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VALLEY WEEKEND | BARGAINS

New Factory Store Cuts Prices on Durable French Rags Line

The expensive, quality knits--no longer available in department stores--are sold at steep discounts.

May 30, 1996|GERI COOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Perhaps many of you remember when the French Rags label could be found in many of the top retail stores. It was around just long enough for some us to become completely sold on these specialty rayon knits for their design and durability. But none of us was too fond of the prices retailers were charging. Owner Brenda French said she was none too fond of the high prices either, nor was she fond of the long wait to get paid or that many of the stores hung her lovely knit garments on hangers.

So she did the nearly unthinkable. She refused to sell her product to the retailers and said she would sell directly to the public. There are many French Rags wearer who are committed to the label because these ensembles go anywhere, any time and never look tired or wrinkled. Our first lady posed in French Rags clothing for the covers of Newsweek and People magazines in outfits that cost around $550.

Recently, French launched a program whereby trained consultants, generally women who have been wearing the line for many years, hold sales shows in their homes or in a friend's home to sell the garments. Even direct to the customer, French's prices (though much less than department stores were charging years ago) may seem rather steep.

But now French has opened the French Rags Factory Store, where the reductions on garments run from 50% up to 90% off. For instance, the price on a gorgeous jacket, originally tagged at $455, was slashed to $9. Another sold originally for $342, but could be purchased for $68. Now that's the kind of bargain shopping that makes a difference. This lovely little store is staffed with helpful women who know their stock.

Because their classically cut pants are very popular, the pants pickins' were slim the day of my visit. But a new inventory moves in every four months, so shoppers can can always get on the waiting list. The pants generally retail for $215 and up, but those that were on the shelves (never on hangers) were priced at $108 to $135.

There were sweaters in all styles--boat-neck, V-neck, turtleneck, sleeveless, cap sleeves, long sleeves and in the most divine colors. Jackets and a few dresses and coats (these are to die for) are all available in the factory store and in colors and styles that are designed to coordinate.

The reductions for the most part are 50%, although there is a rack of jackets where the price cut is much deeper. One group of sweaters was selling for $20 each.

French Rags, which for years operated the factory, showroom and store on Sepulveda Boulevard in West Los Angeles, has recently moved. To visit the factory store, you must drive around to the back of the factory.

Now you can start building a French Rags wardrobe on a working girl's salary.

* French Rags Factory Store, 11500 Tennessee Ave., West L.A., Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday and Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Major credit cards accepted.

Weekend Super Sale: For those who have longed for a Bottega Veneta handbag, there's a sale this week at the Beverly Hills store. The reductions are substantial on these beautifully made handbags. Figure 40% less on all woven leather and satin items, and 50% on everything else.

* Bottega Veneta, 457 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

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