The mysterious "sample sale season" varies from city to city. We look at the stats to find out exactly when sample sale season is!
Whether you're new to sample sales or a seasoned bargain hunting professional you will have heard people talk about sample sale season. But what is it, why is it and when is it?
Sample sales originally began as a way for brands to sell "samples" - one off production prototypes that were produced when designing the latest collections. These samples were often production quality, but were never produced in large numbers and were therefore never shipped to store or sold online - so you could get an original item from a top designer at an amazing price.
As sample sales have become more popular these genuine "sample" sales are often supplemented or entirely replaced by excess stock clearances - so past season and archive stock that was not sold through retail in time for the next season to arrive, and so is sold at a large discount. These sales are still sometimes called sample sales, but you'll also hear them called warehouse sales or archive sales.
Because of the nature of sample sales they very commonly come at the end of fashion seasons. But when is that? A lot depends on the brand - some of whom are rejecting the traditional seasons approach completely - but traditionally the last delivery date for Spring/Summer is the end of May, and the last delivery date for Fall is the end of September - and that's when you'll usually start to see the volume of sample sales ramping up.
Because the fashion markets are different in different cities - the sample sale seasons are subtly different in each one too. For example in New York, there is a clearly defined sample sale season for Spring in April to June, and then a massive peak for Winter in November and December:
In London the pattern is similar, but the Winter peak is not so dramatically pronounced, making for a slightly more even chart:
However note that in London the scene is completely dead in both January and August - while New York hardly ever has a very quiet month in Summer/Autumn at all.
In LA the pattern still peaks in December, but the rest of the year is much more even, due in part to the monthly sample sale events that occur at the various fashion markets in DTLA, such as the Cooper Design Building, California Market Center and New Mart Building:
Clearly there is very well defined seasonality for sample sales, but what does this mean for shoppers? Well, first thing to note is that quantity does not always equal quality - there are many amazing sample sales during the peak sample sale season but even in off season there can be occasional sale events that bargain hunters just should not miss. At Chicmi we're on the lookout for sample sales all year long - and as a shopper you can sometimes find that hitting an off-season sale can be a more pleasant experience and give you a higher chance of grabbing something really special.
The second takeaway though is make sure you're prepared for Christmas! All three markets we've studied here have significantly pronounced peaks in sample sales over the festive season, so prepare your wallet and your bank balance for an onslaught well in advance to make sure that you don't miss out!
To ensure you don't miss out on any sample sales, make sure you're on our free daily or weekly mailing lists. You can sign up here.
Brands regularly approach us looking for advice on setting up a sample sale in NYC. We've put together tips to help you get started!
It's a question we get almost weekly - I'm a brand or a retailer with some excess stock, how should I put together a sample sale in NYC? The New York sample sale scene is so vibrant, it's easy to get lost in a jungle of options and choices. A great sample sale can be a huge success - not only helping you clear stock, but also introducing new shoppers to your brand who otherwise would never have discovered you, but a poor sample sale can be bad business, loss making and damaging to your brand too, so it's vital to get it right.
The New York sample sale scene is very unique and different from the other markets that we cover. You essentially have three options here:
What option you choose will depend on the scale of the sale, the resources you have available and the audience you want to reach.
Many brands in NYC do organise sample sales for themselves - and they are often extremely successful. If you already have your own showroom or store in the city, and the venue supports a large number of people turning up to shop, it can be a great success. There is a lot to consider, however, including:
If these questions daunt you, then it may be best to seek help from an experienced third party. But if you feel you've got all of the resources you need already available then there's no reason not to go ahead.
A vital and often overlooked consideration for any sample sale is marketing - how are you going to reach out to people and bring them to your sale? Experienced sample sale organisers have links with media and sites like Chicmi to make sure that your event is covered in as many places as possible. Dedicated sample sale venues (which we'll cover further down) even have their own mailing lists, which they can use to attract sample sale devotees.
If you're producing the sale yourself then, you need a marketing strategy, which may include:
Whatever marketing methods you choose, there's a few things to bear in mind:
Chicmi of course can help. We will list your sample sale on our site for free - and we also offer a very popular digital marketing option (we call it Boost) to help you reach more customers online too if you'd like. We're happy to embargo your event until it's ready so make sure you reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible so that we can help you put together your plan.
There are specialist stock clearing companies in most cities, and many of them organise some of the most prevalent sample sales in their respective cities. This is especially true of LA for example, but less so in NYC - where it's far more common to use a dedicated venue or host the sale yourself.
However there are a few - and the most prolific of them are Shelly & Renee and Privé Designer Sales who organise a large number of sales in various venues across the city. If you need introductions to others then make sure you get in touch with us - just drop us an email at email@example.com.
The advantage of working with organisers like these is experience - they know the pitfalls, they have contacts at the venues, they know where to reach out to to get your event organised. Some organisers work on a set fee basis, some work on commission.
The most unusual feature of NYC is the number of dedicated sample sale venues in the city. These companies own one or more locations that are dedicated to hosting sample sales. They all have in-house logistics and marketing specialists, they have close connections with sites like Chicmi, and they all have mailing lists packed with sample sale lovers.
There are several of them in New York, but by far the most prevalent ones are 260 Sample Sale, Clothingline and Soiffer Haskin. These three companies all angle their services towards a slightly different set of verticals, with Soiffer Haskin organising many very high end luxury sales, 260 Sample Sale working regularly with high street brands, and Clothingline producing more multibrand events than the other venues.
Unlike a venue that you might hire and fit out yourself, these companies are highly experienced at producing sample sales - and will help you with everything from logistics to marketing. This expertise, their large mailing lists and their specialized venues do come at a cost - but if you've got a large amount of stock to shift, and especially if you need the event to be spot on perfect and have the budget to support it, then working with them is an obvious choice.
If you don't have a huge amount of stock or you don't have the budget or audience to run a sample sale by yourself, then collaborating with other brands is an option. It's very common for groups of brands with complimentary audiences to get together and organise a sale - they not only share the cost, but can also all invite their own set of dedicated fans, who can then discover the other brands on sale too.
As mentioned earlier, some companies like Clothingline will often bring multiple brands together for multibrand events themselves - and these can be very successful.
If you don't have a network of other brands to reach out to then make sure you check out our Collaborate network, where you can sign up as a brand and be notified when collaborative events are happening in the city that you can be part of. It's completely free to join the list or announce your event - so there's no reason not to get involved.
Although we don't organise sample sales ourselves, we're always delighted to help guide brands to the right place. And when you've got your sample sale together, make sure that you let us know, so that we can help send our dedicated fashion lovers your way! We're always here at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can use our event submission form here.
Chicmi's new Shopify integration lets brands sell products directly on the platform
We work hard to bring relevant, high quality content to our fashion lovers - and helping them to explore brands that they're unfamiliar with is a core part of mission. That's why our brand pages are so important, and we've worked hard to bring features like "Currently Trending Products" to our listings:
We know that brands would love the opportunity to curate the products shown on their brand pages and make them instantly available for sale to our users - and that's why we're excited to introduce our new Shopify integration.
Brands who use Shopify can now simply add Chicmi as a sales channel, select exactly what products they want to show from within their familiar Shopify dashboard, and we do the rest - displaying the products inline on the Chicmi site, and passing them through to your Shopify checkout if they wish to purchase it.
Even better, the feature is completely free - we only charge a 10% commission if a customer actually completes a sale.
Find out more and get started at our Shopify page.
Chicmi's new gender icons make it easier to navigate the sales happening in the city.
Ever get to a sample sale and find out that it's full of clothes that are not for you? Well, not any more - following a request from a gentleman shopper, we're delighted to welcome gender icons to our listings:
Of course feel free to use them as a guide or not at all - we recognise the importance of not being stuck to binary gender stereotypes for many of our shoppers!
Follow our stories to get the latest sample sales and fashion events in your area.
Chicmi are now on Snapchat, and we'll be announcing all of the latest upcoming fashion events and sample sales near you! Follow chicmi and check out our story to get the heads up on everything that's coming up!