Dirty Secret #2: This Was Bought…Especially For You
Outlets have gotten by on the reputation that they stock items from the main store that are overstock, last season’s, or perhaps slightly damaged or not production quality. It’s very alluring to think you’re scoring a designer handbag at a 70 percent discount when the seam at the bottom was just slightly off, right?
Actually, luxury department stores now have dedicated buyers that buy separate product for outlets. Designers have dedicated production to manufacture items separately for outlets. An outlet buyer for a luxury department store in New York, who wished to remain anonymous, told us, “I would guess that only about 10-15 percent of our outlet’s stock was actually items that the main store carried. The rest of it was merchandise we bought or produced for the outlets—and truth be told, the main store would not find its quality worthy of the brand. We even use different labels for outlet merchandise so that distinction is there.”
Dedicated outlet products typically feature less edgy fashions at lower quality—shoddier construction, more synthetic materials. Some retailers use tactics such as weaving polyester into a natural fabric, but marketing the item as if the full price reflected a 100 percent natural fabric. Which leads us to dirty secret #3…