Tag Archives: Tahari

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

Early Look: Fashion Week Sketches

Hello-Hello from the Great Midwest. Where we have much. less. snow than our friends in the east and south. More than 2 feet in Our Nation’s Capital?

Everything about this photo is just plain wrong.

Jason Reed/Reuters

Evidently our lack of snow is about to change, if the weatherologists are correct. We are standing by to stand by.

Amazingly, New York Fashion Week starts this Thursday; designers will show collections for the fall season while most of us are focused on simply making it to spring. We have sketches from a few lines that will be showing, starting with a look Milly look as designed by Michelle Smith.

Courtesy Milly

Some may recall Jill Biden wore a Milly houndstooth dress for the Inauguration ceremony and luncheon.

Next, a design from Elie Tahari; there is more than one piece from this brand here at the Prepatorium.

Courtesy Elie Tahari

We read a fascinating story about Mr. Tahari in our Journal this morning; if interested, click here.  This is the first time the brand will show at Fashion Week.

Next, Rebecca Taylor’s style.

Courtesy Rebecca Taylor

Why is it we enjoy the sketches over ‘the real thing’ so much?

Our next rendering is from Tibi, an extremely popular line in many quarters.

Courtesy Photo via Vogue UK

One quick Sales & Savings note, pieces from most/all lines seen above are available now at fiscally-friendly prices at major department stores like Saks, Neimans, Lord & Taylor, etc..

In WWD’s story on new designers showing at Fashion Week, one group of sketches caught our eye.

The line is called Callula Lillibelle; we are intrigued to see actual pieces from the show.

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A quick update on a few Gossip Girl stars: Leighton Meester and Kelly Rutherford made it to last Thursday’s party celebrating the Sonia Rykiel Pour  H&M collection.

The actresses are seen in the photo above with Nathalie Rykiel. Two tops from the group.

Sonia Rykiel Pour H&M

And two looks in our favorite color.

Sonia Rykiel Pour H&M

The line will be available in stores February 20.

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Many readers are familiar with our irrational fondness for Mad Men. WWD (Women’s Wear Daily, subscription req’d) has a feature on Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy Olson on the show.  First, Ms. Moss in character.

AMC-TV

Followed by two photos shot by Diego Uchitel for WWD.

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We close with this Pretty in Pink via the Pink and Green Scene.

Nautica Edgemont

The Nautica Edgemont quilt and accessories look nice and springy to us!

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Filed under Gossip Girl, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, Pretty in Pink, Sales & Savings

Michelle Obama Inauguration Dress, More Election Night Fashion, More Preppy Sales

Happy Thursday to everyone!  We are more than pleased to see the weekend approaching. For some reason The Princess finds herself more than a little weary this week and the thought of relaxation is appealing.  Is it just us, or are you also feeling a bit sluggish?

We will update our recent posts on election night fashions momentarily, but first, an online site is reporting they know who is doing Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown!

According to theYBF (Young, Black and Fabulous) blog, an Atlanta designer has already been asked to create the dress.

“We’ve also learned from Atlanta Gossip that Mrs. O got a jump start on her Inauguration dress plans last week. She already tapped famed African American NY designer Cassandra Bromfield to custom make her Inauguration dress.”

We visited the Bromfeld site, and share one of the gowns featured online:

Courtesy Cassandra Bromfield

Courtesy Cassandra Bromfield

From the designer’s bio:

“Bromfield’s wedding dress and bridal designs range from African American wedding dress designs… like patchwork detail couture, an elegant silk taffeta halter dress topped with a satin faced organza duster with delicate French cuffs, to a sophisticated matte-jersey creation that gracefully drapes the body.”

Ms. Bromfield also writes a popular wedding blog.  We will await confirmation of the news on the gown’s designer and share it with you as soon as we know the information.

Now back to fashions already worn; we have a little more information on the Narciso Rodriguez dress seen below (for more photos click here) as worn by Michelle Obama election night.

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty

PHOTO: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty

The dress has been widely criticized, near and far. Here is a snippet from one of the Obamas’ hometown newspapers, the Trib:

“Unfortunately, two key tweaks to the runway version of the dress, presumably made to take it from cocktail-sexy to first-ladylike, disrupted its intentions and architecture.

First, the lengthened bodice. Second, the cardigan that Obama layered on top.”

And that is some of the milder criticism. Ouch!

George Chinsee

PHOTO: George Chinsee

Next, the navy suit worn by Alaska Governor Sarah Palin Tuesday evening.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

PHOTO: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Amid much speculation about the suit’s designer, several blogs discovered it is an Elie Tahari creation. However, it is not available at every location carrying the Tahari line, as the navy colorway shown above is exclusive to Neiman Marcus. Below, a composite from New York magazine showing the suit in the Neiman’s catalog and Ms. Palin on Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Neiman Marcus, Getty

Photos: Neiman Marcus, Getty

An individual appearing to be in the know left comments on fashion blog Trendbites in response to posts about the attire worn by Ms. Palin at the vice presidential debate:

“On behalf of my company…Tahari Arthur S. Levine (a division of Elie Tahari)… Dawn is CORRECT… the black skirt suit that Sarah Palin was wearing at the RNC VP Debate was in fact a Tahari Suit. In addition, she has also been seen wearing the same suit (which was made for Neiman Marcus as a special cut in blue) where she wore the blue jacket over the black skirt, getting more mileage for her money. Lastly, she has also worn numerous suits from our many divisions: Tahari Arthur S. Levine suits which are priced on average at 179.99 – 199.99 and which have been bought at either Macys, Lord and Taylor department stores…”

Below, a photo of Ms. Palin at the vice-presidential debate.

Rick Wilking/Reuters

PHOTO: Rick Wilking/Reuters

But here is the really big mystery: who did the dresses worn by Malia and Sasha Obama?  We have received multiple inquiries here at Princess InterGalactic HQ about those darling dresses.  Below, Malia in a red bubble-hem dress with center bow at waist and a cropped cardigan, both in red.

Jae C. Hong/AP

PHOTO: Jae C. Hong/AP

Many think Malia Obama is wearing this Biscotti dress, although with a different belt than the one sold with the dress.  We show it at Nordstrom; it is available at $110. There is a matching/coordinating cropped cardigan Biscotti offers as well, but that does not look to us like the one Malia was wearing.

Here is a better shot of both girls with their father, the President-elect.

Jason Reed/Reuters

PHOTO: Jason Reed/Reuters

Now to avoid any controversy, we do want to share that we have also confirmed who the President-elect was wearing Tuesday night:

He was wearing a Hart Schaffner Marx custom suit very much like the one worn at the Democratic Convention. There are more detail and photos of that suit here, our post with “The Inside Story on the Candidate’s Suit.”  Selecting this suit was another wise choice: it looked great and the Hart Schaffner Marx manufacturing facility is in the Obamas’ home state of Illinois.  Click here to see an almost identical HSM suit.

An update on markdowns being taken by retailers everywhere, beginning with J .Crew, now offering an additional 30% off their sale merchandise.

This will also act as our Argyle Update for the day, as we show the Boys’ cotton-cashmere duke-argyle vest, now more than 50% off its original selling price, before the extra discount is added to the mix. (“Subtracted” from the mix?)

Crew is also offering their wonderful Madras cabana bag; it is also discounted by more than 50%, and this is before the additional 30% discount.

Of course regular readers know we are fiends for madras, as evidenced by our goodies at the Preppy Princess Emporium, like our lush and lovely Set Point Towels.  (Psst…hunting for a gift? The monogramming on these is included at no extra charge!)

PreppyPrincess.com Set Point Towels

PreppyPrincess.com Set Point Towels

PreppyPrincess.com

PreppyPrincess.com

Neiman Marcus continues their online clearance:

Nordstrom is offering their Half Yearly Sale for Women and Kids.

And the online clearance is still ongoing at Talbots as well as their Collection Sale with merchandise like this Collection Jacket in Ivory.

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And finally, for today’s Pretty in Pink, we share one of our major obsessions here at the Prepatorium: the Globetrotter Vanity Case at Vivre, from Globetrotter’s Candy Collection.

The lining is done in an exquisite Liberty of London print. (The store on Regent Street is on TP’s list of Top 5 shopping meccas in Europe.)

If one requires a tad more room for their belongings, there is always the Trunk, also from the Candy Collection, and also exclusively at Vivre.

If anyone has info on the dresses worn by the Obama girls, please share!

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Filed under Argyle, Obama Fashion & Politics, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle