Outlet Pass

The Travails and Triumphs of Woodbury Common

Donna and Ralph are sufficiently crowded, but the true sardine cans are, for some reason, Coach and Burberry. The beige plaid awnings outside Burberry give a good indication of what is to be found inside: On this particular day, the pickings include beige plaid pants with a curious fringed flap in front (could this be why they're at the outlet?) marked down from an ambitious $549 to a still hefty $279, a minuscule beige plaid kilt reduced to $249, and a beige plaid silk coat that is still $499.

Uncommon shoppers: Bert and Ernie go to Gucci.
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Uncommon shoppers: Bert and Ernie go to Gucci.

Despite the teeming humanity, the Coach store exudes a lovely leathery smell and the counters are crammed with discounted handbags—around a third off list—in tattersall checks and stripes and in versions that range from a wristlet to a vast carryall called a market tote. The various styles have been given monikers that include Hamptons and Mercer, the former in honor of those famous Long Island towns, the latter surely an homage to Soho's Mercer Street. Both place-names are meant to evoke a certain haute hipness: neighborhoods where you can proudly show off a Burberry kilt or a Gucci scarf or a McQueen jacket or even a Prada brassiere without anyone ever guessing where the stuff came from.

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