As promised, here is Part 2 of our special report on flash sale shopping, with the emphasis on buying brands Kate wears, or specific items she has been seen wearing.
In Tuesday’s post we spoke about the increasing competition flash sale sites are encountering, including retailers doing their own ‘flash’ specials. Below you see a graphic from Kate favorite GOAT Fashion, announcing their own flash sale just this Monday.
One of our favorite sponsors, Beulah London, has also offered flash sales.
We see more and more retailers using this technique to move merchandise. It’s a savvy tactic, allowing stores to go directly to the consumer without any middleman like Rue La La or Ideeli. The term has become overused in some cases; technically, a flash sale requires two elements: lower prices or a discount offered only for the event, as well as a specific, limited time frame for the sale.
After reading Tuesday’s post it might appear I think so poorly of flash sales there simply aren’t any bargains to be found at them; that’s not the case. Tuesday’s information serves as a cautionary note, reminding us all to think carefully before saying goodbye to our hard-earned $$$ or £££ or €€€. There have been, and will continue to be, savings opportunities at the sites. Some brands Kate favors are frequently (if not constantly) available on the flash sites, while others appear less often and some are never seen.
Labels I’ve not seen, and wouldn’t expect to find available at the flash sites include GOAT Fashion, Katherine Hooker, Beulah London, Jenny Packham, Catherine Walker, Moloh, ME+EM, Amanda Wakeley, Emilia Wickstead, Hobbs, Joseph, Paule Ka, Russell and Bromley, Reiss, Jaeger and Mint Velvet.
On to our quick review of labels Kate likes that we have seen at flash sale sites, beginning with Temperley London. As best I recall the brand has only been offered once, that was July of this year at Gilt.
Another rarely seen brand, Tod’s; this was a Rue La La sale sometime in the summer of 2014, unfortunately I did not keep track of the specific date. NOTE: After publishing this post I saw that Tod’s will be on Rue La La Tuesday, August 18, at 11am.
I don’t think of Tory Burch clothing as a regular on the sites.
Max Mara is available several times a year; we show it at Ideeli (as the site was previously called) last year, and also at Rue La La.
Diane von Furstenberg products have appeared with some regularity (Rue La La is featuring the brand Wednesday, August 19, at 11am), as have LK Bennett’s. In most instances the LK Bennett events are for footwear only.
But there have been some sales incorporating shoes, clothing and accessories.
And then there’s Longchamp, shown at Ideel in May.
Or were you looking for Longchamp at Gilt?
Perhaps you prefer Beyond the Rack when shopping the brand?
To say ‘frequently available’ on the flash sites would almost be an understatement. Not unlike Jimmy Choo.
Here’s a look at Jimmy Choo flash sale availability, along with Hall of Famers Longchamp and LK Bennett. To the best of my recollection most, if not all, of the appearances were brand specific events, items weren’t part of a larger themed event. This is not a comprehensive list; rather, dates tracked when I remembered to write them down. One other note: I believe LK Bennett has cut back dramatically on its participation in flash sales.
It’s great knowing you can find certain brands on the flash sites, but how good are the deals they offer? Let’s look at a Longchamp Le Pliage black bag, the large tote with long handles, a piece we know Kate carries. It is $145 at the Longchamp site. That is also the price at Nordstrom and at Bloomingdales. If shopping the Gilt sale you would have been able to purchase the bag for $119, not an inconsequential savings.
You will generally see large totes on the flash sites marked down to that $119 price point; the medium nylon totes are usually $90 – $99, with small size totes going for about $80. The trick is being able to snag the size and color you want before it is sold out. It can be tempting to purchase the piece in another color or size; that’s a good time to step back and consider if it’s a combination you will really use.
Next, shopping Jimmy Choo. Below you see the Cosmic in black suede selling in February 2014 for $549, about 20% off the regular $695 retail price. That was a rare occurrence, it may have been the lone flash sale appearance of the Cosmic in black suede.
You could certainly find other Choo styles on the flash sites.
The discount is roughly the same regardless of who is hosting the sale: just about 20%.
It’s unusual to find jewelry Kate has worn in the sales. Much of what she wears is from designers that don’t participate in the sales: Kiki McDonough, Mappin & Webb, Tiffany. There are exceptions, like the Kenneth Jay Lane earrings worn in New York last December.
They were offered in a Rue La La sale this July, at a savings of $85.
Tip #1: Pay attention to those themed sales the site runs where they aggregate merchandise under a common theme, occasionally brands the Duchess wears may be included. Some apparel/accessory examples: “Little Black Dresses,” “Summer Lights: Ivory and Beige Looks You’ll Love,” “Fierce Flats,” “Shoes From Nude to Black.” Items may also be grouped by price/discount: “Jewelry and Watch Picks Under $50,” “Calling All Kids – Extra 20% off,” “Accessories From $19.99.” It can be a good idea to explore themed sales, like Rue La La’s “The Duchess’ Style” from this January.
The majority of the merchandise was like that seen in this screen grab from the sale: nice, but not quite the same as what Kate wore.
Included in that sale: the Shilo. Oddly, the Shilo was selling for $99.99 in that Duchess’ Style event, and it was simultaneously offered at Rue La La in a separate LK Bennett sale, but at double the price: $199.99.
Tip #2: Always run a price check. This graphic demonstrates why it is so vital to smart shopping: the Aquatalia ‘Diane’ boot was selling for $201.99 at 6pm on August 25, 2014. That same day the boot was included in a flash sale at Rue La La, but at a much higher price, $349.99-that’s $148 more than the 6pm price.
Tip #3: if you see an item at a lower price than what it is selling for on one of the sites, let the site know; most (if not all) will honor that lower price. The best method I’ve found for dealing with this is via Twitter or Facebook, but I imagine it could also be done via a telephone call. Try the same thing for regular sites; in a comment to Tuesday’s post Mary noted that Overstock may also have a price-matching policy.
Tip #4: the search function is your friend. Inputting brand or item names into the search box can offer surprising results. At Gilt a search for LK Bennett brought up 187 products, including the Sledge in limited sizing and colors, priced at $199 and $219. (They really look like 2 different shoes in these photos, no?)
Tip #5: Check the ‘upcoming sales’ info so you can plan ahead and be ready to pounce if need be. A quick look at Rue La La’s upcoming sales reveals that Longchamp will be offered today starting at 3pm.
Tip #6: Consider shopping the discount sites: Bluefly, The Outnet (Net-a-Porter’s discount arm), Sierra Trading Post (owned by the same company that owns TJ Maxx), Overstock and Amazon are all good options. A cursory search at Bluefly revealed Kate’s Corkswoon wedges selling at $304 (but only in size 10), as well as a medium Le Pliage priced at $77.59, in fuchsia.
Tip #7: Use one/some of the price-tracking sites that notify you when items are marked down. There are also apps that do this for your mobile devices. Here’s what Nancy shared in a comment on Tuesday’s post:
A website calledgives historical prices charged by amazon and will notify you if the price drops by a percentage you can specify. Ebay shows historical pricing data if you check the “sold” or “completed listings” boxes on the left hand side of the screen.
Brenda and ElizaMo both shared their fondness for Amazon’s price checking tool. This is from Brenda’s comment:
My go-to price comparison site is Amazon.com. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked RueLaLa and Haute and other specials against Amazon, to find that the flash sale price is not a bargain at all.
Here’s a link to Amazon’s CamelCamelCamel, Shop Advisor is here, Lyst is here, Price Zombie is here, and Rack It Up is here. Apps available include Nifti, and Shoptagr. If you use a price-tracking site or app, please let us know so we can include it in our list.
As is obvious, I did keep a fair amount of data for this post in the last 16 months, but not everything. My perceptions about the frequency of a company’s availability on flash sites could be flawed; if you have input please don’t be shy about letting me know.
Following are links to the primary flash sale sites in the US that we listed in Tuesday’s post. Full disclosure: many of the links use my ‘invitation,’ if you ultimately purchase something I receive a merchandise credit. Knowing the way I excoriated the ‘private club’ and ‘members only’ aspect of the sites, this may appear disingenuous, it isn’t intended to be. If you prefer *not* using these links, it is almost as easy to simply go to the sites and sign-up there.
- Rue La La:parent company also owns SmartBargains.com
- Gilt: the first US player in this genre, and one of the biggest
- Ideeli: owned by Groupon, changing name simply to “Ideel”
- Haute Look: owned by Nordstrom
- My Habit: owned by Amazon (if you use this link you receive a $20 credit.)
- Belle & Clive: owned by off-price retailer Bluefly
- Beyond the Rack: based in Canada, the site can be viewed in either English or French
- One Kings Lane: offers home goods, decor, furniture, art, books & more
- Joss and Main: also specializes in home décor items & is owned by home goods giant Wayfair
- Zulily: specializes primarily in women’s/children’s merchandise