Sample sales: are they worth it?

Shift checks out Simone Rocha’s recent event in East London

A pleasant 10-minute walk from Haggerston Overground, you can find Simone Rocha’s modern East London studio space. Decorated with thoughtful details to colour and texture, it utterly encapsulates the ideal minimalistic working space to compliment the experimental designer.

The designer’s open studio located just next door hosted her recent sample sale, which welcomed students, creatives, and stylists alike, from all over London and beyond.

For those who haven’t tried one, a sample sale is an event where retailers and designers sell their samples and excess merchandise with discounted price tags. They tend to have mainly clothes and accessories to offer, but occasionally you can find beauty cosmetics and homeware too.

Many sample sales tend to be invite-only; however, lots are still open to the wider public. They are often advertised via the designer/brands website, on social media, and through subscriber newsletters.

Are they worth it?

Speaking to several workers at Simone Rocha’s sample sale, they told me why sample sales are worthwhile and how people can make the most of them.

Olivia Ruston, a hand-tech, and embroidery intern at Simone Rocha said: “I do believe sample sales in general provide more successful and affordable designer wear however purchasing items at reduced prices can mean they are unfinished, meaning customers pay premium prices, not necessarily receiving a premium product.”

She continued: “There was a lot of variety in stock from shoes to accessories to clothes, but I think the key to (Simone Rocha’s) sample sale being such a success was the fact that her customer base is just incredible. Advertisements online through email and social media obviously helped too as it reached lots of people.”

The sale welcomed lots of people from all over London including international students, artists, and admirers of the designer. It showcased a range of excess stock mixed with unfinished samples, providing insight into the designs that made it onto the hanger and those that didn’t.

Maddie Sempa, a volunteer worker for Simone Rocha, said: “I have been to quite a few sample sales, some have felt particularly cheap and others not so. Most of the things here at Rocha’s are surprisingly cheap compared to RRP prices, even though this stock is from former seasons.”

She also added: “Most of the merchandise here cannot be purchased anymore online as it has been discontinued or is out of stock. That is another reason why I think sample sales are just great; you can really get unique pieces as often there are only few or even one of each item.”

Through popular fashion search engines such as Lyst, consumers are still able to access pieces that were available last season, which were available to purchase at the sale.

Image courtesy of Ssense

These ‘pink heart-toe ballerina flats’ for instance, are being retailed on Ssense for £650 however at the sample sale they were being sold for £150. Another item being the ‘faux pearl-embellished tinsel and tweed tote’ which was also being sold for £150, retails on The Outnet for £537, both significantly reduced from the original RRP, £895.

Image courtesy of The Outnet

One piece of merchandise that got snapped up particularly quickly was the ‘black lace-trimmed tiered minidress’. With the RRP at £1128 and 40% off on MYTHERESA, it may come as a shock that this statement designer piece was sold for only £250 at the sample sale.

Image courtesy of Mytheresa

It is interesting to notice how each of these items appeared at the sale just as they are online; that they were purely just excessive stock and not unfinished or lesser quality.

So, if you’re up for spending a few extra pennies to invest in a quality designer piece, or if you prefer to purchase something for much cheaper than the RRP that still emits the signature styles from the designer, then visiting a sample sale is very much worth your while.

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