Almost every weekday at noon, Eastern Standard Time, 100,000 to 200,000 people log on to Gilt.com, one of a handful of Web sites that offer discounted designer merchandise in an online version of a sample sale, only without the throwing of elbows. Dresses from Alexander McQueen and men’s suits from Thom Browne are offered at about half their retail price. They go fast. The fastest transaction, said Susan Lyne, the chief executive of Gilt, took all of nine seconds from the time a customer visited the site to checking out with a dress. So it would be fair to call the company, less than two years old and with sales of $100 million, a surprising success during the recession. Still, not everyone is buying. Of its 1.2 million members, more than half are in their 20s, and of that group, about 250,000 visit the site twice a week or more and never make a purchase, Ms. Lyne said. The reason is pretty obvious. Even on sale, the merchandise is expensive — a Fendi bag offered this week was $1,348. Why hesitate? So next month, Gilt is introducing a second site, called Gilt Fuse. It’s kind of like the Co-Op floor at Barneys New York, where the trendier, less expensive collections reside. Clothes from Diesel, C&C, Generra and Laundry will be offered for $75 to $150. Ms. Lyne said the company is expecting a big year: Its sales are projected to reach $400 million, or about half the size of Barneys. “You are getting access to brands you might not ever see in your city,” Ms. Lyne said. “And it’s at a price point that is almost irresistible.”
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That’s right… the brands that you love (including the aforementioned and adored Diesel and what I’d presume to be other denim brands) at prices you can afford. No sample sale site is better at this than Gilt, and I’m excited to see them brand out into such an amazing idea for a sister site.
What are your thoughts, and what would you like to see on Gilt Fuse?