In search of bargains

  • Lifestyle
  • Wednesday, 04 Jan 2012

WHEN it comes to shopping, who doesn’t love a good bargain? We all want high quality products at the best price, and outlet shops are the best places for this. 

Travellers to the US and Europe flock to these outlet shops for the best bargains. 

The concept is simple; it is usually an area, where a number of branded outlets are grouped together, and the products are sold at discounts. 

The bargains vary depending on the brands. What you get are past season items, overruns (when stores buy too much stock and can’t sell it) and even factory outlet exclusives (items a brand makes specifically for their outlets which they won’t sell at their regular stores). 

In New York, Marc Jacobs has an outlet where he makes these affordable items which range from t-shirts, wallets, bags and umbrellas, from the leftover materials of his previous seasons. 

Woodbury Commons in New York and Bicestor in UK are familiar names to outlet shoppers. The US is one of the best places for outlet shopping as practically every state will have a number of them. 

These outlets are places far from the city center, as the idea is not to compete with the brand’s stores in the city. They still do want you to shop for their present collections. 

A shopper looking at discouted shoes in a retail outlet at the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO), Kulaijaya, Johor

It’s not all designer items of course. A number of second-tier brands, mass market and high street brands also have outlets, and as these brands are already relatively affordable, you can’t go wrong getting basics at rock bottom prices. 

In Malaysia, outlet stores have been sprouting up in recent years. Queen’s Park on Jalan Peel in Kuala Lumpur houses outlet shops such as Espirit and MNG. 

Fashion groups such as Club 21 and FJ Benjamin have opened outlet stores in KL. At one time, local brand British India used to have one in Ampang Point. 

The Melium Group runs one called the Melium Outlet or MO, and it offers over 50 international fashion brands with discounts of up to 70 percent. 

If you’ve been reading or watching the news, you would of course have heard of the recently opened Johor Premium Outlets. 

Now, this is actually the first proper outlet in Malaysia of its kind and the first Premium Outlet Center in South East Asia. Located in Johor, it’s rather more strategically located for the Singaporeans as it is only an hour away from their city center, while it’s three hours from Kuala Lumpur. 

The Premium Outlets is a portfolio of the world’s largest collection of upscale outlet centers, with 70 Premium outlet centers worldwide including 57 in the US alone.They offer about 25 to 65 percent of savings every day and all of them have an outdoor style setting. 

While The Premium Outlets is owned by the Simon Property Group, Genting Berhad is managing it here. 

Johor Premium Outlets

At the recent media preview, I had a chance to get a first hand look at it, and I have to say it’s a very nice place to shop, or just to spend the day wandering about shopping and eating. 

It’s big and houses a good mix of brands, from high end designer labels, to the mass market and high street, and even local brands. 

The outdoor setting is unusual for Malaysians, who are far more used to walking around in air-conditioned malls, so it’s a nice change wandering from outlet to outlet in the sunshine. 

In terms of brand representation, there are 80 at present with more to come. The luxury brands include Burberry, Zegna, Salvatore Ferragamo, Coach, Armani and Michael Kors. There are also names like CK Calvin Klein, DKNY, Armani Exchange and Oroton among others, and Gap, Nike, Adidas, Puma, Quicksilver and Levis. 

Local brands like Royal Selangor, Vincci, Padini, Carlo Rino and Pink Jambu are also here, and affordable brands such as Cotton On, Poney, Charles & Keith and Pedro.There are some items that are good buys while I was there. Levis in particular, had jeans flying off their shelves with prices marked at RM119 or so, with the second pair going for 50 percent off. These special additional discounts or sales are at the brand’s discretion. 

Coach was one of the most popular outlets at the Johor Premium Outlet, with a long queue outside its doors. Local brands and mass brands were popular too. Gap kids’ t-shirts were going for RM30, Cotton On tops at RM60 for two and you could score some RM15 tops here too. I also really liked Pink Jambu’s collection of accessories. I was told these one-off items were made specially for the outlet.I say it’s a pity they don’t sell it in KL, because the necklaces and bracelets were gorgeous, and affordably priced. 

Shoppers browsing for clothes in one of the retail outlets at the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO), Kulaijaya, Johor

As for the luxury brands, most of the items are priced at RM1,000 and above. Even with a 50 percent discount and perhaps an additional 10 percent, a RM900 pair of shoes or RM700 dress are still beyond the reach of the average Malaysian. A bargain to me for luxury brands would be below RM500 across the board. I know, that is difficult for certain products from certain brands, but you will be able to get some things below RM500 at outlet stores overseas. 

However, that’s not to say you can’t find some great bargains for luxury items at JPO as the discounts are attractive. 

So if you’re thinking of a different shopping experience with some good buys in Malaysia, this is definitely a great place to shop, next time you’re heading south. 

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