There are a large number of flash sale sites out there, though the emergence of new offerings has slowed as the industry — not to mention consumers — seems to have hit a saturation point. Here is a brief guide to where you can find suits, dress shirts, ties and other professional clothing and accessories among the chaos.
Founded in 2007 by CEO Kevin Ryan, Gilt is the driving force and current leader of the online flash-sale movement. Gilt Group also ran the tragically short-lived Park and Bond, the online storefront counterpart to the flash-sales featured on Gilt Man. Gilt runs the gamut in brands from Calvin (including Calvin Klein Collection), Tommy and Ben Sherman to Bally, Caruso, Martin Greenfield, and Shipley & Halmos. Site photos, including the zoom function, are decent but not spectacular. (Can’t anyone replicate the close-ups Clad Men deployed?) Discounts can be substantial, though selection can be maddeningly hit or miss unless you are willing to queue up at lunchtime to hit the sales when they start. Even with a frustrating return policy, Gilt Man, which also boasts a good blog, GiltMANual that introduces readers to “brands you should know,” is deservedly number one on this list.
Begun in May 2011 by Amazon.com, Myhabit.com has enough substance to hold your attention. With the retail behemoth behind it, the site features a rotating selection of unique brands that can be difficult to find at other online storefronts or flash sites, from Mezlan shoes to Rotenier cufflinks and tie bars to Simon Spurr and Calvin Klein Collection suits. Markdowns can be substantial: A trench from Micah Cohen similar to one that retails for over $200 on Zappos.com could be had for $69 on My Habit. Product pages have useful if at first startling video of models twirling in their clothing and terrific photographs with decent zoom function. One bonus: If you have an Amazon.com account, you can log into My Habit with it. Phew. One less username and password combination to remember.
Founded in 2007 by digital economy entrepreneur Paul Hurley, Ideel offers a decent selection of men’s shirts, suits and accessories, including cufflinks, bags and vintage watches. With brands including Ben Sherman, Calvin Klein, Jack Victor, Joseph Abboud, Tailorbyrd, and Tommy Hilfiger, ideeli feels like an online cross between Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom Rack. The site features decent, if small, pictures with a good zoom function, and useful dimensions and descriptions of their products.
Owned and operated by Bluefly, Belle & Clive launched in December 2011 and feels like an upscale extension of the company’s product offerings. With brands including Alara, Joseph Abboud, Hickey Freeman, Kenneth Cole, Prada, and Tod’s, the site is all over the map when it comes to styles and price points, though has a number of brands common with stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, as well as what Bluefly offers via its regular retail portal. The site has a nice selection of suits, shirts and ties. Deals vary. $350 for an Abboud suit, or $58 for a Theory dress shirt? Not bad at all. $145 for a Prada tie that retails for $185? Not great. Product photographs offer very little zoom, making it difficult to see details. If you already have a Bluefly account, you can log into Belle and Clive with it.
Montreal-based Beyond the Rack, which launched in 2009, has an expansive definition of what constitutes professional wear. The site is reminiscent of walking into Marshals or the now-defunct Filene’s Basement. That is, hit or miss, though they do seem to do well with ties from the likes of Christian Dior and Dolce & Gabbana. You better be sure you like what you buy, because their return policy is atrocious.
Playful, though more focused on casual than professional wear for men, Hautelook caries a small array of interesting brands. From suits by Varvatos and Valentino to shoes from the likes of Donald J Pliner, the site is worth a look, though sizes are hit or miss.
Overwhelmingly focused on women, Ru La La features a small and underwhelming selection of men’s clothing and accessories. Photos are decent but small. Compare prices carefully. Their “deal” of a Brooks Brothers dress shirt, marked down from $168 to $79.90, are 40 cents more expensive than they’re retailing for at Brooks Brothers. One wonders how they estimate the retail price.