Style Counsel: Sample this for a bargain

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This is a case of must-do. If you live in London or Birmingham, or are visiting soon, try a designer sample sale and discover a world of affordable style.

A clear head, a fistful of money and a master plan over the next two weekends could see your wardrobe transformed from dowdy to glittering.

How? By common consent, it seems, all London's coolest designers are selling off their autumn and winter samples, old stock, and end-of-line clothes and accessories, in sample sales. Some of these sales will be small, studio-based affairs, such as those of Hussein Chalayan, Sonja Nuttall, John Rocha and Amaya Arzuaga. Others will be large, highly organised and mercenary free-for-alls where those who arrive early will come away with the bargains. The biggest scrum is always at the Designer Warehouse Sales or DWS, though Joseph and Ghost sales come a close second.

DWS was set up by Roger Walker Dack 10 years ago and now has a mailing list of 15,000 dedicated fans who travel from the ends of the country to buy high fashion items at as little as a quarter of their retail price. From next Friday in London, and at The Clothes Show Live event in Birmingham, DWS will be holding sales. Both will be worth a visit, especially if the stock, including clothes from Comme des Garcons and Katharine Hamnett, was as good as the last one.

Remember: most sample sales accept cash and cheques only; clothing sizes do vary from 8 to 14 (contrary to popular belief); many items are one-off, or slightly damaged.

Prices are usually up to 50-75 per cent off retail prices. If a Christmas shopping expedition is on the agenda, a trip to a sale will be an eye- opener.

Hussein Chalayan: Friday 5 December, 10am to

8pm, and Saturday 6 December, 10am-6pm, at Room B, 1st floor, rear 71 Endell Street, London WC2

Sonja Nuttall: Saturday 29 November (10am to 6pm) and from 1-5 December, 4pm to 7pm at Top Floor 3-5 Barrett Street, off St Christopher's Place, London W1.

John Rocha and Amaya Arzuaga: today (10am to 6pm) and tomorrow (10am to 3pm) at Palladio, 6-10 Lexington Street, London, W1.

Nicole Farhi: Monday and Tuesday 1 and 2 December, 10am to 6pm, at 24 Kingly Street, London W1.

DWS: Friday 5 to Sunday 7 December (10am to 6pm) at The Worx, 45 Balfe Street, London N1.

Ghost: Friday 5 to Sunday 7 December, 11am to 7pm, at 326 Kensal Road, London W10.

Joseph: Last day tomorrow, 10am to 6pm, 23 Pavilion Road, London SW1.

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