High Fashion, Outlet Prices. Welcome to theOutnet.com

High Fashion, Outlet Prices. Welcome to theOutnet.com

As the recession deepens, luxury sales are moving into the discount arena, especially online. Since 2007, no fewer than five high-end e-tailers, including gilt groupe and ideeli, have opened shop as members-only discount sites that offer VIP-style sample sales at outlet prices. But the fashion site making the most waves these days is a new online outlet cleverly named theOutnet.com. Opened to the public on April 16, theOutnet — the latest hot spot created by net-a-porter.com founder Natalie Massanet — had 150,000 visitors register prior to the official launch. “With our fashion-forward approach, edited selection and chic format, we will continue to provide savvy shoppers with something new at a great price,” says Stephanie Phair, director of theOutnet.com.

But the site offers much more than major discounts — typically 30% to 70% off — on designer apparel, shoes, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses and other accessories from seasons past. For example, a $1,455 Rick Owens draped silk dress is marked down 40% on the site to $875, while a pair of Chloé patent leather sandals is 50% off, at $298. And there are similar bargains on offer from more than 200 brands ranging from 3.1 Phillip Lim to Burberry and Alexander McQueen.

What’s really got fashionistas riled up, however, are the even bigger discounts that can be found on the site’s flash sales, which registered customers are alerted to via e-mail. Its Going, Going, Gone sales — which are essentially the shoppers’ version of playing chicken — begin by offering a product at its original retail price and then keep dropping the price as time runs out until either all the stock has been sold or the sale ends.

TheOutnet has another innovative feature to keep customers scouring its online racks: so-called Pop-Up sales, which feature items grouped by brand or theme on sale for a limited time of up to 72 hours.

But perhaps the best traffic driver of all Giveaways. Each month new items are up for grabs for those who register for a flash sale, with lucky winners being chosen at random. The next item being given away: a Chloé Saskia tote bag, originally priced at $1,900. Not bad for a freebie.