Saturday, October 1, 2011

The expanding industry of outlet malls

Everyone who's the least bit cost-conscious, likes to indulge in sales, vintage shops, or shopping in outlets once in a while. Sometimes it's not even about the cost, it's more about the thrill of scoring a cheap but great piece of clothing. When you buy a 500$ dress at 50% off, you actually feel as if you saved 250$, even though you spent that exact same amount on a dress that, after you cut the price tags, might suddenly not seem that alluring at all. We all have something in our closets that was 70% off, so you couldn't possibly not buy it, even though you never wore it afterwards. I don't know why we react so greedingly to reduced prices, but I'm sure the evolutionary psychology has some sort of bogus explanation for it. Like when us girls used to go berry picking and another tribe approached us and told us that if we were to trade our berries for their mushrooms they'd throw in a free fur vest, then we'd go absolutely NUTS. Maybe I just really dislike evolutionary psychology.

Now that outlet malls and villages are popping up everywhere, it doesn't seem such a bad idea to put some thought in them. One of my dearest friends took me to Maasmechelen Village in the spring, as a birthday present. We had a great time and I found some cute things, but I wasn't overwhelmed like I thought I would be. She recently told me that she'd watched a documentary on outlet malls, and apparantly, the stock there doesn't consist of leftovers and overstock anymore. Most of the time they weren't made for regular retailing at all. They're fabricated especially for these outlets, using inferior materials and a different construction. Hence the lower price. This shocked me a little, but when it comes to fashion and marketing, I'm prepared to believe anything nowadays. To top it off, these places are designed to lure you into buying something. For instance, they're never near a big city. When you ask why, the response is that they don't want to create competition for the regular stores. Sounds logical, right? Except this creates a different effect: because people have to travel a while to get there (and thus invest time and money in transportation), it would feel like a futile trip if they didn't buy anything. So the costumers are more likely to spend money on stuff they don't really want. All is fair in fashion and war, I guess?

According to my research, you should take a close look at the tags if you want to whether you're buyin something that was designed for outlets or not. An even better way of finding out what quality the clothes are is bringing someone who knows something about sewing and textiles. My sister is a fashion technology student - I know who I'm bringing to my next trip!

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