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Free People Makes a Surprise Appearance at the J Brand Sample Sale

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When we arrived at Chelsea Market this afternoon to check out a sample sale that promised us discounted J Brand and Ramy Brook, it was already teeming with shoppers with an almost-shocking amount of enthusiasm — probably because of the surprise cameo of hippie/peasant blouse staple brand Free People. But unfortunately, the high-end denim label we came in search of only took up two racks in the back corner of the sale space.

The J Brand options, which are mostly on-trend styles (holes in the knees, distressing, high rises) and popular cuts (the Maria, the Alana), were disappointing due to both the small inventory and the price point. At $79 a pair, the discounts were OK percentage-wise, but we've seen many of these styles online for less — for example, this skinny straight leg style is at Saks Off 5th for $39.98 right now.

Free People's selection was a good buy at 65% off its price tags, but we've also seen better markdowns at department stores. Also, we generally found the styles looking a little worse for the wear, even when keeping in mind the brand's general aesthetic. That said, we loved some of their very on-trend crop tops, like a sheer black number for $34.30 (originally $98) and lacy bralettes for $13.30 (originally $38).

Alice & Trixie made up much of the center portion of the sale space. We're not sure how much the discounts were here because original price tags weren't included, but frankly that doesn't matter because we found the entire brand to be dated. At $69, the faux-leather leggings were probably the chicest option available, but the leather was so cheap-looking it drew multiple remarks in the fitting room.

Otherwise, expect to find a lot of fluorescent dresses ($99 for maxis) and similarly garish tops ($59—69) in weird, polyester-y fabrics.

The final brand, Ramy Brook, was nice but perfectly forgettable. We liked a perforated sweater and a monochrome crop top ($59—69), but definitely wouldn't make the trek just for them.

We heard Free People had some back stock, so expect new merchandise here over the next couple of days. Otherwise, everything seems to be out. We were told that prices were low enough that markdowns seem unlikely, but only time will tell. Check the Dealfeed below for more information.