February 05 2010
It’s always baffled me why friends refuse to shop at Century 21, the gigantic discount department store in downtown Manhattan. “Too stressful,” they shrug. It’s the only place that showrooms for Gucci, Prada and the rest of the designer label A-list will trust to offload past-season merchandise. I know there are not many dressing rooms, the floors are crammed with people and the staff make Jimmy Carr look warm, but there’s a simple strategy for tackling it stress-free.
Twice a year, the showrooms send in fresh merchandise – they need to clear out storage for new season samples in the first two weeks of February and August. Avoid the store at any other time; but in this fortnight, plan three or four visits to catch fresh goodies. Make a list of the designer labels that fit (for me, it’s Varvatos, Lindeberg, Margiela and Marc Jacobs) before you enter the arena. Then ignore the crowds, scan only for those names on rack tags, and buy anything that interests you, in any size, quickly. Make your decisions on fit and cut in peace and private at home – the returns policy (within 30 days with receipt and tags) means that refunds are very straightforward. I just bought a Lindeberg shirt that was down from $230 to $69.97. Margiela cotton pants were reduced from $420 to $149.97, while a Varvatos polo shirt was down from $85 to $29.97.
Approach Century 21 that way, and the only stress (and even that will be a minor one) will be when the credit card bill comes at the end of the month.