New York's sample sale scene is second-to-none, making it the best city on earth to find a fashion bargain. Read more >
The seasonal and constantly changing world of fashion means that brands often have items left over from past seasons, runway shows or the design and production process that they've collected in their offices or warehouses. Sample sales are sales events - often held in dedicated showrooms or event spaces - where you can buy these items at a significant discount on their normal retail value. Many sample sales discount between 70% to even 90% off.
Sample sales are often an experience in themselves - popular sales will frequently have queues to enter, you might have to store your coat or bag in a cloakroom, and you will often be competing with other shoppers to find and buy the items you want before others do. You you'll often find samples come in limited sizes, and you shouldn't expect the perks of proper luxury clothes shopping - many places don't have changing rooms and you're not likely to get a personal shopper!
Items bought in a sample sale are usually sold as is, and you won't be able to return them. Many sample sales accept cash and card, but check before you go, as some will be cash only or card only.
New York has one of the worlds most vibrant and eclectic fashion communities, and the sample sales match! You'll find sales ranging from luxury brands and high street labels through to independent and emerging brands. The sample sales for luxury and high street brands are often quite practical affairs where you are there to grab a bargain as quickly as possible - but the independent and emerging events can be a great way to discover a brand's clothes, meet the designers, and sometimes enjoy entertainment or drinks alongside the sales.
Along with sample sales organised by the brands themselves, there's also a rich calendar of sample sales organised by third parties or collectives. For example Shelly & Renee organise New York sample sales on behalf of many luxury brands and European labels, and companies like Soiffer Haskin and Clothingline host sample sales in their spaces all year round as well.
Because the fashion scene in NYC is so big, you'll find sample sales all year round - but the most common periods, or "sample sale seasons", are when the fashion seasons come to an end. Spring Summer sample sales often happen between April to June, and Autumn Winter sample sales happen October to December. These are the times that you really want to keep an eye on the sample sale calendar, and make sure you don't miss your favourite brands!
OK New York sample sale fans, we hope you've booked this week off already, because you've got a busy week of shopping and bargain hunting ahead of you! It's got pretty crazy this week, and we think it's only going to get busier too!
The fun really kicks off on Tuesday, where you've got three great new New York sample sales to choose from. There's a Elie Tahari sample sale going down at the Elie Tahari outlet on Fifth for five days. Then there's a James Perse sample sale taking over 260 Sample Sale on Fifth Avenue for five days too, featuring their menswear, womenswear and accessories. And last but not least you've got the Bandier sample sale, where you can stock up on their activewear over at Clothingline for three days.
But while Tuesday is where it all begins, it's certainly not where it ends. Wednesday sees a shocking seven new sample sales opening in NYC, and these include a SoulCycle sample sale opening at 260 Sample Sale on Greene Street, and then an A.P.C. Sample Sale going on over the bridge in Brooklyn for four days. We also think you should check out the Boutique on 57 sample sale too - this New York institution for designer brands is closing its doors, and selling off everything - so there might be a designer bargain hiding in the racks there somewhere that you won't find anywhere else!
Not satisfied yet? Seriously? Well after Thursday we guarantee that you will be - because Thursday is the big one folks. There's just four new sample sales on Thursday, but one of them is a NYC sample sales institution, the other is an internationally respected designer brand, the third is a good indie collective and the fourth is a sleek upcoming designer, so whatever you want there's something for you! What are we talking about? We're referring to the New York sample sales spectaculars of a Hermès Sample Sale kicking off at Soiffer Haskin, a Vivienne Westwood sample sale at CP Sample Sale on West 36th Street, a multibrand sample sale with Alexis, OneTeacup, Nightcap and more at Big Drop NYC, and finally a two day Kimora Lee Simmons sample sale happening on West 24th Street. The Hermès Sample Sale is somewhat of a right of passage in NYC - not for everyone, but an extreme sample sale experience that can leave dedicated bargain hunters (literally) bruised but also very happy!
After all of that we hardly have the energy to mention the Gilt City Warehouse Sale that's happening on Friday, and I've no idea how we're going to get round to telling you that this is only the very start of the season - because on our list we already have New York sample sales from Rebecca Minkoff, Inhabit, Ramy Brook, Vivienne Tam, Oscar De La Renta, Eberjey, Miista, Derek Lam, Lafaette 148, Zac Posen and Rachel Zoe in the calendar for the next month or so! It's going to be an exciting, expensive and bargain-rich season guys, so make sure you don't burn out too soon and spend all of your money at once!
Happy New York sample sale shopping, NYC!
Published October 16th 2016