Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Florence for the Bargain Hunt Dream; Where to Buy Cut-Price Designer Outfits

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Florence for the Bargain Hunt Dream; Where to Buy Cut-Price Designer Outfits

Article excerpt

Byline: ALISON TYLER

Have you heard of The Mall?" I asked the honey-skinned, groomed brunette at a cafe in Florence's Piazza della Repubblica. "I've heard you can get bargain Gucci bags." "Of course, I've heard of it," she replied indignantly, "but who'd want to wear last season's Gucci?"

Only 30 minutes from Florence, in the hamlet of Leccio, this unassuming outlet mall is home to Gucci, Armani, Fendi, YSL, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Sergio Rossi and Ungaro, all with at least 30 per cent off.

There's a catch, of course. The clothes are at least a season old, or seconds. But unlike any other outlet, all the shops are as stylish as their full-priced counterparts, while the staff are more friendly. "New" stock arrives each season, so last autumn's designs are arriving now, while summer stock is fabulously cheap.

When I arrived, there were no Italians but plenty of Brits, Americans and Japanese, all happy to wear last season's clothes.

In Gucci I found men's suits from [pounds sterling]285, reduced from [pounds sterling]541, and overnight bags from [pounds sterling]180. The horse-bit buckle handbag, with goldchain strap, was less than half price at [pounds sterling]187, while last autumn/winter season's oriental pink leather handbag with a bamboo handle was [pounds sterling]218 instead of [pounds sterling]479.

The best bargains are in the sections marked "special price". Tops are reduced from [pounds sterling]329 to [pounds sterling]74. Yes, some of the stock involves thigh-high monogrammed stiletto boots, but there were classic pieces, such as the pink satin tieup sandals that Sarah Jessica Parker owns for [pounds sterling]145. At YSL there was 50 per cent off the already-discounted prices. Last autumn's signature suede bone-handled Mombasa bags were [pounds sterling]114 (reduced from [pounds sterling]388). Nicole Kidman's 2004 Golden Globes dress was [pounds sterling]572, down from [pounds sterling]2,203. In Stella McCartney I found last summer's must-have white and silver heels (pictured far left) for [pounds sterling]135. …

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