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Above The Fray: Sample Sale Throwdown, Handbag Edition

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The sample sale scene is swinging this holiday season, and there are several designer handbag listings in our Dealfeed files. So many metallic totes and beaded clutches?so little time! This week’s schedule of top indie handbag designers makes it particularly difficult to choose where to head on your lunch break. For your convenience, we've compared the findings among a few of our faves.

Bags galore at Rafe

Rafe: Sample sale done right! We dropped by their sale last December (awesome) and this past spring (blah), so we weren't really sure what to expect today. We are pleased to report that this is a major winner. Their amazing fall collection is heavily discounted. Bold, beautifully-crafted totes, clutches, shoulder bags, and even yoga bags are priced between $50-300, although most are around $100-200. Rafe offers a spectrum of styles, including beaded, patent leather, suede, linen, soft leather, and fur...and that's just the bags! There are boatloads of shoes priced at only $50. If you are a (Euro) shoe size 37, you've really hit the jackpot. The flats, pumps, sandals, boots, and mules are particularly abundant in this size. This is Rafe's best sale ever.

The shoes at Rafe

Perusing the goods at Lauren Merkin

Lauren Merkin: Hello long line! We got there only a half hour after opening, and there was a queue 60 style mavens deep. After about 45 minutes, we entered a section of their showroom that had been cornered off for the sale. The scene was organized; tables and boxes of inventory were clearly labeled according to style, and the prices on each bag were marked accordingly. Lots of soft leather and suede in autumn tones and pretty much all the styles seen on their website were available for purchase. Ultimately, the selection is solid, but the prices are still a little steep. Basic shoulder bags ranged from $125-225. While this is certainly less than their $600 retail prices, it still doesn’t leave you with that warm-and-fuzzy sample sale feel. Clutches were most plentiful and cost between $70-125. Inventory looked substantial, so if you don’t mind dropping between $100-200, you'll probably leave with a very nice bag.

More Merkin

Hayden-Harnett: We love their designs and friendly staff, but this sale was a bit ridiculous. We were shepherded into the tiny showroom twos by two, which was good because there wasn’t much to choose from. The bags available were all well over $100, and we’ve seen better deals at their store in Greenpoint. There was a potpourri of accessories and clothing, but if you’re pressed for time, we say skip the sample sale and instead hit their website or Brooklyn store at your convenience.

Will it be another mob scene at the notorious Botkier Sample Sale? Stay tuned...we'll let you know!