May 24 2011
No one could seriously enjoy shopping in the jumble sale that is TK Maxx, though it is one of the best sources of designer bargains. It has long stocked (casually shoved onto overcrowded rails along with far less distinguished merchandise) ends of ranges, samples and oversupply from some of fashion’s defining brands at unfeasibly low prices, though usually of somewhat elderly provenance. My best ever find, two years ago, was a black velvet and lace catwalk gown from Alexander McQueen’s iconic 2007 Widows of Culloden collection for £200 – a timeless masterpiece at an approaching thrift-store price.
However, the chain has recently made shopping easier by grouping designer items under the Gold Label banner – and, some say, put prices up by a noticeable percentage too. That it can create Gold Label sections in 26 of its stores says much about the volume of top-level fashion remaining unsold several seasons after its creation. But there is no escaping the good buys, if my recent visit to the flagship central London store is anything to go by – and if you can cope with the unceremonious conditions. Classic Pucci jersey prints at £300-£600, intricately pleated Versace cocktail dresses at less than £1,000, signature Alberta Ferretti chiffons at £500 and hand-embroidered Jean Paul Gaultier catwalk one-offs at around £400 were the stars.
For those who would rather not visit the bricks-and-mortar store, TK Maxx has just put a selection of Gold Label pieces online, with the added benefit of showing the number in stock for very limited or sample pieces – quite often it really is one. There is a narrower range than in store – staff regard the site as a “taster” for the shops, where stock moves faster than the site could – but current top buys include an elegant almond-green silk draped cap-sleeved dress by Giambattista Valli (first picture, £349.99), beige and snakeskin sandals with the latest, high block heel, by Costume National (second picture, £169.99), and a draped silk, long wrap dress in a bold abstract animal print by Versace (third picture, £999.99). The thought of having to look for them in store is enough to encourage quick decision-making on such bargains.