Sample sales can be hell. Even with those invitation-only events, there's that schlep across town, the disorganized piles of merch and all that pushing and shoving. Thank god, then, for Gilt Groupe—a new members-only website that has hosted sample sales for Thakoon, Marchesa, Zac Posen, Alessandro dell'Acqua and Badgley Mischka, among others.
Three times a week, emails go out to members notifying them the moment that a new sale is live—and from there, the fastest internet connection prevails, as items often sell out in minutes.
The company's chic young founders, Alexis Maybank, 33, and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, 31, met while undergrads at Harvard and reconnected at Harvard Business School after forging separate paths in the tech and fashion worlds. (Alexis launched and ran Ebay Canada and Alexandra oversaw North American retail operations for Bulgari.) Alexis told me that she got the idea for Gilt Groupe while she was actually at a Valentino sample sale. "It was horrible weather outside, and I was fielding calls from friends saying, 'If you see a handbag like this, can you get it for me?' I thought, wouldn't it be amazing if it was all online and people could just see it themselves?"
Membership is open by invitation only but Alexis and Alexandra are offering a special offer to readers of Wmagazine.com. Log on to www.gilt.com/w for access. Dolce & Gabbana, Anthony Nak, Felix Ray, and Asprey are holding sample sales through Gilt Groupe this week.