Not everyone can afford to buy brand-name clothing and accessories, so when we see outlet versions of our favorite stores, it can be tempting to pop in and look for a deal. And at first glance, it appears that you have: you pick up a top says it retails for $200, but the outlet price is $29. If that seems too good to be true, it’s probably because in most cases, it is.
Though we like to think of outlets as the places that get the leftovers from whatever wasn’t sold from last season’s collections, in reality, most clothing you find at factory outlets were specifically made to be there. That Banana Republic Factory Outlet sweater was never meant to be sold in a mall: it was created using less expensive (and usually durable) materials.
If you know this going into an outlet and are fine with the lower quality, then you’re all set. But there are also times when outlet items are sold online without disclosing their origins. Fortunately, there are ways to determine if something was made especially for the factory outlet. Here’s what to know.
How to tell if something was made for outlets
Sometimes, it’s as simple as checking a label, logo or the serial number, according to a post on The Krazy Coupon Lady blog. Here are a few examples:
- Banana Republic: Merchandise from the outlet has three small diamonds underneath the brand name on the tag.
- Kate Spade: Clothing from the outlet has an embroidered spade above the label name, and the tag stitching is greenish instead of gold. In bags and wallets from the outlet, the spade logo is a square with a hollowed-out spade in the middle or a stamped spade.
- Gap: Outlet tags have three small squares below the brand name.
- Ralph Lauren: “Chaps,” “Lauren by Ralph Lauren” and “Polo Ralph Lauren” brands are lower-end lines found at outlets and places like Kohl’s.
- Brooks Brothers: If the tag says “346,” it’s from the outlet.
- J. Crew: Merchandise from the outlet has two small diamonds underneath the brand name on the tag.
- Coach: Outlet items have a serial number that starts with “F.”
Know of any other clues found on clothing labels, tags or serial numbers? Share them in the comments!