August 25, 2012

Barneys Warehouse Sale: August 2012 Menswear

So it’s that time of the year again when fashion lovers and bargain hunters alike go crazy for great deals on designer duds (yeah, I just said that). But unlike previous years when the New York sale could count on a mid-sale boost from the LA leftovers, there was no LA sale and, if the current stock is any indication, all of the best pieces were prioritized to the first-ever online iteration.

When the online Warehouse Sale was first announced, speculation was that while there would be better finds online, surely there would be deeper discounts in NYC. Unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case. I wanted to wait until the third day of the sale to write this post to be able to give a decent survey of what people who didn’t line up at 7am (the shortest line in recent history) might hope to find. There also seems to always be numerous reports on every piece to be found in the women’s section, but very little coverage of the men’s offerings, so I wanted to fix that.

One thing that I will comment on is that there seems to be security at literally every turn, which made things even more crowded than normal. While they were all very friendly, it often felt that there are more of them than there were employees, which was a little disconcerting at times.

As always, the first section you encounter when you walk in are the suits and this is where you will find the best selection. There is a solid selection of suits and sport jackets and everyone should be able to find something good, even the less popular sizes. I will say there appears to be less in the way of interesting or unique pieces than at previous sales, with the bulk of the stock being of the standard black/gray/navy variety, though there are some great Canali and Hickey Freeman suits to be had if you dig a little bit. In what turned out to be a trend, every suit and sport jacket that I looked at was marked at 50% off with no additional discount.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the lightweight outerwear had a rather large presentation, however, in what would turn out to be another trend, the majority of the standout pieces seemed to be gone after the first day. Today, for day three, it appeared that there was a fair amount of restocking happening so hope is not lost for finding that special piece.

Dress shirts almost entirely consist of the house brand, though there are a few Black Fleece shirts sprinkled about here and there. That's right, it looks like Barneys bought some overstock from Brooks Brothers, but you really have to hunt.

Ties, which are usually one of my favorite buys at the sale, turned out to be a mixed bag. By day three, primarily all that was left were Barneys ties with a few exceptions. There is a decent cluster of Duchamp ties at the end near shoes, and the occasional gem from Etro, Alexander Olch, title of work, Thom Browne, and Brunello Cucinelli but these are few and far between so you really have to hunt for them. I was a little disappointed to not see any McQueen and only one Psycho Bunny this year, as I have in at least the past four sales, though I did walk away with a Black Fleece tie and a Liberty London bowtie for $59 each.

There is a decent selection of accessories, and today they were actually easy to shop (a huge improvement if you’ve ever seen the disaster that is the accessories bins in the past). Around midday, two employees spent a few hours organizing and restocking the accessories bins. When they were done there was a fixture for hats, two for bags, and one for bowties making everything SO much easier to shop (though it also diminishes the chance of finding that diamond in the rough hidden at the bottom of the bin) while socks, cold weather goods, and iPad cases filled the bins. Nothing really jumped out at me as amazing, but there are some good Duchamp, Alexander Olch, and Liberty London bowties to be found, and some fun Trafalgar braces if you are in the market.

One big upside is that if you are looking for some kind of boot or brogues then you should definitely consider a visit, as that is what dominates the shoe section. There are not a lot of amazing pieces, though a few Florsheim by Duckie Brown, Paul Smith, and Prada pairs can still be found. One bedazzled Prada pair particularly caught (and somewhat blinded) my eye.

Crossing over to the other side, you will find a mediocre selection of denim. There is a small but colorful row of cords, almost all by Levi’s Made & Crafted, that is worth checking out. There are tons of miscellaneous pants, but again, nothing that really jumped out as fantastic. The blue ticket imperfects (read: damaged) were in pretty bad shape this year, and by day three most of it had been pretty well picked through.

The casual shirts were plentiful, with sizes skewing hard towards the L-XXL end of the spectrum. This was your usual fare, with some nice pieces by a good variety of designers, including Elie Tahari, Michael Bastian, Etro, and Canali, and while most were marked down to 50% off, there were several that were closer to only 30%.

To sum it up, after three days there are still a few good (but not amazing) finds and the prices are not that great. You could get the same deals in the clearance section of a department store (maybe even better if you have a coupon) without having to deal with the crowds. The flipside is that it seems like there is a lot of restocking happening and some of it is pretty good stuff. In fact, I found some nicer pieces on the third day than on the first. It is worth a look to see if you happen across that one piece that is a must-have for you, but I would recommend waiting until the markdowns start to hit before doing any serious damage. Hopefully there are more pleasant surprises waiting in the wings.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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