While bargain-hunting and indie fashion fanhood don’t always mix (after all, a large part of the commitment to shop indie is about using your dollars to support artists and small business owners, not about consuming as much as you can for as little as possible). But everyone loves a deal – I certainly do – and there are certainly plenty to be had in indie fashion land – if you know where to look.
In that spirit, I’m sharing three simple steps anyone can take to save on apparel and accessories from independent designers.
1. Get on the mailing list. If you don’t already know how many killer deals, discounts, promos and giveaways come through newsletters from designers and small, locally-owned boutiques, let me be the first to tell you – you’ll regularly save anywhere from 10 to 30 percent just by being on the list. Consequently, I am an obsessive mailing list sign-up addict. I ask you, what is the point of paying more when you could easily pay less?
Whenever I encounter a new boutique, I look for the mailing list sign-up sheet. If I don’t see one, I often ask whether one exists (every designer and small business, by the way, should have a newsletter – it’s the single easiest and most cost-effective way to communicate with potential clients and keep them in the loop). When I see designers at indie fashion shopping events, I put my email on their lists and grab business cards like a depraved paper-hungry fiend. If you’re going to follow this advice, I’d recommend getting a dedicated email address just to catch all the newsletters and emails you’ll get. But don’t name it “news@….” – I had to learn the hard way that this kind of email address attracts horrible amounts of spam.
2. Go to indie shopping events. I love shopping in stores and boutiques, but indie fashion events offer the best chance to buy directly from designers – often at discounted or wholesale prices. In addition to that, participating designers at shopping events frequently bring discontinued styles from previous seasons, slightly flawed versions of their work and extra inventory they just plain need to move in order to make space in their studios. Also, if you really like an item, but can’t commit to purchasing at the event, ask the designer whether he or she will offer you event pricing if you buy directly from them a day or two later. Not every designer will say yes, but many will offer you that kind of a deal without you even having to ask.
3. Reward-based cards good at local businesses. Sign up for Stickycard, and you can earn points that lead to discounts on purchases at local stores like My Roommate’s Closet. They don’t have many participating merchants just yet, but the card is free to use – so there’s really no down side. The SF Explore Card will cost you $20, but once it’s activated, you’ll be able to score discounts and deals at shops like Nousha and Y & I Boutique, as well as spas, salons, restaurants and myriad other local businesses.