Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
That elusive Christian Louboutin sample sale is really and truly happening this week, and an anonymous tipster who shopped yesterday via an employee invite shared all the details with us last night—and in her own words, "it was glorious."
Yesterday afternoon's line at 307 West 38th Street included tons of non-invitees (about 70% of those waiting, the tipster estimates) who were rejected at the door because they couldn't meet the three-part criteria for entry: their name on the list, a photo ID to match, and an email invitation on their phone (they got stopped trying to sneak in a back door, too).
Those who were invited still faced a wait time of up to two and a half hours, like our tipster. In what sounds like a system very similar to H&M's on collaboration launch day, shoppers were divided into groups of 20 that were denoted by bracelet color, and each group is given 30 minutes to shop, with a few minutes in between each group to allow staff to straighten up the chaos.
When our tipster got in around 4pm, she found plenty of shoes ranging in price from $200 to $500, with prices indicated by colored stickers. Shoe sizes went up to 42 and half-sizes were available, but full sizes had a greater selection. True samples were hard to come by—"a lot of them were duplicates," the tipster noted—and the best selection was in the middle range of styles.
"For heels," the tipster wrote, "I would say the break down is as so: 20% tacky weird stuff [that involved a lot of glitter], 20% snakeskin, 20% very, very, very high heels, 20% wedges, and then 20% classics, mainly Pigalles or Pigalles with a twist, like, say, having clear plastic on them or a touch of glitter. I feel like heels and wedges were the way to go here. I spotted Spagana wedges, Sosos in cork, Lady Daf in a really great bronze snakeskin, Daffodile, Private Number, and Vivekas."
Other selections included flat styles like "loafers, boat shoes, very few pairs of sneakers with studs, Pigalle flats, Paulina[s], doorknock Cyclamens, Fred flats, and a square-toed studded flat." The sandal selection was small, but included a lot of gold gladiators; and two styles of boots: "white boots...with pastel studs in all sizes," and "flat boots that were actually a sandal—so basically a thong sandal with a bunch of suede fabric around the calf. Neither option were particularly popular."
Handbags, including $400 backpacks and a singular $1,400 style "with a giant ruffle on the strap," and wallets ($150) on a table near the front door were largely ignored. The men's section of the room was "basically empty," the tipster wrote, with half of the men in her shopping group appearing to browse just because they were dragged there by a wife or significant other.
Shoppers had a hard limit of five pairs of shoes and two accessories. The checkout line ran smoothly, with staff double-checking sizes and handing out shoe bags. The venue itself was stifling—it had "no air conditioning. But thats okay! Because shoes."—and was very-well protected: "The guards were very nice. There were a ton of them. I've seen less security at airports."
Today is supposedly the last day of the sale. "The very fancy elite people sale started on Tuesday," our tipster heard a staff member say, while Wednesday and Thursday were reserved for friends and family (invitations specifically stated which day you were allowed to attend). It doesn't sound like they'll be opening the doors to the public at any point, but the final hours—before the doors close at 6pm, it's been reported—would be your best bet.
If you got into the sale and want to tell us about it, email email@example.com.