making of a shopping samurai

June 1, 2016

Working in retail buying I’ve become somewhat of a shopping samurai.  I’ve always had a taste for the luxurious things in life, prior to ever even knowing what they were, it’s just what I naturally drifted towards.  It’s my personal taste, my passion and what makes up a massive part of me as a person.  That doesn’t mean that I’m superficial or materialistic.  I’ve worked in this industy my entire career, went to college to study it and also live and breathe it inside and outside of my work.  How many of you can say that about what you do?  Having a passion for something, regardless of what it is, should be appreciated and shared, which is what TSB is all about.

When I was in middle school, all the girls would pile into the bathroom where we’d take out our super unnecessary-at-the-time makeup cases [a la 6th-8th grade I would say].  I vividly remember having my mom’s trusty Chanel bronze metallic lipstick as all the other girls had their bubblegum flavored lip smacker or the latest unflattering matte brown + deeply pigmented wet-n-wild lipstick.  Pardon the color descriptions but this was the 90s.  Sorry Kylie, you may have created the lip kit but contrary to popular belief, you aren’t the end all be all in the overdrawn brown matte lip liner [filled-in] trend, this is my second time – first time as an adult – living through this epidemic.  Yes, I threw in a little Clueless line in there for you, snaps to the 90s kids who caught it 😉

As I applied my metallic bronze Chanel lipstick, and probably wearing an identical black velvet choker as to what I’m currently wearing as I type this, my first thought was hmm no one else seems to have anything that looks like mine…maybe mine is old lady-ish since I did take it from my mother’s bathroom – sorry mom!  Looking back clearly you were anything BUT old lady-ish 😉

Needless to say, that thought quickly dissipated as I was pleasantly distracted with my shiny black and gold rectangle lipstick, it was super glam and I loved it!  And thus the story begins, I joke to this day that my parents created this side of me, which clearly as being a part of them I have to accredit them with.  But really, the girl inside of me that craves all things luxurious, glamorous and sometimes so much (rose)gold tone you would think I was Persian, that’s all Lauren Elizabeth .


Which brings me to the most wonderful time of the year for for a shopping samurai and the luxury obsessed: THE DESIGNER SALE BREAK.  Becoming a shopping samurai takes lots of planning and skill.  You have to be able to make a quick decision – as these items fly at markdown prices  – stalk the points of distribution (current example: where else is this gianvito frayed denim sandal being sold so I can 1. prepare for purchase if it sells out  AND 2. competitively shop all the sales as not everyone runs on the same cadence.   In my career I’ve experienced some down right incredible sales including the ever elusive, often heard of but rarely experienced, Chanel employee-only sample sale.  This along with many other experiences have made me a highly educated buyer.  I mean I was a professional Buyer, I purchased designer  merchandise for store(s) for a living.  It may sound all fun and glamorous, and yes there are lots of those moments, but there are even MORE moments of meticulously reviewing numbers, open-to-buys aka balancing a multi million dollar checkbook that doesn’t belong to you, acting fiscally responsible for your team and company, and spreadsheets spreadsheets spreadsheets galore!  I’m super analytical and obsessed with fashion so clearly Luxury Buying was the proper career path for me.  All that being said, girl knows how to get a deal and what things are worth.  I also know what most things are at a cost price [surprising to the average shopper, the cost does not correlate to what it’s worth], so I really do my homework while shopping to make sure it’s worth it for me.  Never, ever pay retail.  That’s a rule of thumb.  Although there are those few times where I will fall in love with something and bite the bullet, but the more you are able to get something on such of a deal, the less likely you are to ever go back to splurging for the same said items.  Hence my lovely shoe closet I’ve amassed over the years, I add to this closet at such a slow pace these days, but it’s all good because I really built a solid foundation on employee appreciation day sales, double discounts and DESIGNER BREAK.  I bring your attention to designer break because this is the publics opportunity to get those same savings we would get as employees.  Let’s be real, you’re never going to get AS good of a deal than  those working for the company because there are so many factors going in their favor if they play it the right way.  However, the May week 5 / June week 1 Designer sale break is a pretty damn good time of the year if you ask me.    Not only is it the end of a season, which calls for the usual sale, but retailers are preparing to expedite inventory off their books at all costs to increase their wall street projections and prepare for the massive influx of Fall inventory to head into the busiest time of year with fresh new merchandise and a solid economic retail outlook.  That means the sales are going to be more favorable, more designers added to the markdown list and deeper discounts to just get rid of it.  There are a lot of samurai shopers out there and of course the employees who know what’s up, so it’s important if you want to capitalize at this time to make it to the first few days of the sale, thats when the goodies go if you’re a popular size.  However don’t let that mislead you, for example: if I found something I loved on sale the first day of designer break I’d make the purchase, but if it was something I was eyeing because of the sale, I’d hold off until the final days.  In the final days there will be another slash, maybe another 15-20% off (totaling 60+% off) and the smaller store locations will have already consolidated their merchandise at this time to a larger flagship store…which means…if you live near a flagship, go check it out on the regular throughout the sale, they’re getting more sizes and styles from other stores.  The reason they do this consolidation is so the retailer has a better chance of selling through their inventory.  They are more likely to sell all of the markdowns at a larger store with a fuller assortment, say in a NYC location, than in a small NJ suburb with a sad rack of a few markdowns, so off they go to consolidation and right when the prices get deeper!  So run to your nearest flagship luxury retailers and thank me later.

You can shop some great designer deals online at LuisaviaromaNordstrom and Barneys, Neiman’s has the most inventory online to shop [designer-wise] and Saks at a close second.  Check those out but your biggest savings, and most special finds are going to be in the brick and mortar stores as opposed to online.  Rule of thumb, designers don’t like sales, they’re not promotional and hate the two times a year when they have to be.  So you are not going to see the deep deals all over the internet, it’s as simple as it’s just too accessible to the public and it makes them lose what’s ‘special‘ about them.  On the reverse, from a retailer’s pov, online sales are too visible to the designer brands themselves –  insider tip: some retailers will go even deeper on discounts on designers in their stores that they wouldn’t dare do online because it’s too visible to the brand – but you didn’t hear that from me 😉

Case in point, Christian Louboutin* goes on sale every season ladies and gents.  Louboutin rarely authorizes the sale for online, maybe a horrid style here and there, however, many of them are marked down at seasons end  [WHICH IS NOW].  So either get yourself  to a brick and mortar store now OR get in touch with a personal shopper and have the styles emailed right to you.   *disclaimer: I’m not talking about the ancient loubies on sites like bluefly or the outnet – [love the sites for other goodies] but I’m talking this seasons colors in So Kates and many more from Spring Summer 2016.  

Don’t let the lack of online designer sales sway you from making a trip to the stores.  They’re out there, you just got to find them.

happy shopping

shop the designer sale break below

x baci

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