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Inside Esprit on 34th Street and Their Crazy Clothing Giveaway

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Socks. Socks are what we ended up spending our conciliatory $20 gift card on, which we received from last night's giveaway insanity, continuing today.

The deal last night (and today, though you've only got a chance at the 5:30pm line now) was that the first 50 people in line to enter Esprit at three times during the day would receive a $150 gift card for Esprit clothes if they brought an item to donate and a printout with the giveaway details (also available in the print editon of New York Magazine). The scene, complete with people changing in the windows for a chance to win $500 in clothes, attracted everyone from people planning on it for days and tourists right off the street. A $20 gift card was given to everyone not in the top 50, but who still came in and tried on an item.

In order to use the $20 gift card, you had to have a total of at least $25 in items and they couldn't be sale items. This was the challenge. There was a frumpy sweater we sort of liked, but they were out of it in the size and color we liked. Plus it was on sale, so no go. Thus, we wandered around the 3 levels of store, trying to find something anything worth buying in the melee.

And here's the deal with Esprit and this new store: it's trying to position itself as something between H&M and the Gap, but with prices that edge higher than Gap. Banana Republic is next door; if we wanted an $80 argyle sweater, we'd go there and it'd be cuter. Nothing is especially original or "OMG have to have that!" attractive. And prices seem to be either $30 or $80. One pair of socks, at $7.50 and rivaling K-Mart in style and quality, were the cheapest items. We ended up sighing and settling on a few of those, because nothing else inspired us to spend an extra $50 above the gift card to get it and there's depressingly few accessories in general. We watched people who scored the $150 cards load up on leather purses; wonder where those are headed (eBay).

Turning to the store itself, the staff is very nice and smiley, but then it's opening day. If you've ever been to an H&M you'll be comfortable with the interior, and the centerpiece staircase is a nice touch. But overall the new Esprit on West 34th Street gets a big "meh."
· Esprit's Clothing Giveaway Draws Crowds in Herald Square [Racked NY]
· '80s Deja Vu: Esprit to Open Largest US Flagship on 34th Street [Racked NY]

25 West 34th Street, New York, NY