The Rake Opens An Online Outlet Shop
A recession is usually the worst time to start a business, but Gilt Groupe struck gold in the late-aughts when cash-strapped brands were wondering what to do with their stockpiles of unsold inventory. Modeled after Vente-Privee, an online fashion retailer in France, Gilt helped popularize online outlet shopping. Their business model was simple: make it as difficult as possible for customers to buy something. Site memberships were available by invitation only, and the stock was sold through limited-time flash sales. This way, those who didn’t want to pay for things with money had pay for them with their time. And as such, a brand could offload their inventory while still protecting their brand value.
Earlier this month, The Rake opened a new online outlet, but it’s much more open and accessible. Unlike Gilt and Gilt-copycats (such as Rue La La, which is like Gilt for moms), The Rake doesn’t rely on memberships or limited-time offers. The discounts aren’t as deep — they’re about 50% off — but the store is open throughout the year and inventory is constantly changing. Perhaps best of all is the return policy. Whereas many stores are moving towards a final-sale policy for their end-of-season promotions, The Rake takes free returns.
The Rake’s Values, which is the name of the site’s discounted-goods section, is something of a hybrid between an outlet and a marketplace. The sales run throughout the year — stock is updated monthly at a minimum, but they aim for weekly drops — and the inventory is bought from various suppliers around the world. “Everything on the site ships from our warehouse, but we use a marketplace model whereby when someone places an order on our site, we order it from the vendor,” says Drew Hoare, The Rake’s Marketing Director. “This covers roughly 60-70% of the product currently on the site.” This means that some items are dispatched within one working day of you ordering, while some may take up to a week.
Browsing through the current online selection, I was impressed with the number of good deals. Drake’s ties start at $75, Private White VC outerwear is $263, and Anderson & Sheppard shawl collar cardigans are $190. There’s also this Anderson & Sheppard Shetland sweater for $108 (not far from J. Crew’s prices), Camoshita raincoat for $283, and Sunspel polos for $75. Personally, the stuff I love most site is their selection of outerwear from Grenfell, a traditional British manufacturer for water-resistant gabardine jackets. This touring jacket, while not inexpensive, is a bit more affordable at $345 (down from $690). The Rake’s site doesn’t provide measurements, but I find they’re willing to provide them if you email. Just know it may take a few days if they have to consult with their suppliers.