Shopping Shocker: There is Actually a Reason to Go to the Franklin Mills Mall

Finding couture among the stun gun fights.

Franklin-MIlls-Mall

Psst: There is couture here. Yes, really. (Photo via Franklin Mills Mall.)

The Franklin Mills Mall has been a hidden, dirty little secret of mine for some time. I’ve scoffed at it, rolled my eyes at it, and been truly scared of it. But I still go there for one reason (well, two): the Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue outlets, Last Call and Off Fifth.




I went there again Saturday afternoon, just before a torrential downpour. You could hear the rain pounding on the roof, and it made the Saks outlet feel like a cozy little haven—just me and about 497 racks of discounted clothes. It felt like settling in with a good book.

Here's why these outlets are great: They both have their own entrances so you don't ever have to go brave the mall proper to shop them. Good for avoiding stun gun fights, and also good for quick, in-and-out shopping trips (and for dodging torrential downpours).

The lesser of the two outlets is Off Fifth, but it's still worthy of a visit. Check out the shoes first (I spotted a few Manolos, some Alexander Wang loafers, a handful of Brian Atwoods, and a couple of styles by Sophia Webster). The bags here aren't great, and the jewelry skews a tad cheap (I am really over the huge "statement necklaces" everyone is carrying now), but the men's section is good, as is the baby section (adorable Laura Ashley smocked dresses and one fabulous Burberry sweater that was about as big as a small hand and inexplicably $168—marked down). But the real score is the casual wear (soft, drapey sweaters and cardigans; leggings; easy sundresses).

Next door is Last Call, the Neiman Marcus outlet, and this is where you'll find the big boys: Alexander McQueen, Prada, Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga. The shoe section here is incredible: gorgeous copper pumps by Tom Ford, a pair of sparkly pink Miu Mius that were tragically half a size too small for me; a pair of studded Prada loafers. It was heaven. And this was the clearance section. All of the shoes were about 40 percent off the regular price, with additional markdowns. (Granted, each of these shoes originally cost somewhere in the four figures, so you're still paying a decent amount—think at least $400.)

But at the back of the store is where you'll find the couture section, and this is the really good stuff, which you will assume because it's all secured to the racks by wires. This is to prevent theft, of course, but I also think it's to dissuade people into not piling heaps of couture into their arms for a Pretty Woman-like fashion show. (I was totally tempted to do this, but I restrained myself into trying on only one gold Lanvin wrap dress, which thankfully did not fit or I would now be out $2,500 and probably a husband.)

I chatted with the store's general manager, Gregory Devaney (fun fact: he was in the seminary when he realized his passion for design and fashion; he designed new habits for the nuns!), and he confided that lots of news anchors and personalities shop here, as well as "federal judges and doctors." (No, he wouldn't name names.) He paraded me around the store to show me some of the gems: a $40,000 Alexander McQueen gown from the runway (on sale for $10,000), a gorgeous silk Balenciaga gown, this paillette-covered Prada from 2011. (Shopping tip: If you see him, ask him for tutorials on scarf-tying; he's a master.)

My mom was with me (I do my best shopping with her), and we left with a silk Lanvin scarf for her ($160, down from $470; I have joint custody); these Helmut Lang skinny jeans for me ($68!); this dress that I will wear as a tunic; and a forest green sequin jacket that looked ghastly on the hanger but really great on.

But the best part of the shopping experience is that as soon as you're finished, you can pop right out into the parking lot, stash your bags in the trunk, and tell everyone you scored the couture right off the runway.

 

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  • D.

    I was there too in the pounding rain on Saturday! I LOVE these two stores and since Daffy’s departed, they’re my only Philly shopping, really.

    • Emily

      Love it! We were shopping buddies!

  • They_Call_Me_Bruce

    This lady reeks of elitism. Looks like someone is afraid of getting kicked out of their club for admitting to schlepping with the locals in NE Philly. Hate to break it to you, but it doesn’t matter what store you are shopping in, it is still Franklin Mills. No rationalization will change that. The “stun gun crowd” stop in those stores too.

  • ashopper

    Nice article to read,however, these stores are no secret as they have been there since the mall opened around 1991. There also was a top line store called Nordstrom Rack,which had excellent full line service and high end labels with outet prices. As far as tucking merchandise in trunk and doing more shopping comesas risk also,anywhere.

  • Rocco Lamagela

    You wouldn’t catch me dead at FM as being dead is a real possibility since it is ghetto central!

  • Starz

    You paid $160 for a scarf???? Your crazy!!!

    • Kelly Davis

      Some people like beer; some champagne! :o)

  • D

    Wow, this article is trash, you really are a elitism, there is nothing wrong with franklin mills so just stop your prejudice, cause honey it’s not pretty so doesn’t matter how many clothes you buy cause it’s not hiding that horrible personality of yours.

  • Willy Wonka

    Reads like Emily was pounded when she wrote this mess.

  • Beth A.

    “Back of the store is where you’ll find the couture section” – Clearly written by someone who is so fashion illiterate that she doesn’t know the difference between RTW and couture.