Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Don't Break the Bank on Clothes this Christmas
Two-Finger Love Ring
When you get a wooly jumper with a knitted Rudolph as a Christmas present from Gran this year, ring her up, say thank you, and that you will wear it with pride all day. Once you put the phone down, run up stairs, take it off, and change into the fabulous bargain designer outfits you got from DSUK.
Designer Sales UK is having a special Xmas Sample Sale on Sunday 6th December, making sure you look your best for the festive season. Taking place at Chelsea Old Town, admission is £2 or £20 for VIP early entry. Some items fetch up to 90% discounts, which means you can get big names for minuscule prices. You will also be able to join in an exciting new 'Make' workshop, in which visitors have the chance to create their own customised accessories.
Designer Sales UK, Chelsea Old Town Hall
Over the weekend I was invited as a VIP guest to my first DSUK sample sale. The sale officially opens at 12pm, but as a VIP, it meant I was allowed in an hour early to browse at leisure before the hoards piled in. The hall space is fairly small, so this was definitely a worthwhile perk.
DSUK Goody Bag
VIPs don't just get in early; they are also treated to a glass of champagne and a goody bag worth £75. Not being much of a drinker, I declined the champagne, but gladly accepted all the other goodies. These included The Lady magazine, travel-sized toiletries, packet of crisps, two truffles, 5cl bottle of vodka, a stylish ring, and a lovely leather belt.
Artwork by Elaine Foster Gandey
Outside the sales room were four acrylic paintings by Elaine Foster-Gandey, the founder of DSUK. These were also available to buy. My favourite was A Burst of Joy, which looked like a bouquet of flowers bursting out from a cloud of sulphur. Others included Black Cat Through the Window, Hope, and Coming Through the Storm. For the Xmas sample sale, Elaine will be displaying some new sketches.
Receive goody bags upon arrival.
Elaine greeted me at the door, and told me a bit about how DSUK all started. Elaine started her career as a tea-girl at Jasper Conan. Over the years she worked her way up until eventually becoming a stylist. Elaine then began to notice how many designers often have lots of left over stock, and the idea behind DSUK was born. The reason customers can get big name labels at such discounted prices is because Elaine contacts the designers directly, and haggles with them to get the lowest price possible on left over stock.
Because DSUK sell a number of accessories, customers are asked to leave their bags, hats, etc in the lobby, where they are looked after by an attendant. The accessories are directly to the left and right as you enter. On the first table were a selection of handbags and wallets starting from £5. There was also a miscellaneous basket of buttons and belt buckles if you like sewing or need replacement parts. I hoped I might find some spare toggles, but sadly no.
Jewellery that will get you noticed.
The table opposite was filled with jewellery. There were some big statement pieces on display, including a necklace made up of white and rose gold 'fingers', which I thought was quite stunning.
If you don't want to feel burdened by the guilt of self-pampering, then why not pamper your house instead? MAKE is an independent fashion and home accessories business started up by MariA and KatE. They have created a unique range of fragrance cushions, including orange, strawberry, lemon, lime, bubblegum, gingerbread, popcorn, and chocolate. These retail at £39, but at DSUK, they were £19. Not only do they smell nice, but they feel super soft too.
Handmade by women in India.
A sure fire way to rid any guilt is to buy from the next stall. All the garments are handmade by women in India, as part of a project to get unemployed women earning a living. The profits raised also goes towards helping give handicapped children an education. The man running the stall was very proud about project, showing me newspaper cuttings, letters, awards, and accolades that it had been given. It's great that he is so passionate, but perhaps he was a bit too enthusiastic. Every time I tried to look at something, he'd get there first and info-dump me about how beautiful it was. It would have been nice if I could have just looked without a continuous narrative. The garments were beautiful though; there were lots of colourful scarves, tops, bags, jewellery, jewellery boxes, and general decorative items. Everything on the table cost between £15 - £30.
Vivienne Westwood Scarves
More scarves could be found on the other side of the room; these were by Vivienne Westwood and would normally cost £89. They were on sale for £35 or two for £60.
Shake your Booties.
Once you're kitted up around the shoulders, it's time to turn to the feet. Sensible people had a choice of loafers, while everyone else could pick from wedges, high heels, and opened-toed footwear. These are probably something you're going to want to wait till spring to wear. If you want to keep your tootsies warm, there was a gorgeous pair of knee-high sheep skin boots; originally priced at £795; down to £195. I expect they will have similar things available at the Xmas sample sale.
Now to the racks. There were five rows, two for men, two for women, and one uni-sex. The men's clothes were divided between dinner jackets, shirts, American style jerseys, and t-shirts. They had a good mix of smart and casual wear, so even if your just lazing around the house, you can still bear the mark of style.
Jenny Schwarz Jacket
Guys can get a particularly good deal on Jenny Schwarz formal wear and barrel bags. One of the jackets on display had been reduced from £690 to £125.
Standout piece of the day.
Among the womenswear, some of the things I liked included shirts by Rachel Roy and Equipment, and a spectacular faux-fur snuggly warm top by Maclauren.
For more casual days, I loved the ranged by Gwynedds. They're clothing is inspired by our favourite clothes from childhood. Soft, comfortable, and bright. I also fell in love with 100% cashmere jumper that retails at £150, but was on sale for £49. The most affordable items at the sale were from Numph and Munrow with t-shirts around £10-£12.
If you find a lot of things that you like, you don't have to worry about carrying them around with you, as they have a holding area, where you can keep things until ready to buy. There is also a changing room to try things on.
Modelling the bargains.
Before I left even got to take part in a photo shoot. A photographer was taking shots for a press release, and asked me to stand in while she got the settings right for her camera. I then helped out with the shoot, holding some of the equipment for her. This gave me a chance to admire the clothing off the rail and see it modelled. James looked particularly good with that Jenny Schwarz barrel bag I had seen earlier.