Dressing For Less

When Dwayne Brice, a native of Edmonston, Maryland, began college in the small town of Oberlin, Ohio, he soon realized it would be challenging to find a place to shop for clothes. “My school’s neighborhood had no access to clothing stores — urban, contemporary, or otherwise,” he says. Fortunately, Brice discovered that the Internet provided a convenient, hassle-free medium for purchasing a variety of brand-name apparel.

As more and more consumers turn to the Web for their shopping needs — in 2001 alone, 58 million Americans made purchases over the Internet — the number of sites offering discount designer apparel has skyrocketed. The information below will help you grab items by designers, such as Louis Vuitton, for less.

Start with outlets you know. Brand-name stores, such as Armani Exchange and Banana Republic, have sale sections with reduced-priced items. “On armaniexchange.com, I once purchased a shearling motorcycle jacket for $22, priced regularly at $149,” Brice says.

Search sites that specialize in discount items. Founded in 1998, bluefly.com is an online designer outlet store that sells apparel from nearly every top name in fashion. For instance, you can purchase a floor-length Vera Wang evening gown with a retail value of $2,290 for only $599 — a savings of almost 75%.

Another site that offers great designer clothing is eBay.com. Look for the following user names, categorized by seller, that specialize in selling brand-new designer clothing:

Evalueville sells items by designers ranging from Jimmy Choo to Iceberg.

Gothamcityonline specializes in designer women’s shoes.

2die4fashion auctions off high-end apparel such as Prada and Dior.

To find the above user names, simply go to www.ebay.com, click search, click By Seller, and then search by the seller’s name.

Remember safety first. ConsumerReports.org advises making sure the site has clear privacy and security statements. It also says that the better sites have a policy to cover the first $50 of any fraudulent charge. Be aware of shipping and handling charges at the time of purchase, and be sure to read the site’s return policy.