10 September 2018

In case you didn’t know, there is a Rent The Runway sample sale going on right now. If you are anything like me, and want to actually commit to dresses from Rent The Runway with which you might otherwise only have one-night stands… now is the time to get on one knee and propose—or hop on one leg in a dressing room and try it on. Either way, all this makes me wonder: do I love  Rent The Runway or do I hate it?

The sharing economy is all the rage these days, and we have to give credit to Rent The Runway for being a pioneer of sorts in that respect. It’s a logically sound idea after all. How many times are you going to wear the same dress you wore to that wedding? It’s nearly—gasp—blasphemous to wear the same dress twice to such occasions. So I doubt you would flaunt it at another event where you’ll see the same people you violently elbowed in an effort to catch the bouquet at that last wedding.

When the time came to choose a dress for a black-tie wedding that Saturday, I was delighted to see the Rent The Runway dress selection. I always wanted to wear a Monique Lhuillier gown, and renting one (in two sizes) for $140 seemed like a reasonable price for a dress that retails for $880. What could go wrong? A LOT, apparently.

I ordered the dress and the earrings from Rent The Runway and the following day I actually bought a pair of sandals that matched my evening clutch. When Friday came, the supposed delivery day, I received an email at around 4PM that raised my cortisol levels. The email reported the dress was actually not available in my size after all, but a stylist would choose another one for me so I was (kind of) covered. By 8PM I was still waiting for the surprise dress, so I called Rent The Runway and asked for an update. I was reassured the dress would be delivered within an hour. An hour passed and the dress was still not there.

At this time, my stress was teetering on the edge of a panic attack, so I crossed the street for a spicy margarita to forget my first world (but very serious) problems. When I returned home, the dress was still not there. Finally—at 11:30PM, it arrived. I just breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed without even opening the box.

When I opened the package Saturday morning, the day of the wedding, there was no surprise dress chosen for me by some mystery stylist. All that was there was original dress I’d chosen in its backup size that was too small for me. Panic overwhelmed me and there was not enough spicy margaritas in the world to make me feel better. I called Rent The Runway, and they advised me to go downtown to their store and physically pick up one. Um, the reason I’d ordered from Rent The Runway in the first place was so that I wouldn’t have to do exactly what I was doing right now.

But… here’s the good news: the store personnel was actually great. Both the customer service (Ru?) and the stylist (Mackenzie?) were professional, helpful, and (my perfect counterbalance) very calm. I ended up leaving the place with a better dress than the one I had originally chosen for myself.

So, after this both bad and good experience and then three more that proved to be somewhat similar, I guess I’m giving it yet another go? This weekend I am ordering another dress for a “casual country club look” and I am keeping the fingers crossed (as I type this—so excuse any typos) that it will be here on time.

Regardless of whether another dress fiasco ensues, here’s the takeaway lesson for you. I have placed a total of four Rent The Runway orders so far, and only two were delivered as expected. If you get the four days package, be prepared to receive it at the end of the first day, or on the second day (this is another story for another time). If you are flexible, keep calm, and rent the dress in a way that you are covered for anything that might go wrong because it’s still a great way to be stylish on a budget. Also, this is not based on my personal experience but rather on a stranger’s review; make sure you return everything on time. If you are late or they don’t receive the package, the penalties are such that you end up paying more than if you’d bought the item retail full price. Yikes!

What is your Rent The Runway experience?

Happy shopping,

Posted by Mirela Gluck at 09:34 AM
Our Views and Opinions |

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 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
Our Views and Opinions |

17 April 2018

Amazon expands Prime Wardrobe

Amazon Fashion is extending its invite-only Prime Wardrobe program to more Prime customers, the company told Retail Dive in an email on Thursday. The program, which allows shoppers to order and try clothes without paying first, hasn’t yet officially launched, a spokesperson said. Invitations appear to be easy to get.

Posted by Staff Writer at 03:38 AM
News: Fashion, Beauty and Retail , Shopping like a Pro |

18 December 2017

Journalism is a segregated landscape these days… particularly when the content is political. Full disclosure: this post is not political. But. The journalism in the realm of consumerism is equally segregated. What to believe?!

I have noticed a tendency (in both myself and others) to flock towards publications already aligned with my own beliefs. Midge Decter captured this phenomenon perfectly when she said,

“There comes a time to join the side you’re on.”

After all, it’s easier to immediately write off something that makes us ask ourselves tough questions. Taking things personally is a sure-fire recipe for a closed mind. It’s easier to buy into a philosophy that doesn’t challenge us at all. This not-so-cool tendency actually has an official name: confirmation bias. It is the  predisposition to search for things that confirm our preexisting beliefs.

I started ruminating on this topic after reading two articles about—you guessed it—shopping. The first is one of a string of similar articles in New York Magazine, entitled “43 Things on Sale You’ll Actually Want to Buy.” I am a bargain connoisseur, so no doubt my heart skipped a beat when reading those words. I read the article, but stopped before I clicked. I didn’t act on my preloaded, devotional belief in bargain hunting. Instead, I let my prefrontal cortex kick into action. It felt good. I reminded myself that New York Magazine most likely has an affiliated program and that the article was likely written with one motive in mind: to lure me to click and buy. Sure enough, I clicked just to confirm my theory and I was promptly redirected via an affiliated link to Moda Operandi.  

With some hesitation and doubt, I moved on to read The New York Times article on how not to shop for a whole year.  As predicted, the article encourages us to take a break from consumerism. It goes on to recommend that we commit to the no shopping experiment as a New Year’s resolution. I have to admit the article had some interesting points. Still, I could very well start a debate in response on the large-scale effect this experiment could have, and what that might do to the economy and our beloved fashion and retail industries.

Instead, I’ll make another point. Every publication is still in the business of selling. They don’t know you, and they don’t know what’s good for you. You do. And if you don’t know quite yet, then you find out by reading both sides of the story and fishing out your truth from probably somewhere in the middle. Unless you have a shopping addiction that’s harmful to yourself or your family, you don’t need to stop shopping cold-turkey. Why so extreme?! You also don’t need to buy all 43 items listed on sale for the sake of bargain hunting.

All you need to do is shop responsibly.
What better way to do that than at a NYC sample sale?

It’s the last week before Christmas—A.K.A. Unofficial Procrastinators’ Shopping Week. Are you one such procrastinator?

If you left your shopping to the last minute and missed the online shopping cut off, here are some options to responsibly spend your money while still keeping the holiday spirit alive.

You can buy women’s apparel at up to 60% off at the Eileen Fisher Sample Sale and feel good about it as 100% off the sales will be donated this year to Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute.

You can buy the perfect gift—fragrances or candles—at up to 80% off retail prices at the TOCCA Sample Sale.

You can find Santa-worthy presents for kids at the Desigual Sample Sale.

For more options, check out the complete list of NYC Sample Sales.

And hey… I think it was Descartes who wisely said, “I think, therefore I shop.”

Make up your own mind when it comes to consumerism. Happy shopping!

Posted by Staff Writer at 12:55 AM
Our Views and Opinions |

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