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23 April 2018

I am not going to lie, I love living on the Upper East Side. No, it’s not exactly sample sale heaven, but there are so many other benefits that make up for that. It’s not just the museums and the park that make me starry eyed, but also the meet-cutes that happen with Candice Bergen who stops to baby-talk your dog or Paul McCartney who is shopping ahead of you at Dean & DeLuca—both of which have happened to me. Fine, maybe this isn’t unique to the Upper East Side; celebrity run-ins happen citywide when the city is New York. And it’s understandable why so many celebs make their homes here… where else would they stumble across so many sample sales and consignment stores and thrift shops PACKED with underpriced gems all within any given three block span?

If you’re an avid TSC reader, you probably know by now that I myself have mixed feelings about secondhand apparel and shoes. Yes, I confess I am an only child and I’ve never liked sharing things. I didn’t borrow clothes from friends growing up and I can’t imagine wearing some stranger’s shoes. But the economic data doesn’t support my shopping preferences as the second hand apparel industry (offline and online) is an astounding $18 billion industry, and it is forecasted to reach $33 billion by 2021.

While I suspect most of the future growth will come from online consignment shops such as ThredUp and platforms like TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective, I do hope Upper East Side second hand clothing stores still have a place in the future of fashion. Whether you’re motivated by investing in better quality you couldn’t afford otherwise or by environmental consciousness and sustainability, there are plenty of reasons to give second hand shopping a second look. Heck, even I did a double take that paid off.

On a recent visit to Margoth Consignment Shop at 218 East 81st Street, I was received with so much kindness in this cozy store, that I let my guard down and—gasp!—forgot about my preconceptions about second hand clothes. I don’t often establish relationships with sales people, but I feel in this kind of store, it’s not only a perk, it’s a must. My advice? If you can, get the inside scoop, make friends with the owner, ask her to let you know if something you want is brought into her store. This gives you an advantage you’d never get from any typical clothing store or sample sale.

Designer Revival at 324 East 81st Street is a much larger store with a good selection, pleasant décor, and a chic atmosphere to help support your retail therapy. Although I didn’t buy anything there, I’ve bookmarked their beautiful and functional website DesignerRevival.com and I will most certainly check it out from time to time.

If you want to minimize the traveling time and you want to hit as many consignment stores as possible, you can try Madison between 84th and 85th. For many years that block has been the location for Encore Consignment and BIS Designer Resale, but the imminent upcoming arrival of Michael’s puts it into a different category. Michael’s, the “family-owned mainstay known as a go-to for secondhand designer-label fashions & accessories” will be located on the North East corner of Madison and 84th.

I haven’t seen the financial statements of these stores, but I have a feeling nobody is getting really rich from doing this. Still, they’re sticking with them for the joy, the more personal retail experience, and the benefits for the environment and your wallet. These are challenging businesses, especially when you have to pay the Upper East Side rents. What they sell depends on the quality and quantity of products people give them to be sold. While some of them (Designer Resale, Michael’s) have new management with prior experience from the corporate world, social media savvy, and adaptability to adjust to the times, these are still tough times for most of them. If you love vintage and want to save the world (or just your money), give these small stores a chance. And when you are there and you stop by at Dean & DeLuca for a latte, don’t forget to look for Paul McCartney… you never know.



Posted by Staff Writer at 09:36 AM
New York |


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14 March 2018

Hey, I get it: a sequel to Nor’easter is on its way, you’re a busy bee, and maybe the last thing on your mind right now is shopping. But if you’re anything like me, not even a blizzard can keep you from a good sample sale.

Still, when the weather is, well, this… you don’t have time or money to waste. This is that strange time of year when one day you are wearing your new slingbacks (a must for the trendy fashionista in the Spring of 2018) and the next day snow forces you back into to your wardrobe workhorse: the Uggs boots. And maybe you are a little discouraged too by the last sample sale you attended and its lukewarm outcome that didn’t quite meet the expectations of a real bargainista.

Impressed with my mind-reading abilities? Don’t be. I’m honestly practically quoting the majority of responders to our most recent poll who think that sample sale prices are too damn high.

Having to choose where to spend the little free time you have hunting for the perfect fashion bargain is sometimes daunting. That’s why I’m going to share with you my strategy in this post.

Let’s look at this week’s NYC sample sales.

Step One: Go to our page entitled Sample Sales This Week.

Quickly look through this page to see if there is something you’’ve been waiting for or something new that pops out. Let’s say nothing does for the purpose of this exercise.

Step Two : Set your priorities straight.

What do you really want or need? It is true that sample sales are not strategically the best place to look for specific items because they cover a wide range and are sometimes oddly specific to something you don’t need. The key here is not getting swept away in a flashy impulse buy by setting wardrobe priorities first to ensure a more rational purchase.

At this point, check the categories listed on the same page. Are you looking for clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, or home items?

Step Three: Clarify your style.

So, let’s take this week’s sample sales. Are you a Chloe girl (freedom, lightness, and femininity)? Are you a Jack Rogers girl (resort style, iconic sandals, Jackie O)? Are you a vintage girl (Chanel and Hermes)? Or are you a man looking for a classic look (Kiton)?

This will require some brand knowledge, so make sure you read the description of the sale on the event page at the bottom. You don’t know the name Clever Alice and you’re confused about the “multi-brand” description? No problem. Read who they are and what they do right here!

Step Four : Decide how far you want to travel.

On the same page, you will find a map that gives you a clear idea of where everything is located. This can help you decide how far you want to travel, which sample sales are nearby, and how many birds you can kill with one stone (how many sales with one trip!).

So…

While not every sample sale will rock your world, there are still great opportunities out there to score a bargain on a memorable piece that will stay forever in your wardrobe, and serve as undeniable evidence of your shopping skills and stellar fashion sense.

A successful sample sale outing requires you to be knowledgeable and open about what you want to really need. If you have something very specific in mind, and don’t have a lot of time to spare, a sample sale might not be your ideal hunting ground.

Happy shopping, lovelies.

xo M



Posted by Staff Writer at 12:58 AM
New York |


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5 March 2018

The Hunt for the Perfect Loyalty Program & The Perfect Sample Sale This Week

Loyalty is what any brand wants from its customers. Sure, brands appreciate the fun in the retail equivalent of a one-night stand, but they’re always hoping it’ll lead to a committed relationship. Why? Simply put, it costs them less to keep you than to acquire a new customer. In fact, brands have become so afraid of getting ghosted that over half of retailers have introduced loyalty programs in some form, and another 24 percent plan to do so in the near future.

If you pick up any trade magazine you will certainly come across at least one article with tips for retailers on how to turn customers into “loyalists.” And that number of article is woefully disproportionate to the number of articles out there to help you, consumers, in selectively “settling down” with a brand. Luckily, you’re reading one of the latter at this very moment.

Here are three simple rules for you to follow for a healthy relationship with retailers. (Do I hear wedding bells?)

1. Don’t enter into a complicated relationship.

There are many red flags you should be able to spot early on; a difficult signup process, an incomprehensible point system, and a really bad user interface are a few of the many ways a loyalty program can frustrate us. I’ve seen them all. Based on my experience, the savings are not worth your time if you have to overcome these obstacles. When it comes to retail, these are rewards you shouldn’t have to work for—you’re doing the brand a favor because as wonderful as they may be, you’ll always be out of their league. That being said, all relationships—even healthy ones—require making sacrifices. Entering my phone number every time I buy something at Petco is a sacrifice worth the few hundred dollars I save per year there.

2. First love, then commitment.

I am part of the loyalty program or membership of the following brands only: Sephora, Petco, Amazon Prime, Visa, British Airways, and Restoration Hardware. My experiences with all these brands share one common trait: I was already a customer before I became a “rewarded loyalist.” I had spent a lot of money (too much?) at Restoration Hardware before they introduced the program, which offers me discounted prices on everything online and in store for an affordable annual fee. It made sense to pay the membership fee because I knew I would continue to buy from them to easily coordinate with the furniture I already had.

3. If you are in for the money, make sure it’s worth it.

Sephora, the beauty retail mecca has been recently at the center of a controversy around their reward point system that has caused them to lose some customers. I am one of them. The joy of picking up rewards after completing a transaction at the Sephora counter was part of the appeal of being there. Since I was always less interested in adding another free mini mascara to my already crowded beauty drawer, I was inclined to save up my points for a long time until I had enough for a significant gift. With the newly introduced policy that restricts the time one can save the points to less than 18 months, saving up those points is no longer an option for me. I’d venture to say there’s a good chance I’ll be venturing to other spots to get my beauty fixes. Sure, it’s not an entirely rational decision, but shopping rarely is.

Whether you’re saving up points or not, there are still a plethora of ways to save money. In fact, saving money is what sample sales do best. And keeping watch over the best of them is what we do best at TSC.

Here are the scheduled sample sales for some of our favorite brands this week. Loyalty program or not, we’re already pretty sure we’re in love…

The Rug Company Sample Sale
Eileen Fisher Spring Sample Sale
J. Mendel Private Sample Sale
L.K. Bennett Spring 2018 Sample Sale
Sachin & Babi Sample Sale
Theory Women’s Sample Sale

We hope you and these sample sales are very happy together!



Posted by Staff Writer at 12:00 AM
New York |


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14 February 2018

Fashion in its purest form? Love it. Assembling an outfit is an art form. It’s my creative expression of choice. But the industry that surrounds fashion—that packages it, labels it, sells it—is a sick one. Even more so than other creative mediums, the fashion industry is particularly poisoned with intrinsic hypocrisy.

Shocked I’m not here to give you shopping advice today? Hey, sometime I surprise myself. I’m feeling particularly fiery today, so I want to step up on my soap (shoe?) box and state that retail is honest but the fashion industry is not.

The fashion industry doesn’t care about models or influencers or even consumers. Its political views are not spontaneous dialogues but rather carefully curated campaigns that match the societal trends of the moment and are carefully choreographed to lead to money in their coffers.

There are some recent events that led me to this observation… and to binge-watching two seasons of The Good Place. By the way, I really hope with this article I am moving the needle towards guaranteeing me a spot in The Good Place.

Transgender models are the talk of the industry, with some publishers going as far as to say: “The Future of Fashion is Transgender Models.” I am grateful and thrilled for these courageous men and women who fought hard to be where they are. I can’t imagine how much harder life must be for them. On the other hand the fashion industry bigwigs seem so abruptly “woke” that it makes one wonder how selfless their motivation actually is.  An industry insider admitted after all “And not to be cynical, being inclusive and being diverse is actually in fashion right now… ” Mm-hm. That’s what I was afraid of.

Terry Richardson is finally cast off by Condé Nast. Now, everybody in fashion knew that “Uncle Terry” was a pervert, the same way everybody in Hollywood knew that Harvey Weinstein was one. Not only have there been countless allegations about Terry but the man himself is pretty open about who he is. Just open his book, Terryworld, and feast your eyes upon full-frontal nudity and (both simulated and actual) sexual acts.  The timing of the Condé Nast awaken moment makes me doubtful again of the real motivation behind the industry move. They’ve always known the truth, so why do something about it now? Because it is trendy to do something about it now.

Computer-generated fashion influencers… exist. The latest darling of the fashion industry, Miquela Sousa, or @lilmiquela on Instagram, does what any influencer does: shares her outfit-of-the-day, goes to events with friends, touts her political opinions, and counts her followers—pretty successfully, I might add. She’s amassed over 545,000 followers in a short period of time. Miquela is a 19 year old model and musician, probably well off since her outfits are of the Chanel, Proenza Schouler caliber. And while those labels are real, she herself… is not, at least according to the Business of Fashion.  Does it matter? It does to me. Wasn’t it bad enough labels were bribing influencers to wear their frocks and take pictures so we all feel we have to have what the cool kids have? Now they create imaginary cool kids that we have to copy too. They’re not just too cool for school… they’re now too cool for this plane of existence. Um, not cool if you ask me.

What is cool?  Well sample sales are good, honest opportunities to bring some guilt-free joy into your life. Here are some you don’t want to miss this week:

HEIKE JARICK Sample Sale
Rituals Sample Sale
SGN Showroom Sample Sale – Know THIS before you go

Long live fashion. But the industry? Meh…

Happy shopping.

XOXO



Posted by Staff Writer at 12:49 AM
New York |

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