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Designer Sales Xmas Sample Sale

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by Bryony Harrison (subscribe)
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
Don't Break the Bank on Clothes this Christmas
designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, love, ring, goody bag, VIP
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,
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, goody bag
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, elaine foster-gandey, paintings, art
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, goody bag
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, handbags
Snazzy Handbags

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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, jewellery
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, MAKE, cushions, fragrance
Fragrant Cushions

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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, indian
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, vivienne westwood, scarves
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, vivienne westwood, sheep skin boots
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, jersey

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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, jenny schwarz, formal jacket, dinner jacket
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, maclauren
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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, gwynedds

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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, changing room
Changing Room

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.

designer sales uk, chelsea old town hall, jenny schwarz, model, photoshoot
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.
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*Bryony Harrison was invited as a guest
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Why? Bargain fashion deals
When: 6th Dec from 12 pm to 5 pm
Phone: 44 (0) 7813 986 999
Where: Chelsea Old Town Hall
Cost: 2 or 20 VIP
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