How to shop smart
As a student, lots of my friends are interning at major fashion houses or PR firms. Even more are working part time at boutiques and high end stores, where corporate discounts allow 10%- 20% off the majority of items. When it comes to taking advantage of these discounts and sample sales in London, if you’re not an employee yourself, I would check with your connections about their company policies. They don’t like to admit it but actually, a lot of designer labels are quite relaxed about letting their employees buy gifts for their friends. After all, that’s a good few 00’s made from one person that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Christopher Kane gave out free t-shirts once and sold those neon lace clutch bags from the early 2010’s for around £30. Nicholas Kirkwood hawks their sample sale shoes for £100, Erdem, Dolce and Gabbana, McQueen (chiffon white floor- length gown for £99 anyone?) also have incredible reductions. If you’re one to go for quality, designer goods but don’t necessarily have the budget for it then these kind of offers are the way to stock up on staples, as well as key statement pieces.
As for tribal knowledge, I’ve heard about brands like Burberry giving 40% deals for staff year-round but occasional invite-only sample sales taking nearly 90% off retail price. Christian Louboutin have an employee, friends and family sale of 40% off and Net-A-Porter give half off to their staff, with an allowance based on their earnings within the company. These kind of discounts are harder to get – you either need to be best friends forever with one of the insiders or work there yourself. But don’t be too disheartened, there are sample sales that feature regularly over the year that you can access if you know what to look out for.
These prices sound amazing, but what if you knew the real worth of these items? When I’ve frequented PR offices, there is a tag there for buyers and that number is indicative of just how high the mark-up of these designer labels really are (around 60% from cost). Of course this is normal for profit and nothing new, and these wholesale prices are inaccessible to normal shoppers so in a way, there’s no use lamenting.
What really balances the buying power of shoppers is the ability to shop smart, timelessly and at the right time. There are lots of resources updating the best sample sales in London and if you live in the East then lucky you, you may even stumble across a few casually, on your way to work. These sales usually occur around April and November, sales around Christmas, obviously Black Friday, and then summer sales occur in late July – early September (that’s how I scored these cute shoes). I’ve never been a fan of impulse shopping, it leads to ill-fitting clothes and incredibly faddish pieces that won’t take you past the current season. Instead, my tip would be to allocate your shopping budget to these key points in the year where you’ll get the best deal and can even score the items that you’ve been watching.