Scenes From New York City’s Comme des Garçons Sale Rush
By Misty White Sidell,2023-06-09
NEW YORK — It was just past 10:15 a.m. when the doors opened to what soon became a high-fashion supermarket sweep.
The Comme des Garçons ’ “Market Market” sale, the first one held in New York City in about seven years, saw hundreds line up in record-poor air quality to shop high fashion at a big discount.
The sale, which began Thursday morning and will run through Sunday, is being held in a glass curtain high-rise in the stark, unstylish neighborhood that surrounds the U.N. In that building, it shares some unlikely neighbors, including the Kenyan Consulate.
Sprawled across two floors, the sale offers archival backstock pieces from Comme des Garçons’ own brands at 70 percent off, while select Dover Street Market-stocked brands are at 80 percent off.
On its opening day the sale attracted an interesting cross-section of New Yorkers ranging in age from their teens and into their 80s — many of whom sprinted through the 60,000-square-foot space to load whatever glimmer caught their eye into large woven market bags.
A few seasoned sample sale goers brought folding wheelchairs to pop open and use as shopping carts.
Resellers — there in groups to facilitate maximum buying power — took some 100 boxes of CDG’s collaboration with Nike off the floor within the sale’s first five minutes.
One named Feliciano, who was spotted keeping guard over 60 or so boxes, said he arrived in line at 8 a.m. He came to specifically find CDG’s Nike collaborations, but did not find the exact style he felt would generate the most interest with shoppers and opted for other sneakers instead. “They’re just as nice,” he said.
The wildfire smoke that blanketed New York City in recent days did not seem to deter shoppers from waiting in line for hours — demonstrating how CDG has maintained its brand heat across generations in the years since the brand’s last New York City sale.
“It says that we’re all nuts,” said stylist June Ambrose, who attended the sale for a second day following Wednesday’s VIP event, along with her children. Ambrose labeled herself a ”Dover-holic,” and said: “I just think that you just don’t have a choice because this is not going to happen again.”
Yukhei Ho, a thrift store employee who lined up for about two hours to gain entry, said: “I wore my N95 mask and another cloth mask underneath. I was sweating a lot, I don’t think I’d ever do this again. There’s a really big fan base of people who are willing to dedicate themselves and their bodies. It says a lot about the power of clothing.”
Jade Williams, who works in marketing for a sportswear brand, showed up in a giant nylon fishing hat and a mask: “I had a chemical peel on Monday so I shouldn’t be out [in the smoke] peeling and that’s why I’m covered. Everyone’s constantly working and they want to treat themselves,” she said.
Racks were blanketed with every frill of CDG and Dover Street fancy — from collectible T-shirts and peter pan smock dresses to ERL nostalgic puffer coats and Cecilie Bahnsen poufy dresses. There were bits and bobs from every micro streetwear brand to gain trendy notoriety in the last half decade; collectible, sculptural shoes from Loewe and Raf Simons, and crinoline Comme trapeze dresses that would fill the equivalent of three subway seats.
Philip Cheung, a social worker for a New York City nursing home, showed up to the sale in a silver leather jacket with his blond hair towering high in a sculptural spike. The longtime CDG fan said the brand remains popular because “I think people are hungry for something different. You see a lot of the same stuff since COVID[-19]. I like to dress a little bit more out there, and every time I go to work at the nursing home, they love it, they take my picture. I don’t have a budget set [for today]. I’m 61 years old next week so I’m just going to live my life and enjoy myself. Why not?”
People who spoke with WWD quoted their budgets at around $1,000 or more, despite record inflation that is said to be affecting the discretionary spending of many consumers.
Model Paloma Elsesser, at the sale for a second day, said the Comme sale was doing the creative industry a big service: “We live in a world where there’s excitement in fashion but you also have to maintain a certain presentation. It’s how you survive in New York — you have to present yourself a certain way. So this is people’s livelihoods — they can’t afford [these clothes] when it’s full-price [and need to wear them for their jobs]. Your literal lungs are on the line [today] — you do it for the art of creativity and also to survive.”