What Fashion Retail Professionals Need to Know Today

BoF Careers provides essential sector insights for fashion professionals in retail this month, to help you decode fashion’s retail landscape.

A fashion retail professional at work.
A fashion retail professional at work. (Pexels)

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion professionals working in retail, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distills business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Explore global job opportunities in retail on BoF Careers today, from a store manager at Dover Street Market and a store manager at Stine Goya to a sales assistant at Self Portrait or an inventory controller at Issey Miyake.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for retail professionals today:

1.Rental and Subscription Boxes: Which Retail Innovations Have a Future?

In the 2010s, investors poured hundreds of millions of dollars into start-ups that promised to reinvent how people shop for clothing. Stitch Fix and Rent the Runway were at the vanguard of one strain of this movement, popularising the idea that a subscription model could work in fashion. Though they had distinct approaches — boxes of clothes handpicked by stylists for Stitch Fix, rented luxury fashion for Rent the Runway — both held out the promise of infinite choices, delivered to customers’ doorsteps.

The concept of the “endless closet” circa 2018 was a good deal for consumers, but expensive and difficult to execute. Meanwhile, demand isn’t anywhere near high enough to justify those costs, or to meet investors’ expectations. While losses have narrowed at both companies, neither is profitable. But customers who try rental, subscription boxes and other new-model retail have always complained about turnaround time and low inventory of desirable brands and styles. They won’t put up with further cuts to service.

2.Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Jolie Opens Its First Store

For Atelier Jolie’s first permanent retail home, founder Angelina Jolie chose an address with a storied past. The Oscar-winning actress’s new fashion venture opened its doors Tuesday at 57 Great Jones Street in New York’s NoHo neighbourhood, inside a former carriage house previously owned by Andy Warhol and which served as Jean-Michel Basquiat’s studio and home. In the years since, the 6,600-square foot building has been a site for street artists to paint with graffiti.

Jolie’s plans for the location are ambitious: she hired architects Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski to design a three-floor, 6,600-square-foot space that’s part retail store, part cafe and part community centre. Customers can browse seasonless fashion, sample food and drink from a diverse array of chefs or consult with designers on one-of-a-kind pieces.

3. Why Retailers Are Bracing for a Bleak Holiday Season

Shoppers in London.
Shoppers are finally rejecting sticker shock as they see their savings dwindle and credit card debt accumulate; consumer confidence dropped to a five-month low in October. (Getty Images)

While analysts predict an uptick in sales from last year over the holiday season, the rate of growth will be slower and the overall volume of goods sold will likely be smaller. It’s a departure from the surprisingly resilient consumer economy seen in the US — fashion’s biggest market. The US National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales to grow between 3 percent and 4 percent this year, to about $960 billion, which accounts for inflation. That reflects a deceleration from last year’s 9 percent rise and 2021′s explosive 12.7 percent growth.

A modest increase will not be a reflection of heightened demand but rather an effect of continued inflation. In other words, shoppers will turn out this season and stomach the higher prices, but only because they have to. And they certainly won’t be treating themselves to extra gifts.

4. Farfetch Seeks ‘White Knight’ to Avert Collapse, Sources Say

Insolvency is not out of the question for Farfetch as the company explores a range of options to keep its business afloat amid a weakened cash position, The Business of Fashion has learned. The luxury e-tailer had more than $400 million in cash on its balance sheet at the end of June. But its financial obligations have mounted.

Farfetch has around $2.8 billion in financial obligations that include convertible notes, according to estimates from Bernstein. That includes over $1 billion in term loans, including a $200 million credit facility it took out in September. In an October report, Bernstein analyst Luca Solca spelled out the urgency of Farfetch’s short-term financial situation. “It is debatable — from our analysis — that Farfetch has enough liquidity to get to the year end as a going concern,” Solca said in the report.

5. Major Brands Fret as ‘Dupes’ Lure Holiday Shoppers

As the holiday shopping season gets under way, top-sellers from Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch, Birkenstock and Estée Lauder’s Tom Ford perfume are competing for shoppers and their growing love affair with TikTok-popularised “dupes” — sufficiently similar replicas of higher-priced products.

CRZ Yoga’s $32 high-waisted yoga pants resemble Lululemon’s popular $98 Align leggings — and the company is doing brisk business, selling an average 88,633 pairs of the leggings a month and earning around $2.84 million in average monthly revenue, according to data from e-commerce analytics firm Jungle Scout. CRZ, which according to its website is owned by a Hong Kong trading company, did not respond to a request for comment.

6. At Lululemon, Being Black Is ‘Off-Brand’

The experience of the employees who spoke with BoF encapsulates some minorities’ biggest fears regarding how the fashion industry’s diversity efforts would play out after the spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement died down. (Shutterstock)

On a slow day last winter, a couple of employees at Lululemon’s Hyde Park location in Chicago were chatting when two women walked in. “Oh, this is off-brand,” one of the women said to the other after being greeted by the store’s staff, the employees recalled. Both customers were white; all of the store’s sales associates were Black. It wasn’t the first time Hyde Park employees had been told they didn’t match the yoga-inspired apparel brand’s aesthetic.

[…] The experience of Lululemon employees who spoke with BoF encapsulates some minorities’ biggest fears regarding how the fashion industry’s diversity efforts would play out after the spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement died down. Rather than providing a platform for minority employees, those working in or alongside the IDEA department risked being ostracised if they criticised the company’s approach to race, several former Lululemon employees told BoF.

7. Inside Fashion’s Music Merch Opportunity

Earlier this year, the creative duo behind streetwear label Broken Planet were asked to design a merch capsule for hip-hop festival Rolling Loud in Portugal, which featured Travis Scott, among others, as a headliner. The collection comprised of T-shirts and drop-shoulder hoodies featuring colourful graphics relating to three of the festival’s biggest acts: Scott, Playboy Carti and Meek Mill. The collaboration allowed the festival to benefit from the brand’s clout among hip-hop fanatics and a scarcity model.

Broken Planet’s collection was a far cry from how music merch is typically created, where artists print graphics on cheap T-shirts that end up being forgotten or used as pyjamas. Today, artists and festival organisers are levelling up their merch by tapping legitimate names in fashion and streetwear, to not only transform their merch into valuable fashion pieces but also to be able to charge more for each shirt or jumpsuit.

8. The Rise of the Fast Fashion Converts

A woman in a white suit is hunched over in a chair with her face propped by her hand.
Why Small Brands Are Investing in Quality (Another Tomorrow)

Influencer Andrea Cheong realised she was fed up with fast fashion when she found herself standing in front of her bulging closet everyday asking, “Why don’t I have anything to wear?” That question would become the title of her book, published earlier this year, detailing how she overhauled her social media-fuelled shopping habits that had left her with a closet full of stuff she didn’t want, in favour of a more mindful form of consumption, focused on quality, sustainability and value.

[…] To be sure, the fashion market is still largely propelled by shoppers indexing for a mix of cost and clout — supporting both ultra-fast-fashion brands like Shein and mass luxury labels like Louis Vuitton. But the global economic slowdown and growing climate concerns have converged with the “quiet luxury” trend, giving rise to an emerging group of critical consumers who crave quality as well as a sense of luxury. These young shoppers also see quality as intrinsically linked to more environmentally responsible and ethical means of production.

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