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Take a Tour Through the Giant American Apparel Warehouse Sale

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American Apparel has been in a whole mess of trouble for most of 2011, so what better way to end the year than cleaning house for a fresh start? Held at the Chelsea space vacated last year by Gracious Home, the sale consists of literally thousands of garments for men, women, and babies, and they'e restocking daily. With up to 90% off, the savings are straight-up criminal. (Sorry. Had to.)

Walking through the warehouse doors might seem like a mistake at first, given the people, the crushing mass of cotton basics, etc, but keep your head down, move past the displays of current threads, and hang a right. What you're skipping, by the way: Pleated skirts, winter jackets for $90 (down from $170 to $185), lace tops for $40 (instead of $88), and sneakers and oxfords for $20 (down from $38 to $95.) Still with us? Good! You're now in the women's section. Here, you'll mostly find basic t-shirts and tanks for $10 to $12 and the largest collection of multicolored mesh, nylon, and cotton leggings on the East Coast for $10 to $20 (down from $24 to 49).

There are plenty of the obligatory those-aren't-bottoms-they're-undergarments shorts, but the more tailored varieties like the military cuff for $12 (down from $34) make appearances as well. The dress showing isn't spectacular but what they do have can be yours for $20. We found cotton spandex jersey bandeau dresses as well as the pencil version (down from $43), solid turtlenecks (were $32), and a stripe tie-dye dresses (retails $32).

If you wandered left after entering the sale, congratulations! You've found the men's and/or unisex stock—and it is a doozy. Zip-up hoodies and sweatshirts for $26 (down from $31 to $50) take up the bulk of the front space, but there are also cardigans for $24 (retail $41 to $74) and printed t-shirts for $12 (were $30). Moving on back, you will find a row of rugged looking pants for $20, t-shirts for $10 to $12, button-downs, collared short sleeves, and jackets of varying material and price. Extra tidbits you'll find over here include the children's section where you can deck your baby out in mini-leotards if you felt so inclined, plus a couple racks of vintage threads marked 40% off.

The middle tables and the downstairs by the registers contain super cheap accessories and underwear like $5 bras and panties, $18 leather belts, $3 nail polish (was $6), weekender bags for $10 to $35 (were $33to $67). We also spotted a Fashion's Night Out tote from 2009. That makes it vintage, right?

Organization-wise, the rows are one abreast which makes for constant traffic jams. There are no fitting rooms, and we had trouble finding v-necks seeing as the limited supply is mixed in with all the other tees. One thumb down for ease of shopping. On the thumbs-up side, they've got upwards of fifteen registers so check-out runs smoothly. Finally, the sale is scheduled to continue until the 27th so there's plenty of time to prepare your plan of attack.
· Dealfeed: American Apparel [Racked NY]