April 21, 2009

Hypothetical Shopping: A Review of the Outnet

Since the Outnet launched, as examined in my previous post, I have browsed their stock to determine whether the site lives up to months and months of hype. My conclusion is that, much like parent site, Net-a-porter, the stock selection is quite beautiful but the prices are still comparably high. Most competitor department stores had the same pieces for less money months (or in some case, a year) ago. Pieces from seasons past still populate the pages, with only moderate discounting. The ranges of discounts span from 30% off to a rare but impressive 80% off.
These pieces were among the most deeply discounted at 80% off retail. The dresses (by ChloƩ on the left and Marc by Marc Jacobs on the right) were already sold out. The Nina Ricci jacket was still available at the time of my browsing.

All items have the same volume and variety of photographs from NAP. The fit guide and measurements for each garment are also included in the information. I was glad to see this as it remains one of the best aspects of the parent site. Most items tend to be priced at 50% off retail. Other than the comparable frill-less, editorial free design the bulk of the site seems like a redundant addition to the Net-A-Porter brand if, like me, you were familiar already with the now-defunct sale section, complete with disappointingly stingy discounting.

But this site's surplus of older seasons stock might be an asset to some. If you are looking for a now-rare piece that you regret missing the first time around, the site can be useful. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I have an iron clad memory for basement sale prices and cannot bring myself to pay a penny more than the lowest discounted price of yester-season. This useless skill makes it nearly impossible for me personally to actually shop The Outnet.

But I can hypothetically shop. My hypothetical shopping cart includes this Tibi dress that sold out when it dropped to 80% off on Saks.com. It is 50% off on The Outnet.
And this beautiful, surprisingly modest Dolce and Gabbana frock, which I would wear to the late spring/early summer weddings I will be attending in the next few weeks.

I would also buy these seasonally inappropriate dresses by 3.1 Phillip Lim and Viktor and Rolf, respectively.
I am already eager for fall as evidenced in my stubborn, seasonally inappropriate recent outfits of the day. My next entry will document the seasonal inappropriateness!

26 comments:

Jennifer Nicole said...

How disappointing! I had hoped they would carry more extreme discounts. Ah, well.

Zazu Ta said...

love the D&G dress!

erinm said...

i think there are a lot of cute stuff, but you're right..just like it's parent, the outnet is overpriced. but it is good for finding last season stuff. i am still debating the CL sandals (even if i would prefer the nude to gold)...

that nina ricci coat is super cute but it looks so dumpy on the mannequin!

The Haute-Shopper said...

I know what you mean - I was expecting them to move their sale section to the Outnet, but a part of me was hoping they'd lower the prices even more considering some of the pieces are over 2 seasons old. And knowing that there are items I can get cheaper elsewhere, I find it difficult to spend money on the things I do like (though most seem to be sold out already...)

grechen said...

i was pretty disappointed. i didn't really have super-high hopes anyway, but still...the prices and selection could be so much better.

Jesspgh said...

Jennifer Nicole, it is disappointing but from the history of NAP I should have expected it.

Zazu Ta isn't it beautiful?!

ErinM, I think the dumpy mannequin pic is why it hasn't sold.

The Haute-Shopper, I too expected it to be less redundant than a website that is merely expanded from their former sale page.

Gretchen, you were smart to not have high hopes.

S said...

I also hypothetically shopped that Dolce dress! Then I saw a photo of it on Kim Kardashian and hypothetically returned it.

Jesspgh said...

S, please link me to the photo of KK in it so that I can hopefully stop hypothetically imagining myself wearing it to all the weddings I will attend this year.

Dream Sequins said...

Oh snap. I lurve Viktor & Rolf. Too bad they aren't sample sale prices :( I almost feel like one could do better on a seasonal sale on the main netaporter site.

Eyeliah @ stylesymmetry.com said...

I'll be right with you and shopping hypothetically. :-)

S said...

Oh I wish I could find it! It was in a blog post about the groundbreaking concept of wearing a top tucked into a skirt to achieve the colorblock look, with KK in that dress as an example photo.

Honestly, you're better off not seeing it. It was actually really lovely even despite the KK ugh factor.

Cafe Fashionista said...

We can be hypothetical shoppers together (there's always the Gilt Groupe)!

Sarah Edwina Rose said...

It's a good way for them to get rid of out of season stock and the prices are almost affordable for those of us usually unable to buy designer.

I think the first come first served basis means you need you eye on the ball for the best deals!

Jesspgh said...

Dream Sequins, I love that Viktor and Rolf dress so much but yeah.. sample prices these are not!

Eyeliah and Cafe Fashionista, I am glad to have more hypothetical shopping buddies!

S, thanks for the tip. I looked for it to no avail but you are right. I'd probably rather not see it. I do think she is stunning and gorgeous, even if I think the terms and conditions of her celebrity are dubious at best.

Sarah Edwina Rose, I definitely agree that it serves an important function and I am eager to check regularly for prices in my range. This makes Net-A-Porter selected stock closer to being in my range, but for me, so did their sale page when it wasn't housed separately from the main site.

Fashion Matchmaker said...

Not only are the prices high but the website is also not as aesthetically pleasing, it almost makes more sense to just use the original site since they have 40% discounts on there too...

Anonymous said...

I've only ordered once at outnet.com. It was a horrible experience, package could not be delived, communication is absolutely very bad, after many MANY emails and after many months i got my money finally refunded. DO NOT SHOP HERE !!

Jesspgh said...

Fashion Matchmaker, I don't mind the design of the website. I don't think it is nearly as fabulous as Net-A-Porter, of course but I think it is functional enough. And I've never seen a discount on the Outnet that wasn't higher than 40%.

Anon, I am sorry to hear you had such a negative experience. I recently made my first purchase that I had to return (since every other purchase so far as been successful) and I found the process to be very smooth. I know their requirement of a signature upon delivery is probably a hassle for most but I find it to be reassuring. I am glad your money was eventually refunded but it is awful that they weren't responsive to you quickly.

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Geri said...

Wish I'd read this blog first.
Terrible customer service. Bought a hat from them that ripped the first day of wear. When I tried to exchange the clearly defective merchandise they went through all the motions of exchange but sent me the same hat back!! I realize that companies don’t really care about customer service anymore but I thought this was especially insulting since as I’m sure you can tell there is nothing “cheap” on this site. I spent alot of money on a defective hat and got nothing back. WHAT A RIP OFF!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey,

A google search of 'Outnet reviews' brings up this page so I thought I'd let you know my experience this Christmas: it appears they're selling used items/returns as new.

I bought my wife the Mava leather wallet she'd requested and after a cursory check when it arrived (packaged nicely) I wrapped it.

I wish I'd checked more closely as in the inside zip pocket were four hair elastics and movie and concerts tickets dating back many months. It would appear the person who'd previously owned the wallet lived in Glasgow, Scotland.

I wrote to outnet asking for an explanation but none was forthcoming, all they said was that they were sorry that 'the high standards they aim for hadn't been achieved this time' and offered me a refund or return!

Aren't all items of this kind eligible for refund or exchange? I would hope they wouldn't have to be used by someone else previously in order to qualify.

I live in Australia so returning is time consuming and expensive, but I may do it anyway as I'm pretty disgusted that a company which portrays itself as a high-end operation would sell used items as new.

In a way I'm lucky, as it was clear that it had been used, but I wonder how often they do this and make a better job of hiding the fact.

I'm waiting to hear back from them again as I replied requesting an explanation rather than the offer of a refund, I'll let you know what they come back with.

KM

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iren said...

I've ordered an equipment shirt several days ago, and one day noticed an email saying that they've cancelled my order (without specifying the reason). They claim to have contacted me first but I've never got an email nor a phone call, except for an email saying that they are a bit slow in shipping and will expedite the order as soon as it is available.

Anyways- fine, they failed to do an inventory check and just sold an item because they don't know how to do business correctly. However, following was a refund of $11.95 in store credit (in return of the $99 dollars I've paid for the shirt?). How did this happen? I've been contacting their customer service several times and have not heard back yet. This is just maddening and a waste of time.

Erroltart said...

I ordered from the outnet 2 weeks ago and the dress had sleeves that no normal person could squeeze their arms into!  (I'm a UK size 10) I returned it and was charged the original £5.95 to deliver to me and then was charged another £8.00 for the return.  For this reason I will never use them again.  It cost me almost £14 for an item that was clearly defective and returned a few hours after it was delivered :(

Shoprrrr said...

Someone probably bought it then returned it.
There are people who do that all the time. Even dresses for events. Even celebrities.
I used to work fro Gucci, this was an issue.

Shoprrrr said...

I just had a great experience with the Outnet.com.
I ordered a wedding dress that I had looked for a no one had in stock or over a year.
I paid half of what I was willing to.
It arrived beautifully packed, clean perfect, all authentic and with tags attached.
VERY HAPPY CUSTOMER.

This is high end discount. I don't think it is OK to have bad customer service, but I will say to the folks below, this isn't shopping at Barneys.

Net a Porter does not sell past season items, only end of season. Ounet sells past season, and I am guessing some of these are pulled from other stores that can not sell the merchandise at the end of the season.

It is great if you are looking for something from a recent past collection, unworn, and discounted.

another anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm with anonymous regarding the used/returned items for sale. Having just used 'the outnet' for the first time I am hugely disappointed. The dress that was delivered to me looked previously worn/damaged. It generally looked a bit grubby, not a good look for ivory silk, and on closer inspection had small dirty marks all over it. It looked as if someone had tried to remove some of these marks as there was also faint water marks in 4 different areas. I am still awaiting any sort of refund. I doubt that i will ever use them again.

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