The Gucci sale is an intense 3-7 day long event which happens twice a year. Once in May, and once in November. During the sale period, prices on handbags, accessories, shoes, and RTW get marked down 30 – 50% from retail. The sale happens in tiers.
Tier 1: VIP clients of Gucci sales associates
Tier 2: Previous clients of Gucci
Tier 3: The public
While some sales have been lackluster, some have been incredible. The best one in my recent memory was shortly after Gucci’s then creative director Frida Giannini was replaced by Alessandro Michele. Gucci in recent years did not make any hit bags and was seen by many fashion bloggers as somewhat of a ‘fuddy-duddy’ brand – preferring the likes of Celine and Givenchy instead. Michele vowed to change that by making the brand more youthful and relevant. He wanted to thrust Gucci out of its synonamous interlocking GG image and into fashion’s frontier.
While the sales usually only include seasonal colors (patent pink! neon orange!) that particular sale saw some of the company’s longest running classics at a 50% discount. When my girlfriend and I found out about that sale online, we immediately booked an appointment with her Sales Associate to view some of the sale bags. I still remember the long line (of mostly Chinese women in their 40-50s) arguing with the security guard about why these young girls (aka us) were being let in to the store while they have to wait outside with their Chanels.
Luckily for me, my girlfriend had been a fan of Gucci long before we found out about the sales. She had previously purchased full-priced items from Hotel Vancouver and established a relationship with the sales associate. Gucci HQ would send her the sale link by email, and she would be kind enough to extend it to me. Thanks to her, I was able to purchase my first Gucci bag at a 40% discount years ago, along with 2 pairs of shoes in subsequent years.
I hadn’t been planning on purchasing anything this year, but for the thrill of the hunt I still stalked the sale forums this year before the sale began. My girlfriend’s usual sales associate was on maternity leave, so we were down on our luck.
The first day we heard about the sale going live in stores, both of us took turns calling the Hotel Vancouver Gucci to try to book an appointment – out of the few times we got through, someone promised to call us back but never did. And this is just the sort of service you get when none of the sales associates recognize/remember your name – none.
Not wanting to give up, we decided to head downtown on our lunch break on the 3rd day of the sale. Surprisingly, the Gucci store was almost completely empty. Both of us had been expecting the frenzied line-up of Asian ladies as per the previous years. We went in the store and were greeted by the new Dionysus bags (drool-worthy) but no evidence of any sale. I grabbed the first SA I saw and asked to see a particular bag that I knew was on sale. She side-eyed me briefly, as it contemplating whether to tell me it was out of stock, but I triumphantly beamed at her with the vigor of a newborn pup and she reluctantly stepped into the backroom.
She pulls out the mini bag and I tried it on. I could feel her sharp vision on me as I checked out the price tag – still four digits, still regular price.
“That’s the last one we have.” She said.
At this point, my girlfriend pulled her away to look at another sale bag. (Which was also marked full-price) We both ooh’ed and aah’ed at our bags. Even though we knew the items were 40% off, it was still a big decision and a lot of money to drop impulsively.
The sales associate looked like she would rather be anywhere but serving us. Unfortunately for her, there wasn’t any other customers in the store she could deflect towards and she reluctantly stayed.
“Will you give it to us at the sale price?” Ventured my friend.
“Oh, actually the sale hasn’t started yet.” Scoffed the SA, “It’s currently for VIP clients only. Are you guys even invited?”
“Not this time. But we’ve been to private sales before.” I suggest, “We didn’t get an invite this year because XXXX is on mat leave and we don’t know anyone else.”
“Well …” you can see the SA’s hesitation before she reluctantly gives in, “don’t tell anyone else but I’ll sell it to you guys – because XXXX is a personal good friend of mine.”
She hands us a card as she goes to ring our purchases, “My name is XXXXX, next time you can call me directly.” All of a sudden, we went from uninvited VIP sale crashers to first-name basis customers.
“Oh thank you.” We both sigh in relief and shoot each other a glance. I guess the decision to buy or not had been made for us. Even though 5 minutes prior I had been doubtful I wanted to spend $800 on a bag that could barely fit my phone, now I felt victorious and utterly blessed to be able to even have the opportunity.
This is the privilege of buying at the Gucci sale.
Now let me resume my de-cluttering process. Since I don’t shop at Chanel/Prada sales, I should be safe until at least November.