Fashion & Style

What is a fashion outlet

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The scoop on what is a fashion outlet and how to score the best deals

Shoppers looking for the best deals on brands they adore can stop patrolling the annual sale frenzy and start scoring great buys on clothes anytime they want. What is a fashion outlet, you ask. Read on to get the skinny.

Today, these discount meccas are both online and brick and mortar centers. This is where manufacturers sell inventory directly to you as opposed to through a third party store. Direct selling means steep discounts, which is the biggest appeal.

These types of stores have been around for more than 80 years. What started out as a way for actual warehouses and factories to sell damaged stock has changed quite a bit. Recently, they were little known places that brands used to move excess stock in order to make room for seasonal clothing in retail stores.

The common misconception is that all of the clothes at these stores are out of season or damaged. Not completely true. While stock on the back clearance racks is often from last season, they now offer seasonal clothing made specifically for the outlets. This means you can find clothing from your favorite brands that you wouldn’t be able to find at the mall.

The variety and deep discounts, 30-70%, at these stores have people willing to drive further than they’ll go for regular shopping malls. In order to ensure a successful trip, here's a few things to look out for before you go:

  • Set a budget before you leave the house and stick to it. Money saved isn’t money made if you wind up buying far more than you need just because it looks like a good deal. 
  • Excess stock from retail stores makes up less than 15% of inventory so evaluate the quality before you pay for it. These days outlet shoes, bags and clothes are typically made specifically for discount shoppers, which can mean low quality construction. Look at seams, test zippers and always try things on. 
  • Only pay attention to the sell price. This keeps you from getting caught up in how much you think you’re saving. Ask yourself if the garment is worth the actual price you’d pay.  

Now that you know what a fashion outlet is, here are a few tips for making it worth the drive:

  • These centers are outdoors and often very spread out. Unless you plan to get in and out of the car a few times, wear your most comfortable walking shoes. On the plus side, you’ll get some exercise. 
  • Save yourself the trip and check if your brands of choice offer outlet shopping online. 
  • Just because something is out of season doesn’t mean it’s out of style. Fall is prime sandal discount season while spring shelves often have classic sweaters. If it’s good quality and you know you’ll wear it in a few months, don’t pass it up. 
  • Go early. This is when the stores are at their neatest so you can find what you like much faster. Arrive late in the day and you may be sorting through piles of unfolded clothes.  

Many shoppers who wonder about discount shopping have heard about great deals through the grapevine, but not yet gone themselves. The best way to find out if this type of shopping suits your tastes and budget is to just go. If your tastes are edgy and fashion forward, you probably won’t find what you’re looking for. 

Bring a friend to make the longer drive entertaining and to offer a second opinion on clothes. Fashion outlets are ideal for finding affordable closet staples like jeans, solid dresses and tops for layering.


ABC: Outlet Store Shopping Tips

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