Depending on your perspective, Black Friday has become a veritable holiday unto itself: a paean to American capitalism and the joy of deal hunting. Or, you know, a cultural dark spot that calls into question our country's materialism and conscience. As avid bargain hunters ourselves, we're split, and we figure if you absolutely, positively, have to brave the cold and chaos come this Friday, then you'd better make sure you come home with some bonafide deals. We consulted retail maven Tyler Thoreson, Gilt Groupe's VP of men's editorial and creative, who reminded us that, as a whole, the bargain-hunting process "is supposed to be fun. There are amazing deals to be had – you just need to know what you're doing." Here are his insider's tips on how to prep ahead of time, how to suss out deals on the fly, and how to prevent buyer's remorse on the big day.
Go indie over big box.
If you're pounding the pavement on Black Friday, you should at least get to choose your own adventure. For some, that means forgoing the big box chains for the personal attention and quality stock of smaller boutiques. "One of the most exciting trends in shopping is the rise of the indie boutique," Thoreson says. "They're great for discovery, they're on your terms, and they're the perfect alternative to that department store where the men's stuff is always in the back, and you have to brave a phalanx of cologne spritzers just to get where you want to go." Among the new generation of men's shops, many started as second careers for guys who simply dug the gear and wanted to share it – such as Carson Street Clothiers in Manhattan, which was founded by two former corporate attorneys. "You go in there and you feel like the [proprietor] could be someone you went to college with, someone you share the same interests with. It's not a traditional retail experience. It's personal." Discounts in smaller stores, such as indie mecca Steven Alan, may not be as steep (maybe 35 percent versus 50 percent and up), but when you're seeking out high-end brands that rarely if ever get discounted (Moncler, Oakley, Tod's, to name a few), you can score the best price of the year – and not have to set foot in a mall.
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