Five days after Authentic Brands Group won bankruptcy court approval to become Barneys New York’s new owner, the store-closing sale at the storied retailer’s Beverly Hills flagship was well under way, with huge signs in the windows fronting Wilshire Boulevard that read, “Everything MUST be sold!, Goodbuys then good goodbye!” and smaller signs posted throughout the five-story store advertising discounts ranging from 5% (menswear and Chanel footwear) to 10% (luxury rolling papers and fine jewelry).
What there didn’t seem to be very many of, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, were shoppers angling to take advantage of the discounted luxury goods. (There were about two dozen cars on the first level of the underground parking garage; 90 minutes later, upon exit, that number had almost doubled.)
Part of that is likely because savvy shoppers are betting that the meager 5% across-the-board discount on most items and brands (but not all — more on that below) is just an opening move, and, like a slow-motion auction in reverse, the prices will drop much more drastically as time goes on. Several of the customers at Barneys in Beverly Hills on Tuesday said they weren’t actually there because of the discount itself but rather because they needed to exchange merchandise or make use of soon-to-expire store credit.
Two of those shoppers were actor Scott Foley and his wife, actress Marika Dominczyk, who said they’d trekked over from Calabasas to use $1,000 worth of store gift cards that were about to become worthless.
“It would be awesome if it was a real sale,” said Dominczyk, who expressed surprise at the tame markdowns, “because we had to use up our gift cards, which are only good through Thursday. ... We figured we’d just come buy $1,000 worth of candles and skin-care [products].”
Foley added with a shrug, “But it turns out that’s only like three candles.”
According to a store associate, the final day to use a Barneys New York gift card or store credit is actually today. Corporate representatives for Barneys didn’t respond to emailed inquiries about the gift card policy and current discounts and when they might change.
Foley and Dominczyk purchased just two items — a Comme des Garçons T-shirt (to give as a Christmas gift) and a pair of J Brand jeans (for Foley), for a combined savings of $15. They were headed off to peruse the skin-care products, which is one place where the opening salvo of a 5% discount might feel worth it, given the assortment of pricey potions such as the $505 jar of La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream that can now be yours for just over $25 less.
According to a sales associate, the only skin-care and cosmetics products not currently discounted are from the Givenchy and Acqua di Parma brands because they’re part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton product portfolio.
Know before you go
None of the LVMH-owned brands throughout the store are currently discounted, which means the Givenchy, Celine, Fendi and Loewe handbags one might hope to score for a few dollars less remain full price.
That’s just one of the things you should keep in mind if you’re contemplating making a retail reconnaissance mission to the Wilshire Boulevard flagship. Another one is that the perk of validated parking — self or valet — no longer exists. (Credit cards are still accepted.) Also the discounts — where marked (on Tuesday discount signs were still going up) — tend to be organized roughly by category, brand or floor.
As of this writing, that include 5% off menswear (save LVMH labels and Gucci), contemporary womenswear, non-LVMH handbags, skin-care products and footwear from Saint Laurent, Gucci and Chanel.
A 10% discount currently applies to other select footwear; women’s designer wares (including dresses by Valentino and Dries Van Noten); accessories (hats, scarves and sunglasses); and fine jewelry (rings, earrings, necklaces and vintage Rolex watches).
Good news (at least for now) for the cannabis crowd is that the 300-square-foot high-end head shop concept that opened on the fifth floor in March hasn’t yet gone up in smoke, and most of the luxe paraphernalia (including the $95 to $115 Flower by Edie Parker “fruit bowl” pipes) is discounted 5%. Also items from Devambez, the imported French rolling-paper brand (also on display in a glass case on the ground floor) are discounted 10%.
What to look for
Whether you’re ready to pull the trigger now (retail rookie!) or are in the luxe lurking game for the long haul in hopes of deeper discounts, below are four things worth keeping an eye on at Barneys’ Beverly Hills flagship.
Chanel ballet flats: An iconic footwear silhouette from an iconic French luxury label that rarely goes on sale, the $750 shoes are marked down 5%.
Irene Neuwirth jewelry: L.A.-based jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth is known for her eye-catching (and not inexpensive) statement pieces favored by the well-heeled, and a selection of her pieces is among the fine jewelry currently discounted 10% at the store. The most breathtaking of the baubles on hand Tuesday was a ruby necklace priced at $15,030 (down from $16,700).
Dries Van Noten sequined georgette silk slipdress: The store’s entire selection of the Belgian designer’s wares is currently discounted 10%, but the shimmery simplicity of the silver and gold gradient sequins on this spaghetti-strap, V-neck dress — currently displayed on a mannequin greeting shoppers on the second floor of the Beverly Hills flagship — already felt like bargain at the full price of $3,170, which makes the $2,853-discounted price feel like a downright steal.
In-season neon: The timing of the store-closing sale means that a lot of what’s on the floor (as well as the website) at Barneys is from the brightly colored fall and winter 2019 collections that came down the runway barely nine months ago, which makes the 5% to 10% current season discount nearly unheard of. Start by sussing out Balenciaga’s neon-pink fanny pack and Saint Laurent’s neon-yellow handbag (both currently discounted 5%) and go from there.
Barneys New York Beverly Hills store-closing sale is currently under way at 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, and online at barneys.com.