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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Sales Are On!

Sale," "discount," "soldi," "saldes" -- as recently as 10 years ago, these words meant nothing to most Muscovites. While the rest of the world's consumers were dashing to the stores religiously at least twice a year as soon as these magic words appeared on doors and windows, shoppers in the land of "developed Socialism" could not imagine such a ritual. Rasprodazha, the Russian equivalent of "sale," had always existed, but had a negative connotation, suggesting that the sale item's next stop could only be the scrap heap. Real Western-style sales remained terra incognita in Moscow until international firms started opening their stores and boutiques here - and, eventually, started marking down prices twice a year in keeping with the unwritten laws of Western retail.

Some people, nonetheless, still prefer European sales. "I adore London's and Geneva's cool shops, cool clothes and great discounts. All this is absolutely different in Moscow," says Alina Gulyayeva, a 25-year-old public relations manager. She rarely checks out local sales, doubting that she'll find something unique. "In the West, sales are mass madness, and you can't help but catch the sale-buyer bug," she says.

Gulyayeva probably has a point. The West certainly offers a wider selection. But such a scornful approach doesn't make much sense if you live in Moscow and have no choice but to play the sale circuit here. Besides, it can be perfectly worthwhile to drag yourself to the city's outskirts. And the mark-downs mentioned below are by no means "nominal," as Gulyayeva wrongly suspected.

The five-year Moscow experience of Katya Pavelko, a journalist and dedicated sale-goer, sounds very optimistic: "I'm still wearing the $15 Kookai top, $30 Calvin Klein skirt and $50 Benetton boots I bought over the last few years." This year, she has thus far limited herself to Benetton, which is already running 50% discounts, but plans to go to Kalinka-Stockmann as soon as the sale tags there drop to 50% and 70% off. "The main rule of any sale is to come on the first day of a big discount. Also, sales with a 75% discount are good at any shop, regardless of its original price range." (Only Guess? now has this discount.)

Some of the best offerings can be found at the Bosco di Cilliegi shops at Petrovsky Passage. As the sale season is just beginning, the boutiques here are still at the 30% mark. In spite of a few obvious bargains (velvet Kenzo jeans, $68; Kenzo knitwear, $100; Max Mara wool pants, from $135), the majority of clothes are still quite expensive. Better wait for the maximum 50% off. This is the rate you'll already find in both Sedmoi Kontinent and Sedmoi Element on Paco Rabanne, Sonia Rykel, Christian Lacroix, Ungaro, Givenchy and Iceberg. The hits here: Martin Sitbon vests ($34), Paul Smith jackets ($90), Max Mara and Ferre knitwear ($150) and Alexander McQueen's knitted skirts ($175).

The half-off prices on more "democratic" labels are genuinely low: knitwear at Benetton, Sisley and Glenfield runs from $18 to $60.

The Podium boutique has upscale stuff with a mere 30% off, but the Max Mara is less pricey than elsewhere and you can spot some original things, like Gaultier tops, sporty lines from Ext? and Iceberg and Joop! silver accessories marked down 50%.

Russians have a good proverb on style: "If you don't have good shoes, you are not well dressed." Note the 50% sales on exclusive models by Michel Perry, Roberto Botticelli and Karl Lagerfeld (about $150) and, the hit of this winter, valenki-style Pollini boots ($150-$190) at both Sedmoi Kontinent and Sedmoi Element. The Defil? boutique offers 50% off on some hard-to-find labels: Ferre (winter shoes, $150) and Rocco P. (leather boots, $180). Some expensive but unusual models at the Stephane Kelian boutique in the Petrovsky Passage are 40% off ($180-$300) and some from Sergio Rossi are on sale at a generous 50% discount ($130-$175).

So, ladies and gentlemen, the sale season is open. Good luck or ... happy hunting!

P.S. The author is not responsible for the good deals selling fast, so to find something original you should explore any Moscow store with signs boasting rasprodazha or skidka.