Top Tips for Buying Sample Sales
Being a fashion girl is hard…and expensive. It’s funny – as my wishlist grows, the prices seem to go up and I never get richer. So, you ask, how does a broke whore have a closet full of designer labels? Let me break it down for you and share the art of mastering sample selling.
Sample sales are like shopping in X-Games mode. There are many factors to consider, such as long queues and crowded stores. If I was a soldier, a sample sale would be my battleground, and yesterday I almost lost the war. I went to the Diesel sale and made two rookie mistakes (more on that below). My misfortune inspired me to create this handy guide to help my fellow buyers avoid the same sample sale mishaps.
Step 1: be aware
To buy sample sales, you have to hear about them. The best known sales are through 260 Sample Sale with locations in New York, LA and Miami. 260 has monopolized the sample sale arena. I’ve been to sales of Vivienne Westwood, Diesel, Marc Jacobs, Staud and WARDROBE.NYC across 260 to name a few. Follow their Instagram to stay up to date. I also subscribe to the brand’s newsletters and find out about sales via social networks (thanks TikTok).
step 2: Have a pre-sales strategy
You’ve found a sale, now it’s time to talk strategy. It’s hard to get into a sample sale with the exact pieces you want. You never really know what they will have and things move fast. But I suggest doing some research on the brand to get an idea of what you like. When it came to the Diesel sale, I knew I wanted interesting denim, motorcycle-inspired leather, and a sporty track jacket.
STEP 3: What you wear is extremely important
There are no changing rooms during these sales. The space is generally chaotic with people changing in the open air. In summer, wear a sports bra and cycling shorts, in winter, leggings and a tight tank top. The key is to wear a minimum of clothes to try on top of what you are wearing. Unfortunately, at the Diesel sale, I was dressed for work in a chunky sweater and dress, which made it difficult to try on things over my clothes. I was hoping for the best size, which resulted in rookie mistake #1.
step 4: be prepared to wait… a long time
Thanks to TikTok, these sales tend to multiply, especially for very popular brands. Diesel opened at 10am, I arrived at 9am and didn’t get in until almost 11am. 260 has multi-day sales and I’ve learned that the more “hype” there is around the brand, the more important it is to go first-in-the-morning. If it’s a one-day sale, arrive early. The key is if you can arrive hours early, do so.
step 5: don’t let prices or other people cloud your judgement!
Like I said, yesterday I made two rookie mistakes. The downside of a sample sale is that it’s very easy to make impulse purchases. Whether it’s the incredibly discounted price, the fact that you’ve waited four hours and felt the urge to buy (even though there’s nothing you like), the stressful environment that clouds your judgment and crowds of people. For the Diesel sale, I was the second group allowed into the store, so a lot of good stuff had already been purchased. I found this leather jacket hidden behind a rack and grabbed it. It was a bomber style men’s leather jacket with a hood (I HATE HOODED LEATHER JACKETS.) It was too big and I wanted a super slim moto jacket, not something oversized. I already have a leather jacket and I just don’t need another one. As it was the last, people would come to me asking where I had found it and if I wanted it. People eyeing the jacket with the $100 price tag (unbelievable for a leather jacket), I ignored my instincts. I immediately regretted it and listed it on Poshmark that day.
step 6: avoid impulse purchases
Sample sales are generally final sales. Now I’m struggling with this leather jacket I don’t want, so let that be a cautionary tale. While shopping, I like to think of three different outfits I can create with one item. Then I reference my wishlist – say, a slim moto jacket is on top of mine (the men’s bomber doesn’t make sense.) I step back and ask myself “do I ‘love it? or is the price just right? And I always go with my gut (well, almost always) if you question it in the store, you’ll hate it at home… I promise you.
Step 7: Remember you can always resell
In the end, remember that you always have handy sites like Poshmark and Depop to resell things you regret buying. (You can find this Diesel men’s leather jacket size small on Poshmark @shelbycomroe!)