NEW YORK - One of the fashion world's favorite secrets is about to become public: It is possible to buy top-quality designer merchandise at a fraction of the price.
Sample sales, as they are called, often are reserved for industry insiders. On the rare occasions when they are open to regular shoppers, they're still only in urban fashion centers, such as New York or Paris.
But, in the name of a good cause - the fight against HIV/AIDS - a huge sample sale will be conducted online from Nov. 10-Dec. 7 on eBay.
Contributing designers in "7th on Sale" include Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole, all of whom are honorary chairmen. The Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue are the sponsors.
What kinds of bargains can one expect? Huge discounts and limited-edition merchandise, according to Constance White, style director of eBay.
Sample sales used to be only for manufacturers to sell off their samples but they've evolved to include a huge array of merchandise - and sizes.
Pricing will begin on eBay at 10 percent of the wholesale price "and then we'll let the market decide," says White. More than 6,000 pieces of women's, men's and children's clothing in addition to accessories will be sold. Lanvin, Oscar de le Renta and Prada are among those contributing items.
"Look for prestigious brands at great prices," advises White. "It's a good opportunity to dip your toe in the water and try a designer that might have been too expensive for you before."
Some of the most coveted pieces are likely to be collectibles, including limited edition pieces that Tom Ford has done for Estee Lauder, a perfume bottle signed by Beyonce and a book signed by Lauren.
It's a good idea to know not only your size but also your measurements before you do your bidding since "size" varies from designer to designer, White says. You could even go to a nearby store and try pieces so you'll get items with the best fit when bidding begins, she suggests.
The CFDA and Vogue launched "7th on Sale" in 1990 to raise money for the New York City AIDS Fund, collecting $10 million since its debut. However, the initiative went on hiatus in 1995 as drug therapies and awareness shifted the focus on the disease in the United States. This new sale will raise funds for education and prevention programs worldwide.
On the Net: www.ebay.com/7thonsale
NEW YORK - Accessories are an important piece of the fashion pie and the newest winners of the Accessories Council awards reflect that. Some of the biggest names in the business were to receive ACE Awards on Nov. 8:
-Hall of fame Kenneth Cole.
-Lifetime achievement Betsey Johnson.
-Retailer of the year Neimanmarcus.com.
-Fashion journalist Teri Agins of The Wall Street Journal.
-Accessory brand launch Juicy Couture.
-Magazine of the year Instyle.
-Designer of the year Oscar de la Renta.
-Fashion influencer Sean "Diddy" Combs.
-Fashion icon Jessica Simpson.
-Excellence award Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.