Costco Shoppers browse clothing items

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Costco is well-known for its floor-to-ceiling pallets of affordable sundries and its inflation-resistant food court, but the wholesaler is carving out another niche: low-cost fashion. That shift is driven by frugal fashionistas on TikTok, who are flooding the platform with cheap Costco clothing finds. The search term “Costco clothing” has over 5.5 billion views on the social media site, and outlets from the New York Post to National Public Radio have picked up on the trend.

“With the economy where it’s at, consumers don’t want to break the bank when buying clothes,” Jennifer Maldonado told Cheapism. “Costco offers brand names and items that are on trend, look great on every body type, and all at a great value.” 

Maldonado runs the popular TikTok account @costcocouture, where she posts fashion finds that garner hundreds of thousands of views. Some of Maldonado’s most popular Costco fashion picks include a packable Tommy Hilfiger jacket for $30, a two-pack of Calvin Klein joggers for $20, and Hunter rain boots for $85. That’s $90 cheaper than on Hunter’s website.

The TikToker caught on to Costco’s clothing deals in part thanks to her past experience working with wholesale apparel brands such as Free People and Levi’s.

“I have a strong understanding of fabrics, seam quality, and what is trendy,” Maldonado said. “In the middle of the pandemic, I got a membership to Costco and noticed right away that they were carrying name brands that were good quality, fashion-forward, and a fraction of the price!”

Costco’s fashion finds are also available online, where you can find a Calvin Klein dress shirt for $22 and a pair of Skechers for $23 ($50 on Skechers’ website). Plus, will occasionally sell discounted bags from designers like Tory Burch, Fendi, Chloe, and Givenchy.

Sales data on Costco apparel isn’t available, but the wholesaler did see more than a 50% increase in e-commerce during the pandemic in 2020, and the retailer's stock has gone up 22% over the past year.

Compared to other discount fashion retailers, Costco has an edge thanks to its breadth. Yes, the majority of its sales are foods and sundries, but as Costco shoppers know, a membership offers so much more.

“Can you get your tires done, buy groceries for the month, pick up a good book, load up on seasonal home goods and buy a rotisserie chicken while buying clothes at Kohl’s or Nordstrom Rack?” Maldonado asked. No, but you can at Costco.

Shoppers are also placing a higher value on comfort rather than style in the wake of the pandemic, which prompted a massive transition to remote work. And with its abundance of sweatpants and other comfy garments, Costco is well-positioned to capture those customers.

Tiffany Weis, a 53-year-old who spoke to Refinery29 about her change in shopping habits, told the publication that she’d “never thought” to buy clothing at Costco. But after 2020, it became “all about comfort.”

Even as some companies return to in-office work and the pandemic recedes from the headlines, the Costco couture craze seems like it’s here to stay.

“The Costco buying and sourcing teams are at the top of their game, and it can only go up from here,” Maldonado said.

Jennifer Maldonado’s (Costco Couture) Shopping Tips

  • Ensure the fabric is high-quality and that the zippers and buttons are sturdy.

  • Prices that end in 97 cents have been marked down.

  • An asterisk on the upper-right-hand corner of the price means Costco won’t reorder an item.

  • Prices ending in 88 cents or 0 cents are manager markdowns, meaning they want to sell an item quickly. 

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