Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Samples, what are those?
The first time I heard of a “sample” is when I actually became responsible for samples by joining a well-known Dutch fashion brand Mexx. Before that, I had no idea what samples were or what sample sale actually meant. It turned out, that most fashion brands produce samples months before the actual collection hits the shop floor and use them to present the collection to potential buyers either in a showroom, through a photo book, ambassador or on a catwalk (yes, what you see during Fashion Weeks on those models are samples). Obviously, the bigger the brand, the larger her geography, which means you have various tastes to satisfy. If you ever had a feeling that collections of the same brand vary per country, your feeling is right! A buyer from Spain knows the preferences of their customers, which will most probably be different than those of the Dutch.
This means, that sample collections are not only produced months earlier than their big brother but they are also larger in the number of styles and colours. Samples give companies an opportunity to see which colours and designs will be more successful, before running the risk of producing doubtful pieces in bulk. Plus, you can customise the collection in accordance to the preferences of the local market.
There are a few things you need to know about samples:
samples become available earlier than the main collection and may differ from it
samples may be more interesting than you would usually expect from the brand
their quality will most probably be less
samples could have been worn, tailored, used in a photoshoot, washed, etc
samples are usually produced in one size only (36-38 for women and M/L for men).
Sample Sales - what to expect
Once the buyers have placed their orders, samples become available for disposal.
Enter the phenomenon known as a “sample
sale”. Now as you can imagine, filling the room with a limited number of pieces, available in one size only, will most probably not even cover your personnel costs. The solution? Most brands add old stock, unpopular designs, returned items and pieces that have not passed quality control standards. All this creates an interesting mix of sometimes obvious trash in combination with unique, exclusive designs that you can get ahead of everyone else. And did I mention attractive prices?
This information leads us to the following sample sale rules:
Look what you buy: check zippers, buttons, pockets, lining as it all may be missing of malfunctioning
Try it on, make sure the size fits, and the item has not been tailored to a 0 size model
Watch out for the price. I have seen sample sales advertising 70% off whereas the discount was closer to 10% in comparison to the collection in store. Sometimes it is too expensive for what you get.
Use common sale shopping sense: do you actually need this item? Do you know what you will wear it with? Does it fit your lifestyle? Use the “actual price” calculator I taught you.
How to find Sample Sales.
The easiest way is to register with one of the Dutch online platforms, www.welovesamplesales.nl is the one I use. The platform also offers a wide selection of online sample sales, but for the reasons I mentioned above I would recommend offline experience as it decreases your chances of a mis-buy. Just sign up for their newsletter and get a weekly overview of sample sales in your region. Another thing you can do is to follow your favourite Dutch brands on Facebook and Instargam, as these type of events will most probably be a single post promotion on social media. Thanks to targeted marketing, Facebook will know you are interested in sample sales, and will make sure more events will be offered to you through suggested posts.
Most sample sales take places in remote areas, and may mean standing in a long line. Be sure not to wear the brand you are going to and prepare to leave your bag and coats at the entrance. Pin and no cash are a usual rule.
Few brands work on an invitation-only basis (e.g. Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein). Dig into your network, or ask for my help.
Sample Sale shopping is a unique experience which you should try at least once in your life, irrespective of your income. The thrill of finding that one item easily compensates for all disadvantages.
During the sample sales season (usually twice a year: March/April and September/October) I offer special personal shopping services that include transportation, navigation, treasure hunting and minding your wallet in the dangerous yet exciting jungles of sample sales. Curious? Give me a call to discuss possibilities!