Designers create special lines of clothing made specifically for outlets. Are you getting a good deal or getting duped?
Designer clothes at discount prices.
That is what Outlet Malls promise and that's making them one of the fastest growing segments of American retail.
But before you think you're getting a bargain on the best of the best, we have some of the secrets behind outlet clothing.
They aren't defective, they aren't overstock. They are "made for outlet" clothes, a trend designers are jumping onto to attract the more budget-conscious shopper.
May Beard is now with Ursuline College, but used to do fashion merchandising for Tommy Hilfiger. We took the outlet and regular store garments to May to get her expert eye on the differences between the two.
"The first thing that I do notice when I look at these pants is what I call the 'hand,' or the feel of the fabric," she said.
The pants bought at the Banana Republic in the regular mall is made with a finer fabric that drapes across the hand. But the outlet pants are made with a stretchy, stiff material.
'Quality issues do come down to the quality of the fabric," says Beard.
Buttons, zippers and other fashionings used in "made for outlet" clothing are a little cheaper. When it comes to construction, outlet production may only measure the garment for fit once or twice, while regular brand will have more stringent tailoring.
We compared two Van Heusen men's dress shirts, one from the outlet store and the other from a major department store. The outlet brand simply says "16 1/2 Large." The regular retail shirt is labeled "16 1/2 34/35."
"How detailed the sizing is here. So here again, there could have been more time put into the production of this garment."
But sometimes, even the most trained eye can get tricked. In the case of the Ann Taylor blouses, Beard says she would have picked the outlet material to be more expensive.
"As I look closer to this, this herringbone wave is gorgeous and you would think that would read quality and stuff."
And in her opinion, sometimes price outweighs overall production.
"But do you really miss that fifth button? Not really, when it comes down to paying less in the end."
Other tricks of the outlet trade? Price tags. The price tags will typically list an MSRP price just above the "outlet" price. But there's no indication the garment was ever worth that much. It's a way the manufacturer will lead you to believe you're getting a discount deal.