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Keep Sample Sales Offline and in NYC, Where They Belong

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, television, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls, and getting blasted for Racked for years now. Today, we're borrowing his regular column from Racked National for a very special New York City edition of Love, Frank.

Dear planners of sample, overstock and warehouse sales,

Listen: I'm all about the democratization of fashion or whatever. But I'm not okay with you people moving our sales to the internet. I'm speaking of Steven Alan, Diane von Furstenberg, Seize sur Vingt and now, our holiest and most hallowed of sales: The Barneys Warehouse Sale. (Don't even get me started on all the stock we've already lost to Gilt and company. That's a separate—and probably outdated—rant.)

Let's get something straight: The collective New York fashion throng and, well, all New Yorkers, put up with a lot of crap living in this city.

We don't get parking spots so we don't have cars. We don't get washing machines or dryers so we schlep our shit around or pay through the nose to have it done for us (which still requires schlepping). We don't get clean, pretty snow and instead put up with weeks of yellow-gray slu so revolting it makes us long for August (a month that literally stinks).

We don't get eat-in, sit-down Pizza Huts or real 99 cent stores and our groceries and sundries are so costly we might as well live on Guam or Fire Island. We don't have yards and our parks—though mostly lovely—are always mobbed because we don't have yards.

And our apartments? Well, when we graduate to a 700 square foot pad we've made it. We have room for one plant, and everyone asks us how much we're paying. Meanwhile, Pennsylvanians can buy a four-bedroom for less and they still need storage units.

In return for such trials—trials unimaginable in places such as, I don't know, Ohio—we as New Yorkers (and, traditionally, exclusively as New Yorkers) get really good deals on designer fashion at a series of sample sales, overstock sales, and the legendary, twice-yearly Barneys Warehouse Sale. These events allow those of us with even the humblest bit of disposable income (or credit, whatever) to own gorgeous things made from beautiful stuff that earn us compliments both here in the city and elsewhere (often from jealous, open-mouthed "fashionistas" in Ugg boots or similar).

Access to these garments is a comfort, a sign that in some small way we've made it, a security blanket, a thrill, a joy, an honor, a tenuous connection to the glamor and wealth that is so much around all of us even as it sort only exists for very few of us. Also, these sales keep us sample-sized—light on our feet and cardiac-healthy.

Trust: We still have to work to shop these sales. With their long lines, bag checks, and insane people hoarding everything from merchandise to mirrors, they require a ton of patience. They expose us to the elements while we wait in line, then expose our bodies to the eyes of shady strangers and our bare feet to disgusting floors when we finally get inside. They force us to make often irrational decisions without the option of an escape. There are no returns even if an item turns out damaged, so don't even think about trying to exchange something because it's the wrong shade of yellow for your skin tone.

Plus, frankly, they're still not that cheap. Sure, saving a grand on something Lanvin is amazing! It's life changing! You'll be talking about that deal longer than you'll end up wearing the garment! But you're still spending $800 on something you might otherwise not buy at all (and you're missing work to buy it).

But we put up with these issues because in the end, it's worth it. The strife and cost and time and stress are steam-rolled by compliments and thread counts and exclusivity and an exquisite little hand-stitched label emblazoned with a lovely perfect logo.

And now! Now you're taking this away from us? Our sales are supposed to be in the basement of Barneys, or some Garment District studio, or a hip-end-of-Chinatown showroom, or that weird space between the Ace Hotel and that spot that wholesales designer imposter fragrances while retailing gyros. And you're moving them to the internet? Where people who don't even live here can get to them? People who get cars and washing machines and Stuffed Crust Pizza can now get their paws all over my 70% off designer and contemporary clothing?

And for what? To make a little more money a little more quickly? Alternately, to save some money or some effort? To avoid monopolizing a space or some intern's time for two or three days? I'm sorry. This does not sit well with me. This does not sit well with New York. And it needed to be said.

See you at the Barneys sale.

· All Barneys Warehouse Sale posts [Racked NY]
· Love, Frank [Racked]

Barneys New York, Madison

660 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10065 (212) 826-8900 Visit Website


815 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10065 646-439-0380 Visit Website