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ICYMI: Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on retail, the UK MP report on sustainability, surveillance for service

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Retail is broken. Apple’s Angela Ahrendts has a plan [Vogue Business]
  • What we’ve learned from MPs’ interim report on the sustainability of the UK fashion industry [The Industry]
  • Is surveillance the future of service? [BoF]
  • Puma unveils a self-lacing shoe [Retail Dive]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Lancôme partners with Alibaba on AR game [Retail Dive]
  • Warby Parker’s new app combines AR and face mapping so you can try on virtual glasses [The Verge]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Is the beauty industry doing enough to tackle plastic pollution? [The Independent]
  • Paris aims to be ‘Sustainable Capital of Fashion’ by 2024 [WWD]
  • Farfetch to drop fur from collections [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Why fashion brands are launching podcasts [BoF]
  • Sweaty Betty launches empowerment campaign alongside new manifesto [Fashion Network]
  • American Eagle hands creative control to Gen Zers for spring campaign [Marketing Dive]
PRODUCT
  • “Athleisure makeup” is mostly marketing, but if you like working out in lipstick, go for it [Quartzy]
  • Justin Bieber just launched a new clothing line called Drew [Fashionista]
  • Glossier becomes the latest beauty brand to diversify its shade range [Fashion Network]
  • Stella McCartney redefines sustainable eyewear with new collection [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Gerry Weber International files for insolvency [Fashion Network]
  • Why are Chinese tourists shopping less? [Jing Daily]
  • Moncler says ‘Genius’ strategy worked [BoF]
CULTURE
  • Fashionista’s new survey suggests that bullying is still alive and well in the fashion industry [Fashionista]

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What you missed: Fashion-tech education, Burberry’s see-now buy-now plans, Dior bags on WeChat

Burberry see-now buy-now fashion
Burberry’s first see-now buy-now campaign

One of the most interesting things about taking a decent summer break, and particularly one in August, is observing what happens during that time. Traditionally still the month that most of Europe closes down, it is also the time just before fashion weeks begin again and therefore the perfect opportunity for quiet on the news front full stop. We’ve certainly noticed that with regards to digital campaigns or tech stories over the past six years that Fashion & Mash has been running. And yet, not so much this year…

August 2016 proved busier than ever in terms of news in this space, ranging from Burberry’s new see-now buy-now campaign to Kate Spade’s wearables launch, Dior’s WeChat moves and various new high-tech store openings. What that does of course is continue to prove the relevancy of this world to the industry’s growth and success.

Read on for a full breakdown of what you might have missed…

PS. We’ve rebranded our regular “Digital Snippets” series to this “What you missed” feature in a bid to bring you a broader range of relevant stories, as well as a breakdown by category to make your consumption that much easier. Note: this version includes a month’s worth of links – normal weekly service will now resume. 

PPS. A new must-read site/newsletter in this space is LeanLuxe – edited by Paul Munford, and providing “stories, analysis, and opinion on the world of modern luxury business”.


TOP STORIES
  • Fashion needs a more robust approach to technology education [BoF]
  • Burberry reveals campaign it hopes will woo shoppers to first ‘straight-to-consumer’ collection [The Drum]
  • Dior in first with luxury WeChat handbags [China Daily]
  • Consumers prefer see now, buy now, wear now model, says Verdict [The Industry]

BUSINESS
  • Luxury armageddon: Even Chanel takes a hit as sales and profits plunge [Trendwalk]
  • Gucci among world’s hottest fashion brands, while Prada cools [BoF]
  • Prada sales slide as weak demand weighs on luxury-goods maker [Bloomberg]
  • Macy’s to shutter 100 stores as online players pressure brick-and-mortar [WWD]
  • How Demna Gvasalia is revolutionising Balenciaga from the inside out [Vogue]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Burberry sponsors Snapchat Lens for My Burberry Black launch [The Industry]
  • For Kit and Ace, Snapchat doubles as a TV channel and customer service assistant [Digiday]
  • Nike and others dive into Instagram Stories: why marketers already like it better than Snapchat [AdAge]
  • While some retailers ignore Snapchat, others are killing it with lens and geofilter ads [AdWeek]
  • Snapchat found a way to bring its ads to the real world [QZ]
  • Burberry becomes first luxury brand to personalise on Pinterest [Marketing Week]
  • Grindr officially gets into the menswear game [Fashionista]
  • Chatbots are thriving on the Kik chat app [Business Insider]

RETAIL
  • Westfield’s new World Trade Center mall puts in-store tech centre stage [Glossy]
  • Sephora’s Chicago store has new, high-tech look [Chicago Tribune]
  • After digital spree, retailers spending on stores again [WWD]
  • Malls aren’t dying. They’re changing [Racked]
  • Retailers look to high tech to engage visitors to their store [Journal Sentinel]
  • London is getting the first YouTube store, where online video stars can sell merchandise to the public [PSFK]
  • Retailers like J Crew are obsessed with data. (And it’s killing your shopping experience.) [LeanLuxe]
  • Neiman Marcus launches high-tech sunglass try-on mirror [WWD]

ADVERTISING
  • Watch Spike Jonze’s electrifying short film for Kenzo [Dazed]
  • Kate Hudson makes her new Fabletics spot ‘feel like you’re scrolling through her Instagram feed’ [AdWeek]
  • Cotton Inc.’s interactive video ad lets viewers determine how a day plays out [AdWeek]
  • L’Oreal celebrates diversity and targets men with new ‘Truly Yours’ positioning [The Drum]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Fashion’s fourth industrial revolution [BoF]
  • Kate Spade’s new wearable tech collection is fun and full of personality [Wareable]
  • Wearable technology: Amazon’s next big step? [Trendwalk]
  • Adidas ups athleisure-technology ante with Atlanta Speedfactory announcement [Trendwalk]
  • What 3D printing means for fashion [BoF]
  • Why STEM subjects and fashion design go hand in hand [The Conversation]
  • Athleta goes beyond wicking with new technical fabric [Glossy]
  • Cotton Inc. bonds with Nanotex on Dry Inside technology [WWD]
  • The MIT lab that’s quietly pioneering fashion for everyone [Co.Design]

START-UPS
  • Ignored by LVMH, Richemont, and Kering, modern luxury upstarts gain traction with Silicon Valley [LeanLuxe]
  • Eureka! John Lewis’ TrueStart deal to boost brave new tech world [Trendwalk]
  • This New York-based start-up accelerator is supporting the next generation of retail disruptors [Fashionista]
  • Topshop throws its weight behind wearables [Co.Design]
  • Start-ups in Target’s Techstars accelerator race to finish line [Star Tribune]
Categories
business e-commerce technology

Under Armour’s power performance: Athleisure & connected fitness

underarmour1

How important is ‘athleisure’ as a trend that’s impacting sales figures for sportswear companies? Well, sports brands never really own up to that. But the sales growth some of the big names are seeing suggests that it’s a real sales driver. Just look at Under Armour’s latest results.

The company released its Q4 figures this week, turning in an eye-popping 31% revenue rise to $1.17bn. Wow. You don’t get that from just selling to committed sports and fitness fanatics.

Under Armour is one of those companies that has really been benefitting from the athleisure trend and while yesterday’s upbeat news wasn’t all about sportswear as a lifestyle choice (rather than a sports one), the lifestyle factor obviously did loom large. Interestingly, lifestyle is giving a major boost to sports clothing sales. Where once upon a time all the sexy news was about footwear, now apparel is enjoying its time in the spotlight.

Apparel sales for Under Armour rose a massive 22.2% and at $864.8m in the three months to December 31 they obviously make up the biggest chunk of the firm’s revenue, driven by demand for training, running, golf and basketball duds. Obviously, you don’t see 20%-plus growth in each quarter for 25 consecutive quarters by just supplying clothes for active sports. That means a lot of people bought those training, running, golf and basketball pieces for working in, for relaxing, posing and partying in… as well as for getting fit.

womenshoe_UA

Footwear had a good quarter too though, with sales almost doubling to $166.9m as new running shoes and the signature Stephen Curry basketball line proved hugely popular. Again, you only have to look around any group of friends at work or off-duty to see how even the most high-performance shoes have transitioned from the track and court to the bar and office.

And accessories sales soared as well, rising 23% to $97.1m, driven primarily by new bags. Meanwhile online sales grew 25% in Q4 and now make up 36% of total Under Armour revenue, and international net revenues rose 70% (or 85% currency-neutral) to make up 12% of the total. That all helped net profit to rise 20.4% to $105.6m, or 48 cents per share.

Any negatives?

Can this impressive performance continue? Well, the firm expects revenue growth of 25% this year so, yes. That prediction obviously countered any worries investors may have had that the athleisure trend fuelling such explosive growth might end any time soon.

Some analysts and investors were concerned about reports that Under Armour is losing womenswear market share – a particularly disconcerting thought given that women are helping to drive the athleisure trend. The Wall Street Journal quoted data from SportScanInfo saying the company saw a 7.7% drop in womenswear sales in December (compared to a 6.6% rise for Nike). But Under Armour has countered this saying the data captured only represents 40% of its business (it doesn’t include wholesale or online sales, for instance).

Yet there are still some downsides in Under Armour’s performance. The company’s margin slipped in Q4 as it boosted inventory levels to ensure it could meet demand and keep shelves stocked. The negative aspect of this high inventory level is unsold product that ends up being marked down.

underarmour2

And lower margins make analysts nervous, especially when they’re already worried that a fashion trend (athleisure) fuelling massive sales growth could flip suddenly and become yesterday’s fashion news.

But is athleisure really a fashion trend any more or has it evolved into a true lifestyle phenomenon that’s a reflection of society’s increasing move away from formal clothing? I’m inclined to think the latter. In many ways it’s the logical conclusion of a trend that started over 50 years ago and I don’t think it’s going to go away, even when the fashion pendulum swings in another direction.

Future focus

So, assuming that athleisure is here to stay and that the firm’s power growth can continue (for a while at least), what will Under Armour be offering this year to make it happen?

CEO Kevin Plank said the firm will deliver new iterations of signature product across premium price points and distribution throughout this year. It’s doubling its “elevated running” offerings priced above $100 including the launch of its first smart shoe, SpeedForm Gemini 2 RE, and SpeedForm Slingshot, made with a 3D knitting process.

In apparel, it will debut two new HeatGear apparel cooling technologies, Microthread and CoolSwitch, while also launching a proprietary ColdGear insulation story called Reactor.

OK, a lot of people are going to buy into that sport-focused tech for nothing more vigorous than the walk to the bus stop. But the company is also going to offer plenty for the true fitness-focused community, not only with clothes and shoes, but via major developments in Connected Fitness.

Earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, it unveiled the new UA Record, the digital dashboard app for health & fitness, and a suite of new products led by Under Armour HealthBox, which it described as “the world’s first complete Connected Fitness system.”

And while all that can help consumers monitor their fitness, importantly, it can help Under Armour monitor its consumers too! That’s not as creepy as it sounds; the company isn’t watching us. But CEO Kevin Plank did say it could achieve a “more complete picture of [its] consumer”. He added: “We are establishing our data-driven math house that will provide us with real-time information to make better decisions and build even better products. More importantly, it will provide deeper insights, recommendations, and personalised content.”

So there you have it – something for everyone no matter how fitness-focused you are. As for me, I think I’ll stick to the hoodie and leggings for lounging around and watching TV…

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday