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5 spots to score deals at sample sales

For years, entrepreneurial fashion enthusiasts have brought sample sales to discerning customers in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Featuring a small but wide selection of designer clothing at almost unbelievably discounted prices, these sample sales have caused a stir in even the most fashionable of circles. Internet versions of these sample sales have grown in popularity lately, but many are exclusive, members-only communities. Here are five ways you can get in on the action.

  1. Gilt Groupe
    As the original and most extensive source for designer sample sales, Gilt Groupe features timed sales (beginning at noon EST on weekdays) on a wide range of top-end brands like Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana for up to 70% off retail prices. While it is exclusively a members-only site, anyone can join up thanks to Real Simple magazine. Simply visit Gilt Groupe to start an account and even redeem a $25 credit to start hitting the sales.
  2. The Top Secret
    The name is apt. The Top Secret is an invitation-only website featuring massive discounts of up to 75% on a wide range of items, from women’s and men’s apparel to sunglasses and accessories. Unlike other sample sale websites, sales at The Top Secret can run up to three days, which gives you ample time to browse their selection. Using the “SHOPSMART” invitation code will get you past the velvet rope.
  3. Ruelala
    Featuring an extensively well-edited collection of designer brands like Christian Louboutin, Vera Wang, and John Galliano,’s sales only last for 48 hours, though you’re better off shopping earlier rather than later as most items are snapped up within the first few hours of going online. Ruelala has grown so popular that fashion enthusiasts everywhere have joined their waiting list in hopes of becoming part of the exclusive community. However, has discovered that using the e-mail as a referral will get you an account. Ooh la la indeed.
  4. Billion Dollar Babes
    The creators of Billion Dollar Babes have been holding physical sample sales in fashion centers like New York and London since 2001, featuring sought-after designers like Diane von Furstenberg and James Perse. Since the introduction of an online sale format, fashion-savvy shoppers have jumped on BDB’s VIP customer service and deep discounts. Membership, unlike other similar sites, is free and does not require a special code or invitation. Just enter your details and get ready to shop!
  5. Red Tag Crazy
    Perhaps the most democratic of all sample sale websites, Red Tag Crazy features one item of designer women’s apparel at a time, in highly limited quantities (usually 15 to 20). The item stays online until it is sold out, at which point another selection is introduced. Red Tag Crazy does not require membership at all, but rather a persistent attitude and fast clicking abilities. Because of the intense nature of Red Tag Crazy sales, the site has introduced e-mail, text, browser, and even instant messenger alerts to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Are you ready to get Red Tag Crazy?

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