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Uncovering Outlet Mall Knockoffs - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Uncovering Outlet Mall Knockoffs

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Outlet malls are synonymous with saving money, a place to score brand name clothes and handbags on a budget.  But what if we told you that what you're really getting is a knock-off?

That's right.  Some retailers are lowering their own standards to get your money.

Coach, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, they're high-end brands with prices to match.  Unless you're willing to make the haul to an outlet mall. 

We've all seen the markdowns, 60 to 65 percent off brand name stuff.  Same **brand names** maybe, but clothing designer David Peck says, these days, outlet store merchandise is very different.

"Now most of the clothing that you find in outlets is made just for the outlets," Peck says.  "It's usually not as good of quality."

Guess, Ann Taylor, Coach, Banana Republic and countless other retailers. Most products sold in their outlet stores were never sold in their regular retail stores. 

Clothing designer David Dang says some companies are basically making "knockoffs" of their own products.

"In order to actually achieve the price point, you really do have to alter the garment a little bit," Dang said. 

Earlier this year four lawmakers asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate pricing practices at outlet stores, claiming retailers make the cheaper outlet goods but attach high-price tag before discounting them to make customers believe they're really getting a bargain. 

There are ways to tell if products are the real deal or the ones made for outlet stores, but you gotta look closely. 

At Ann Taylor, J. Crew and Banana Republic, the labels on products made for the outlet have two small diamonds or dots below the brand name.  There are no dots on the labels of the retailers' regular merchandise. 

Tags on bags made for the Coach outlet have "est. 1941" printed under the logo.  On high-end bags the tag will have "New York" under the logo. 

The bottom line here is if you like the less expensive outlet version... buy it. 

Just know you're not really getting a bargain.  You're more likely paying what the product is actually worth. 
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