After sales and promotions through websites, facebook and blogs, the next online phenomenon in the fashion world is FLASH SALES. Flash sales (sales that come and go in a flash!) offer branded merchandise at compelling prices (as much as 70% discounts) only for a limited time (typically 2 days).

My first tryst with the websites offering these occurred when I suddenly got a flurry of emails from friends in the US inviting me to join the ‘Gilt Groupe’. At first I ignored them since they didn’t ship goods to India, but over the next 6 months I received more such invitations to join other shopping clubs and curiosity got the better of me. I joined the original, and was completely hooked – although I couldn’t really shop, it kept me abreast of trends in the market and lusting after those luxuries; all I prayed for then was either for them to start shipping to India or for someone to start a similar website for Indians. And soon enough, ‘Fashion and You’ came about….

But, a little bit of history first:

The originator of the concept – ‘Vente-Privee’, started in 2001, is over US $1 billion in revenue in 2009 and present across France, Germany, UK, Italy and Spain. Inspired by this highly successful venture, the ‘Gilt Groupe’ was established in the US in 2007 and brought about a revolution of sorts. Starting off with women’s apparel and accessories, the ‘Gilt Groupe’ has also launched ‘GiltMan’ and ‘Jetsetters’ to sell different product ranges such as menswear, children’s clothing, home furnishings, gifts and travel packages.

Following the success of the ‘Gilt Groupe’, many others – ‘HauteLook’, ‘TheOutnet’ (a net-a-porter initiative), ‘RueLaLa’, ‘Ideeli’ etc. – have joined the flash sale bandwagon. The latest product lines to be sold through flash sales are high-end personalised skin care and pet fashions.

Their popularity is reflected in their membership figures – ‘Gilt’ today has over 2 million members; ‘Ideeli’ has 1.3 million members; and all growing rapidly.

And then in India:

A similar trend set foot in India in end-2009 with the likes of ‘Fashion and You’, ‘99 labels’, ‘Brandmile’ & ‘DesiCouture’ which make available both Indian and Western brands for the Indian markets, while ‘’ sells Indian designer goods in the US market.

‘Fashion and You’ got about 528,000 members within the first 100 days of operation and registered a 50% month-on-month growth in revenue; ‘99 labels’ has over 2 lakh members already and still has about 500-1000 people registering on their website each day. ‘Fashion and You’ ships out almost 1,500-2,000 products a day while ‘99 Labels’ boasts of 600-1,200 transactions per day.

Surprisingly though, given that Gilt is US based and has been around for longer than its Indian counterpart, Gilt has only about 65,000 followers on Facebook while ‘Fashion and You’ has a whopping 375,000 followers!!! This difference could be due to the large number of flash sale sites in the US which have fragmented the market, while the availability of fewer options in India has allowed ‘Fashion and You’ to have a larger fan following.

The success of such websites, both in India and abroad, isn’t surprising, they cater to every woman’s (and almost every man’s – although they may hate to admit it) two basic instincts – to look good, trendy and fashionable and to get it all at a hefty discount.


Roshni Jhaveri