Not All Discount Fashion is Created Equal

TJ Maxx companies found to be selling a lower quality of product; Advertorial

Photo: Woman browsing fashion options in a store

You enter your local TJ Maxx, and after a few moments of browsing, find a J. Crew pullover, “Usually priced at $199, now ‘only’ $65.” It seems too good to be true. Well, as with many things where reality is exceeding expectation, there’s a catch…

That $199 deal on a designer label which you just snagged, is really no deal at all. The piece which you just purchased was never priced at $199, and never saw the inside of a J. Crew store. Rather, this pullover was produced directly by TJX companies, the parent company for TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods. Your pullover was made in a TJX factory, using a different grade of material, and a completely different quality requirement, potentially using sweatshop labor.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…

When products from big brands like J. Crew and Calvin Klein end up on the racks at most off-price stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Saks’ Off 5th, it is not the same merchandise that they are selling in their upscale stores in New York City. Rather the merchandise is a lower quality piece created specifically for outlet and produced at lower cost, with a brand name label attached.

TJ Maxx is perhaps the most egregious offender when it comes to selling lower quality of goods under a brand name. They’re able to get away with it thanks to licensing agreements with brands, which allows TJX to produce clothing with a brand name on it in exchange for a small percentage (usually 5-20%) of the sale price of the garment. In fact, former TJX chief Carol Meyrowitz said in 2011 that approximately 85% of the product sold in TJX stores was made for TJ Maxx directly, and these numbers have only grown in the years since. It’s free money for the brand, and big business for TJX.

However, the game is changing, and the days of these deceptive practices may be numbered. Congress is asking for a federal investigation into misleading marketing practices and price labeling by off-price retailers. This is the reason why many outlets have started to change their tags to a “Compare at” price rather than using markdown from MSRP price. These prices were determined to be misleading, because the same garment isn’t available for compare anywhere else, and there is no comparability, since the pieces were specifically made for outlet.

Yet hope springs eternal for the savvy shopper who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality to find their discounts. As awareness of the off-price deception grows, consumers are actively seeking out off-price companies whose discount product is real product from the shelves and distribution centers of the brands’ full price stores. This demand has spawned a new wave of off-price companies like Yieldings, which have refused to accept made-for-outlet product or licensing agreements, and instead have focused on providing customers with truly discount goods. “We believe that if we stay the course with providing high-quality original goods, and provide an excellent customer experience, that we will continue our rapid growth and continue to expand our customer base”, says Amber Munroe, senior sourcing advisor for Yieldings. She added, “No one likes to be misled into believing something is a better deal than it actually is.”

We agree Amber, we wholeheartedly agree.

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