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Ask Sherry: Do outlet stores sell lower quality items?

You asked, and I am answering every Friday once I have enough questions!

You can ask any question using the form here.

Hello, love your blog.

…and I love hearing that! *preen preen* 😉

I would like to know what are your opinion about products sold on outlets, I’ve heard they are made of less quality than the retail stores, so how worth would these products actually be, considering the brand (i.e. Coach, Kate Spade, etc)? Thank you!

I can CONFIRM to you that YES products sold at outlets for all the brands, are a specific line made JUST for the outlet.

If you think that regular-store clothing makes its way to outlets for deeply discounted pricing, you would be misguided.

That used to be the case but then it started to eat into the profits of regular-stores because of 2 reasons:

  1. People started just going to outlets to pick up those items for cheaper
  2. People started waiting for outlets to get the last round of clothes

This is not good for regular-store business because you don’t sell at full price, nor even at a sale price any more.

As a result, they started manufacturing outlet-specific lines which is why you will see labels like: Coach Factory then it is clothing NOT sold in regular-stores.

Now, are they made of less quality than in retail stores?


If they are being sold at a “outlet store retail price” for half the price of something in a retail store, the cost of goods to manufacture this item, was of a lower cost.

And of how much lower quality are they versus retail goods? Not much, really, if I am to be frank.

The styles are not the same, of the fabric is not quite as nice (e.g. printed or stamped version or a riff off the retail store print, instead of a properly embroidered print that is sold in the retail store), the cut is not quite as nice or as tailored — less seams and less tailoring for instance.

Even retail store clothing is pretty damn cheap. I will not lie to you, but there are items being sold for $300 that cost $20 to make.

What you are paying for in many of these cases, is marketing in the brand name, as with many things.

Is it worth it to shop in an outlet store? For me, why not!!?

If you like the piece, and you yourself feel that it is worth the $100 you’re forking over for a jacket, versus $300 “in a retail store”, then it is worth it.

Truth be told, I haven’t shopped in an outlet store in a long time, and retail shopping for me has mostly been relegated to online shopping and mostly in times of stress.

I prefer secondhand luxury brand shopping off eBay, Poshmark (via my American friends), or in consignment shops. You can get FAR better quality for cheaper than at retail, and if you are not squeamish about secondhand goods, it is really a good purchase.

I’d rather pay $300 for a formerly $3000 coat than $300 for a new retail one. Plus, it is greener, on top of being cheaper and easier on your wallet.

Still have a burning question?

You can ask any question using the form here and all of my previous Ask Sherry posts are here.


  • Jess

    I actually asked once at North Face Outlet, and they were a bit cagey but eventually said that some items were specially made, and some were from the retail store. The tags were different, and the outlet-only items had a more limited warranty. The whole thing was kinda sneaky, though, because the store sign didn’t say “outlet” anywhere, there was only a tiny sign at the register announcing it. Anyway, I couldn’t really tell the quality difference and ended up buying both types of items.

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