Suppose your wedding is next month and you need that gown now? Or suppose you love the sample but it’s just been discontinued? Or else you love the sample but can’t afford to special order it? You do realize it's August? Next season's glam is on the way or already out on the floor. This means getting the old out of the way. And all those gowns with full skirts just hanging there take up space, or haven’t you noticed? While sizes are limited and samples mostly run sizes 4-6-8, the good news is, sample markdowns usually go half off, sometimes less. Some salons have sample sales they advertise a couple times a year while others offer marked down stock continually. The Glamour Closet in San Francisco specializes in carrying top designer samples: Vera Wang, Reem Acra, Carolina Herrera to name just a few. You'll find styles here 30-70% less.
Absolutely love that gown you just tried on? Offer to buy it. It can’t hurt to offer. Ordinarily samples are not for sale but remember all those 2009 confections. You can have that gown you want, especially if it is in less than perfect shape, which, more than a few samples tend to be. Now, a word about wear and tear: Before you start bargaining, check out how much or how little that soon-to-be-yours gown has been tried on by others. This means really looking at it inside as well as out. Is it ripped, stained, the hem soiled and need cleaning? The overall condition of most samples has a lot to do with how the salon takes care of their stock. Still, figure on dry cleaning whether the gown looks like it needs it or not. After a good clean and press it will seem revived both inside and out and take on a new life of its own. So the question is, who pays the cleaning bill? In some cases, the more service oriented the establishment, the more accommodating they’ll be. As for alterations, you might save them for when or if you have your gown customized. If you are customizing, any nipping in of the waist or shortening of the hemline might have to wait anyway.
I did my research today after I wrote this article. If I left out east coast sample sales I'll go in later and update, I promise. In addition, some top designers I spoke with (some personally) do not want to be associated with sample sales or anything that might reek of the term, 'sale' or 'clearance rack'. I understand. Know though that these designers did mention they have 'seasoned out' merchandise going for less.
Amy Kuschel
23 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, CA
Having a sample sale August 13-23 in her flagship store in downtown San Francisco.
Glamour Closet
114 Columbus
San Francisco, CA
Top designer samples 30-70% off.
The White Dress
2853 East Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA
Now having a sample sale till select gowns are gone.
If you're brave try ETSY. Some of the bridal sellers are selling sample gowns over the net.