the public.
Savvy shoppers have made
sample sales a great way to find the best
bargains on finely crafted fashions.
While designers like the revenue these
sales bring in and often add overstock
and canceled store orders to the
merchandise mix to increase sales (using
the samples as a lure for bargain
hunters), they tend to keep the sales
fairly quiet to avoid annoying major
retailers whose prices are seriously
undercut by this manufacturer-direct
venue. The result is that most sample
sales are patronized primarily by fashion
"insiders" who have connections
to those running the sales.
Now, you can take advantage
of these bargains, too. The following is
a list of fashion outlets that we have
found offer especially good values or
interesting merchandise. Remember that
many sale offerings change with the
fashion cycle, so be sure to check back
regularly to find out the location of the
best deals in town. Call for hours,
remembering that some of these places are
by appointment only.
85 Fifth Avenue (near 16th
Street), 6th Floor
Men's suits, tuxedos and separates from
major American and European designers at
heavily discounted prices.
225 West 39th Street, 3rd
(800) 505-1313 or (212) 719-1731
Features European designers for women
like Guy LaRoche, Louis Feraud, Montana,
and Valentino at 50% off.
165 West 26th Street (near
A paradise of women's clothing bargains
with designer garb at 20-50% off retail
prices. Look for the clearance section
where discounts are even deeper at 60-80%
off. Shop for name brand sportswear,
ladies' suits, evening wear, coats and
525 Seventh Avenue, 19th
Unbeatable prices on classic women's
suits and separates.
There are now a number of
web sites devoted to disseminating the
latest information about New York's
sample sales. Here the ones we've found
A few things to keep in mind
as you prepare to hit the sales:
- Sample sales are
generally held in season (for
example sales on Fall and Winter
merchandise are generally held
September through November), so
you can actually buy what you
need to wear right now.
- Some outlets are
open by appointment only, so be
sure to call ahead.
- While most showrooms
now accept all major credit
cards, cash remains the preferred
method of payment at sample
- If credit cards are
accepted, be prepared to show a
picture ID to ensure that your
name matches the one on the
- Get there early for
the best selection and avoid
shopping during the lunch hour;
it is usually the most crowded
time of day.
- Actual samples are
"sample" in black on
the inside label.
- Many of the
showrooms don't have private
dressing rooms, so be prepared to
try things on in the open. And DO
try things on -- sometimes odd
sizing or a strange fit is the
reason the garment is on sale.
- Dress for easy
access with slip on shoes and an
outfit with minimal fuss.
- Sign up for mailing
lists so that you'll get
invitations to private
"pre-sales" and other
events (which will help you feel
like a real
designer showrooms have their own
lists, plus there are many
general lists to which you can
subscribe. One list, in
particular, that we like is from DailyCandy.com.
A Standard Warning
Remember that all sales are
final, so inspect the merchandise
carefully for missing buttons, stains and
other flaws. No matter how cheap the
price is, if it is dirty or damaged it is
best to pass it by.
The NYC Insider Site