Where can I get cheap luxury or designer goods?

by Paris B on · 19 comments

in Musings,Shopping,Tips

get luxury for less

First off, “cheap luxury” is an oxymoron. You can’t have cheap and luxury together. It just doesn’t exist. Perhaps you can call it “cheaper” luxury because that can exist.

Secondly, this might be a good time to think about why you’re looking for “cheap luxury goods”. Is it because you are :-

a) Trying to keep up with the Joneses? Your friends all have luxury items and you’d like to have it too so you “fit in”.

b) Trying to live up to a perceived ideal? Being successful = having luxury goods.

c) Can afford it but would like a bargain anyway? Looking to stretch your dollar further.

If you answered (a) or (b) it might be a good time to sit back and think about things for a bit. We don’t need luxury goods to be happy or successful. Yeah, its great to have them, but we could easily do as well with something more affordable, not necessarily branded or designer but well made and looking good; and more importantly, something that does not leave you eating bread and water or locally, instant noodles for the next 3 months or getting into credit card debt. That isn’t worth it. So think about that.

If you answered (c) well aren’t you a savvy shopper! 😉 And contrary to public opinion, you don’t always have to pay full price (or top dollar) for a luxury or designer item. How is that so? Read on :)

So where would you go about getting cheaper luxury goods? (bearing in mind that “cheap” is used in the relative sense) Here are a few places you can try:-

  • At the boutiques: Wait for a sale – most luxury brands go on sale at least twice a year (exceptions are Louis Vuitton and Chanel that never do). Once in the middle of the year to clear past Fall/Winter collections and once at the end of the year to clear Spring/Summer collections. If the item you are eyeing is a seasonal colour or design, you might be able to get it on sale then. Most brands discount up to 30% max. Some have limited items at up to 60-70% off. You can get lucky and get something very nice for a very nice price.
  • During warehouse sales run by the brands : Wait for a warehouse sale run by the brands or their distributors. Locally, they are usually held for 1-2 days. Stock might be defective or very old or scratched (if leather) or just plain ugly 😛 You could get lucky and snag a new design they are clearing out but be sure to check your items properly. Let me explain relative – at a recent Dior sale a red croc Lady Dior was going for RM30,000 (down from probably RM60k) so if you have deep pockets, its a “bargain” 😛 (hey a lady was actually hogging it!) Prices can otherwise range from 50-70% off retail. I’ve picked up a couple of nice pieces at drastically reduced prices during such sales.
  • Outlet stores: This is more common overseas. They don’t usually have warehouse sales overseas so there is an outlet store where the brands send their out of season items. If you find something you like at a good price, you have struck gold. Prices can be discounted up to 70% off depending on design, age and condition. Friend picked me up a Coach wallet for a steal!
  • When you travel: Look in duty free stores at the airport. You might be surprised at what you might find, especially when a sale is in progress. Also you save on taxes, which is nice because the price drops further. Items are also priced differently in each country depending on many factors and taxes imposed and currency exchange rates. So you could actually buy a similar item cheaper overseas at the actual boutique. Case in point: Longchamp le pliage is reportedly much cheaper in Europe than it is here (for whatever reasons)
  • Thrift shops: You might just get lucky, who knows?! Luxury items or designer items might be very old but if it suits your style and you’re happy with it, go for it.
  • Ebay: You know this one. The chances of getting a fake is very high but if you be very careful and do your research and ask all your questions, you could get lucky. I purchased a leather Coach bag once – it was all good and I saved a pretty penny. I haven’t bought anymore items since then.
  • Parallel Import Stores, Blogshops or Online stores: This is a new phenomenon I’m seeing. Goods sold are usually stated to be authentic although there may be a waiting period and stocks are usually small. In many cases, the reason for the small stock level and waiting period is because the seller is waiting to get the goods from overseas. And why would their prices be lower than the retail price here? It comes down to relative pricing and where the goods come from. Some brands are cheaper in their home country e.g. Louis Vuitton in Paris is priced lower because they don’t have to factor in taxes and shipping costs. Also, once you leave the European Union, as a tourist, you get to claim back the VAT (Value Added Taxes) so you can save a lot there. At last calculation, I saved 30% so if someone sold you something at 20% off, they’re still making a profit. Goods could also come from outlet stores – commonly Coach and Gucci if coming from the USA. On the other hand, they could be selling fake goods. Always be smart and be aware and if possible, see if there’s a physical store where you can view the goods.
  • Secondhand stores: There are some stores that sell used luxury goods. Sometimes the item may be hardly used. Its not exactly cheap but it will be lower than retail. Again beware fakes that might be mixed in among the real stuff.

If you are looking to buy designer branded goods (without going into credit card debt or living on bread and water for 3 months), just remember that most brands go on sale with the exception of Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Both these brands NEVER EVER go on sale anywhere in the world (don’t believe what people tell you about warehouses and private sales) and prices go up every year – sometimes twice a year. Ouches! (Edit: Yani notes that in Woodbury Commons USA there is a Chanel Premium Outlet that has seasonal collections on discount – eeks!)

If I’m planning to purchase a big ticket item, I make sure to do my homework first and see if there’s anyone I know travelling or if there are sales on (if its something that might go on sale). I don’t usually make my purchases by any other route because I do not want to live with the nagging fear of acquiring a fake item (for cheaper). I’d rather suck it up and pay for peace of mind since I’m prepared to pay for it anyway, but just looking for a “bargain”.

But you know what? That’s me :)

Dare you say if you fall into category (a), (b) or (c)? 😉 Where else have you found a deal on a luxury or designer item that you’d like to share?

Paris B

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[ 19 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

syeang August 22, 2010 at 9:32 am

best part is Chanel prices hikes up faster than the time you’ll be able to save for one!


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Don’t you mean “worst part”? 😉 I gotta agree with you!


Isabel August 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

I’m signed up for shopittome.com which sends updates on latest offers on designers brands that it collates from the web – you can specify the brands and items that you are on the look out for. I also browse theoutnet.com regularly although I have never bought anything … yet. Still can’t bring myself to cough up the dough despite the “discounts” LOL


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 12:47 pm

LOL! Its always nice to know where you can find deals though right? Just in case a windfall happens 😉


August 22, 2010 at 9:48 am

I guess I’m a (c)… and I hate paying more for something knowing I could get it cheaper elsewhere, anywhere I can. I also hate carrying around a brand that everyone else is toting around, so the usual suspects are out in my book 😛

With every yuppie, auntie and ah lian having a Coach (and/or LV) bag, I’m (thankfully) so over the brand. But hey, nothing against anyone who wants to carry a Coach – goodness knows they have plenty of collections out in a year so it’s a pretty slim chance of running into anyone who’s got the same bag.

But this is coming from someone who’s not into handbags….


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Hey its great to not want to follow the crowd :) I do tend to disagree that LV and Coach are overdone – they have nice leather bags (unobtrusive designs) that deserve praise. Its the monogram items that are done to death and I too am quite tired of seeing it everywhere. :) Still whatever rocks our boat eh? 😉


yani August 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Actually Miss B, you can get Chanel on sale. Woodbury Commons in the States has a Chanel Premium outlet, where they sell past season stock at sometimes 50% off!


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Hmm… alright it is at this point I go “Why did I not plan my next vacation to NY?” 😛 Thanks for the heads up Yani – the sole thing that will keep me sane is that the Classic Flap won’t be there 😛


Lucielle August 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm

What about option D: because the designs are adorable and you want to support the designer? 😉


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 1:28 pm

That’s a great option Lucielle! 😀 I’d pick D too 😉


Melisa August 22, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Who dun like carry a branded bag?I think most of the people like it.But the important is we know what we want and need,cos I see a lot of people just sweep the card to buy branded bag and clothes after that owe alot of card debts.The fashion is depend how u think,dun think that u put all branded on ur body then u will be high class,it might become a “branded christmas tree”.We should know how to mix and match,even a normal clothes,if u know how to mix and match,it can be look gorgeous too.I am not object buy branded goods,but not from head till toes all is branded.We wear the design not the brand.I prefer good quality but good quality not mean branded.I see alot of local designer like Keyng,Le Ann Maxima,Seed and etc,their quality also quite nice.I believe if you can mix and match well,you can be the unique and gorgeous.


Shay August 22, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Hi Paris B, a bit out of the topic. Your background print looks quite similar to the prints on a non branded bag sold by Zinc (a trendy bag shop) in Singapore.

See example: http://www.zincbags.com.sg/acc_9400.html

I think its pretty nice and I love your new background and think yours is much nicer! I’m not affliated to the shop besides being an occasional customer. I don’t know if this “monogram” is trademarked or not and who has the right to it if it is already owned. This is just a note to let you know, if you don’t already. :)


ParisB August 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Hi Shay, no worries! I don’t think there’s a trademark on the Fleur de lis or France would claim that right! Lilies are one of my favourite flowers, hence the background (also the plain pink was getting to me 😛 ) I got it off a background generator so I think its all fine. Thanks so much for the heads up! 😀


Shay August 23, 2010 at 1:09 am

Thanks! I didn’t know that. Yes, this is much nicer than the plain pink and I’m enjoying it very much too. :)


geekchic August 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

I’d be very wary of some of the online stores. There’s one particular one which requires registration to even browse. Without naming names, I think the savings “claimed” are completely preposterous. Apparently one saves about SGD$700 on a Lady Dior. And about SGD$500 on a Dior purse. I did the math, factor in the exchange rates, the most savings one could get from the Lady Dior was SGD$50 and about SGD$7.00. Pop shipping and insurance in, it comes out to be even more than the actual price when you buy from a brick-and-mortar. My advice is to find out exactly the prices of the bags in store and then see if the “savings” are really as claimed. Most designer boutiques are VERY friendly and you don’t have to feel shy about asking for prices. I love my designer products but I’m also saddled down by a mortgage. No hasty purchases for me but I love to browse, do my research and do my math. It’s all part and parcel and the joy of finally walking out of the store with a paperbag tied with a pretty bow. That’s just me 😛


ParisB August 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

I know what you mean. I don’t like the false exclusivity attached to anything requiring you to sign up just to browse and we gotta do the proper math before falling for anything that sounds too good to be true 😉


Amanda August 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I only buy when I know I can afford the it and I appreciate the good quality and craftmanship. I only buy designer handbags from the original boutiques. Designer outlet stores do not exist here. I secretly wish DH will be transferred to the US for a year so that I could shop till I drop *lol*


Joanie August 23, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Hey Paris,

There is a new skincare and make-up line called SimplySiti created by Siti Nurhaliza. I tried the testers on the shelf and some of the are pretty good. It is available at Watson’s only and price range is around rm15-rm50. Could you please do a review for the makeup?

Thank you


ParisB August 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

I’ve seen it but it does not intrigue me. If anything interests me I might try it and if I do you will see it here :) I unfortunately do not buy products just for purposes of review. My pockets aren’t that deep 😉


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