Q And Answer: What’s Up With Gilt?

November 18, 2009

Q and Answer: What's Up with Gilt?

Brian writes:

I wanted to get your opinion on the “flash sale” online retailers peddling bargain luxury, such as Gilt.com.  I’m a member there and haven’t had the opportunity or motivation to buy anything, yet.  I’m curious about your take on it.  If the retail prices they list there are correct, it’s certainly full of heavy discounts and plenty of cashmere.  However I’m skeptical if sites like these rate well as good uses of my time in the search for decent clothes.

Gilt.com are a monstrous retail success story.  They take overstock from designers and retail stores, sometimes as much as two years old, and resell it online in invite-only “flash sales,” which last only 48 hours.  Limited quantities mean the best stuff goes early, which turns shopping into a game.

I’m a member of Gilt, and I’ve bought quite a number of things from the site.  The discounts are usually good but not huge – they’re about what you’d find at Loehmann’s.  Of course, if you live somewhere without designer discount stores, this is the first time a broad selection of this kind of stuff has been easily available on the internet.

Generally, though, I’m wary of looking at shopping as a game.  It’s an easy way to buy things you don’t want.  Arbitrary time limits are a technique salesman have been using for decades (probably centuries) to make deals happen, and ticking clocks are a powerful closer.  But if you’re careful, and you’re shopping mindfully, you can get great stuff.

We don’t have direct experience with any of the copycat sites, so let us know what your experiences have been.

By the way – today’s Gilt Man sale includes Woolrich and Jil Sander, two (very different) brands we’re behind all the way.  If you need an invite, use this one, and I’ll get the referral credit ;).

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