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Outlet stores

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
i had to go to ventura today which is about a 2 hour drive north of l.a. on the way up i saw a sign that said "camarillo premium outlets" so i decided to stop by on my way back. first up was the saks fifth avenue outlet which mostly had hugo boss, arnold brandt, and a few hickey freemans. they had ultra lousy cufflinks too. overall i didn't get the impression that this was really saks merchandise. next was the barneys new york outlet. i walked toward the suit section and after greeting me the first thing the salesman said to me was, "we have some great john varvatos suits. they are the suits you would find in an actual barneys store. everything else here is made especially for the outlets." i entered the polo ralph lauren store and noticed the suits there had green labels with the "lauren" brand on them. isn't this label made and owned by jones new york? i asked an employee if they ever got any blue label suits in and he had no idea what i was talking about. he led me to a man behind the register and asked him. his response was, "polo suits?" and he made an ugly face. lastly i entered the hugo boss store. it looked like a regular hugo boss store. they had the usual stlyles and everything was about $500-$600. typical prices from what i've seen. i asked the salesmen if they ever got any baldessarini in stock and he said he'd been there about a year and had never seen any baldessarini. so, i post this message because i've read so much about finding gems at outlet stores. i imagined that they were sort of like wearhouse sales with concrete floors and very little sales help--perhaps without dressing rooms even. the place i went to looked like any ordinary outdoor mall to me. the stores were well stocked and it seemed all too normal. how can one find deals at a place like this? i won't be going back.
post #2 of 25
Get yourself on a plane heading to New York and go to Woodbury Premium Outlets.
post #3 of 25
I think that maybe you had your hopes too high -- were you expecting to find Oxxfords for $200 and Kitons for $250? The outlets are a great place for the following: finding mid/high level suits (like Boss, etc.) and some high level (Hickey) at prices that are equivalent or less than department store prices. For example, don't you think that a Hugo Boss for $400 is a better deal than an Evan Picone for $400? The latter is what you'd find at Department stores. Would you rather have an Arnold Brant for $250 or a Jones New York for $300. The latter is the typical sale price of a Jones New York at Macy's etc. The outlets do produce rare "gems", like a Canali for $500 for example. Those gems are rare, sure, but they do exist. I bet you'd find a Canali in your size about 1/3 of the time you are in Off Fifth. Is $500 a steal? Well, not if you compare the $500 price to the price that other people find their Canalis for at the outlets. But compared to RETAIL -- that is what you have to compare it to. The outlets are NOT thrift shops. But 75% off retail is pretty damn good. And the outlets are NOT Neiman Marcus. You won't find a Kiton or Brioni section of Off Fith. But Hugo Boss, Arnold Brant, and Hickey are pretty damn good. And Filenes Basement, during their big suit sales, do have Oxxfords, etc. for around $1000. So, when it comes down to it, if you are on a budget, you've gotta go with the outlets over department stores -- no question.
post #4 of 25
The issue of outlet stores has been an issue of interest for me for some time. Specifically, why would any one shop at the retail store, when they could save mega $ by shopping at the outlet store? But as I checked into the matter, it became apparent to me, based on my experience, that comparing the items at the retail store to those of the outlet store, was generally a comparison between apples and oranges. I have had several outlet store employees tell me that the merchandise at the outlet was specifically for them. There are some that do indeed carry ends of season, ends of lines and or seconds. And, while it does take some patience and perhaps more luck than anything, there are some finds at the outlet stores. My most recent find was a leather sports jacket for $129.00 Cdn. The exact same one was selling at the retail store for over $400. Perhaps it was a mistake, I do not know, and really don't care. I just thanked my good fortune. Another member, I can't recall who at this time said it best, it is the odd find that keeps us going back hoping that we will hit gold again. Classic
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
i agree my expectations were obviously too high. i still fail to see the point of these outlets, at least in l.a. around here the outlets are all a couple of hours away from the city, and i assumed the idea was that they offered lower prices on last season's or last year's merchandise to those who were willing to make the long drive. however all the prices i saw were readily available in the city. for example, i've never seen a canali or hugo boss at bloomingdale's that wasn't on sale. i don't need to drive 2 hours to get a hugo boss at discount. they're readily available right here. i expected that barneys would have isaia, kiton, armani, and all the other brands they sell, but i expected it to be last year's merchandise that didn't sell. was that unrealistic of me? if the sign says "barneys" i expect real barneys merchandise. i expected that the polo store would carry polo suits. if a suit sells for $1000 at saks, and falls to say $600 during a sale but still doesn't move, i might expect to find it at the outlet the following season for less than $600. that's how i thought it would work.
post #6 of 25
Matadorpoeta, I think you are quite right. Maybe you should try a better outlet store, seriously. I picked up some nice stuff in Woodbury. Alfred Dunhill sportshirts for $45-$50 (retail $195+) and watch ($390, past season, regular price $900+) but they were shutting down, so this is not a good case. Still, I picked up a Bottega Venetta wallet ($99, retail probably $190+).
post #7 of 25
It's clearly a hit-or-miss proposition. One big problem is that there are so many outlet stores for most companies that they couldn't possibly stock the entire store with merchandise from the regular stores. There are tons of Off-Fifth stores, maybe more than there are actual SFA's, so they stock them mainly with items purchased specifically for them. Nordstrom Rack is the same way. Barneys outlets seem to be full of real garbage. I think Barneys sells most of their overstock to Filenes, rather than sending it through the Barneys outlets. The Polo outlets sell mainly sportswear. In my experience, you need to have some luck, plus frequent the right outlets. For example, some Off-Fifths seem to get a lot more good suits and sport coats than others. I've bought great Oxxfords, Brionis, Zegnas, Barberas, Isaia's, Chester Barries, and even Kitons at certain Off-Fifths; I happened to be there when good stuff showed up. Others I've visited seem to never get good stuff. On occasion the Polo outlets get store overstocks, including RLPL and Blue label merchandise; this seems to only happen a couple of times a year. Of the department store outlets, probably the most reliable to have good stuff are the Last Call Neiman Marcus stores; there are far fewer of them, so they have a higher proportion of main-line merchandise. Zegna and JP Tods outlets are good, though the prices at Zegna are not usually that great. The Hickey Freeman outlets are good, and they have really good sales a few times a year. In large part, I think the outlet business preys on consumers' ignorance, plus the American habit of shopping as a form of recreation -- that's why so many outlets are in vacation areas; "if it says Barneys, it must be good stuff." Yeah, right....
post #8 of 25
Quote:
so, i post this message because i've read so much about finding gems at outlet stores. i imagined that they were sort of like wearhouse sales with concrete floors and very little sales help--perhaps without dressing rooms even. the place i went to looked like any ordinary outdoor mall to me. the stores were well stocked and it seemed all too normal. how can one find deals at a place like this? i won't be going back.
Matador: I live about 40 miles north of Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale, which is one of the better outlet malls around: Saks Off 5th, NM Last Call, etc. I've found it's really hit and miss. I've had several experiences just like you describe. BUt last time I went there were some real gems: A pair of Bruno Magli driving loafers for $150, long-sleeve Brioni polos for about $95, a St. Andrews suit for $900, a Zegna pure cashmere long sleeve polo for $75, an Isaia (SP??) sport jacket for $600 or so. Too bad I was broke and couldn't buy anything. But of the 9 other times I went there was almost exclusively crap. You just gotta go a lot.
post #9 of 25
Off 5th is very disappointing I think.  Sometimes I find $100 Zanellas (ditto Nordie's rack) in colors that cover the full spectrum of bodily fluids but rarely anything near 'standard'. I believe that Off 5th is also a clearence center for other stores that Saks owns???  Found some good stuff once at the one outside DC (forget the name of the mall but the RL outlet there had blue label suits/sportcoats too) and there was lots of Saks level stuff. Neiman's last call is the real deal, you have to catch the sales and befriend someone there but I have found NICE Kiton/Brioni sportcoats for $500, Oxxford suits for $400 a time or two, a pure cashmere Isaia suit (Fahbooolusss.) for $400. ...but again, yer not gonna find a Navy Pinstriped suit by one of the super labels, you'll find the nice brown one with Mustard pinstripes more frequently. This is kinda funny but one reason I go is to look at the ties, I see them as a "Designs to stay way the hell away from" marketing tool :-) Am I the only really sick one or do you guys have that "All Kiton 75% off lowest marked price" dream too?  
post #10 of 25
I've been to a few of those Off Fifth's, and Last Call's. Most of the items one sees are Versace ties, and Donna Karan shirts. However I've seen a Fendi baguette for $20,000. But really there have been nothing steallar in terms of men's clothing. The Tod's outlet was quite crowded when I went. Rather a lot of people scrambling to buy things.
post #11 of 25
Matador: The outlets in Cabazon are MUCH BETTER. Same as Woodbury- had even better stuff the days I went to each of them, respectively. But I still agree with everything else that's been said in this thread. But then again I found a pair of $900 EG loafers for Polo at a Nordstrom Rack up here about 10 days ago...
post #12 of 25
This board should really make sure to advertise the outlet sales, or when some good stuff has come in. For example, I would definitely love to know when the Hickey Freeman outlets have a sale. As for the Barney's Outlet, I agree that it is generally disappointing. I'd say 90% of the stuff is Barney's House Label, perhaps made exclusively for the outlet. But I did get a Kilgour French and Stansbury for Barney's from a consignment shop a few weeks ago, and last week I saw the same suit (just one) at the Barney's Outlet. So, it's clear that sometimes last seasons stuff can make its way to the store. (And it reassured me that the consignment suit was, at most, a year old). The store I found the most disappointing was the Hugo Boss outlet. I just can't see paying $500 for a Boss suit when I could get a Hickey for $600 or less. I still don't think Boss is significantly better than the Arnold Brant I picked up for $200 this week at Off Fifth.
post #13 of 25
I went to a Ralph Lauren outlet on Maryland's Eastern Shore this past weekend. When I asked the two sales clerks (separately) whether there was any purple label, the first one gave me a dazed look -- he had NO idea what I was talking about -- and the second only knew what I was talking about (so he said...) after I explained it to him. Unbelievable. On the upside, they had lots of very nice winter sweaters originally priced @$160-220 for $19.99. Outlets are truly hit or miss.
post #14 of 25
The good news about the Polo outlets is that most customers also seem to have no clue. I've picked up a Purple Label (StAndrews) cashmere jacket for $60, a heavy Purple Label Cardigan for $60, and a Purple Label (C Barrie) cashmere jacket for $140.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Quote:
so, i post this message because i've read so much about finding gems at outlet stores. i imagined that they were sort of like wearhouse sales with concrete floors and very little sales help--perhaps without dressing rooms even. the place i went to looked like any ordinary outdoor mall to me. the stores were well stocked and it seemed all too normal. how can one find deals at a place like this? i won't be going back.
Matador: I live about 40 miles north of Sawgrass Mills in Fort Lauderdale, which is one of the better outlet malls around: Saks Off 5th, NM Last Call, etc. I've found it's really hit and miss. I've had several experiences just like you describe. BUt last time I went there were some real gems: A pair of Bruno Magli driving loafers for $150, long-sleeve Brioni polos for about $95, a St. Andrews suit for $900, a Zegna pure cashmere long sleeve polo for $75, an Isaia (SP??) sport jacket for $600 or so. Too bad I was broke and couldn't buy anything. But of the 9 other times I went there was almost exclusively crap. You just gotta go a lot.
Sawgrass Mills has a few logistical problems before you even immerse yourself with the hunt of finding "once in a lifetime" merchandise. First it is quite frankly, in the middle of nowhere. It is way too far west for most tourists (even though they make the journey anyways, believe it or not, it is Florida's second most visited attraction, behind Disney World). Secondly, a chimpanzee must have designed the layout of the outlet mall itself. After parking in the purple dolphin section of the Sawgrass Mills parking lot and walking for 10 minutes, while negotiating between parked and moving cars, you really don't want to go into the mall. If you park on one end, and you walk all the way to the other end, you have to walk all the way back to where you began. The entire place is designed almost in a straight line, instead of being designed in a circle formation like most other malls. I can recall a time (first time I went to Sawgrass by myself) a couple of years back when you could find better merchandise. I recall a Brioni sports coat for $420, down from $2300. Now, granted I have not been to Sawgrass in quite some time, and have only been there maybe 10-12 times, but the quality of the merchandise sees to have been downgrading for quite sometime. I don't know if the drive is really worth it. If you wait until' the right time of the year, regular NM stores have sales of their merchandise, for sometime 70%. Or, if you want to get good deals, wait till' the end of season and go up to Worth Ave, you will find at least one really good deal on something (especially the Ralph Lauren store / Saks / NM). Plus, where would you rather be, in Sawgrass or on Worth? Jon.
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