The Truth About Costco's Designer Labels

The next time you're at Costco to fill your cart with toilet paper, kitchen towels, and household cleaners, we'd like to invite you to stop by the clothing section which, depending on when you make it there, could well have a jaw-dropping collection of items from luxury brands that you never thought you'd find at a big box store. We're talking about designer labels like DKNY and Ralph Lauren — and they wouldn't be fakes either.

While some designers may have a collaboration with Costco, other brands may appear on the aisles of the mega-retailer for other reasons. According to Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, which carries out market intelligence, Costco has been known to obtain some of its stock in very creative ways. They could, for instance, be selling "gray market goods," or items that were acquired, and being sold legally, but not in the way the original manufacturer might have envisioned. "A lot of the time, what you're seeing isn't exactly what was intended to be the product that was produced by the brand," Cohen tells Refinery29. "They've (the products) moved enough hands that no one knows where they come from."

Costco's designer clothing don't hold up to their department store counterparts

Professional shoppers say the quality of clothing you get at Costco doesn't meet the same standards as the items you might find at department stores or outlet stores, because warehouse store tops and bottoms could be made with fabric that isn't quite up to scratch. "They may have an abundance of fabric, or fabric may have come in that didn't meet their standards. They can't sell it openly on the off-price market, so they sell it to the warehouse stores," Cohen tells Refinery29.

The Budget Fashionista blogger Catherine Brock agrees. She warns that while shoppers might find familiar designer names, the items at Costco won't be manufactured to the same level of quality and style as you might find from the same brands at Macy's or Bloomingdales. But she does recommend shoppers check out the sunglasses in the optical department for designer finds.

Jackie Warrick, Chief Savings Officer and President at says that even if the item you spot is a straight-up acquisition from a top label, some designers tend to make less expensive lines for warehouse clubs and outlet stores — and these lines may be of lower quality. Because of this, you're better off going elsewhere if you're looking to buy designer clothing to last a lifetime (via Today).