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See a Label with the Designer Name Famous Maker? Here’s What it Means

One of our reader asks: I was perusing on Smartbargains and noticed that all of the “Famous Maker” and “Famous Designer” brand dresses are not only the same styles as Nicole Miller’s, but the same fabrics and original retail prices. Is “Famous Maker/Designer” code for Nicole Miller, or is this just a coincidence?

What are Famous Maker Brands?

Back in the day, online stores like Smartbargains and Overstock, plus their offline brethren Marshalls and TJ Maxx would feature designer pieces by “Famous Maker” and “Famous Designer.” Both phrases are pseudonyms for the actual designer that made the garment. The reason for the pseudonym is related to the marketing agreements designers have with discount retailers.

Big-name designers like Nicole Miller don’t love the idea of their products being sold in stores that specialize in discount designer goods, for less than retail value. This is particularly problematic if the same designer pieces are still on sale for full price in other stores. Hence, the fake name of Famous Maker or Famous Designer — it masks the true designer’s name so it’s not sooo obvious that the fancy brand is in a discount store, being sold for bargain prices.

Woman holding clothes with sales tags

That garment might be available at Overstock because it is truly overstock. Or it might have been made exclusively for the retailer. If it’s the latter, the piece may not have the same quality you’d get from that designer.

No More Famous Maker Brands

Today, you’re far less likely to see the Famous Maker brands on clothes, though you will still see that name used on housewares and home decor items. Overstock is currently selling a Famous Maker mattress topper, for example. It is common knowledge that you can buy designer stuff in TJ Maxx, so perhaps there’s less point in trying to cover it up. And generally, those designer garments don’t show up in the discount store until a season later — at which point they’re not going to be worth top-dollar anyway.

If you do see a Famous Maker garment, you may be able to find the true designer’s name by searching the product’s barcode number online.

Used Famous Maker Stuff on Poshmark

You might find Famous Maker branded pieces on consignment websites like Poshmark and Thredup. If you do, know that they’re probably made by some famous designer — you just don’t know which one.

TJX Labels

Today, some discount stores have licensing agreements with designers so they can use the brand name on labels of clothes that were made specifically for the retailer. That means the garment is not designer at all, even though it carries the designer name and a “suggested retail price” worthy of a designer garment. You can sniff out these pieces at Marshalls and TJ Maxx by looking for a care label inside that references TJX.

How to Protect Yourself Against Faux Designer Goods

The masking of brand names can either leave you with a great deal or just the opposite, unfortunately. The best protection against getting duped is, frankly, to not care who actually designed and made the garment. Instead, make your clothes-buying decisions based on:

  • How well the piece fits you
  • The quality of construction: strong seams, lining, double stitching, extra notions, no loose threads
  • How often you’ll wear it

The takeaway? Buy clothes you love and will wear often. Buying anything for the name alone puts you at risk of over-paying or being disappointed.