Thursday, May 26, 2011

Online Sample Sales - Stiff Competition; Who Will Prevail?

Gilt started it all, but in the last few months the space has become increasingly crowded with sites hawking goods for limited periods of time. Gilt, Ruelala, Beyond the Rack, and newer incarnations -- eBay Fashion Vault, MyHabit (, Century 21, Prive, JackThreads, and likely several more I've never heard about.

I get daily emails from just about every one of those sites, and today my emails from MyHabit and Prive both announced they were selling merchandise from the brand 'Mackage' (a high-end outerwear company for those that have never heard of it). Prive happened to be selling more fall/winter oriented stuff, while MyHabit veered more towards lightweight merchandise appropriate for spring. But the point being -- in less than a few years of Gilt's existence, we're getting to the point where completely different websites are selling the same exact brand on the same day (this isn't the first time I've seen this; it's often happened w/Gilt and Ruelala, but this is a more unknown brand than what is usually shared, i.e. - Theory and John Varvatos).

How long can this hugely competitive marketplace remain? And will these concepts win out over traditional brick and mortar concepts like Daffy's, which, mind you, is only a regional retailer competing against these sites that have national clearance. Only time will tell, but I fear for those that are solely in the old ways of brick and mortar - will there be enough merchandise to go around to even fill up the stores?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some Great New Finds in Philly

Made my first official trip to the Philly store today as a resident of the city. Was proud to say there was a lot more merchandise to be happy about than when I made a short stop a few weeks ago. Here's the details:

Shirting from Valentino (made in Italy) - some really great stuff, all in boxes. The major drawback here is the price -- $79.99 for each shirt. I'm glad to see this kind of stuff, but the pricing is kind of insane when you compare it to the shirting from Alea, Milena and Mastai Feretti, which are as-good if not better quality and all at $29.99 or less. $79.99 is the kind of price I've come to expect from Century 21 or Loehmann's not Daffy's :P... so great find, but awful price point for the time being - wait til at least the first markdown on these.

Casual shoes from Superga -- some great items, various sizes and colors in canvas and leather, all at $26.99. You will not find these anywhere for less. I picked up the pair to the right for myself. Super comfortable and better yet, super affordable.

The Philly store also had a HUGE selection of shoes from Martin Dingman -- these likely came in last week, but the biggest selection I've seen in any store - even boat shoes and some awesome looking sandals ($69.99 for the sandals).

Also, belts and a few leather tote bags from a brand called Bodhi. The belts were very rocker-chic, not my style but looked well made. The bags (only 2 at this location) were interesting -- looked quite well made (couldn't find country of origin) - all black leather w/portions in suede -- priced at $299.99. Unsure how good of a deal this is - I can't seem to find the exact bag, but from what I have found they're selling around $349 on the web. So a decent price, but the tag said the original price was over $900, which based on my few searches seems a bit inflated. Good item if your local Daffy's is stocking them, probably won't last long.

And a few bits and pieces worth mentioning -- Apparently Milena SpA makes shirts for Neil Barrett - I found a shirt mixed in w/everything else marked w/the Barrett label, w/the Daffy's tag indicating the vendor was Milena. Of course it was marked at $29.99 - insanely cheap for what it is. Sadly, it was one size too big for myself, and that was probably the only one of its kind :( .... I also noticed some linen blazers from a company called Santori w/the tag line, 'la linea sartoria'. Didn't really think much of them, as I don't know what one would do w/an orange linen blazer, but it's there if you need one - quality seemed OK, didn't get to look at the price. Finally, the shoe section also had a very small selection of casual shoes from Impulse -- some nice things that were priced to move.

So, all in all, one week in I'd say I'm happy w/Daffy's in Philly. The suit/blazer section was worn out, but that may be asking for too much too soon. Keep it up please :)

As a quick side-note -- perhaps it's time Daffy's started educating its staff about the merchandise it carries-- I spent a good amount of time helping out a couple that were looking for a dress shirt -- I steered them away from the Kenneth Cole and Geoffrey Beene area, towards the Italian shirting. I will gladly help out anyone navigating Daffy's for the first time (I've done so on several occasions in New York), but I find it silly that the people working in the store have no clue about the merchandise they carry. Salespeople should be more than stockists and theft-prevention.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Philly - Coming Tues/Wed

New updates based on merchandise from the Philly store will be available starting Tuesday or Wednesday this week. Haven't had time to visit since I've moved, as I've had a lot of little things to get done. Hoping for some great things, or at least one or two brands worth mentioning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Slightly Off-Topic: Ross Dress for Less

Last month I wrote up a post which included a list of Daffy's main competitors in the closeout space. I purposely left out a number of stores, including the one I want to discuss in this post, because the merchandise is just awful and well below the quality of stuff sold at Daffy's.

So -- Ross Dress for Less - Including today, I've now visited three locations of the store (Orlando, San Francisco and Philly), each experience worse than the prior one. If you've ever gone to Burlington Coat Factory, you'll realize that most of the stuff there is coming from Macy's; but their suit and footwear department is at least passable and their young men's merchandise has gotten better the last few
seasons. That said, Ross is lucky to be getting in the stuff from Macy's. I've seen brands at Ross today that I haven't seen in years (perhaps I'm just not shopping at their suppliers). There is literally not one item of clothing I would ever buy in that store.

I will admit that I picked up a few houseware items for my new place, but I'd much sooner be shopping at TJMaxx/Marshalls/Homegoods for that stuff than I would at Ross.

I follow a limited number of stocks, and Ross Stores has been in my 'Closeout/Discount Stores' portfolio for a few years (wish I had bought the stock, but no). For the life of me I can't understand why the stock has done so well when they stock (no pun intended) absolute garbage on about 75% of their shelves. At least TJMaxx/Marshalls is a bit more lively; the Ross locations I've visited have been dimly lit and dreary.

I could just about do this same review for Syms which is another complete waste of time, and has in fact ruined the chain of Filene's Basement stores that they purchased by firing the Filene's buyer and stocking Syms merchandise on Filene's shelves. Neither Ross nor Syms are in the same league as Daffy's when it comes to quality of merchandise -- but sometimes I wonder with certain items whether Daffy's is going down that road, and it quite honestly scares me. A recent trip to NYC area discounter, Pay Half, confirmed that much of what's being carried in the young men's dept. at Daffy's is also at Pay Half. Pay Half is another one of those stores which generally stocks bottom of the barrel merchandise, and to see them carry the same stuff as Daffy's is a cause for concern.

Moral of the story: Daffy's - it's time to get your act together. You don't know how much potential you have; just stop stocking the junk found at low-end discounters and get back to the high-end Italian closeouts we've come to know and love.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nothing to Report This Week

Not that I didn't stop in at any Daffy's this week, but really almost nothing of any note came in. Will hopefully make one more NYC-area update before I head down to Philly this coming week.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

More from Last Week - Great Shoes + Bikini Bottoms?!?

Made some stops at the two Elizabeth, NJ stores + Secaucus this weekend for one last hurrah before I head to Philly. One great find in some shoes that just came in, some decent shirts, and then a huge waste of floor-space in men's bikini-bottoms for summer. Here goes ---

First off, some of the best quality shoes that Daffy's has had in stock in months -- a small supply of shoes from Martin Dingman (made in Italy) were available, both casual and some on the dressy side, all for $98.99. I also noticed one pair from Fratelli Rossetti (see pics) -- if I was a betting man, I'd say that the Dingman shoes are made by Fratelli Rossetti, but that's just a hunch. A few of the shoes had Goodyear-welt soles, and a few had 'Amazonas' written on the bottom (probably indication of a good rubber sole, but I've never heard of that name prior to this). Look for the shoes in orange boxes, with a signature in cursive on it. As always in the shoe department, be sure to check everything and everywhere, regardless - shoes will often be placed in other-brand boxes and the wrong sizes placed on incorrect shelves.

Update (5/10): Noticed a number of the Martin Dingman's are samples marked 'Made in Brazil'. Quality looks the same as those as the ones I saw earlier that are made in Italy.

A few bits and pieces from Luke Simon (made in USA) and Cooper Jones. Luke Simon seems to be an interesting brand - hadn't seen/heard of it before, but it seems to be some laid-back sportswear which is all made in NYC. The Jersey Gardens location had a few shirts in solid-colors -- some nice stitching details as well, and a few pairs of shorts w/interesting patterns (pic to the left is an actual shirt they had at the store for $19.99, I believe the pic is from JacksThreads, a sample sale site for men's streetwear) -- nothing phenomenal, but I'd be interested to see some more from this line. The Cooper Jones stuff wasn't really very appealing -- a few very basic buttondowns that weren't really made or fitted very well, but I'll gladly take it over the Bobby Chan junk they just got in (see prior post).

And finally, a great find like the Martin Dingman shoes would not be complete w/out something else ruining any goodwill I may have had towards the Daffy's buyer for the week. So, with summer coming, it's probably a good play to stock some bathing suits, boardshoarts, etc... But the Secaucus store had a HUGE stock of men's bikini bottoms, including some more 'revealing' ones from apparently well-known labels, Beach Rays, and Ami Sanzuri. For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would think that American men would buy these things. The only time I've seen/heard of men wear bikini bottoms is in Europe, where it is mandated in some countries for public health reasons. If you want 'em, Daffy's has them. But for the life of me, I can't understand what goes through a buyer's head when they think that someone state-side will buy these things. Perhaps some bodybuilders will get word of this and clear 'em out :P

I mentioned previously, the one major item I desperately wish Daffy's carried were Italian leather bags for men. If they didn't carry crap like this, and about 3/4 of their undergarments section, there'd be plenty of room for that kind of stuff. In the meantime, precious floor-space is being devoted to nonsense like this.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New in at Philly

Went apartment hunting in Philly today for my move, and of course managed to work in a stop at Daffy's :) --- that said, I was not particularly impressed w/the merchandise selection at the moment. Only a few things stood out as being new that I believe likely came in recently, nothing special in my book but I will list them out anyway --

A load of cotton and wool pants from Banana Republic, all marked at $19.99. There were a few other brands in there including Tasso Elba (the Macy's house brand), as I assume these are coming direct from the manufacturer rather than from Gap. Honestly, I'd much prefer Italian stuff to this, but at $19.99 buy one or two and use them for casual-wear as needed.

Lots of old-man sportswear from Bobby Chan. This stuff has been a staple at Daffy's for a while; but just b/c it's a staple, doesn't mean it's a good thing. Honestly, there's no design to the stuff, and it's mostly pieces of man-made fabric (polyester, nylon) made for late-middle-aged men to go out on weekends. This stuff belongs in Sears, not Daffy's. Stay away, stay away.

That's all I noted in Philly; didn't have time to comb through the entire store, but I did notice there were still a handful of ties on the clearance rack -- including a few Guy Laroche marked at $3.74!!! Kind of insane how low these things go, but there's not a big selection, so scoop them up if you're in the Philly area.

This weekend, I'm going to try and make my final stop at the Elizabeth, NJ stores before I head to Philly, and possibly Secaucus, though that one's usually a waste of my time.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The End of NYC Updates for a While

Closing up shop up here in NYC in a few weeks, as I will be permanently moving down to Philly to start a new job. Philadelphia Daffy's, get ready :)

I will still have access to a Daffy's down there, but there's only the one location w/in a decent radius. Of course, I will continue to provide updates, but it will be limited to the stuff that comes into the Philly store; will likely be visiting NYC once a month or so to get my fill of Daffy's, but don't expect updates from 3 or 4 stores on a weekly basis.

If anyone wants to help out w/NYC updates, please leave a comment below.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lots of Bits and Pieces

So last week didn't offer anything major, but a few nice items here and there helped fill out some horribly over-picked stores.

First off, one of my favorite labels FINALLY came in this season (I mentioned them a while back, but that appears to have been only leather jackets manufactured under the label by CDP)  -- Messagerie (made in Italy) by GMA SRL. Not a huge selection, but the 34th St. store and the Soho store had a few sportscoats and jackets from them. Also spotted a few pairs of pants at 34th St. This stuff has a very similar asthetic to Jey Cole Man, i.e., refined casual w/a bit of a rocker edge, and the quality is way up there. I haven't seen this stuff at any other stores; my guess based on previous years is that some merchandise wound up in one or both of the Elizabeth stores.  Blazers were priced at $50-$60. There may also be some stuff from Bryan Husky, which is also made by GMA, but I didn't anything from the label. Was really hoping for some suits, but alas... :(

Previous posts aside, 57th St. East side and 34th St. had small selections of jeans from 7 For All Mankind in various colors, priced at $89.99. Honestly, while the stuff is just fine quality-wise, the pricing, as I mentioned in prior posts, is awful. Considering what can be had at Daffy's in terms of jeans, these should be roughly half the price of what they're currently asking. Wait til they go on clearance, or at least the first round of markdowns.

A tiny bit more merchandise from Conbipel came in as well (Italian equivalent of the Gap from what I can tell) - shorts and pants. This stuff is made in the far east, but at $10 for a pair of shorts, I snapped up two for myself in a gray and olive drab.

Shoes from a company called 'Banana Breeze' (made in China). There were a few different kinds -- stay away from the patent leather loafers (not real leather on those from what I could tell, just ugly); but each store seemed to get in a bunch of shoes in the 'Prosper' model, shown to the left. Very nice things, and at $39.99, they're a bargain, though not necessarily the best quality shoes I've ever tried on. They're currently selling for over $60 at and

Also, each store got in a small selection of shoes from Florsheim. Nothing special, but worth noting.

One final line item -- each store got in a small handful of new ties from Altea (made in Italy). Some awesome stuff, especially a lot of cotton and cotton-blend ties which are perfect for spring/summer, all at $16.99. You probably won't be able to notice the difference between the old stuff and the new stuff, unless you've been through about every tie rack like I have, but watch out for some ties w/a light-brown Altea label on the back, as those are some of the newer ones.

And one last addition -- most stores got in a small number of beach duffel bags, which are tagged the Bloomingdales Men's Store, at $13.99 each. White w/blue or orange trimming (two variations); Small little things, which is why I'm calling them beach bags -- nice for that purpose if you need it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Very Quick Note

Been busy at work, but lots of little goodies that came in this past week. Will hopefully have some updates in the next few days.