Tag Archives: Kenneth Cole

Flash Sales: Are They Really Bargains?

Hello-Hello, and happy new week!  Your moronic somewhat frazzled correspondent inadvertently hit the ‘publish’ key for this post earlier today, please accept our apologies for that blunder, this is the complete post as it was meant to be published. (Still pounding head on keyboard, wall, floor, large bruises appearing on forehead, Silly Tilly the Tubby Bulldog continues to gaze in this direction with wonderment.)

Today we conclude our reports on sale sites. Previously we had something of a ‘flash sale primer,‘ followed by a look at preppy brands sold on the sites. Today’s topic is one many of us have wondered about, how good are the deals?

The sites use the scarcity of merchandise as a major marketing ploy, but how tough is it really to find the brands many of us like on sale? In actuality, not that difficult at all for many lines. Below we share a partial list of companies offering their wares at flash sales several times a year:

  • APPAREL: Lilly, Vineyard Vines, Nanette Lepore, Tahari, Juicy Couture, Pink Tartan, Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, Hanky Panky
  • SHOES: Børn, Reebok, MBT, Ivanka Trump, Juicy Couture, Paris Hilton, Mephisto, Jessica Simpson, Donald J Pliner, Steve Madden,
  • HOME: The MacBeth Collection, Safavieh, Amy Butler, Kosta Boda, Waterford, Frette, Tommy Hilfiger Home, Preppy Plates, Bungalow Scout
  • KITCHEN: Henckels, Kitchen Aid, Staub, Zak Designs, Kalorik, Cuisinart, Pfaltzgraff
  • FOOD/OTHER: Mrs. Prindables (around major holidays), Hey’s Luggage, Samsonite Luggage, Victorinox

While yours truly isn’t a fan of several brands listed, it does demonstrate how often one can find merchandise. Multiply this by hundreds of other consumer brands and you have a sense of the dizzying volume of inventory available at discount prices. (Saying these lines are available on a ‘frequent’ basis is an understatement in some cases, a few of these are in almost constant rotation on the sites.)

Let’s look a label many readers are fond of, Lilly Pulitzer Here are three of the deals at last week’s Lilly Pulitzer sale on RueLaLa.

Rue La La Thursday June 7, 2012

A Bowen dress originally selling at $268 for $99.90 was a good buy indeed. As were the Cabana Sun Readers ($35.90 as opposed to $60) and the Mitzie Forever pant (they were $49.90, the MSRP is $128). In reality, everything offered seemed to be quite a bargain, and much sold out rapidly, as is usually the case with Lilly.

But savvy online shoppers also use other sources for good deals: many check the wildly popular Re-Lilly page on Facebook, along with other FB pages offering the opportunity to buy, sell and trade Lilly Pulitzer goods. And they watch eBay, as well as staying in touch with their local Lilly stores online and off to track sales. In the offline world many visit TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and other off-price stores, and some travel to the semi-annual warehouse sales near the Pink Palace. (This spring’s sale starts June 14, more info may be found here, a Facebook page for the Warehouse Sale is also set up here.)

Back to the bigger issue on pricing, here is more from a CNBC story:

The limited quantities of merchandise and tight time limits create a sense of urgency that can goad consumers into making impulse purchases, but it only takes a few times before savvy consumers realize that they can often find the same merchandise for less elsewhere.

Two companies making things for the home (as opposed to fashion) that we are accustomed to seeing on flash sale sites are Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid.  We are big fans of our Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and our hand mixer here at the Prepatorium, they are in use constantly. (Only on those rare instances when Cook has the night off, of course. Ahem.) For the sake of today’s exercise we will look at a Kitchen Aid 5 Speed Mixer in Onyx Black.

In December on Beyond the Rack the Mixer was shown at $54.99 (“compare to $79.99 MSRP”) seen below on the left, below right we show it at the Kitchen Aid site, where the mixer was being sold at $39.99 with a MSRP of $49.99.  The mixers seem identical, both seem to come with the same package of “turbo beater accessories,” including dough hooks, a blender rod, and more.

So the question becomes, why would I want to buy it from Beyond the Rack for roughly $15 more?

The NY Times ran a story titled “Bargain Hunters: Hold That Click” in October of last year.

Flash sales are the highest expression of shopping as competitive sport. To win, you must be among the first customers to put an item into a virtual cart, then commit to buying it minutes later or else watch as it — poof! — disappears from the cart. As those precious seconds tick by, there is hardly time to comparison-shop on other Web sites.

Let’s do another example, back on January 26 Kitchen-Aid was back on Beyond the Rack. There were some good deals, but in terms of scarcity, no one can make the case the Raspberry Ice Stand Mixer shown below was difficult to locate. In the graphic below we show it for sale at Beyond the Rack for $339.99, at 6 other retailers it was approximately $10 more. Determining the best “bargain” was essentially a case of comparing shipping fees and return policies.

On March 28th, the same mixer was back on Beyond the Rack at $344.99, proving the “get it quick before it’s gone” argument for buying is often erroneous.

This CNBC story underscores the point:

The limited quantities of merchandise and tight time limits create a sense of urgency that can goad consumers into making impulse purchases, but it only takes a few times before savvy consumers realize that they can often find the same merchandise for less elsewhere.

Again, the sites count on and exploit that sense of frenzy, more from a retail expert via CNBC’s Consumer Nation:

…it comes with an excitement factor since merchandise can sell out fast.

“I think the sense of urgency is very powerful in terms of eliciting consumer behavior. They are tapping into something fundamental in terms of how humans respond to urgency and sales,” said Lipsman.

Let’s stay with the not-really-scarce Kitchen Aid for a minute, they were also selling on Ideeli in December, on December 12th we looked at a different Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  We’ll compare prices for the 5 Quart Stand Mixer in Empire Red; “on sale” at Ideeli it was $299, but at Amazon the mixer was $239.

We did our best comparing apples to apples: both have a 5-qt. stainless steel bowl, both come with a flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip, both have the 325 watt motor, both have the 2-piece pouring shield with large chute for adding ingredients. Shipping and handling at Ideeli was $9.95 for a total of $308.95, at Amazon S&H was $20.92 for a total of $260.91.

Another example, also in the Kitchen/Bakeware category, is seen with this set of 3 OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls.  January 22nd of this year the set was $50 on Gilt.com

Gilt.com January 22, 2012

The price at Amazon for the same item that day: $29.99

Amazon.com January 22, 2012

Last Friday we decided to do some more random price-checking. Many items we saw at RueLaLa were good buys, here are a few examples:

RueLaLa.com

We did another comparison at Haute Look, the Nordstrom-owned flash sale site.

Haute Look

March 28th we saw a demonstration of the maxim about knowing your prices and taking time to shop around. A Tommy Hilfiger “Captiva” Duvet and Sheet Set was $149.90 at Rue La La, while the same 7-Piece Set was $109.99 at Overstocks.com Both retailers offered a duvet cover, two shams, flat sheet, fitted sheet, two pillowcases.

RueLaLa/Overstocks

Back to the NY Times story by Stephanie Rosenbloom:

ON Gilt.com, where shoppers vie for limited-time discounts on designer brands, a Kate Spade cabana-stripe medium tote bag was recently $169, plus $5.95 shipping. That same day, the bag was on KateSpade.com for $130 with free shipping — about $45 cheaper.

On HauteLook.com, another so-called “flash sale” site, a navy dress by Decode 1.8 was $75, plus $7.95 shipping. But at Overstock.com, the dress cost $55.99 and shipping was free. Savings: $26.96.

It is also important to know precisely what you are buying. Gilt did an event January 21-23 called “Wear Now: Sweaters with Style,” offering a number of labels one would associate with a department store: White & Warren, Pink Tartan, Autumn Cashmere, etc.. But some of the brands didn’t sound at all familiar, like “Barrow & Grove,” I didn’t remember ever hearing of it. There is a reason I hadn’t, it turns out ‘Barrow & Grove’ is a brand created and sold by Gilt, the company filed for the trademark last August.

Gilt.com

Gilt describes itself this way:

“Gilt Groupe provides instant insider access to today’s top designer labels, at up to 60% off retail. Join today to receive insider pricing on designer fashion, jewelry…”

Barrow & Grove doesn’t fit in my definition of top designer labels. It begs the question, where and when were the cashmere sweaters now “on sale” at $109 and $99 sold at $262 and $242? And it raises the issue of transparency, one is given the distinct impression they are purchasing ‘designer’ goods offered at upscale stores like Saks or Neimans when shopping at Gilt, not merchandise created specifically for Gilt.com. I’m sure the Barrow & Grove sweaters were lovely garments, but I would prefer knowing they are made for the site, as opposed to being told this:
Nothing says luxury like cashmere, and nothing says top-notch cashmere like one of our favorite new labels, Barrow & Grove.
Another site we enjoy (and have purchased from) is One Kings Lane, specializing in home design and interior decor.  But at times the items up for sale are… well, a little odd, to say the least. Our friend Meg, the delightful mind behind Pigtown Design, has done an outstanding series of posts under the banner OKL Madness. For example, she wondered about this item, a “Vintage Green Tackle Box” that was offered at $79.

One King Lanes via Pigtown Deisgn

As Meg noted in her post, the condition looks more like: “rusting and dents”. Another example she shared is this 1970s Vera Framed Scarf offered last week. For $849.

One Kings Lane

This example resonated because yours truly has quite a few vintage scarves by artist Vera Neumann in her possession, several in mint, pristine condition. And The Consort has had a vintage scarf or two framed as artwork in the past, so we’re well aware of prices for vintage silk scarves by name designers, as well as costs for very nicely framed items of this kind. IOHO referring to this as ‘madness’ is kind.  (BTW, for those on Pinterest Meg even has a OKL Madness board.)

When purchasing from any of the sites it is imperative to know shipping and return policies, this can be especially important if purchasing oversized or unusually shaped items for the home, StyleList offers more:

…although One Kings Lane offers returns on some products within a 14-day window, most items are marked final sale. Also, Gilt Home has a similar policy, stating they do accept decor returns but not “on discounted home items, as well as those delivered via in-home and special delivery services,” which pretty much includes all furniture.

In summation, it all comes down to knowing what you are buying, not just the price and availability of an item, but also shipping and return policies at any given site.  In order to make an educated purchase those factors should trump desire for the item, and the delivery timeline should also be factored in.  Knowing other available outlets for purchasing the item(s) should also play a part, both online and off-line, including what were once unconventional resources, like the Re-Lilly FB page.  Of course, if it’s merely a case of “see it – want it – buy it” then the impulse wins and none of this much matters. (Umm, we have also done that too.)

Part 1 of the series is here, Part 2 is here. If, after reading all of this yawn-inducing background you are interested in signing up for any of the sites, here are links to some where I have shopped *and* enjoyed a positive experience. Another interesting facet of the flash sale business model are the varying rewards offered for those referring customers, most offer merchandise credits of anywhere from $10 to $25 if someone uses your invitation link and also purchases something.

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Filed under preppy, Sales & Savings

Preppy is Back. Again. Also, Brands You’ll See in True Prep

Hello-Hello, happy new week!

We must begin with an enormous “Thank You” to everyone who left such kind and lovely comments following Friday’s post, not to mention the Tweets and Facebook comments.  There is no adequate way to explain how touched we were by the sentiments, it made our day extra special.

Today we have breaking news just in to the Prepatorium: there is another preppy resurgence! Oh my!

Umm… not exactly. We apologize for our poor step into hyperbole, we were unable to resist the temptation. The not-breaking-news comes via our friends on the far side of the pond.  In yet another look at ‘preppy style’ this story from Sunday’s Independent asks: “Are you Ready to get Preppy?” with the following as a subheadline:

“After 30 years in the doldrums, the relaxed East Coast look is back – along with a new handbook to help you wear it with elan”

The story is pegged to this fall’s release of “True Prep” from Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd, a topic covered previously in this space. Here is the story’s opening paragraph from writer Susie Mesure:

“Can’t tell your Top-Siders from your Sebagos? Unsure how high to roll your chinos? After some preppy shopping primers? Well, unfurrow your brows and raise a gin and tonic because help is at hand from a new book out this autumn that will exploit the current clamour for East Coast style.”

We doubt Princess readers are struggling with the issues mentioned above, but we could be wrong.  The photo accompanying the story shows looks from the spring 2010 Ralph Lauren collection (our post on the collection may be found here.)

Courtesy Polo Ralph Lauren

If given a choice of designers to illustrate the Independent story, we lean more toward these Brook Brothers promotional pieces…

Brooks Brothers

They promote the Summer at the Cape collections.

BrooksBrothers.com

An editor from Gentleman’s Quarterly is quoted in the Independent story:

“Robert Johnson, associate editor of the fashion magazine GQ, said: “Preppy is back. Every season, particularly summer, there is always a nod to classic Americana but preppy is a big trend this year.” He partly attributed its popularity to the fact that people are “bored” with denim.”

To read the story in its entirety, click here.

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One of our favorite blogs, All the Rage, also previews the upcoming book in this piece by Adam Tschorn.  This photo collage is used to illustrate his story.

Brooks Brothers & Tory Burch via All the Rage

Mr. Tschorn (aka ‘Cuffy’) offers the perspective of someone who actually attended prep school.  In today’s post his interview with Ms. Birnbach offers insight on what brands readers can expect to see in the upcoming book:

“…familiar favorites are revisited. Among them are Lacoste, Sperry Top-Sider, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren. “I was very, very stingy with [Ralph] in 1980. I think he’s referred to maybe once,” she said. “But this time he gets a lot of play.”

She said that some additions are labels that actually pre-date the first book, including Burberry, Barbour, Hermès, Verdura, Kenneth Jay Lane, Hunter Wellies, and J.M. Weston (“They have these beautiful loafers from France,” she explains).”

Many brands included in the upcoming volume did not even exist when TOPH (The Official Preppy Handbook) was published. More from Mr. Tschorn’s story with Lisa Birnbach:

““We’ve got Vineyard Vines – they started in 1998, and of course J. Crew — which wasn’t around then either [it launched in 1983 as a mail-order company]. And we’ve got some Kenneth Cole [1982] and a little bit of Robert Graham [2001].”

Below, two shirts from Robert Graham.

Ms. Birnbach also chats at length about Tory Burch in the story.  We recommend popping over for a read, it is a fun piece.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing we’ve seen yet on the book was in today’s Book Bench from the New Yorker site.  In a post titled, “Prep is Dead, Long Live Prep” Meredith Blake mentions yours truly (prompting a most unPrincess-like shriek):

“While the original handbook advised that “you should appear in print only three times in your life—upon birth, marriage, and death,” today’s prep is virtually screaming for a little attention; the wasp mystique, it seems, has faded. Like everything else, we can blame it on the Internet, where there’s a thriving community of bloggers dedicated to all things prep-related. At the pink-and-green themed The Preppy Princess, Susan Kelly defends her love for Lilly Pulitzer, while Melissa Morris’s May December has such an impassioned following that its author was the subject of a profile in the newspaper of record. There’s also The Trad, a slightly more idiosyncratic blog dedicated to classic American-made garments.”

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We conclude all this blather with a cautionary note: it is likely we shall encounter an increasing volume in the mainstream media about the preppy aesthetic being raised from the dead (ahem), in sync with the calendar’s movement toward True Prep’s September release date.
And with visions of books dancing in our head we say, g’bye!

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Filed under Prepalicious, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, True Prep & TOPH, When Preppy Goes Wrong

Ralph Lauren…at the White House? Gossip Girl Reality Show in the Works

Hello and Happy Friday!  It seems the week has either flown by at a furious pace or been painfuly slow, no in-betweens for our friends and business associates. What about you? Frenzied crazy-fast? Or painfully slow-as-molasses?

Speaking of a frenzy, Fashion Week is officially underway. We will do our best to share relevant updates, photos and info as we can.  In fact, we’ll start with a little gossip via the always-on-top-of-things staff at NY Mag.  The GQ fashion week party was Wednesday night, and apparently the conversation turned to the Obama family and their sartorial selections.  Several attendees considered ‘preppy purveyors’ talked about the President’s selection of neckties.

“… designer Tommy Hilfiger said that while his company had not formally approached the Obamas about wearing his designs, “I know Barack wears some of my ties, I’ve seen them.” David Lauren, clad in Rugby and wearing a foot cast after a run-in with a cracked Soho sidewalk, added that the Obamas “have great style … and if they choose to wear us, we’d love it.”

The “He likes me better!” “No he doesn’t, he likes me best!” one-upsmanship apparently continued:

“But even if Sasha and Malia Obama eschew outsized Polo ponies this season, rest assured that the Ralph Lauren brand has already made its mark on the White House. “I believe that [the Obama girls’] rooms have been painted with Ralph Lauren paints,” said Lauren.”

We expect everyone shall enjoy much more restful sleep this evening being in possession of this information.

BTW, the online Tommy store does have *all* kids merchandise 30% off, according to the website:

Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

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On a quasi-related note, one of our original Anti-Preps, Kim Kardashian, is evidently attending some shows at Fashion Week.  Seriously.  Ms.Kardashian claims the idea to attend some of the shows was actually the brainchild (?) of “Reggie.” (Apologies, but we do not know Reggie, although we presume he is a romantic interest for Ms. Kardashian.)

At any rate, apparently the two are planning on being at the Adidas Y-3 show. Below we show a Y-3 look:

Courtesy Ruby Hornet

Courtesy Ruby Hornet

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Big news for Gossip Girl fans: Bravo is launching a reality show based on Gossip Girl! Broadcasting & Cable reports a new show is planned by the producer who does Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.

The story on the magazine’s website says:

“The docudrama is being described by insiders as the real-life Gossip Girl, although the show will not feature any of Manhattan’s exclusive schools specifically.

This is not the first time a reality show based on the G2 theme has been attempted:

‘CBS also looked into a reality series about students at the Manhattan private school York Prep, but the school was said to be skittish about the attention such a project would bring.”

The story says the show will air later this year.

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We share a few SOTTs (Signs of the Times) our readers may deem to be of note:

  • Both the The Inter-Con Montelucita & W resort hotels in Scottsdale are facing foreclosure. (Both remain 0pen.)
  • The Knickerbocker Yacht Club is closing, according to this Newsday story.  Not a club we have ever visited, the article’s online photos show the charm of the Port Washington Club.  Apparently members even looked at merging with Manhasset Bay Yacht Club YC, but that is not an option. The Club has been in operation for 135 years.
  • Ana P. Gutierrez/Newsday

    PHOTO: Ana P. Gutierrez/Newsday

Our thanks to Luxist for both of these tips.

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Hello Kitty now has some hip apparel designs to accompany her MAC Cosmetics collection. MAC asked multiple designers to create looks for the doll; below we show two sketches, starting with Emanuel Ungaro:

Courtesy Vogue UK

Courtesy Vogue UK/Ungaro

If that isn’t the cutest pink bow, we don’t know what is. Of course, here at the Prepatorium we believe “Life is Better with a Bow,” so we are favorably predisposed to bows. Especially if they are pink.  This creation by Elie Saab also features a pink bow, although not quite as prominently.

Courtesy Vogue UK/Elie Saab

Courtesy Vogue UK/Elie Saab

Other designers include Herve Leger by Max Azria, Zac Posen and Charlotte Ronson.  Each of the eight designs was then made into an actual garment; they are now being auctioned on eBay as a fundraiser for the FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York. It is worth a nanosecond or two to see how the sketches translated into reality, very fun!

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Okay, it is time for some Pretty in Pink to perk up the gray day outside.  How about these darlings for your little darling? The Kenneth Cole Bow Glitz ‘n Bow Flats are sized for Infants & Toddlers; they are on sale for about $19 at 6pm.

A reminder that 6pm is actually Zappo’s site for sale and clearance merchandise – bargains abound! And speaking of fiscally friendly shopping, Target has the entire Thakoon Collection marked down, with discounts that look substantial.

On that happy note, don’t forget to enter our Lilly Pulitzer Stationery Giveaway, and Happy-Happy weekend!

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Filed under Gossip Girl, Lilly Pulitzer Paper & Gifts, nautical, Obama Fashion & Politics, preppy, preppy stationery, Pretty in Pink, Sign of the Times