I don’t remember how I first heard of Gilt Group, but its sales model intrigued me: Luxury branded items for sale at deep discounts, but only for a limited time. I received an invitation (yes, you need an invitation to join) on my birthday. I needed new shoes. I signed up.
Gilt’s sales begin at noon EST daily and run for no more than 36 hours. They send a daily email to members — I usually get mine at 11:57 — announcing the brands and items for sale that day. In the few weeks I’ve been a member, they’ve offered goods from Vera Wang Collection, Judith Lieber, Rodanthe, American Apparel (really?), Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Alexander Wang.
A quick click from the sales email message and you’re at the Gilt site, browsing excellent photos of pretty items. Additional sales can be had at their sister sites Gilt FUSE (skews younger/edgier) and Gilt MAN. A new Gilt site, Jetsetter, offers travel bargains toward luxury locales. Your Gilt membership is valid at all four outlets.
On December 3, Gilt advertised a sale on Burberry shoes. Made in Italy with UK styling, it sounded like the brand would fit both my aesthetic and my hard-to-fit feet, so I ordered a pair. Zappos sold them for $395; my Gilt pair cost $128. I ordered a few less-expensive gifts for friends (hand mirrors, spa treatments) and a nailpolish set for myself. Frustrated by the five-item shopping-bag limit (though you may purchase and refill your bag to your budget’s content), I clicked “Buy.”
They’re not speedy with order fulfillment, though they warn you of that with each item you view. I received a shipment notice on Dec. 9, which also served the disappointing news that my edgy new nailpolishes were not available “due to an inventory error.” To rectify the error, Gilt refunded the polish purchase price to my credit card AND credited my Gilt account with $25. Not bad, considering that the nailpolishes only cost $22.
My shipment arrived a few days later and I opened it with scientific observation. The box had obviously been packed with great care, and everything arrived safely. On top of my purchases was a little gold-embossed-over-black memo, thanking me for my purchase and “signed” by the co-0wners.
As far as the merchandise was concerned: the makeup mirrors were even cuter than expected, the spa kit bigger than I thought it would be. And my new Burberry shoes? Perfection. Perfection at 31% of the retail price. Happy birthday to me!