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Your Certified Guide to Buying Designer Shit on The Low

Let’s talk style: waking up early morning figuring out threads to fit your mood, covering your body with garments that determine your personal aesthetic, and effortlessly expressing yourself without having to say a word. Scrolling through our feed, where the internet and media play such a prominent role in fashion, it’s impossible not to notice a correlated pattern of looks post after post. You’re bound to wonder: “What’s happened to personal style?” Everyone is beginning to look more like each other and a lot less like themselves. Avant-garde celebs, alongside the usual Instagram stunners, navigate the world flaunting their original taste with rare accessories and clothing by designers like Comme Des Garcons, Rick Owens, and spiffy yet high-priced streetwear brands; meanwhile, all the rest of us either hop on the struggle bus of fast fashionor meticulously treasure hunt through thrift stores—to define and showcase our own version of style. 

There’s an answer to your designer-loving, cash-strapped style woes, and it starts with Verlyncia Tyson: a young fashion industry buff with the insights of baller shopping on a mother fuckin’ budget. Personal style always on point, Tyson can help you get there, too. Check the full interview below to find out when and where designer markdowns begin, the scoop on sample sales, and her proposed alternative route to the corporate fashion business.

Tell me a little about your excursion into the fashion industry.

While in college I had this wild experimental style that I really don’t like to look back on [Laughs] but you know those looks did help me and shape me in being the woman I am [Laughs].

I graduated during the recession and struggled finding work in my field so I got into the fashion industry via retail post college. I started out in luxury retail as a sales associate and built a strong enough clientele where I transitioned to being a personal shopper and wardrobe organizer for some of the most influential women in the Washington, D.C. area.

What was your first fashion industry job?

My first industry job was actually in luxury retail a lot of people start in small boutiques or streetwear. I started at Intermix where I learned a lot about various designers aside from the masters like Gucci, Givenchy, etc but your Joie or brands like that not so much. Working at Intermix helped me diversify my style and set in stone who I am although a lot of clothing sold wasn’t my thing the buyers hit a few home runs it really helped me shape what I like. When I ended up leaving that company I had built up a thick book of clients which opened the doors for styling and wardrobe organizing. I never had a goal to be in retail or fashion, I knew I had style but I never wanted to dress or suggest trends for other people. I continued building my clientele once I started working for the Gucci Group and learned about fashion haus pre-sales and what items to expect to sample sale based on world wide market product sales.

As a person of color, what has been your experience trying to tap into the New York fashion industry?

Very difficult. There seems to be an allotted amount of positions for minorities in the NY industry, but the bright side is, thanks to the internet and social media, it’s easier to carve out your own niche, connect with people and brands, as well as pick up side projects. 

What was your alternative route?

It’s nice to work corporate and have a fancy title associate with your name all but when I looked at my personal values and what I wanted out of a job and for myself luxury retail seemed like the right choice. I needed to make money and I loved connected with different people everyday. You can’t do that working in an office but on a sales floor you’re interacting with tons of people everyday.

By working in retail, is that how you learned when and how to shop?

Absolutely! I learned when the markdowns happened each season and when they would be at their lowest. I learned how to monitor and check items that were selling good at retail to see if they would even make it to a sale or be returned to a vendor. I just watched, studied, learned and haggled. My favorite designer brands when it comes to shoes would be Celine, Balenciaga, Rick Owens and Acne. I knew the Acne would go on sale so I would sit on it. Celine and Rick Owens are like gold when I would come across a deal or haggle whether it was eBay, a sample sale, a PR gift or on sale at a store. I would just buy everything [Laughs]. It gives me some weird gratification and satisfaction knowing I just came up on some current season shit or last season item. When it came to anything under the Kearing Group properties, like Balenciaga, Gucci, Saint Laurent, etc. I would use my employee discount while I was working for them or now at this point, wait for my friends who still work for them give me insight when the sales are coming or what’s going on sale.

Every time I scroll through the ‘gram I see you wearing accessories, clothing, etc. from a recent season. What’s your secret?

It’s all who you know for real for real and a random stroke of luck at times. For example, I happened to walk into the Jeffrey boutique in Atlanta looking for some Marques Almeida boots I already own but in a different color because I love them so much. Peep this, the sales associate tells me they went on sale and they no longer have them but recommends some other boots I may like that’s on sale. Tell me why she bring out the Vetements Reflector Heel Ankle Boots and says they are 70 percent off… I have never swiped a card so fast [Laughs]. The boots came up to be like $518 or something like that after taxes. The retail price is $2k from a brand that rarely has sales on their pieces, especially that deeply discounted. I would have been stupid to pass up on that deal.

And how do you find all these amazing sample sales?

Live for them. The holy grail of catching shit I missed for the low. I look at sites like Chicmi, Lazar Shopping, Sample Sally, The Stylish City, 260 Sample Sale, and Racked. I also talk to other shoppers while at the sales and they tend to guide me to my next sale. For the friends and family sales, I end up getting on the lists because my friends who work for those companies I want to attend the exclusive sales puts me on the lists. Love that first dibs life [Laughs].

Where are your favorite places to shop for fly designer shit but affordable prices?

Sample sales, Barney’s/Saks/Bergdorfs during the highlight/peak of the sale season, eBay, Grailed and boutique consignment stores.

Anyone who sees your Instagram knows you have impeccable style. Who are your fashion icons? Where do you gain most of your influences?

Lily Gatkins, Ivanka Carpio, Jayne Min, Gracia Ventus, and Aureta. All of these ladies are my fashion icons, they are literally the best in my opinion. Hands down. I gain most of my influence from anime, Tim Burton films, underground streetwear brands and architecture. I have a thing for geometric shaped and structured pieces.

What’s an item you’ve purchased that you can’t part from?

There isn’t just one item to be honest. I treat my wardrobe like an archive so for the most part I fill it with things I never want to part with. But top five pieces I can’t part with: my Saint Laurent vintage kaftan, Helmut Lang fur jacket, Chapter Ean pants, Rick Owens sneakers and my vintage Japanese traditional sandals.

Are there any new designers that we should look out for who you think are about to blow?

I don’t know if I look at new designers as if they are going to be the next big thing but I can share some designers in general that have caught my eye recently. Slow Build Heavy Grind, Ader Error, Alyx, Hannah Jinkins, Diet Starts Monday, Ageless The Einzelganger and Babylon Cartel.

When can we expect you to drop something of your own?

I have something in the works now for my own little line. I wanted to create a brand that is a reflection of my partner and I that has a more affordable price point. Everybody doesn’t want to spend 2k on a coat and I feel that, which is why I want to make stylish things that I like and are price friendly.

Images courtesy of Greg Hagar

Stay tuned to Milk for more insider fashion tips. 

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