At first blush visiting an outlet sounds like a shopping heaven. Luxury labels as far as the eye can see … at 80% of the RRP.
Once you actually arrive you will very quickly realize that all is not well in shopping heaven. Outlet stores exist because manufacturers cannot sell these garments in their flagship stores. Ponder that for a minute!
The other thing with outlet shops is they are designed to make you buy as much as possible. This is stock that they just want to get rid of! Sales assistants will do everything except wash your windows to entice you to buy stuff. I know this sounds obvious as all retail is designed to make consumers spend… but this push to sell, sell, sell is amplified in outlet shops. It is the Olympic games of impulse shopping.
Most things end up in outlet shops because:
- They are dated. Outlets are full of past trends and seasonal colours.
- They are badly tailored or ill-fitting. They may have a luxury label sewn on, but they are often factory seconds or have design faults.
- The manufacturer overproduced. The design did not turn out to be as popular as they thought it would be.
Keep these things in mind. And be aware the outlet just wants this stock off their inventory books. They want you to spend as MUCH as possible while thinking as LITTLE as possible. It’s an environment which encourages us to buy simply because things are heavily discounted.
I am always super cagey when walking into an outlet. Here are some pointers to navigate the landscape:
- DON’T BUY SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE IT IS CHEAP!
- Take a list. The things you actually need to enhance your wardrobe. ‘Enhance’ not ‘Fill’.
- Breathe, engage your brain, relax and take your time. An outlet is not the last shop on the planet.
- Check the items over. Make sure there are no missing buttons, pulls in the fabric or other damage to the garment.
- Try everything on. EVERYTHING. Make sure the fit is flattering for your body type.
- Analyse each item and critically assess it. Do you love it or just like it? (If you only like it, put it back). Does it enhance your collection? Does it suit your lifestyle? Is it a colour you would actually wear? Does it coordinate with other items in your wardrobe?
- Be patient. You are going to trawl through a lot of sh*t to find that treasure. Go slow.
- Take an honest advocate. If you aren’t good at shopping on your own, take someone who will give you an honest opinion. You may need someone to tell you ‘that white flannelette Moschino jacket may be 80% off but you need it like a hole in the head’.
- Be prepared to walk away with nothing. If nothing ticks the boxes, then buy nothing.
- Beware of bulk deals. Those deals are usually reserved for the absolute rubbish and are designed to offload as much inventory as possible on the consumer. Be discerning.
- I repeat – DON’T BUY SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE IT IS CHEAP
BUT… outlets aren’t all doom and gloom. I was recently in Italy and picked up a stunning white embroidered Moschino blazer for 80% off the RRP. It was a great find because
- I had been looking for a white blazer forever
- It suits my statement luxury style – the embroidery detail is to die for; and
- It fit me like a glove.
This Italian outlet was massive and I only walked away purchasing one item. That is because I could only find one garment that would honestly enhance by collection.
There are treasures to be found. Exercise patience over impulsivity.
image credit: Forbes Magazine, Zadig et Voltaire Outlet