What is a sample sale?
A sample sale is a limited time sale event where brands offer heavy discounts on their fashion items, more so than they would in seasonal sales.
The sales are a mixture of catwalk samples, showroom displays, returns and overstock.
Before sample sales, brands struggled to find a way to sell previous seasons' stock, so these items would either be burnt or sent to landfill, which ultimately pollutes our planet.
Now sample sales are an additional way for brands to sell their fashion items and help reduce the impact of the fashion industry on our planet.
At CHICMI we ensure our sample sales have fashion items of at least 60% off retail prices - a perfect opporunity for fashion lovers to treasure hunt and find great bargains!
Finding bargains at a London sample sale
The vibrant London sample sale scene makes it one of the best places for finding discount fashion!
So what is a London sample sale?
Producing fashion is a tricky business - brands need to create new seasons regularly, and produce enough clothes to make sure they satisfy any unexpected demand. At the end of each season there's often a lot of great items left over - which may be excess stock, or runway pieces, or samples from the production process. The brands need to get rid of this to make room for their next season - and that's where London sample sales come in to play!
At a London sample sale you can pick up this fashion at a big discount - often 60% to 90% off, depending on the brand. They're short, fast-moving events and often very popular. Some are private and invite only, some require booking, while some you can just walk in and shop. At Chicmi we make sure you know what's coming up and how you can access them!
Plus more recently, a lot of London sample sales have moved online - and we've got you covered there too. We'll keep you updated with the best digital sample sales that will shop to London, and you can shop them directly from the brands on our site. So keep an eye out for those too!
Note that while "sample sale" has become the standard term for these sales, some brands will call them warehouse sales, private sales or archive sales too - these days the terms are mostly interchangeable.
When is London sample sale season?
Sample sales in London can occur all year round and are sometimes announced at the last minute - so you need to keep a close watch if you want to catch your favourite brands! But they're most common when fashion seasons are coming to an end, so you'll find a lot of them in March to May and especially in October to December.
There are also many dedicated London sample sale venues - like The Music Room, The BOX, Showcase and Arlettie - which host sample sales throughout the year, including for some of the global top brands.
What will I find in a London sample sale?
You'll find sample sales sales in London ranging from international brands to many emerging and independent labels. Make sure you don't limit yourself to just the famous names, as sample sales are a great way to cheaply discover the next up-and-coming talent too. Sometimes the London sample sales by emerging labels - especially the group shows - can be really fun, with live DJs, food, drink and music, along with opportunities to meet the designers and discover the full stories behind their clothes.
On the negative side, some London sample sales can be pretty intense experiences. Some very popular sales can attract very long queues, so expect to wait if you're hitting a sample sale featuring a high street or luxury brand. And even with a luxury label don't expect a VIP service - often the more popular sales will require you to check in your coat and bag before you can enter, and there are seldom little niceties like changing rooms or a private shopper!
If you're unsure about a particular sample sale then check out the event page on Chicmi before you go and we'll share tweets and comments from people who are actually there - so you can get an idea of how good the pricing is, what items are available and what the queue is like before you go!
Where Do Sample Sales Occur?
In terms of location, London's sample sales can be spread out all across the city, but some locations like the The Music Room in Mayfair or The BOX in Hackney are hot venues and are used very regularly. You'll also find a lot of independent sample sales happen around Shoreditch, where many emerging fashion designers have their studios.
Make sure you sign up for Chicmi's daily or weekly fashion alerts to keep up to date with the latest sample sales in London!