Sample sales in London are one of the best places to snap up a designer item at a fraction of the RRP. The clothes and accessories are usually unworn, or have only been worn for an hour or two for a photoshoot or fit session. London is one of the best places in the world for sample sales due to the many designers located in the city. So if you’re a Londoner, or even if you’re just visiting, it’s well worth keeping an eye on upcoming sample sales.
What To Expect At A Sample Sale
Sample sales will be selling clothing, shoes, accessories, or homeware samples at 20% – 90% off the RRP. The discount that you get will depend on the brand, the quality of the samples and the number of pieces available on sale. It’s the perfect way to save money on clothing in London.
At a clothing sample sale, the samples available will be in sample size. Depending on the brand, they will create samples based on a certain model size for catwalks, photoshoots and garment fitting sessions. As someone who started out their career in Buying, I can assure you that brands tend to vary widely on what they determine their sample size to be. High end designer brands are likely to be a UK 4-8. More commercial brands are likely to be a UK 8-10. Some brands may sample at a size 12.
For footwear brands, the sample sizes will usually be size UK 7 for women’s brands. However I have seen sample size shoes at a size UK 4 and UK 5 in the past.
No Returns Policy
Sales at a sample sale are usually final, with no returns policy. If you’re unsure of an item, check the policy at the sample sale before buying so that you’re not left unable to return it. If you like designer discounts but want the option to return? You may wish to check out some of the designer clothing outlets in London.
What Time To Arrive
Ideally, to snap up the best bargains, arrive at the sample sale before it begins. You’ll usually find there are bargain hunters lined up at the door before opening time. Getting there early isn’t always possible, but certainly makes a difference. If the sample sale is held at the weekend, it’s easier to accommodate this, however many sample sales are held during the week.
If you want to attend a sample sale during the week, you might be able to head to the sale before you go to work. Often sample sales will be held at locations such as the Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, which is perfect if you work in the area. I used to work in Shoreditch myself, and it was honestly the perfect spot for sample sales as there are many held in East London locations.
What To Bring
If possible, wear something that you can try clothes on with. There are often no changing rooms at sample sales, and if there are, there is a huge queue. Wear leggings with a tight top so that you can try things on over the top of your clothes. Otherwise, you could also wear a skirt or dress to try on trousers or skirts at the sale.
Check beforehand if the venue will be taking cash or card. Most sample sales will take card, especially at a designer sample sale when prices may be a little more on the expensive side. Come prepared to avoid disappointment!
Where Are Sample Sales Held?
Typically, sample sales in London are held in event spaces. Brands will usually hold a sample sample twice a year. There are several event spaces which consistently hold sample sales for different brands throughout the calendar year.
The Old Truman Brewery
Located around Brick Lane, in the Spitalfields area (only a short walk from Shoreditch) you will find The Old Truman Brewery. Not only is it a space for creatives, but it also holds regular upmarket sample sales.
The space has hosted past sample sales for the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo and AllSaints. Follow them @trumanbrewery to be the first to know about upcoming sample sales.
📍 91 Brick Ln, London E1 6QR
Ely’s Yard actually forms part of the Truman Brewery, and is commonly used for pop up shops and sample sales. If you see something hosted at Ely’s Yard? You’ll know where to find it. Past pop up sample sales have included Grenson shoes, YMC, FOLK and Oliver Spencer.
📍 Unit G4 Ely’s Yard London E1 6QL
The Box is a popular dedicated sample sale space. The venue hosts sample sales for luxury and designer brands including Joseph, Paul Smith and Christopher Kane.
Based in Hackney, the venue is a must-visit for any East-Londoners. Follow @thebox_london on Instagram to get the latest updates on upcoming sales.
📍 4-6 Ram Pl, London E9 6LT
The Music Room
Luxury designer at it’s finest. The Music Room is based in Mayfair and has held exclusive sample sales for brands such as Erdem, Saville Row, Shrimps and Temperley. You’ll also find they’ve hosted sales for high end high street brands such as LK Bennett, Reiss and Hush.
Follow @themusicroommayfair to hear about upcoming events.
📍 The Music Room, 26 S Molton Ln, London W1K 5LF
Arlettie host sample sales for luxury brands in both Paris and London, as well as online. Past sample sales have included Longchamp, Cutler and Gross, A.P.C, Balmain, Chloe, Burberry, Dior, Fendi and Maje. Priority memberships are available, but this is not essential to shop the sample sales hosted here.
Sign up to their mailing list to receive invitations to sample sales by email. Follow @arlettieparis to find out more in real time.
📍 13-14 Margaret St, London W1W 8RN
Showcase hosts luxury sample sales in London. Previous sample sales include Aspinal of London, ESPA, Juicy Couture, Alice + Olivia and Reiss. Their Regent Street location is very central and super accessible, but you’ll also find that they hold online events too.
Most of the Showcase events are ticketed, so if you see a sale that you’re interested in, you’ll have to book online by signing up for a free account. However, you can pay for a Priority or VIP membership to get first entry and exclusives if you wish to.
Follow on Instagram @showcase.co to keep informed of the next sales.
📍 12 Regent Street, St James’s, London, SW1Y 4PE
Chiswick Town Hall
Chiswick Town Hall hosts sample sales fairly sporadically, but if you’re a West London resident, you won’t want to miss out! Banners are usually hung outside Chiswick tube stations to let you know when a sale is coming up.
Past sales include designer homeware sample sales, as well as apparel brands such as Karen Millen and Thought. However, The London Designer Sale has also been held at Chiswick Town Hall in the past, and this sale has included brands such as Belstaff, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chloe, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada and Saint Laurent. Entry for this event was £2, which is well worth it.
📍 Chiswick Town Hall, Heathfield Terrace, Turnham Green, Chiswick, London W4 4JN
Chelsea Old Town Hall
Another town hall venue in a leafy part of West London is Chelsea Old Town Hall. Again, it’s not a venue that is specific to sample sales (obviously), but designer sample sales form part of the regular roster of events held at the Town Hall.
Previous sample sales have included Hush, Olivia Rubin, The Rug Company and more.
📍 Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5EB
Shoreditch Town Hall
Our last town hall location on the list, Shoreditch Town Hall has hosted many a sample sale in its time. Another place on your list to visit if you’re an East Londoner. Past sales have included Alexander McQueen, Oliver Spencer and FOLK.
📍 380 Old St, London EC1V 9LT
Where To Find Out About Upcoming Sample Sales In London
Some brands will post about their sample sales on social media, and this is particularly the case with smaller independent brands rather than big designer labels. Be sure to follow your favourite brands on social media to make sure that you are in the know.
Are you subscribed to the mailing lists of your favourite brands? Just like social media, brands will often advertise upcoming sample sales to subscribers of their mailing list. Again, this is particularly the case with smaller independent brands rather than big labels, but it’s definitely worth doing!
You need to check out Eventbrite for a comprehensive list of upcoming sample sales in London. The list is constantly updated, and there is even a map so that you can see which sample sales are closest to your home or place of work.
Dedicated Sample Sale Platforms
There are several websites that are dedicated sample sale platforms which will continually update their websites with upcoming sample sales in London. You can sign up to their mailing lists, follow on social media, and bookmark their websites to make sure that you don’t miss out on any upcoming sales.
As mentioned earlier in the post, there are several venues throughout London that regularly host sample sales throughout the year. Sign up to the venue mailing lists and follow them on social media to hear about new sales. You can also pop into the venue if you’re nearby (perhaps when you’re going to a sample sale!) to see posters and notices about upcoming sales.
Online Sample Sales
Sample sales online are becoming more popular, and this is due to the fact that brands can reach more customers, including those who don’t live in London.
Traditionally, an online sample sale would be invitation-only, with the opportunity to buy samples from the current collection or last season at a discounted rate. However, these days you can usually sign up for free to have the opportunity to access the online sample sale.
Online sample sales are usually held on the retailer website, and the brand will often post the link on their Instagram, Twitter, and on their mailing list. Follow your favourite brands on social media to be the first to hear about their sample sales.
What is a sample sale?
A sample sale is when designer brands sell off their samples to the general public. Samples might have been used on the catwalk, in photo shoots, in garment fitting sessions, or a brand may have sampled a product with a factory and then decided not to buy it for their main collection. The samples are always sold at a discounted price.
The sale is usually held over one or two days (sometimes over a weekend) and is first come, first served. You may notice sample sales in London by the long queues out the door!
How cheap are sample sales?
Sample sales vary in pricing, but you can expect to get a 20% – 90% discount off the RRP. The cheapness of the sale will depend on the brand and how much stock is available at the sale. Some high end brands will not discount their products to 90% because of the perception that it could devalue their brand.
Check ahead of time what discount you can expect from the sample sale to avoid disappointment upon arrival. There’s nothing worse than queueing for a sample sale only to find that the discount rate isn’t what you hoped.
Why do designers have sample sales?
Samples are also used by buyers and designers to check the quality level of production. For example, before an item goes on sale, buyers will have usually requested a buying sample, a pre-production sample, and potentially a “gold seal” sample too, which is a sample from bulk production. Once a product is in production, buyers no longer need these samples and the brand can sell them off at a discount.
Usually buying departments are swimming in samples, and so an internal sale will be held among staff members, before the sale is opened up to the public.