Sarah Dickerson is a recent graduate of Wellesley College living in Boston, MA. She has written for other online publications including Girl’s Guide to Paris, Café Abroad, and Artspace Marketplace. She currently works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
There is some fierce competition among online luxury retailers marketing to women. Although the general marketing scheme of many member-only online luxury retailers gets somewhat redundant, it is ultimately to the benefit of a savvy shopper. While these burgeoning online businesses struggle to stick out, customers profit from the ultimate strength of these companies: That nobody is selling the same thing at the same time. Welcome to the new, virtual bazaar of affordable luxury goods (and now no one needs to know you got it at a discount). Here are the five best sites to find luxury items for less:
1. Gilt Groupe
Gilt Groupe, Inc. is a members-only online luxury retailer founded by two women, Alexis and Alexandra, who have impressive business backgrounds in online sales and luxury goods. Gilt Groupe has a sleek website design that is easy-to-navigate and filter through, so shoppers can easily find what they’re looking for. It’s easy to search by category, and the fact that there’s an ability to select a preferred price range shows that Gilt Groupe is keeps in mind customers’ specific budgets. In addition to ongoing sales in clothing, food, travel, and home goods, Gilt Groupe offers designer-specific Shopping Events and the ability to choose your location for regional deals. This online shopping destination is number one because of its diverse merchandise, good deals, functionality, and the fact that Gilt Groupe, Inc. boasts a respectable number of women in executive positions. The ultimate deal: You can hear the cash register ringing and the glass ceiling cracking at the same time.
2. Rue La La
Based in Boston and rapidly growing, Rue La La is another members-only online luxury retailer, which claims to create a closer-knit community and feeling of intimacy through it’s invitation-only policy. Rue La La offers a hip, trendy and fun website design and daily “Boutiques” offering special deals on clothing, accessories, travel, home goods, and entertainment. Like Gilt Groupe, there is also an option to receive deals specific to the city you live in.
Artspace Marketplace is a new start-up company based in New York City that allows customers to purchase extremely affordable works of art by both established and emerging contemporary artists. The low prices Artspace offers sometimes relates to the medium of art or the popularity of artists, which in the past have included Nick Cave, Lawrence Weiner, Kara Walker and Takashi Murakami. Artspace also offers convenient framing and shipping services on the website. This website is excellent for investing in cutting-edge contemporary art and for diversifying an existing collection.
Bluefly must have an army of buyers on their side to find such a diverse, discounted array of luxury clothing, accessories, and beauty items. In addition they actually offer a free, live chatting service with a personal shopper directly on the website. Bluefly isn’t a members-only experience but offers the general public the ability to immediately purchase items.
Like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La, Hautelook is another recently developed members-only website and emphasizes that “Membership is free and everyone is welcome!” The luxury items on this site including women’s fashion, home décor, and travel, are a range of lesser-known or mid-level luxury brands.
For more on great websites for savings, read: Holiday Savings: 5 Websites You Should Consult Before You Fly