Say you’re browsing the racks at a little boutique and spot something cute. Interest piqued, you grab it, check the sales tag and gasp in surprise. A good one or two more digits than you expected to see, the number seems unreasonably high. Why on earth is it so much? Was this thing stitched with baby unicorn hair? Dipped in Holy Grail water? Gold-lined?
Unfortunately, the real reason behind your sticker shock is much less exciting: production costs. In order to turn a profit, brands need to mark pieces high enough to cover overhead fees such as rent, shipping and outsourced labor. And things get even more expensive when a label sells through another store—that just means extra paychecks to cover. The more middlemen involved, the more you’re required to shell out.
But what would happen if companies could cut back on some of those extra parties? A growing trend of direct-to-consumer sites in the digital shopping space proves it slashes the price of luxury goods down to fast fashion prices—without sacrificing quality. To pull it off, these brands stay hyper-focused on a specific concept—be it basics, eyewear or otherwise—and sell it in small batches (almost) exclusively online. It’s a business model where everyone wins: without brick-and-mortar and unsold overstock expenses to cover, labels can make money without mark-ups. To see this new guard of retail in action, check the slideshow above, where I’ve included the six best e-tailers out there dedicated to selling designer-level product at the lowest prices possible. Click through to change the way you shop forever.