Well, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Shopping. Yes, we spend years out of our precious lives on the quest for clothes, handbags, shoes, jewelry and more. In 2006, the Daily Mail published a study saying the average woman spends 8 years of her life shopping. More recently, our friends at Fashionably Marketing Me referenced a study showing that the average women spends 3 years of her life shopping. And people wonder why fashion blogs on shopping are so successful? It’s the epic quest my dear readers! The quest of the chic and the cheap is all consuming for many of us. During the BlogHer conference, shopping savings behemoth Shop at Home threw the gauntlet down to Bloggers (who applied to be chosen to go on a shopping excursion) to see what we could do with $150.00 in cash during a 3 hours trip in the New York Garment District. Needless to say, Shop at Home had no idea who they were dealing with in The Recessionista blogger. The words shopaholic don’t even come close to my love for shopping in search of bargains. But it’s lucky for you dear reader that I am such a fanatic, because I am going to share with you a few of New York’s best kept shopping secrets. With the help of shopping tour guide, Pamela of The Elegant Tightwad, we visited some amazing show rooms that offered their samples and off the rack guides for much, much less than retail. Although it’s still called “the Garment District” there really is no NYC Garment District anymore with factories where workers actually sew and make fabrics. What remains are show rooms where the designers and manufacturers sell to retailers. If you are a brick and mortar store or online retailer who walks into the show rooms with a seller’s permit, you can expect to pay wholesale for the goods. However, on certain days of the week, some of the show rooms are open to the public (this is true of the Los Angeles California Mart) and some showrooms sell their discounted goods to the woman off the street who knows where to look for the deals. Some items are samples that will never be produced for retail sale, some are from the previous season and are close-outs, and some just didn’t sell and they languish in the showroom until a shopper like me appears One of my spies tells me that the designers would rather sell the close-outs and cast-offs in their showrooms at 50 % to 80% off rather than send them to a store like TJ Maxx or Marshalls where they may only make as little as 5 cents profit per 1 dollar of sale on their items. So, if you live in New York City, or have the occasion to travel there, here is some of what I discovered. Check NY Magazine’s helpful list of the sales for more information on where to go.
Linda Richards: Luxury Coats and Accessories, Open to the Public on Fridays, but call first. If you are looking for an elegant, and beautifully tailored coat, this is the place to go. Linda Richards also sells separates, and beautiful cashmere sweaters. I scored a gorgeous mock turtleneck cashmere black sweater and sleeveless black lace top. If I didn’t live in California, I would have bought the about red coat, but the days when I need a good winter coat are sadly over. Linda Richards sells a variety of sizes, both Misses and Women’s.
JSong International features pantsuits, blouses, dresses and tops that are made of linen and natural fabrics. The color palette is very bright and cheerful. Designer Way Zen is influenced by embroidery and detail that she saw in China. The clothes are very feminine, and feature lots of little details like petals, pleats and pin tucks. Each piece is hand finished. I picked up a gorgeous teal linen top with fine tailoring. JSong describes their line as “The world’s most beautiful embroidered fashion.” Some of JSong maybe too elaborate for everyday dressing, but it’s worth a look.
One of the show rooms we visited featured some of the most beautiful European Sweaters you will ever see. I went a little crazy there, but they had great pieces from a great European manufacturer. This showroom had gorgeous sweaters, silk tops and lovely dresses. They also had short jackets. The color palette and range from the brands was amazing, as you can see from the tunic top held by our tour guide above.. Also, know your European size before you shopping. At this showroom, all clothing was in Euro sizes. I picked up two beautiful sweaters here. One a tangerine cardigan with scalloped edges and the second a gorgeous azure blue cardigan. Both were deeply discounted!
The final stop on the tour featured some amazing finds especially if you love Vintage Vogue styles, the designs of Ossie Clark and the prints of Celia Birtwell. This was the final stop on the Shop at Home tour, and I fell off the budget wagon here, but I got great deals! With the help of a cash infusion from Nichole’s Nickels (in exchange for a check) I was able to pick up an amazing designer silk black top with red roses that looks like a reproduction of a 1910 pattern. The top is from a terrific design house and their fashions are sold at Neiman Marcus. They used to have an outlet here in Los Angeles, so I may have had a West Coast advantage in finding this one. I also picked up an amazing one of a kind Mauve jersey top with a high collar and dolmain sleeeves.
Bottom line, if you go to New York for business or pleasure, do a Google search on where there are show rooms that might be open to the public. To find sample sales in New York, or your areas, sign-up for Thrillist updates. Most of the showrooms don’t take credit cards or checks. Click here to read more about our shopping adventures from Fantabulously Frugal.
Note: Special thanks to Olympus for loaning me the new Olympus Pen digital camera which I used to take pictures of the shops, and the clothes, as noted above. All photos by M. Hall except the JSong dress photo.