You’ve planned entire trips around mythical fashion outlets you have read about online. You have trekked the rural Italian countryside on a train and gotten lost with GPS instructions till you reached your final destination. For all fashion-obsessed travellers who would go an extra mile to hunt down the best fashion outlets that sell Pradas and Guccis at 80% off, we have curated a list of places to visit this year.
Acne Studios is a Stockholm based fashion house founded by Creative director Johnny Johansson. Johansson’s interest in photography, art, architecture and contemporary culture lead to turning Acne Studio into a highly respected creator of pret fashion, magazines, furniture, books and exhibitions. At the Acne Archive (yes, a fashion store called Archive, already sounds super cool), expect all prices to be slashed by at least 50%, with many going as low as 80% off. Since the brand is based in Stockholm, there are lots of one-of-a-kind pieces like runway samples in colourways that were never put in production.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”] HOT TIP Unlike most outlets, Acne has a major stockroom with sizes that aren’t always out on the fl oor. Ask the sales associates if you don’t see something you’re looking for.[/box]
Foxtown Factory Outlets
More than 160 designer stores are located at Foxtown’s Factory Outlet in Switzerland, where items are priced between 30 and 70 per cent off year-round. It’s close to the border of Italy, and as a result, includes some of the best high-fashion Italian labels on Earth: Gucci, Missoni, Prada, Valentino, and Versace all have a presence. They even have their own casino on-site if that’s what you’re into.
[box type=”info” border=”full”]GETTING THERE If you’re driving, it’s only 15 km from Lugano and 50 km from Milan, directly along the Milan-Lugano highway (A2). Exit at Mendrisio. Alternatively, you can take the Foxtown shuttle service from Milan, an hour-long ride. On the way back, the bus stops a customs so you can get your tax-free forms processed. Return tickets cost €20 and are bookable online at zaniviaggi.com.[/box]
San Marcos Premium Outlets
SAN MARCOS, TEXAS
Here’s another outlet that gets bonus points for its views. Under the blue Texan sky, the design of San Marcos Premium Outlets was inspired by the architecture of the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Its castle-like walls hold past season treasures from Armani, Diane von Furstenberg, Etro, Prada, and more, all discounted up to 70% off in some cases.
[box type=”info” border=”full”]GETTING THERE It’s on the Interstate Highway 35 at Exit 200, about 30 minutes from Austin. From Dallas, it’s a four-hour ride, and three hours from Houston.[/box]
Prada Space Outlet
This is Prada and sister line Miu Miu’s factory outlet, about an hour drive or train ride from Florence, Italy. It’s located in the middle of nowhere, but it’s definitely worth the trip. If you hit it at the right time (end of season) the huge space is packed with the season’s runway samples at a whopping 90% off, as well as menswear and a ton of one-off accessories straight off the runway, like hats, scarves, and gloves for as low as US$40. Of everything, shoes are possibly your best bet, with prices as low as US$75, and if you love outlandish fashion, you’ll be in heaven, since the outlet houses some of the labels’ wackiest pieces here—like pink knee-high sequined boots and a green mohair fur bag, which a friend bought for about US$75 each. Yes, really.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]GETTING THERE The secret is to drive on the A1, the Autostrada del Sole or ‘Motorway of the Sun’, the spinal cord of Italy’s road network that runs from Milan to Naples. Alternatively, you can take a shopping tour from Florence that includes Prada Space and The Mall.[/box]
Gotemba Premium Outlets
This outlet mall has the added advantage of striking views of Mt Fuji hanging over it, and with hundreds of brands both Japanese and international, there’s enough shopping to take up an entire day. Some of the more interesting and hard-to-find (when it comes to typical outlet mall material) options include Alexander Wang, Issey Miyake, Maison Margiela, and Vivienne Westwood.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]GETTING THERE There are one or two direct buses per day each from Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shinagawa Station to the outlets. It takes 90 minutes to get there, and a round trip ticket is available for YEN 2,880 and includes a coupon book and a special gift. Make sure you book ahead. Alternatively, you can take the Asagiri Limited Express from Odakyu Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Gotemba Station and transfer to the free shuttle bus tothe outlets. The trip takes around 100 minutes and costs about Yen 2,800.[/box]
BICESTER, UNITED KINGDOM
Bicester has more than 130 designer boutiques. The outdoor outlet mall should be your number-one stop to snag pieces from Britain’s top luxury labels, among others. Think: Anya Hindmarch bags, Smythson notebooks, Alexander McQueen accessories, Rupert Sanderson heels, All Saints jeans and more. Like it sounds, the space is set up like a mini village full of discount shops. Make sure to check the website for extra deals.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]GETTING THERE An hour from London, you can either drive there, or take the train to Bicester Village station from Maryleborne. Alternatively, book the Shopping Express bus that can pick you up from most major hotels in London. Return tickets cost £28.[/box]
Deep in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany sits this designer outlet mall that’s technically an outdoor space that houses individual boutiques from all the major Italian labels including Gucci, Fendi, Moschino, and Versace, plus harder-to-find outlets like Tom Ford, Philipp Plein, Lanvin, and Alexander McQueen. You could easily spend an entire day here scouring the racks for 30 to 50 per cent off . Most notably, the Fendi outlet has an amazing selection of limited-edition Baguette bags. The Mall is also a convenient 30-minute drive from Prada Space, so plan on making a day of it. And unless you are blessed with an equally passionate about fashion partner, don’t even bother bringing them along.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]GETTING THERE There’s a direct bus that departs from Busitalia Bus station in Florence, and return tickets cost €13. The bus has free wifi![/box]
La Vallee Village
In addition to the usual high-end labels that other outlets carry, La Vallée Village has individual boutiques dedicated to discounted French fashion that you won’t find anywhere else. Carven, Givenchy, Céline, Kenzo, Longchamp, Robert Clergie, Repetto, and Yves Saint Laurent are just a few of the chic options.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]GETTING THERE The village is only a 30-minute drive from Paris, so it’s definitely worth renting a car. But if you’re feeling uncertain about driving, you can take the Shopping Express that departs twice a day from Place des Pyramids, Paris.[/box]