This year, shoppers in Mumbai and New Delhi have added considerably to their collection of luxury handbags, designer denims and cult shoes. Any pair of Jimmy Choo shoes for Rs5,000. Burberry at a flat 80% discount, Dunhill at 70% off, press sample sales for Alberta Ferretti, and Moschino, and discounts at Salvatore Ferragamo and Bottega Veneta. We’ve even heard an urban legend of a sale at Louis Vuitton, but the label’s representatives firmly deny it.

A disclaimer for those who wonder why the stuff they lust after is never on sale: Luxury brands are very protective of what they call their “classics". These bags or shoes are a regular feature season after season, such as the Hermes Kelly or Birkin bags, or Tod’s Gommino leather moccasins. They may undergo small design evolutions from time to time, colours or materials may change, but essentially, they are pieces that you will have for a lifetime. Labels are reluctant to put these classics on sale, as it dilutes their exclusivity.

Each collection has pieces inspired by the season’s trends and hot colours. These trendier pieces have a shorter shelf life and what is hot today could look dated a few months later. These pieces are usually not carried forward season after season, so they are on sale at the end of one.

Material gains: (top to bottom) Gucci’s Crystal GG Indy has a sale price of Rs71,000; the Stock Sandalo Laccetto and colourful handbags are at 40% off; and some varieties of denims are discounted at Calvin Klein Jeans.


Magic words: Flat 50%

Half price in the Gucci store is a wet dream for many, and to be fair, Gucci’s sale is the most democratic of the lot. Everything is actually on 50% discount, except a few classic belts, which have 30% knocked off.

The staff are convinced that if you’re a first-time buyer, you’re going to want a bag (that’s the category which gets sold out first). New buyers pick bags with the GG monogram to flash around, while those who “know the brand" opt for new shapes. The store’s current showpiece is the Hysteria bag in croc—the Rs9.5 lakh price tag gets shaved to about Rs4.25 lakh. For those of us who are of more modest means, a more cautious demeanour, or have too much common sense to pay that much for a handbag, there are the entry-level bags, which start from Rs30,000. Our pick is the Pelham—a deep chocolate leather bag with braided handles, at a reduced price of about Rs75,000. Wallets, popular with teenagers we hear, are about Rs7,500.

Ready-to-Wear is another area where first pieces are often bought at sale time, we are told. Formal trousers for women are at Rs19,000 and shirts for men are from Rs10,000-12,000. There’s a black wrap dress with a leather-knot fastening, which has the potential to be a workhorse in a working woman’s wardrobe. But its sale price is a few digits over Rs50,000.

If you’re an irregular shoe size, take a look at the 70% discount rack from two seasons ago, for shoes priced at Rs10,000-15,000. Smaller sizes such as 36, and large ones such as 39-40, are available on a nice range of stilettos, a lovely patent leather bootie and some high boots. Belts are an average of Rs10,000 after discount, and there’s something for both—people keen to flash those Gs, and those who want the logo to be on the underside. If shopping, this is where our money would probably go.

For men, besides the shoes (an average of Rs15,000 after discount), we spotted a pair of horsebit cufflinks at Rs9,000, and a good collection of belts. Denims and timepieces had sold out, except for a round dial watch with a metal strap at Rs30,000.

Salvatore Ferragamo

Magic words: 30% (for Spring/Summer 2009) and 60% (on Autumn/Winter 2008)

Probably the most judicious of the sales, in terms of discount and the pieces on sale. The piece that caught our eyes first—the Sophia, a buff canvas bag with a lemon yellow leather flap, was still at the full price of Rs1.18 lakh. The friendly staffer showed us the classic Marissa (Rs1.14 lakh), which was also not discounted, but it was a bit too fuddy. It was upsetting to hear that some of the bags doing well were the canvas ones with the Ferragamo logo plastered all over—choosing an ugly show-off piece vs class and timelessness has got to be a sin at Ferragamo of all places. But the best deal at the store was a supple dark brown leather handbag called the Virginia, with a silver Gancino (an Omega-like motif which is an important symbol for the brand) clasp. It was light, looked like it could fit a house, and if you didn’t wear it down to its last threads, you could bequeath it in your will. At 50% off, it was priced at Rs42,000.

At Ferragamo, the first preference is shoes, and sadly, the best-selling Verina ballet flats in rainbow colours with grosgrain ribbon bows are not on sale. Oh, wait, the flavour-of-the-season colours were 30% off—lemon, camel and “syrup", which is a juicy peachy pink. Who wants black at Rs27,000 when you can have syrup at Rs19,000? “Everyone wants sale, regular or new customers," said a wise staffer.

Men will have better luck for shoes—two shelves of monk straps, slip-ons and lace-ups are on sale, at either 30% or 60% off. The Malta, a slip-on in matt black leather from the Originale line, came highly recommended at Rs27,300. And we thought they had the best collection of cufflinks—the Gancino symbol is quite popular in cufflinks. Our favourite was a pair with a Gancino at either end, except the motif was a powdery matt-pink, with just the bar being silver. Cufflinks are priced at an average of Rs8,400, ties at Rs6,300, after discount.


Magic words: 40% on shoes and bags, 50% on accessories

Irrespective of sex, fashion preferences and economic ability, the first thing someone would want to buy in a Tod’s store is a pair of the Gommino shoes. No matter if you know nothing about Tod’s, no matter if you already have four pairs, you want one. Sadly, if you want one on discount, that’s not going to happen. You will have to fork out Rs22,000-26,000.

That was our biggest disappointment. But there is a section of patent ballerinas on sale which were originally priced at Rs22,000-26,000. Also on sale are a few sturdy wedges and the Stock Sandalo Laccetto (Rs21,000), a shoe which has all the trend requirements of the season—a solid thick heel, chunky platform, wide straps. But we can’t help feeling it’s too trendy to last. On the other hand, New Port Chanel, a green patent ice-pick stiletto, was as simple as it was beautiful and would look great in any closet. It’s also available in fuchsia and black at a reduced price of Rs15,600.

On the other hand, all the bags you want to buy are discounted. Gleaming patent leather in M&M colours, they’re stylish and classic, priced at Rs80,000-93,000 before discount.

For men, a few moccasins are on sale, lots of leather slip-ons and only one style of formal lace-ups, in a polished patent black or regular brown leather. Men’s shoes are between Rs20,000 and Rs30,000, before a discount of 40%.

Calvin Klein Jeans

Magic words: Up to 50%

At Calvin Klein, half the men’s jeans are on sale from the Spring/Summer collection, the other half are not. If you’re the straight-fit kind of guy, you may find what you want. But the colours seem dated, and a majority of the dark inky blues that are in fashion are not on sale. More current styles, such as the skinny cut and some straight ones, have no discount. The sale price ranges from Rs2,495-3,495, while the non-discounted ones start at Rs3,995 and go up to Rs10,000. T-shirts are the regular CK logo variety, but there’s a nice collection of sturdy leather belts with industrial-size buckles. And there are options which have the CKJ initials, if you feel the need to have that endorsement hovering at waist level. There’s no discount on the underwear (they have the ubiquitous briefs with the CK waistband and a range of boxers, one with a heart print) but there is a promotion—if you buy three, you get the fourth free.

For women, there’s more choice in the fits and colours for jeans. Boot-cut, straight and skinny are discounted, and colours range from white, black and grey to the palest blue almost faded to white. We spotted only one pair of dark indigos. We liked a cotton and silk blue-green shirt dress which was on half price—Rs2,999, down from Rs6,000. The T-shirts and tops are nothing special. In fact, the street stores probably have similar stuff. An inch-and-a-half-thick black belt with metal studs was also on half price (Rs1,495) and seemed like something your wardrobe would benefit from for a long time.

(Some prices are approximate.)