Retail Unwrapped Retail Unwrapped is a weekly podcast series hosted by Robin Lewis, best-selling author and CEO of The Robin Report, and Chief Strategist Shelley E. Kohan. Each week, they share insights and opinions on major topics in the retail and consumer product industries. The shows are a lively conversation on industry-wide issues, trends, and consumer behavior. Tue, 14 May 2024 20:22:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Robin Report The Robin Report Retail Unwrapped Retail Unwrapped Retail Unwrapped is a weekly podcast series hosted by Robin Lewis, best-selling author and CEO of The Robin Report, and Chief Strategist Shelley E. Kohan. Each week, they share insights and opinions on major topics in the retail and consumer product industries. The shows are a lively conversation on industry-wide issues, trends, and consumer behavior. clean All content copyright The Robin Report 2024 ThredUp and Vestiarie Lead in Second Hand Tue, 14 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

ThredUp and Vestiare lead second hand, yet the business model to operate profitably in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) resale fashion market has proven a tough nut to crack, although not for lack of trying. Before 2009 when U.S.-based ThredUp, Tradesy, and French-owned Vestiaire Collective came onto the scene, the used clothing business operated primarily as the fundraising arm for non-profits. Local independent brick-and-mortar consignment shops operated on the sidelines and eBay offered secondhand clothing across its massive resale platform. In those early days, eBay and small shops tended to get the better goods because consigners opted to put a few dollars in their pockets rather than take a tax write-off.

Affordable fast fashion is a false economy not only are the hidden human and environmental costs enormous, but when you buy cheap, you buy twice. With the low average cost of a fast fashion order, consumers are incentivized to choose quantity over quality and become trapped in a cycle of cheap prices, constant promotions, and rapidly changing trends — not to mention poor quality clothes that need replacing again and again.

At the time, ThredUp, Tradesy and Vestiarie wouldn’t have been considered disruptors since there wasn’t an organized used-clothing market to disrupt. A DTC online resale market quickly began to take shape. These early entrants laid the groundwork for other resale fashion players to follow, including The RealReal, Depop, Mercari, Rebag, Vinted, Remix and Poshmark.

Fast forward to last year, the U.S. secondhand apparel market, including both non-profit donations ($20 billion) and online resale ($23 billion), grew seven times faster than the retail clothing market. DTC online resale more than doubled that, growing some 15 times faster in the U.S.

First Movers in Second Hand

Among the first movers in the online resale market, Tradsey and Vestiaire joined forces in early 2022. Vestiaire is backed by some power players, including Kering, Condé Nast, Balderon Capital, Luxury Tech Fund, Eurazeo, Vitruvian, and Bpifrance among others, but it remains private. It also provides resale-as-a-service (RaaS) partnerships with Chloé, Gucci, Paco Rabanne, Courrèges, Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Mulberry, Mytheresa and a few more.

Leaders ThredUp and Vestiare play in different segments of the resale market – Vestiaire in the premium, luxury space and ThredUp at the more mass-market level – but their operating models share many similarities. ThredUp went public in March 2021, showing revenues of $186 million in 2020, up 14 percent over 2019, yet with a nearly $500 million loss. After launching at $18.50 per share, it reached a high of almost $28 in July of that year, then began to tank. Today, shares are trading under $2. Some of the IPO proceeds went to acquire Remix Global, a leading European resale platform.

Both brands believe they are poised to grab market share in a rapidly expanding market. ThredUp figures the global secondhand apparel market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent through 2028 to reach $380 billion. And in the U.S., it sees online resale more than doubling over the next five years to reach $40 billion.

Rapid Growth, No Profits

But one nagging problem has vexed the online resale sector: profits. Depop couldn’t make it on its own and was acquired by Etsy for $1.6 billion in 2021. Poshmark was bought by South Korea’s Naver for an undisclosed sum in January 2023. after a disappointing IPO in 2021.

The RealReal’s 2019 IPO followed shortly after founder Julie Wainwright’s exit and Canadian Tire president John Koryl was brought in to right the ship. After about a year at the helm, the company cut its losses from $196 million in 2022 to $168 million in 2023 on revenues of $549 million and $1.7 gross merchandise value. And in the fourth quarter of 2023, it reported positive adjusted EBITDA of $1.4 million and positive free cash flow for the first time since going public in 2019. It shows the company is moving in the right direction but still isn’t all the way there yet.

ThredUp posted a net loss of $71.2 million and EBITDA negative $17.4 million on $322 million revenues in 2023, and Vestiaire revealed revenues of $164 million (€157) on $888 million (€824 million) gross merchandise value (GMV) and negative EBITDA of $33.4 million (€31 million). ThredUp doesn’t report GMV.

Vestiaire’s Mission to “Think First, Buy Second”

Vestiaire’s mission extends beyond just creating a profitable, sustainable business in the luxury resale market. “We are on a mission to transform the fashion industry for a more sustainable future by empowering our community to drive the change,” it stated in its recent investor presentation.

Vestiarie’s particular aim is to quash the fast-fashion business. “In today’s climate of inflation, it is obvious: neither people nor the planet can afford fast fashion,” said Fanny Moiszant, president and co-founder of Vestiaire, as she introduced the company’s 2024 Circularity Report. It “sounds the alarm on fast fashion’s devastating impact and should be a wake-up call to all to end overconsumption and overspending.”

The report presents a cost-per-wear mathematical model: the price of an item (P), minus its resale value (V), divided by the number of times it’s worn (T). It finds fast fashion items are worn less on average, kept for a shorter period, and have a lower resale value, based on results from more than 13,000 buyers and sellers and analyzing 250,000 transactions.

Vestiaire argues, “Investing in high value, higher quality items is the smarter choice to save money” and provides numerous examples in the report. For example, pre-loved dresses are worn eight times more at a cost-per-wear of $1.56 versus $5.66 for a fast fashion selection. Overall, it finds that its Collective buyers wear their secondhand pieces two times more than fast-fashion owners and keep them 31 percent longer.

It uses logic to prove the point: Affordable fast fashion is a false economy. Not only are the hidden human and environmental costs enormous, but when you buy cheap, you buy twice. With the low average cost of a fast fashion order, consumers are incentivized to choose quantity over quality and become trapped in a cycle of cheap prices, constant promotions, and rapidly changing trends — not to mention poor quality clothes that need replacing again and again.”

From a business perspective, Vestiaire boasts an “asset-light” business model where digital authentication validates items listed for sale. It claims a 99.9 percent counterfeit detection rate. For some two-thirds of items sold, that is good enough and the item is direct shipped from seller to buyer, reducing the environmental impact of shipping plus saving time. Only about one-third of items need advanced authentication whereas the company takes control of the item in one of its four authentication centers in France, the U.K., U.S., and Hong Kong. Those one-third represent about two-thirds of the company’s GMV.

Global sales are skewed toward Europe (~70 percent) with only about 20 percent from the Americas.

ThredUp Looks to the EU

While Vestiaire is focused on expanding its base in the U.S., ThredUp is looking toward Europe for growth after its acquisition of Bulgari-based Remix for $28.5 million in 2021. At the time, Remix generated about $34 million in revenues. Since then, ThredUp international sales have nearly doubled, reaching $64 million in 2023.

Also, during that period, ThredUp has been shifting its business model from product-based revenue to consignment-based. Originally, ThredUp bought most goods directly and recognized revenues after they were sold. Under the consignment model, consigners send ThredUp their goods; Thredup then lists and holds the items until sold when a portion of the sale price goes to the consigner. This model reduces write-downs and boosts gross margin.

Consignment also attracts higher-quality inventory and builds ongoing relationships with prime consigners who provide a steady supply of products, which is vital as resale is a supply-constrained business. In 2023, consignment revenue rose 22 percent, to $214 million and product revenue declined by about 5 percent, to $108 million, so the shift is moving in the right direction.

Also trending right for ThredUp is a nearly 10 percent growth in active buyers which numbered 1.8 million in the fourth quarter. It also saw an annual 6 percent increase in orders and a 5 percent boost in net revenue per order. All told, it fulfilled nearly 7 million orders in 2023.

Remix brought an excess of product in the acquisition, frustrating ThredUp’s quest for profits. So, in the fourth quarter of 2023, it bit the bullet and took a $1.9 million write-off to clear that inventory and accelerate its shift to consignment in its EU operations.

“Our U.S. business was profitable in Q3 and Q4,” CEO James Reinhart shared. “And we are guiding on full-year EBITDA profitability on a consolidated basis this year. So, the profits are there, it’s just we have to treat the U.S. and Europe businesses differently accounting-wise.” He also added that it will generate free cash flow on a full-year basis in 2024.

Resale-as-a-Service (RaaS) is another positive growth driver for ThredUp. It’s partnered with over 50 leading brands to provide resale to their customers. Partner brands include Kate Spade, Madewell, J. Crew, PacSun, Reformation, Eloquii, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, M.M. Lafleur, Hollister, Cuyana, Vera Bradley and the list goes on.

Resale as an Art

Reinhart observes that not all brands make the most of the resale side of their business. “Just because it’s a big, established brand doesn’t necessarily correlate to how well they do in resale,” he said as he points to the challenger brand, Los Angeles-based Michael Stars, as a standout in maximizing its resale platform.

“Resale is a gateway for customers to discover new brands and for brands to bring in new customers who might not be able to afford the full price but can buy in resale. We are seeing some of our partners starting out one way in resale and then evolving that side of the business as they learn. We continue to see growth and innovation in this space.” He adds, RaaS is profitable for both its brand partners and ThredUp, where revenues are booked under consignment.

RaaS White Label Competitors

Sensing the opportunity in RaaS as a standalone business, several companies have emerged offering white label resale services. Reflaunt launched in 2019 and counts Balenciaga, Harvey Nichols, Yoox, Net-a-Porter, and Off Saks Fifth Avenue among its clients. Archive emerged in 2020 and has brought on Oscar de la Renta, The North Face, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Ariat.

Trove is perhaps the biggest RaaS, having raised $120 million in funding compared to Archive’s $8 million and Reflaunt’s $2.5 million. Its partners include Canada Goose, Arc’teryx, Eileen Fisher, Levi’s, Patagonia, REI Coop, Lululemon, Patagonia, Carhartt and more. Trove launched as a peer-to-peer resale platform in 2012 then shifted to the RaaS model in 2017.

Reflaunt’s chief commercial officer Sofia Gazzotti observes that RaaS white label services hold more promise because they can leverage the existing brand’s customer base which usually numbers in the millions. Plus, “Brands have an inherent credibility and trust that increases the likelihood that customers will entrust them with their pieces,” she said.

While Reinhart acknowledges the entrance of the white label cohort into its competitive landscape, he believes ThredUp has the advantage, not just as a first mover in the space but also because of its far greater depth and experience in the resale market as it has evolved. RaaS can work on a stand-alone basis, but its success relies on the backend infrastructure, brand awareness and just experience in understanding the secondary market, both from the customer and supply side, that we’ve built.”

“Our RaaS service cannot exist independent of the ‘mothership,’” he maintains. “You can’t strip away that into individual ranges. We’re different and it really helps grow the ThredUp brand overall.”

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Me-tailing Is the New DTC Mon, 13 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

Remember Moliere’s observation? “Writing is a little bit like prostitution. First, you do it for love. Then you do it for a few friends. Then you do it for money.” Turns out that applies to social media posts as well. If my 24-year-old pioneer daughter is any indication, Me-tailing is the new DTC.  

Next-gen shoppers love Me-tailing. From a meta-perspective, it augers in an entirely new and potentially thrilling relationship between consumer and consumption. It is genuine disintermediation: The next wave of capitalism hits the shoreline, as the tech tide flows in.

So, it’s very tough to be the last major legacy retailer in the last mall standing facing Me-tailing.

The Mattie Newlin Saga

Presenting Mattie as a use case study, it’s instructive to consider the trajectory of the professionalization of her online feeds. She began more than a decade ago with a single-digit edition of an iPhone. She took photos taken then emailed or shared them via Facebook. That didn’t last long. Soon enough something called “The Mattie Newlin Show” began appearing on YouTube. (She removed most of the funniest episodes when wannabe bullies at her Jesuit high school mocked them. But hey! Nobody ever said it’s easy to be creative in front of people.) By college she had the full roster of media at her fingertips to share the news of her good and bad times: Instagram and TikTok became the must-see-and-be-seen, must-watch, go-to media of choice.

Fast forward, she’s now a full-fledged influencer working at the crossroads where nascent brands meet Gen Z. As Thoreau could say, “I have traveled a good deal in Concord.” Mattie, poised on our couch, journeys daily to far-flung trading outposts where emerging jewelry, apparel and beauty brands are spawned. Somewhere in an algorithm far, far away, one of her TikTok posts or product reviews triggers a manager at a public relations, advertising, or social media agency to reach out to her. Quite possibly from their own couches.

From that rare human-to-human (well, text-to-text) interaction comes the offer: a new bra, line of mascara, earrings, make up palette. What begins as “free” and “we hope you’ll like, share, review and post” morphs as her following grows into, “Here’s your Mattie Newlin discount code to share; when anyone uses it, you’ll receive 10 percent of the purchase.” Slowly, but inexorably her love of creating little films and vignettes transmutes into income. And why not? She follows in the aspirations of millions of us – starting well before Moliere observed it –eager to turn an avocation into vocation.

Emerging Entrepreneurial Marketspace

What Mattie and I are both learning by observing the ever-ascending monetization of her social profile is that she is on an unmapped trail in the emerging marketspace. She’s not exactly hacking away underbrush, but this pathway is definitely not well-trod, well-paved. As the amazing Joanna Moore, CEO and Founder of Since Tomorrow, argues compellingly on LinkedIn, “Mass fashion is dead, but not because people don’t want similar things. It’s because (the big guys) are selling them the wrong things by the wrong people and through the wrong content at exactly the wrong time.”

That’s harsh. I understand her to be taking both brands and retailers to task. Just because we don’t want her assessment to be true, doesn’t mean it’s false. The incredibly shrinking footprints of both malls and anchor stores are only Exhibits A and B of the “shrink our way to growth” highway crowded by those who speak foolishness to power. To be more specific:  institutional shareholders.

The Luxury Crystal Ball

Putting on my futurist’s hat to gaze into the crystal ball, I see the high-end luxe brand world navigating a path that leads neither to Mattie nor over the cliff. My hypothesis is they’ve learned how to profit through “short runs” and bespoke products sold through a still-fabulous concoction of personal selling, celebrity users and aspirational pricing. They’ll also – as Kering and LVMH are already doing – shift gears and drive revenue by celebrity and entertainment content,     forging entirely new and fresh means of commercialization. No real worries at the top of the pyramid.


Meanwhile, Mattie’s experience attests to the fact that the underbrush is rife with tiny, fledgling brands able to figure out design, manufacturing, and marketing while skipping the cut-throat world of retail distribution. Their audiences aren’t mall walking anyway; they are scrolling from their own couches, toggling back and forth from one feed to another, purchasing the tropes of a virtual friend’s virtual personality.

The style gurus once known as the fashion and beauty press are now curated by one fledgling fashionista for another, interrupted now and again by a Grub Hub delivery. One day, perhaps, a big retailer will come hat in hand directly to them in an online Fuller Brush/Avon model.

Collateral Damage

Think of those defunct jewelry kiosks, craft shops and bookstores. The ones abandoned without the life raft of foot traffic. The ones adjacent to the shuttered Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Kohl’s. The ones near Target. You know the ones who are stranded in a darkened mall, surrounded by naked mannequins and endless signs of “Liquidation Sale: Everything Must Go!!!” There are no wandering or bored shoppers left to entice. What’s worse, there are no products that can’t be found more easily and cheaply on Amazon.


If “the medium is the message,” Me-tailers are the medium. Influencers are the media. From this perspective, it seems an engaging, personalized, tech-driven take on a small-town square. Young people “like,” “follow” and “subscribe” to many different takes on reality. Rather like a disco ball, the entire exciting universe is reflected, but it’s built one mirrored pane at a time. Very cool for the democratization of brand, co-creation, and collaboration within the community. Not so good for legacy retail department stores.

Next-gen shoppers love Me-tailing. From a meta-perspective, it augers in an entirely new and potentially thrilling relationship between consumer and consumption. It is genuine disintermediation: The next wave of capitalism hits the shoreline, as the tech tide flows in.

So, it’s very tough to be the last major legacy retailer in the last mall standing facing Me-tailing. I don’t mourn their lack of foresight. They stubbornly refused to know the obvious in decade after decade of refusals to apply the famous credo, “think global, act local,” opting instead to gain short term advantage by aggregated buying offices, mass advertising and brand efficiencies.

Personal Touch

What I do mourn is the death of in-person fashion retail excitement. The frisson at that moment of acquisition. I mourn the sharing of craftsmanship and gorgeous detail between a knowledgeable – genuinely knowledgeable – salesperson and a shopper she knows and understands. I mourn the quest for the “perfect” item and the “lucky” feeling of finding it. That still exists in treasure hunt stores, but the customer experience is sub-par in an impersonal utilitarian environment.  And I mourn the thrill of bringing my purchase home and unwrapping the parcel from fresh tissue paper and ribbon.

Mattie experiences the arrival of each new influencer parcel as something like a child’s Christmas. She goes through the unwrapping ritual on camera, as the posting moment demands. When can we make traditional retail cool again?

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Paris Retail Still Has That Je Ne Sais Quoi Thu, 09 May 2024 11:58:33 +0000

The great department store brands in the U.S. and Paris got their start in the 1800s. Seven U.S. brands have closed their doors. Granted mergers and consolidations have changed the retail landscape, but what happened to those American icons and why are today’s physical stores so uninspired compared to the grandes dames in Paris retail?

Pre-Olympics Paris is a scaffolding-dominated cityscape, with freshly cleaned-up building facades and lots of shiny metal bleachers. Notre-Dame is still undergoing renovations with the ambitious goal of being completed for the Olympics. But one thing is for sure. Paris is the place to shop with memorable customer experiences. What’s left of the original 12th -century cobblestoned streets are lined with (mostly empty of shoppers) luxury marques alongside international brands and corner cafes strategically sited where you can recover before your next foray. Dior is the talk of the town with its drop-dead La Galerie Dior retrospective of Christian Dior’s genius celebration of women with color-coded cascades of accessories, muslin models, and his exceptional, original designs. It’s a hugely popular attraction reflecting the blockbuster Dior exhibition staged at the Brooklyn Museum in 2021. Louis Vuitton brightens up the Champs Elysees with a notice-me, photo-printed travel trunk screen to hide its enormous renovation work, illuminated at night like an invitation to fill the giant trunk with every Vuitton luxury imaginable.

And no city in the U.S. can hold a candle to the Belle Epoque grandes dames: Le Bon Marché, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, and Samaritaine. They all have streets of dreams. That is to say luxury shops, almost to the store showcasing the same brands. These mini boutiques line the perimeters of the stores’ ground floors like sparkling luxe necklaces. The beauty areas feature most of the same brands as well. And all four stores have soaring atriums with ascendant glass dome workmanship dating to the 1800s. It’s the domes that make each of them distinctive 

RIP Box Scores

But first for context, here are the great department store brands in the U.S. and Paris that got their start in the 1800s. Seven U.S. brands have closed their doors. Granted mergers and consolidations have changed the retail landscape, but what happened to those American icons and why are today’s physical stores so uninspired compared to the grandes dames in Paris? As a poster child for capitalism and commerce and in its rush to be modern and maximize selling floor space, U.S. department store design has become crammed with merchandise and utilitarian compared to their Parisian sisters. In New York, the 19th century retailers typically take up a full city block with the fortress school of design as compared to the beautiful, airy, light-infused, Belle Epoque architecture of their Parisian counterparts.

The Parisian stores are impressive, memorable, experiential adventures. They may not be perfect when it comes to the omnichannel interface, but the physical stores (where we still do most of our purchasing) transcend transactions as marvels in design and inspiration in tribute to the hope and possibility of refreshing our lives and rewarding ourselves with new things, both nice to have and necessary.

Store design aside, the mortality rate among the iconic American Belle Epoque retailers is 78 percent. Extinct physical store brands are noted in red. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

  • Lord & Taylor 1826
  • Bon Marché. 1838
  • Gimbels 1842
  • Marshall Field’s 1852
  • Carson Pirie Scott 1854
  • Macy’s 1858
  • Higbee’s 1860
  • Wanamaker 1861
  • B.Altman 1865
  • Printemps. 1865
  • Saks Fifth Avenue 1867
  • Rich’s 1867
  • Samaritaine  1870
  • Kaufmann’s 1871
  • Bloomingdale’s 1872
  • Magnin 1876
  • May Company 1877
  • Peck & Peck 1888
  • Galeries Lafayette 1893
  • Belk, 1888
  • Sears 1892
  • Henri Bendel 1895
  • Bergdorf Goodman 1899

A Tale of Four Cupolas

On our recent visit to Paris, we revisited the grandes dames to get a sense of what’s happening in French urban retail. These four historic stores, Le Bon Marché, Printemps, Samaritaine, and Galeries Lafayette continue to bridge 187+ years from the Belle Epoque to the era of AI. We checked them out at all times of the day and can offer the following anecdotal in-store report.

Parisian stores follow the concession model, and apparel is segregated by brands. As you make your way around the perimeter of each store (except Printemps which has no central atrium) you encounter brand after brand segmented in its own boutique. There is a limited selection making what’s available more coveted. Helpful sales reps bring out your size since most everything is racked in size 2, perhaps to appeal to Asian shoppers. And besides, everything looks better when it’s petite, kind of like kittens.

There is an art to shopping in Paris. It helps to know the brands so you can find what you are looking for. A simple example: It’s virtually impossible at these stores to buy a hat. You can get a Fendi bucket or a $60 baseball cap, but finding a selection of all types of hats is impossible. And if you’re a mix-and-match customer, it becomes a challenge to blend different brands, especially when they are yards apart spanning across a vast expanse of open space under a dome.

They all have restaurants, outdoor terraces, and snack shops and most have prerequisite food halls. They are more than stores; they are cultural institutions as the spirit of Paris past and present. And the experience of shopping in the grandes dames is not unlike visiting the Guggenheim as you progress upward through the ring of floors by escalator all filled with desirable possibilities. On our visits, there were very few Asian shoppers and traffic was sparse. We don’t want these icons to become architectural museums. It begs the question: where are all the shoppers? It couldn’t be great news for the retailers, but it made our visits less frantic and stressful.


Closing its doors in 2005 and then more recently after nearly seven years of renovation, LVMH’s investment in Samaritaine’s facelift shows in the store when it reopened in 2021. Of the four, it is the most elegant and serene. Kevin Roche was SVP of Design and Construction for DFS Group | LVMH and says that with an iconic location near Pont Neuf and as a one-of-a-kind destination, Samaritaine blurs the lines among commercial, retail, and hospitality. It is a sophisticated, well-heeled, grande dame of a store. It is light and airy; the bespoke atrium is ringed by gorgeous art nouveau artwork, and the top floor also serves as a party space. The pale grey ironwork gives the overall effect of being in a feminine birdcage. Its own street of dreams of luxe boutiques have all the expected luxury brands. The lower level is a concoction of beauty and spa services. The upper floors are filled with concession boutiques with many brands you can also find at Nordstrom and Bergdorf. The whole vibe is quiet, understated luxury. There’s something to be said about the circular layout, with appealing vistas across the expanse of the store space with so much luxury waiting to be taken home. But there is a theatrical quality to Samaritaine that seems more stage set than a place to sell. It’s look at me, not buy me.   


Printemps is a machine in Paris. With three stores, it’s a beacon for tourists and local shoppers. It has taken a stand to be on trend with a visible media lab content studio and an entire floor devoted to Second Printemps. Situated underneath an industrial skylight dome and a dazzling artwork-cum-umbrella with cascading shiny silver platelets, the top floor (7th) department is a treasure trove of upcycling and resale with designer brands just waiting to be reacquired. Kelly bags (encased under bell jar displays), Dries Van Noton, YSL, Chloe, Stella McCartney, Fendi, Mugler, and more one-of-a-kind vintage is displayed by color. Still pricey but thousands less than their original prices.

The Printemps 6th floor is under a stunning blue glass dome that overlooks a swing shop that changes themes during the year. Our visit featured La Plage (beach), which makes perfect sense under the blue-sky dome. In our opinion, the dome and Second Printemps are the best-kept secrets in Paris.   

Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette with its three enormous stores, is another Belle Epoque beauty. Its atrium is an homage to stained glass and gilded plasterwork. They are so proud of the delicate iron star detailing of the glass atrium ceiling that they have built a transparent cantilevered observation platform, seven stories high jutting out under the dome like the “Edge” in New York’s Hudson Yards. Intrepid shoppers (or tourists, most likely) venture out over the abyss for photo ops. The overlook is also a perch to observe the store below and then gaze back up at the extraordinary artisan work encircling the base of the dome.

But atriums don’t sell clothes. Admiring the ceiling is one thing, buying accessible luxury is another. The day we visited there was a frenzied line at Longchamp full of Asian shoppers snapping up bags. No other branded boutique had the same popularity.

In a brilliant move (and why don’t the other stores do this) the beauty boutiques on the ground floor under the atrium had rooftops with distinctive branding highly visible to anyone looking down instead of up at the dome. It looks like a luxury encampment.  

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche

Le Bon Marché is hands down the most exciting grande dame in Paris and the only one on the left bank. Another LVMH enterprise, it is modern, on-trend, enticing, experiential, and always surprising. The store is an event space that sells stuff. It is the most socially relevant, artful, and legitimate tastemaker. Kevin Roche, Senior Advisor to CEO Patrice Wagner providing planning and design leadership, says CEO Patrice Wagner takes risks, is adventurous and introduces customers to unique experiences and social/cultural activities. Wagner combines creativity with design. Bon Marché was full of customers (not just tourists) compared to the other three stores. The Mise en Page storewide promotion was a fusion of art and pop-ups defined by Tiffany-blue design. Conceived by Sarah Andelman in collaboration with artist Jean Julien, the transformation of Bon Marché into a literary-themed series of art installations and pop-ups was transfixing. The promotion references books and storytelling with a tribute to iconic bookstores around the world. Mise en Page was anchored by two enormous Keith Haring-esque hand-painted blue flat men sculptures. The four-story high sculptures draw your attention to the top floors, each with their blue-hued pop-ups. The curation of books, sculptures of books encased in columns, collector’s art, and unique merchandise was fascinating. It is as though Bon Marché. is on a mission to educate customers as much as sell to them. Much of the apparel at Bon Marché is different than the other three stores with emerging designers and exciting new labels. The newly renovated food hall, Le Grand Epicerie, in a separate building, is the place to shop and eat for local residents as well as visitors. At Bon Marché, the food hall is as vital and important as their general merchandise. This is a retail operation that takes its cues from cultural trends and shifts in shopping behavior. It gives customers a reason to visit often.

Bonus Point: Merci

If you want to catch up to the 21st century, albeit with retro country-normcore, Merci is the spot. Tucked away in a courtyard, this high-concept boutique in the trendy Marais neighborhood has its own 19th-century atrium skylight ceiling matched with rustic whitewashed barn wood beams. Display cases and fixtures are recycled farmhouse furniture.

Apparently, here’s where all the shoppers are; certainly, the millennials and Gen Zs from all over the world. Carefully curated with crazy expensive price tags, it’s a little of everything in an urban homestead environment. Cleverly, the women’s clothes are merchandised completely jumbled up, so cruising through a rack is a surprise. Although the grandes dames shared almost all the same apparel labels, Merci is in a class by itself with romantic $400 summer dresses mingled in with country-normcore basics. 

Next-gen favorites Carhartt, Birkenstocks, and Yeti are staples. In fact, a Carhartt gardening promotion featured bespoke trowels and seedling starters for urban gardeners. Who knew?

Merci has a cool, reverse chic aesthetic and is completely irresistible. It seems to be the place for next gens to furnish their understated, tasteful homes and clothe themselves in Merci branded Ts. And it is refreshingly accessible, an ongoing discovery of carefully edited on-trend merchandise, and worth spending several hours shopping and dining at the book-lined Used Book Café.


Frankly, we are having a hard time envisioning all the Olympians in their vibrant colored, nationalistic high-performance wear filling the floors of the grandes dames taking selfies below the glass domes. It will be a collision of cultures and an athletic accidental tourist adventure in time travel. We hope they will be in spending mode.

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Digital Fashion Design and Sustainability Wed, 08 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

If there’s one key word coming out of fashion in 2024, it’s “sustainable.” And while there are many conflicting ideas on what the word means and ways to achieve sustainability, there’s one area viewed as not just eco-conscious but also cost effective: digital product creation (DPC), or digital design. Originally seen as clothing worn by personal avatars or heroes in a video game, functional digital fashion is the visual representation of clothing for real life using computer technologies and 3D software. And the connection between digital design and sustainability is real.

Originally seen as clothing worn by personal avatars or heroes in a video game, functional digital fashion is the visual representation of clothing created using computer technologies and 3D software.

Digital Fashion Design

“The reality of digital design really dropped in 2020 as a more efficient, effective and sustainable solution,” says Clare Tattersall, director of Digital Fashion Week and founder of The Drip, a haute couture digital fashion boutique, in an interview with the Lifestyle Monitor™. “However, I don’t think it represents one single answer for designers as the adoption rate is very wide, depending on the size of the brand. Those who have adopted digital design as an option recognize the benefits, but so many have not yet adopted it.”

To bring digital design alive, both novices as well as those familiar with the technology are invited to learn more about it and get hands-on experience through Cotton Incorporated’s CottonWorks™ virtual showroom and its FABRICAST™ library.

There’s another angle to DPC aside from designing clothing. Cotton Incorporated’s Katherine Absher, manager of fashion and digital design marketing, describes digital fabrics using 3D apparel design software such as CLO and Browzwear 3D. “You may have heard them described as digital fabrics, digital twins, virtual fabrics – and they all mean the same things,” Absher says. “Essentially, digital fabrics are like a twin for the physical counterpart. They recreate the look and the drape of the physical fabric.” Digital fabrics make the leap from the drawing board to the science of design.

Saving Resources

Here’s great news for manufacturers! Brands can save time and money with digital design. The technology enhances the design process and from a sustainability perspective, it reduces waste. By using digital fabrics and 3D design software, brands can replace some or all physical clothing samples. They are able to reduce their traditional calendar lead times and can make faster decisions. That frees them up to have more time to iterate – which can lead to overall better designs produced at a higher rate than physical samples.

For example, the traditional calendar can take a year from concept to point of sale and digital design can reduce that to six months. How? Consider that it can take 45 days to produce a physical sample. Any significant changes to the original sample call for revised samples, adding even more time to the original month and a half. By comparison, a digital sample can be made in 14 days.

People’s Choice

Further, when companies use fewer physical samples, they reduce consumption of raw materials and sample yardage, leading to reduced shipping costs and a lower freight carbon footprint. Sustainability isn’t just a talking point. It’s something that’s truly valued by today’s shoppers. Consider that an impressive 86 percent of global consumers say environmental change and sustainability are “very real” and require changes in our behaviors, according to Cotton Council international and Cotton Incorporated’s 2023 Global Sustainability Study.

Design Tools

Brands looking to improve their environmentally conscious quotient (ECQ) can turn to The CottonWorks™ virtual showroom to experience how sustainability meets technology. The meta world is a real tool to solve real problems. The virtual showroom starts designers on their journey in a sun-drenched cotton field then they are quickly zoomed up to a bright and airy space that demonstrates what modern cotton fabrics can do. The showroom currently features four uniquely curated fabric-related spaces: natural, denim, active and competition.

Each showroom space presents a variety of fabrics and fashion-forward garments aimed at sparking designers’ imaginations. The showroom promotes both specific products such as denim bottoms as well as entire categories like performance activewear. But the showroom goes beyond merely introducing these fabrics; it allows users to view pieces in 3D right on their computer screens. Additionally, users can take a snap of a QR code with their smartphone so they can view a garment right in their own showroom space. Designers can also learn about performance technologies that work with cotton, such as TransDRY® and STORM COTTON™ Technologies.


The CottonWorks™ FABRICAST™ library is another resource that offers designers a digital collection of cotton and cotton-rich fabrics mindfully curated by its product development team. Designers can view a portfolio of digital fabrics across a variety of constructions through downloadable files that are compatible with 3D simulation software programs. As a valuable service to the design industry, the library, showroom, downloadable files, and everything else available on CottonWorks™ are available at no cost.

“Independent designers are seeing the value of digital design, both as an efficient and effective tool, but also for the broad opportunities that this opens up for diverse revenue streams,” says Tattersall. “You have brands like Tommy Hilfiger that made a very rapid transition to be completely digital. They set goals and achieved them on a very tight schedule, which was pretty impressive for a large brand. Independent designers are more nimble and able to adopt new technologies faster, the most prohibitive factor for independents is probably cost. In the independent sector, there are so many designers like Republiqe, Loreine, Right Direction, KAIMIN that are truly phygital designers, layering digital and physical assets seamlessly.”

Reversing the Returns Crisis

Digital product design has another sustainability aspect: It can help brands reduce returns. Brands can use digital fabrics and 3D design to troubleshoot fabric choices and fit issues as well as fabric compatibility. Tech teams can match what is developed in 3D so there is a consistency between what customers see online and what they receive in real life. When customers feel like what they receive in real life is what was represented online, customer satisfaction increases while returns decrease.

April DigitalFashionChart

All Natural

Designers and brands are assured that all the digital fabrics in the CottonWorks™ library are sustainable because they are all-natural cotton. This is meaningful to consumers on multiple levels. For starters, fully 92 percent of consumers think better quality garments are made from all-natural fibers, according to 2023 Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle MonitorTM Survey. Further, nearly three-quarters of all shoppers (72 percent) are willing to pay more for natural fibers such as cotton.

Cotton and cotton blends (including denim) the favorite fiber or fabric of choice to wear for the majority of consumers (71 percent – eclipsing all others including silk, 4 percent, polyester 3 percent, and wool 1 percent. And 79 percent say cotton/organic cotton/recycled cotton is safe for the environment.


The Council for Textile Recycling reports an incredible 85 percent of America’s used clothes goes to landfills. And in this concerning behavior, how many of these items biodegrade? The fashion industry’s relationship with textiles matters to consumers, Mother Earth, and business overall. The care and disposal of garments and the biodegradability of raw materials, both natural and synthetic, is a critical issue throughout the supply chain. Studies show cotton is far more biodegradable than petroleum-based fabrics like polyester. In one study, cotton samples decomposed up to 77 percent in just 90 days, while most polyester fibers remained intact.  

Cotton biodegrades quickly because it is made of cellulose, the organic compound that is the basis of plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. The fibers break down naturally in landfills similarly to other crops such as food and plants. With sustainability and biodegradation in mind, Cotton Incorporated has developed viable alternatives to synthetic microfiber fleece by creating cotton and cotton/wool blend fabrics that are designed to insulate and provide warmth – while offering a natural, biodegradable option. Further, any fibers that shed from garments made with these fabrics easily break down in soil and water environments. Polyester fibers, conversely, contribute to the microplastic pollution problem and can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Digital Design and Sustainability

Whether it’s 3D design or discovering fabrics through digital libraries, digital product creation is still in its early days, giving designers and brands much to work with and think about when it comes to their business and sustainability goals.

“These are very broad concepts really, and it shows just how many options there are available for designers now,” Tattersall says. “Definitely in our community, we see huge adoption of technology and great excitement when a designer’s needs are met by innovation. Starting with design tools is at the root. And once you have digital designs, they can be translated to different formats – taken into the gaming industry, integrated into technology at the point of sale, and chipped for communication (think digital product passports) with the customer on a longer-term basis.”

Digital design and sustainability may not be the first connection you make, but they are intertwined in the art and science of the fashion industry. Learn more about the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ Survey.

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Levi Strauss: A Brand Resurrection Tue, 07 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

Levi’s brand resurrection is undeniable. While Levi Strauss recently announced that they’re cutting 10 to 15 percent of their existing workforce, they’re simultaneously expanding their denim footprint into “nascent markets.” Levi’s fell slightly short of Wall Street sales projections for 2024, but its stock is still growing. Levi’s growing stock is evidence of a solid growth strategy and the brand’s ability to win stakeholders’ confidence when the market is in flux.

Levi’s understands the unique preferences of the Gen Z purchasing mentality––customization, sustainability, ethical product components, social media collaborations––and is willing to be the first to act on them. Most Levi’s jeans are made with 100 percent cotton or a cotton/linen blend. This focus on product components is in keeping with next gens’ frugal and quality-focused purchasing mentality.

Levi’s is still expanding its operation while many legacy brands and retailers drastically contract. The great minds behind Levi Strauss aren’t afraid to make big moves to keep up with the times. Most notably, by offering a targeted range of products with varying levels of durability, developing different markets, and touching on a wide range of trends.

Let’s look at the moves that made the denim stalwart one of the strongest brand resurrection stories of the post-Covid era.

A Brief History

Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss, Wrangler, and Lee are often called “The Big Three” of denim, as the brands shaped the denim industry as we know it today. But Levi’s was the first of the three and many would argue it remains the most innovative. The brand’s founder and namesake, Levi Strauss, bought an overalls patent that was revised into denim the styles we recognize today back in 1873. Levi Strauss homed in on the miner market during the California Gold Rush of the late 1800s. As the Gold Rush dissipated, Strauss focused on workwear, and we began the see the early iterations of denim staples that are so romanticized by Gen Z and millennials today.

Blue Bell’s Wrangler
Want to hear a little-known fact about Blue Bell’s Wrangler? Blue Bell Overall Co. was founded to serve the cattle and ranching industry in the early 1900s––it’s not surprising that the brand isn’t talking about this today, with nearly a quarter of Gen Z gravitating toward cruelty-free meal options. Blue Bell acquired Wrangler’s parent company in 1943 to create denim specifically designed for ranchers’ workwear needs. Although it was once considered “denim for the working cowboy,” its ethos has evolved to highlight its history, ethical trading partners, and timeless design.

D. Lee Mercantile
Levi Strauss & Co. built its business on miner wear and H.D. Lee Mercantile has a somewhat similar origin story. Henry David Lee was a canned goods and kerosene merchant who began selling workwear from other manufacturers. Lee didn’t target Gold Rush miners with its famous Lee Union-All coverall launched in 1913. In keeping with the old adage of “sell what you know,” Lee’s unique strategy started out targeting farmers; however, the union references and utilitarian nature of the product quickly made it a hit with factory workers. Lee was also the first to produce a zip-up denim fly in 1925, the likes of which are still worn in most denim styles.

Levi’s Does Trend Awareness Better

The difference between Levi’s and its Big Three counterparts is in Levi’s ability to adapt before the trend curve. Yes, Levi’s was founded first, but that’s just the beginning. While Levi’s is a huge brand, it stands out in its ability to cut through red tape quickly enough to be a first responder to fashion trends.

Levi’s was one of the first brands to pinpoint the shift from skinny jeans to looser, early 2000s-inspired staples. And Levi’s is vocal with those fashion predictions, keeping consumers looped into how it sources trends––for instance, in predicting that XXL silhouettes would be huge in 2024, it launched a Loose Fit collection for men and women.

But Levi’s market awareness doesn’t stop with fashion trends. The brand understands the unique preferences of the Gen Z purchasing mentality––customization, sustainability, ethical product components, social media collaborations––and is willing to be the first to act on them. Most Levi’s jeans are made with 100 percent cotton or a cotton/linen blend. This focus on product components is in keeping with next gens’ frugal and quality-focused purchasing mentality. While I’ve yet to find a study on Gen Z reading and weighing product components more than other generations, they’re vocal about their disdain for millennials’ affinity for new, or fast fashion, clothing. On that point, Levi’s SecondHand caters to thrifters with vintage classics. And in validation of the brand, a pair of Levi’s from 1890 sold in an auction for $87,000 in 2022.

Levi’s Targets “Nascent Markets”

It’s not like Levi’s is immune to recent market fluctuations. As with many legacy brands, Levi’s leadership has had to make some difficult decisions to keep investors happy. Mass layoffs are one of the fastest ways for a good brand to get bad press, and Levi’s is reducing its workforce by 10 to 15 percent to prepare for Wall Street’s reduced market forecast for 2024.

In 2022, Levi Strauss expanded with over 100 stores across Asia. At NRF, Levi’s CEO, Michelle Gass, shared that the company will continue targeting underserved denim markets in years to come. Levi’s is straight up laying off American workers and hiring overseas, but we aren’t seeing memes demonizing Levi’s on social media. The reason there hasn’t been a significant backlash. The brand is radically transparent about it restructuring. When there’s no greenwashing or false Diversity & Inclusion initiatives, there isn’t much to call out on social media.

In the past decade, Levi Strauss has orchestrated a remarkable brand resurrection. Despite slightly missing Wall Street sales projections for 2024, Levi’s stock continues to climb. Unlike the legacy brands that are retreating in the face of market challenges, Levi’s remains steadfast in its expansion efforts. Looking ahead, Levi’s is poised for a “DTC-first future,” shifting its strategy to focus on direct-to-consumer channels without middlemen to give consumers more power than ever over their denim purchasing experience.

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Exploring the Ozempic Economy Mon, 06 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

In exploring the Ozempic Economy, whispers in early 2023 circulated in rarefied circles about the power of Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and other GLP-1 diabetes medications for stealthy and remarkably effective weight loss. By November 2023, the buzz on this family of weight loss drugs was a cacophony as implication analyses began in earnest. Sheila Kahyaoglu, a Jefferies Financial analyst forecasted that United Airlines could save $80 million a year in jet fuel costs as planes occupied by lighter passengers will require less fuel. JP Morgan Research speculated there would be 30 million active GLP-1 users in the United States by 2030, and McKinsey included drug-assisted weight loss medications in the consultancy’s $1.8 trillion, 2024 estimate of the global wellness market.

Vitality Retail is an aggregation of individual retail categories, Beauty, Fitness-Wellness, Pharmacy, including healthcare services, and some elements of Grocery. We envision a multifaceted collection of goods and services encompassing Medical Spas staffed with doctors who can prescribe GLP-1 medications, administer injectables fillers, and other beauty and health treatments, fitness centers with retail outlets, nutrition services and prescriptive groceries, and cosmetic and beauty products to maximize the benefits of weight loss.

Ozempic Economy

As awareness has grown, the term “Ozempic Economy” has emerged. In an October episode of Vox Media’s Pivot podcast, pundit and NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway enthusiastically hyped the economic impact of this class of medications calling it “The biggest business story of the year… when all of a sudden 100 million people are eating and drinking less…there will be a lot of winners that we can’t even project. Everyone’s talking about AI, and it’s going to grab the most headlines, but over the next five years the greatest shifts in market capitalization are going to happen because of the Ozempic Economy, whatever you want to call it, the obesity economy, that’s about to be disrupted… When it goes away, you’re going to see trillions of dollars of market capitalization reallocated and reshuffled.”

Alternative Impact

The retail press has aggressively covered the Ozempic frenzy. The bulk of the coverage and commentary landed in the obvious place, grocery. Food and beverage purchasing patterns are an easily quantifiable signal of changing global eating habits. We are taking a different tack in this article, zooming out from the obvious in search of alternative potentialities and opportunities that may emerge from this driver of change.

The Analysis

For those who want to just cut to the chase, hang on for our analysis. We’ve concluded that there are significant opportunities for retail in the Ozempic Economy. That said, we are going to take you on a journey. We have approached this potential economic sea change systematically.

We analyzed the retail industry and broke it down into physical and online commerce. Next, we generated a comprehensive list of retail categories to evaluate the impact of anti-obesity medications (AOM). We also cycled through the lens of STEEP categories, Social, Technology, Economic, Environment, and Political to avoid any blind spots. From there, we researched the inherent uncertainties challenging the hypothesis that Ozempic and other weight loss drugs will have a significant impact on the overall economy, and retail accordingly. The process is the result of fact-based, critical thinking.


Starting with the uncertainties there is a blend of social, economic, and political forces both weighing against and supporting the widespread adoption of AOMs. Pressures include complaints about unpleasant side effects, but the leading counterforce is cost. Currently, in the United States, the list price (without insurance) of Novo Nordisk’s medication Ozempic is $935.77 a month. At this price, a widescale uptick in users would seem farfetched, but in March, the political winds shifted.

Medicare now covers GLP-1 medications for diabetes and other approved applications. Medicaid offers coverage, although some states limit access. Private insurers are revising coverage policies as well. Other headwinds include pushback from the body-positive movement, but signals indicate that this social trend is losing strength. Vogue reports that plus-size representation made up just 0.8 percent of the Autumn/Winter ‘24 looks in the seasonal shows. Technology tailwinds include progress in developing AODs in pill form, currently, the popular weight loss drugs are only available as injections.

Despite the uncertainties, prescription numbers reflect unmitigated momentum in usage. CNN reports a 25 percent increase in prescriptions for Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, as well as increases in alternative weight loss medications in calendar year 2023. Even if the adoption rate were to slow, a slimmer future world is a plausible scenario.

Impacts and Opportunities

We also weighed potential impacts and opportunities on leading retail categories. Admittedly, we did not explore every facet of retail and our key sectors include:

  • Electronics
  • Pets
  • Home Goods
  • Local
  • Luxury
  • Department Stores
  • Boutiques
  • Resale
  • Curvy/Plus-Size
  • Fitness/Wellness
  • Clubs/Warehouse
  • Designer/Brand
  • Grocery
  • Pharmacy/Health
  • Beauty
Picture1 e1714741300760

From our list of 15 retail categories, 12 will benefit from the wide adoption of AOMs. Pet (at least for now), Electronics, and Home Goods have no clear connection to the key driver. Most of the apparel retail categories listed have only a tangential connection to the Ozempic Economy.

However, we anticipate that the Resale and Curvy-Plus-size categories will experience elevated activity. BOF quotes Deutsche Bank analyst Adam Cochrane who describes apparel retailers benefitting from an emergent wardrobe replacement cycle as consumers resize. He called out the fitness brands Adidas and Puma along with large apparel retailers Inditex, H&M, and Primark as beneficiaries. Describing the potential impact, Cochrane said that the shift “could provide a structural tailwind for the apparel industry that hasn’t been seen for some time.”

As mentioned, grocery will be greatly impacted. In November 2023, WSJ reported “Sales of Ozempic and Wegovy, developed by Novo Nordisk, and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro, have added $339 billion in market cap this year, a sum greater than the value of all but 18 companies in the S&P 500. Those gains are taking a bite out of other sectors. The S&P Food & Beverage Select Industry Index has declined 12 percent over the past three months. Shares of Kraft Heinz are down 13 percent over the same period. Hershey is down 19 percent, while Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have shed 9 percent and 13 percent, respectively.” In October, Walmart U.S. chief executive John Furner said that the retail giant had seen “a slight change” in food purchasing habits of people taking Ozempic and other weight loss drugs compared to people who aren’t.

  • Pharmacy and Clubs/Warehouse categories will benefit from increased prescription activity.

  • Fitness and Wellness brands have already responded to the trend. WWD Beauty Reports that Equinox launched a fitness program specifically for members taking weight loss drugs. In a statement, the company noted customer’s concern over muscle degradation, a common side effect of AODs.

  • Beauty brands and Med Spas are responding to “Ozempic Face,” the gaunt, sagging, and prematurely aged appearance in facial skin that is often a second-order effect of the weight loss drugs. BOF reports that searches for bronzing products, which create more of a healthy all-over glow, are up 33 percent since last year while med spas are experiencing increased demand for Sculptra and other volumizing treatments.

Introducing Vitality Retail

What is emerging as we trace the market connections is a new category, Vitality Retail (or Life Positive Retail). Vitality Retail is an aggregation of individual retail categories including, Beauty, Fitness-Wellness, and Pharmacy, as well as healthcare services, and some elements of Grocery. We predict a multifaceted collection of goods and services encompassing Medical Spas staffed with doctors who can prescribe GLP-1 medications, administer injectables fillers, and other beauty and health treatments, fitness centers with retail outlets, nutrition services and prescriptive groceries, and cosmetic and beauty products to maximize the benefits of weight loss.

That’s the good news. The less-good news is that the gains will likely fall to the largest retailers who are best positioned to consolidate assets either through restructuring, innovation, or acquisition to dominate this novel retail channel. We already see signs of this retail future in the healthcare ambitions of Amazon, Walmart, and CVS. Vitality Grocery would be a tweak on existing supply chains and delivery practices of the mega-retail brands. Fitness-Wellness is more of a stretch and might be best served through an acquisition. A brand like Peloton, a distressed asset with strong brand equity could grow serving a broad audience, including the Ozempic Economy consumer. We see beauty, footwear, and all forms of fitness and sportswear wrapped into the Vitality Retail panoply.

The drivers behind the demand for weight loss medications are complex encompassing health, psychological and emotional. We’re not ignoring them, nor any of the negative consequences of these medications. We are not experts in the many layers and complexity of the issue of wellbeing and vanity.

We are casting a wide future lens based on the retail industry to explore the potential upside of a powerful trend. We encourage you to do the same as you look to your business’s future identifying the possible impacts of the Ozempic Economy.

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Inditex and Mango Look to the U.S. for Growth Thu, 02 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

In not-so-breaking news: Inditex and Mango look to the U.S. for growth. Mango is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the brand is booming. And it’s not just about its stores. Online also soared to an all-time high of approximately $1.1 billion, which accounted for around a third of the group’s total revenues. International business was 77 percent of Mango’s total revenues last year and for the first time, its U.S. business was one of Mango’s top five markets in terms of sales.

Mango is aiming to make the U.S. its third-largest market internationally and has ambitious plans following its latest stellar financial update. Inditex is opening 192 new stores, refurbishing, or enlarging its current estate, and upgrading its ecommerce operation, with a 5 percent space increase forecast annually over the next two years.

Spice Girl Collaboration

Mango recently announced a new collaboration with LA-based Spice Girl-turned-designer Victoria Beckham on a collection of slip dresses, knitwear, and accessories. The Spanish retailer described the new line as “a perfect blend of classic British luxury” with prices expected to be higher than Mango’s typical offering but still a fraction of the retail price compared with items from Beckham’s own brand, which she launched in 2008.

Beckham said in a recent interview with WWD that she had opted to work with Mango to “speak to a wider audience in a way that feels relevant to my brand and retains my aesthetic and DNA.” The Victoria Beckham x Mango capsule follows previous collaborations with LA-based lifestyle brand Simon Miller and European influencer Camille Charrière and supports Mango’s new Strategic Plan, called 4E: ‘Elevate, Expand, Earn and Empower.’

Mango Targets U.S. Growth

Mango’s global ambition is to open as many as 500 new stores by 2026 in key locations including the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Germany, the U.K., Poland, India and in its domestic Spanish market. That number includes 30 additional stores across North America, making the market its third largest.

“In a very competitive environment, Mango has managed to significantly increase its sales, achieving the best results in the company’s history,” CEO Toni Ruiz said. The company invested over $200 million last year, mainly in new stores and improved logistics and distribution centers. In all, it opened 130 new stores in 2023 and reformatted another 80, as it reached around 2,700 outlets in a total of 115 markets worldwide.

About 20 of the 130 stores Mango opened in 2023 were in the U.S. where it ignited expansion in May 2022 with a New York flagship store followed by expansion in Florida and further store openings in Texas, Georgia, and California. “Something has changed. Americans now have a different and better perception of European brands,” Ruiz said in an interview last year coinciding with the Spanish brand’s fresh focus on the U.S. as it shifted its growth strategy away from the Chinese market.

Mango Profits Soar

In its latest results, Mango reported net profits rose to $188.1 million, well above the $88.5 million achieved in 2022 and ahead of its own forecast, while its gross margin approached 60 percent in 2023 with the company carrying no net debt. Mango said that its sales had risen by 15 percent last year to exceed its forecast of $3.28 billion attributing its strong performance on party wear and fashion apparel for upscale shoppers less sensitive to higher price points. That focus also helped it differentiate from many of the international fashion discounters.” For many items, prices have not increased, but the overall price mix of our collection has,” Ruiz said. He also said through careful inventory control the company had reduced the amount of merchandise that it had to discount.

The plan is for Mango to reach total annual sales of nearly $4.4 billion and double its net profit by 2026. Ruiz also confirmed that Mango does not have any plans to list on the stock market and will not need new investors to fund the growth strategy that will likely cost the retailer in the region of $650 million.

Inditex Invests in Its Future

Not to be outdone, Zara-brand owner Inditex recently said that it would invest nearly $2 billion to bolster its logistics backbone amid strong sales growth that sent its share price up nearly 12 percent in the year to date. The Spanish fashion group said that it would invest the money in distribution centers over the next two years to capitalize on opportunities to boost European apparel and footwear sales.

Sales increased 8.6 percent year-on-year to $11.1 billion in the three months to January 31 this year — an acceleration from the previous quarter in part because the company has been gradually raising prices while shifting its emphasis to more upscale designs.

Chief executive Óscar García Maceiras hailed the importance of Inditex’s “rigorous” cost control in the past year as expenses increased at a lower percentage rate than sales growth and, in the final quarter, net income climbed by 23.5 percent to $1.4 billion.

In addition to the $1.9 billion spent on logistics, the retailer said it would also invest the same amount again this year in opening 192 new stores, refurbishing or enlarging its current estate, and upgrading its ecommerce operation, with a 5 percent space increase forecast annually over the next two years.

“The company thought it should add muscle for future expansion, for future growth,” Marcos López, Inditex’s capital markets director, told analysts on a call and said that the logistics investment will create new distribution centers in Spain for Zara, the Bershka brand, and footwear, as well as expanding an existing Zara hub in the Netherlands. The projects are expected to be operational by the second half of 2025.

While Zara has roughly 5,700 stores in more than 90 countries, most of its merchandise passes through Spanish distribution centers before reaching the shops or being distributed online.

No Stopping the Spanish

The performances of Inditex and Mango outperform Swedish rival H&M, which has changed leadership and is now looking to boost margins in a bid to get its performance back on track.

Spain’s apparel retailers seem to have scored better compared with their U.S. mass-market fashion competitors by finding that narrow niche between everyday fashion-forward and ubiquitous trendy. They are also not wedded to short-term trends or thinking. With North America now firmly in their sites, we expect to see more of both brands as they continue their upward trajectory.

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What the Failure of Pirch Says About Experiential Retailing Wed, 01 May 2024 10:00:00 +0000

When it first opened and spread its stores across major metropolitan areas around the country, Pirch was the talk of all retailing. A well-designed, interactive shopping environment, it was the poster child for what came to be known as experiential retailing. It was going to take over the entire industry before not too long. The failure of Pirch is now the talk of the retail world, and the conversation is about what its demise means for the industry’s future. Pirch was the future of retail…until it wasn’t.

Pirch joins a list of once-promising retailers like Home Depot Expo, Sears Great Indoors, Showfield’s, and Incredible Universe (from Radio Shack) that tried to explode the shopping experience into a … well, experience, with a huge scale and overpowering product presentation. All are long gone.

The Birth of Pirch

It all seemed so exciting back in 2009 when the company opened its first retail store – they liked to call it a showroom – featuring kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures, major appliances, and all kinds of related products. Many of the sinks, tubs, and showers had real running water and shoppers could make appointments to use them after hours, though we’re not sure how many actually did.

The presentation was elegant, exciting and – back before the word became obnoxious and overused – “immersive.” Pretty quickly Pirch got new funding from private equity – of course, it’s what startups do. And with Catterton’s money, it expanded to ten locations, including on the east coast in the Noho/Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan and at the Garden State Plaza shopping center in that retail mecca of Paramus, NJ. Its high-profile launches even included the late rent-a-celebrity iconoclast Iris Apfel posting a picture of herself on Pinterest in a suds-filled tub.

I saw these locations (but not Iris), though I never got to any of the amazingly handsome California stores. They were also located in highly-priced retail spaces, and in retrospect, maybe too highly-priced for what was being sold.

Falling Off Its Perch

Maybe a year later, maybe a little bit more, Pirch suddenly pulled back, closing everything but six locations in Southern California which it continued to operate until last month’s closing announcement. At first, Pirch put up the good front saying it wasn’t going away. On its website in March it posted:  “As of Wednesday, March 20th, Pirch is temporarily closing all our showrooms through this weekend. This is a pause of business to give management the opportunity to complete a go-forward plan. We are navigating through various options. We take this situation very seriously and are working diligently to resolve it. We appreciate your patience while we work to find a path forward. We intend to share the go-forward plans sometime next week.”

Of course, that next week has come and went and finally in mid-April Pirch filed for chapter 7 liquidation, a complete shutdown of its entire business. Well, almost complete because we are now entering the legal portion of the story. The Orange County Register newspaper reported in late March that Pirch was being sued by two of its landlords for $850,000 in back rent. It also said that high-end appliance brand Sub-Zero was suing it for $4.22 million in unpaid invoices. And more recently have come reports that American Express wants its money too, to the tune of $33 million…which is a lot of charge card slips.

Pirch Post-Mortem?

What went wrong? Certainly, those leases had to be killers and hard to justify. When Pirch made a sale, it was a big one, $50,000 or more for a new kitchen or a couple of bathrooms. But how many of those sales did it actually make? The stores featured very little in the way of take-with merchandise that a walk-in shopper in these high-traffic areas could buy, perhaps just to come away with something impulsive or as a way to get started with a longer-term, larger relationship with Pirch. We obviously never saw its cost structure or SG&A but one has to think it was an expensive place to run. Immersiveness only goes so far.

So, Pirch joins a list of once-promising retailers like Home Depot Expo, Sears Great Indoors, Showfield’s, and Incredible Universe (from Radio Shack) that tried to explode the shopping experience into a…well, experience, with a huge scale and overpowering product presentation. All are long gone.

As such, they are poster children for lessons on being careful about jumping onto the next latest, greatest thing in retail. Retailers have tried on everything from smaller scales with interactive devices like smart dressing room mirrors and informational kiosks to these full-tilt-boogie stores-as-amusement-parks. Very few of them seem to have worked…in fact, it’s hard to pick one that has.

It’s why all this latest brouhaha about AI and what it can do for the physical shopping experience has to be taken in stride. Shoppers are not going to don bulky headgear to walk around virtually in actual stores. That’s just not going to happen. The Star Trek Holodeck remains several retail lifetimes away no matter how fast the technology evolves.

Retail will eventually discover which in-store technologies actually work, just as they are finally figuring out how to sell online. But it’s going to take some time. In the meanwhile, the in-person shopping process is still going to be very similar to what it’s been for generations. Not quite business as usual…but certainly nothing close to business as unusual either

Full disclosure: when I first saw Pirch I was beyond excited and really thought it would work. I was wrong. So was Pirch.

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Micro-dosing to Malnutrition: A Diet Culture Shift Tue, 30 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +0000

There is a deep, dark secret consumers hide about packaged foods in CPG land: the amount of furtive, guilty snacking that goes on when the package of fill-in-the-blank (Oreos, Lay’s, Entenmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Peanut M&Ms) wakes us up at three in the morning demanding to be eaten. We heard this over and over again when we were conducting the hypnosis-based research which resulted in the 100-Calorie Pack series for Nabisco. What is CPG doing about the latest diet culture shift and the American obesity crisis?

It’s a Faustian choice. Our relationship with sweet treats can evolve into a personal choice between what we want to do and what we know we ought to do. It’s not rocket science to acknowledge that this struggle is the mechanism through which diabetes, heart disease, vascular diseases, and high blood pressure dominate our world. They enable the growth of the diet industry, fitness apps, and countless weight loss products. At the core of this diet sector are rocket fuel-propelling, billion-dollar unhealthful brands.

Diet Culture Shift

This comment was ubiquitous: “I don’t trust myself with the product. I have to bring myself home from the grocery store, but I don’t have to bring the Oreos home.” The wash-rinse-repeat cycle of fear and self-loathing was a constant across all fat, salt and/or chocolate-infused categories, along with the short-lived resolution to keep said products out of the shopping cart.

I say short-lived because the siren call of the sweet baked goods, salty snacks, candy and ice cream aisles becomes undeniable after a few weeks of “being good.” Our teeter-totter of impulse purchases moves from the joy of indulgent satiation to fear and then guilt. As it turns out, we’re not very good with deprivation but we definitely learn how to manage guilt. So, good intentions aside, the temptation of the portion-controlled tiny cookie that makes it feel safe to bring back into the cupboard is irresistible. It arrives in two packages at a time: the 100-calorie iteration for mom and the full-on calorie-packed ones for the kids.

But wait a minute. The snack syndrome starts in early childhood: Consumers guiltlessly insinuate the sweet reward cycle into their children’s after-school ritual, three Oreos and a glass of milk. As adults, we are both victims and perpetrators reinforcing an appetite that benefits from youthful metabolism knowing full well that as adulthood looms, weight struggles arrive like clockwork.

It’s a Faustian choice. Our relationship with sweet treats can evolve into a personal choice between what we want to do and what we know we ought to do. It’s not rocket science to acknowledge that this struggle is the mechanism through which diabetes, heart disease, vascular diseases, and high blood pressure dominate our world. They enable the growth of the diet industry, fitness apps, and countless weight loss products. At the core of this diet sector are rocket fuel-propelling, billion-dollar unhealthful brands.

What If

We’ve known the negative health consequences of delicious indulgence for decades. We know the New Year’s resolution cycle.  We know the food industry’s holier-than-thou chant of variety and moderation is simply one more useless placebo.

But wait! What if?  As in what if there was – oh, I don’t know – a pill or a shot that interrupted our otherwise insatiable desire for naughty late-night sweets and savories? What if consumers could shoot themselves in their tummies and, hey! Presto!, they didn’t want more cookies or chips. They actually wanted fewer. One regular-sized Oreo would be enough, even more than enough. What if one chip becomes unappealing after the first bite? What if news of that shot was heard ‘round the world, spreading faster than word-of-mouth or a Reels clip?

How would CPG respond?  Well, some major CPG companies may decide to exit the food category altogether. P&G got out long ago, jettisoning Pringles and JIF among others. Unilever announced recently it was putting Ben & Jerry’s up for sale, along with Magnum and Hellman’s.

So that’s one hypothesis. And here comes private equity to the rescue, gobbling up the brands to create a new market structure and keep snack addiction alive and well.

Another potential outcome is well-documented: Smaller portions and packages, higher prices at the other end of the scale for people who can afford to pay more for less. Of course, there’s the corollary theory: Huge “value packs” for those who can’t afford to participate in the eat less/eat better economic model propelling the forced march to obesity of that cohort.

Nutritional Dystopia

A fourth hypothesis for big food may be to acquire the rights to clone appetite-suppressing medicines once they are available in a powder or tablet form. Add them as taste-agnostic ingredients to their products, positioning this version of their cookies, chips, and ice creams as the “safe and better for you” brands –at a premium.

My colleague and healthcare practice leader Len Tacconi considers an emerging marketspace based on his leadership tenures at Weight Watchers and HMR. He wonders about a straightforward and quite nasty hypothesis. What if we are now evolving into a bifurcated consumer market? On one side, the status quo of those unable to afford the value-add of routine appetite suppression and thus remain unhealthy and morbidly obese. Then there’s the group able to spend money to reduce – but not eliminate — their desire for fat, salt, and chocolate.

Asked another meta way, are we entering a new nutritional desert? One where appetites are sated by one perfect cookie at a time, not by one floret of broccoli. Salad bars are replaced by build-your-own-lick ice cream bars or one well-crafted, micro-mini customized Snickers bite. In short, a generation of consumers who are able to micro-dose their way to malnourishment.

Ok, this is an intellectual exercise, but it is based on a real concern about the food industry not facing the real facts pushing the snack industry to financial success with a nationwide obesity and poor health problem.

Regulating Wellbeing

A highly functioning society protects its citizens. Much of what we read about AI or environmental interventions to reduce climate change carries the caveat that some form of regulation or global oversight is required. My partners and I have even written our own white paper about a pathway forward on AI governance, in response to a call from the UN. However, there appear to be no guardrails in the American grocery stores or assertive actions among the CPG brands to reverse the obesity trends.  If they want a wake-up call, just look at what happened to the cigarette industry. When a bag of chips is priced at $15 maybe things will change.

We’ll leave for another day our opinion of what the mass embrace of appetite suppression means for fast food, bars, serious cuisine, and liquor brands. Our new relationship with food, booze, even friendship, and society are all about to go through something of a sea change. It’s a blip on the horizon now, but when we look carefully, it’s growing larger.

We need systemic changes. Something more than celebrities boasting “Ozempic face,” at prices no one can afford. It’s possible that Novo Nordisk will become the new PepsiCo. And how ironic is it that a company based in Denmark where 18 percent of the population is obese compared to 42 percent in the US?

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Postcards from Paris: Reflections on World Retail Congress 2024 Mon, 29 Apr 2024 10:00:00 +0000

Consider what happens when 800+ top-level retail and brand leaders gather annually to invoke the state of the world through the lens of the World Retail Congress.  It’s a chummy, low-keyed group focused on high-level strategy and operations of global retailing. No grandstanding. No drama. It’s a deliberate leadership vibe. And let’s face it, where better to discuss the future of the industry than in historic Paris which is fundamentally a retail town?

Shopping, real shopping is instinct-based. It comes from the side of the head that is literally not rational. Now we try to make it rational by comparing and weighing costs and thinking through the pros and cons, but in the end, if you don’t make it feel like an important choice, an emotional choice, she won’t go for it. Even in a convenience store. Those retailers who understand this, and all the cues to help it along, win.

With a theme that memes this summer’s Olympics, High Performance was more about getting back to the basics and re-righting the global retail juggernaut. You know you’re not at an inward-looking event when the content is informed by international politics, the global economy, ongoing wars, and climate change. If you’re paying attention, you’ll walk away with a broad overview of the world. And wherever you are on the planet, it’s a tough time for retail and digital transformation is an absolute essential.

Heard in the Halls

Although largely reined in by corp comm and investor relations teams, there were genuine glimmers of candor and personal insights from retail leaders. We listened for what was new and surprising.  So, in no particular order, here are quick sound bites that gave us pause.

  • We’re in a revolution and AI is today’s guillotine.
  • With elections in India, the U.S., and the U.K., and wars in Ukraine and the Mideast, global retail is on a balance beam.
  • The consumer is the only product.
  • Change yourself before you are changed.
  • We are navigating a more complicated world of contradictions.
  • Branded data.
  • We don’t need a map we need a compass.
  • Boring retail is death.
  • GenAI is extreme design.
  • Don’t confuse winning with success.
  • The power of simulation.
  • Busy is the new stupid.

Moments in Time

International retail leaders weighed in on their challenges and gave updates on running their businesses not-as-usual considering the world situation. Although sticking to their scripts, a few moments emerged that revealed the true character of these icons powering iconic retail brands.

  • Thierry Garnier, CEO of Kingfisher (international home improvement) says perfection is a disease. He said he learned this life-changing lesson in his pre-Kingfisher career in, of all places, China. This world-experienced leader has that refreshing spark that motivates any team to follow him. He takes inspiration from Asia and reminds us that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Persona: Confident and charming.
  • Judith McKenna, former CEO of Walmart’s international division, says talent is not a strategy. Effective leaders have a duty of care. HQ – Hope Quotient — is the fourth Q to add to Emotional, Intellectual and Resilience Quotients. She also said about careers in retail, “Where else can you excel and rise to the top without any qualifications?” We’ll let you interpret that as you may. Persona: Empathetic and empowering.
  • Michael Ward, Harrod’s CEO lives and breathes experiential luxury running an iconic house of brands for an exclusive inner circle of customers. Rather than transactions, 205-year-old Harrod’s is built on personal service and relationships. They invest in customer-facing technologies serving communities of passion. The Harrod’s men’s club in Shanghai, the Residence, is one such exclusive community. Persona: Noblesse oblige.
  • Jean-Marc Bellaiche, CEO of Printemps founded in 1865, is refreshing and reinvigorating this venerable store by repainting the brand a vibrant springtime grass green. And in other modern moves, he has placed a media lab in full view, and the 7th floor under a 19th-century industrial dome is an entire department for resale, upcycling, and circularity named Second Printemps — with Kelly bags, Dries von Noten, Chloe, and other luxury designers galore. Bellaiche says previous owners leave notes for new owners. Try this one “It’s the dress I wore when I got divorced.” He has exported the brand outside of France – to Doha and New York City. Persona: Ernest and contemporary.
  • Alexandre Bompard, CEO of hypermarket Carrefour, launched the first completely accessible store for people with disabilities. Partnering with the Paralympic Games, he has put a stake in the ground for people with special needs. Carrefour is still on the journey to make the customer experience more seamless. Crisis is becoming the new normal. And decisions are made mindful of the macro issues of geopolitics, inflation, and climate change. Persona: Responsive and responsible.
  • Sephora CEO Guilliaume Motte walks the talk: He underwent a tech-based skin evaluation from a Sephora care expert. Inclusive and accessible, Sephora measures success on the Love Meter. He oversees 3000 stores in 35 international markets with 52,000 employees, 70% of whom are women. Motte champions a world where everyone can celebrate their own beauty. Sephora is a global poster child for empowerment and collaboration. On trend, hot brands on social media displays are lures for customers. Persona: Energetic and advocate for social justice.
  • Janet Hayes, CEO of Crate and Barrel, after a long prelude from German parent company Otto on its corporate virtues, shared that CBs with designer desks are responsible for driving 40 percent higher revenues. Her mantra? Help customers build a home with purpose. Persona: Diligent and focused.
  • Ethan Chernofsky, SVP of Marketing, has a positive attitude and says that stores are valuable but then again are undervalued. He says all channels have unique advantages and disadvantages of course, and it’s not about how to make a digital experience in a store, it’s to deliver on the reality that people love to shop. Persona: Optimistic and analytical.
  • Ingka Group (Ikea) Chief People Officer Ulrika Biesèrt says giving people belonging, purpose and meaning is the retail giant’s North Star when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff. They give workers more influence than ever to empower them. Building psychologically safe organizations where people can be themselves, regardless of identity, is a superpower. Persona: Resilient and steady.
  • Nicolas Houzé, CEO of Galeries Lafayette supports the new reality that retailers have to adapt to the way customers want to use stores, not the opposite. Local customers are the first and foremost, not shoehorned into a global brand experience. Expansion is on the move for this Belle Epoque icon founded in 1893 with seven stores outside of France with five more in the works.  Persona: Deliberate and ambitious.
  • Brand President of Europe for Claire’s, Richard Flint, is playing with the metaverse and content bringing Gen Z’s favorite treasure trove into stores like Kohl’s and Galeries Lafayette. He stands for making self-expression accessible to Alphas in the shadow of Zs as role models. Persona: Cool and chill.
  • The lone CEO wearing casual, comfortable clothes, James Reinhart of thredUP was an unscripted, candid breath of fresh air. Younger and slightly laconic – but super sophisticated about his business (Harvard MBA) — he lives his mission to make the world a better place. Purpose-driven, Reinhart gives his customers the agency to choose to make a difference. And he is spot on with next gens’ passion for thrifting as a personal discovery, supporting the individual as a retail brand, having choice, and avoiding the landfill Persona: Authentic and convincing.

Customer Experience by Design

Full disclosure: TRR was on stage at WRC with a candid conversation about delivering an exceptional customer experience through the lens of design. How do space and place create a great experience or a dismal one? Three world-class architects/designers shared their insights on how to embed design the infrastructure of a customer experience. Kevin Roche, Founder of Roche Design Strategy is a long-time master planner for LVMH around the world; Ella Birnbaum, Managing and Creative Director at Malherbe; and Ed Hofmann, Partner of Design and Strategy for ASG-Chute Gerdeman defined and described how store design can transform a transaction into a relationship. 

They were in solidarity in measuring the success of retail design in delivering projects on time and on budget, by making customers happy, and by valuing that humans are emotionally driven animals. Hospitality and restaurant design do it better than retail by creating a relationship with their customer much faster than retail does. They are more responsive, more intimate, and more thoughtful in their environments Those lines are blurring, however. Malherbe creates a retail space that is a fusion of technology and real-time shopping at Sephora focused on younger digitally savvy customers.

What is the biggest mistake retailers make when it comes to design? Roche says they need to have courage and take risks. And Hofmann sums it up, “Shopping, real shopping is instinct based. It comes from the side of the head that is literally not rational. Now we try to make it rational by comparing and weighing costs and thinking through the pros and cons, but in the end if you don’t make it feel like an important choice, an emotional choice, she won’t go for it. Even in a convenience store. Those retailers that understand this, and all the cues to help it along, win.”

World Retail Congress 2024: Unexpected Moments

The unexpected moments at any conference are the ones that can often be the most memorable because they are a surprise. Conversations that lead to collabs, partnerships, and hatch big ideas. Although there are many, here are a few unexpected encounters we had at WRC.

  • Susan Viscon, VP & Executive Director, Path Ahead Ventures, REI oversees REI Path Ahead Ventures launched in 2021. It was created in response to the fact that the estimate that only one percent of founders in the outdoor industry identify as a person of color. REI has built a strong community of founders, partnering with more than 70 of them, providing nearly $700,000 in grants and investing $4 million across 23 companies.  Impressive!
  • Eric Roosen Co-founder of Netherlands-based Forebel makes sea socks made from organic cotton and recycled nylon that comes from discarded fishing nets and other nylon waste. A passionate advocate for our oceans, he says fishing nets, often left behind in, are harmful to marine life. It’s a win/win: every purchase of a pair of Seas Socks helps protect our oceans and marine life. He is also in partnership with a European Coachella-esque event to recycle all the plastic water bottles into new socks. An unsung hero for the planet.
  • Suzanne Long Chief Sustainability and Transformation Officer at Albertson’s says with about 275,000 frontline workers across 2,300 stores they are transforming associate engagement to drive real connection points among their associates, customers, and local communities. This echoes the U.S. Surgeon General’s report that our country is in an “epidemic of loneliness,” and she says their stores can be a place where people can find the connection, they both need and crave as humans. She says that they are also exploring the intersection of associate engagement and Albertson’s ESG strategy themed Recipe for Change, to see how connection to a larger purpose can improve business performance. A role model for empathy and empowerment.
  • Caroline Fabrigas, CEO of ScentMarketing, develops scent branding for companies like Wayfair (think bespoke candles). Her projects are innovative and far-ranging with exclusive fragrance branding and seamless diffusion services; she developed the fragrance diffusion for Christmas trees lining New York’s Fifth Avenue. She says that she helps merchants and brands elevate their in-store retail experience by using the invisible influencing power of scent marketing.  She adds that her clients notice that their customers linger longer in scented spaces, there can be an increase in the perceived value of a product or experience and scenting is known to enhance overall brand memorability and recall. An innovative entrepreneur.
  • Cyndi Rhoades is the Founder of Worn Again Technologies and Co-founder of World Circular Textiles Day. An ardent advocate for the circular economy, she says circular textiles are making good progress by advancing her polymer recycling technology, which recaptures and restores polyester and cellulose from end-of-use textiles. The pilot plant site is in Winterthur, Switzerland. Back in the UK, Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems is part of a government grant driving the transition from manual to automated textile sorting (for non-reusable textiles) and a major stepping-stone to enable fiber-to-fiber recycling. She also has a collaboration with the new textiles division of TOMRA, a global leader in advanced collection and sorting systems. She is encouraged that circularity is starting to take hold beyond talking to reality. A heroine for the planet.
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