The apparel and textile business blog from Katie Smith
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M&S unveils new magazine style website
19 Feb 2014 16:26
The website promises to be "brighter, bolder, better"
Retailer Marks & Spencer has unveiled its new magazine style website, promising to be "brighter, bolder, better" with a raft of new ideas and inspiration for its customers.
The company, which is working to make online an important part of its business, has introduced outfit suggestions for different occasions, with larger product images, as well as more video content and detailed information on each item.
M&S will be hoping the new design freshens up its clothing business, which suffered yet another decline in sales in the third quarter.
Like-for-like general merchandise sales - which include clothing and footwear - fell 2.1% during the 13 weeks to 28 December, while total general merchandise sales slipped 1.1%.
Analysts have questioned how successful M&S' general merchandise strategy is, noting the pace of change for clothing needs to go "further and faster".
US speed skaters blame suits for poor start
18 Feb 2014 12:40
Under Armour has come up against increasing criticism after the US speed-skating team dropped its latest suits, which were designed especially for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Despite being proclaimed the world's fastest speed-skating suit, no US speed skater finished in the top five of the first six events. Instead, they blamed the outfits for compromising their performance.
The team will now revert back to Under Armour skin suits last used during the World Cup.
Adidas and H&M gain sustainable rankings
27 Jan 2014 17:24
Fashion and sportswear firms H&M and Adidas have made it onto a list of the most sustainable companies in the world.
Adidas Group was ranked eighth on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World list, unveiled last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Companies are scored on a list of 12 quantitative performance indicators, ranging from energy and water usage, to employee compensation and corporate tax strategy.
Over the last ten years, Adidas has improved its placement in the ranking - up from 17 last year and 38 in 2012.
Meanwhile, Swedish clothing retailer H&M came in at 64, up from 73 in 2013.
Say goodbye to posture problems
27 Jan 2014 14:49
Problems with posture are set to be a thing of the past, with the introduction of a T-shirt designed to make the wearer stand tall.
So how does it work? According to UpCouture, the French fashion firm behind the product, bands of elastic film sewn into the upper section of the top apply light pressure to remind the wearer to stand with his or her shoulders back.
The company made more than 30 various prototypes before the final product was reached.
The manufacturing process comprises several steps, including sewing and bonding together an extra-thin film to the garment.
The bonded fabric is then cut into five specific shapes for the stress points of the T-shirt. The final garment is assembled layer by layer, with the shapes placed on the appropriate parts of the T-shirt and then bonded together.
But this dream posture comes at a cost. Each T-shirt is priced at GBP105 (US$172.50), and is available in a range of sizes, colours and styles for men and women.
Activewear sales surge on celeb workout selfies
17 Jan 2014 14:00
Sales of George at Asda's Athletic Works fitness clothing range jumped 230% last week
With the likes of Kim Kardashian and Lucy Mecklenburgh sharing their gym habits via workout selfies, it's hard not to think about getting into shape this new year, and what to wear when working out.
According to George at Asda, 64% of shoppers last week started a fitness regime to shift their unwanted lumps and bumps.
With that, sales of the UK retailer's Athletic Works fitness clothing range jumped 230% in the week, and are increasing at a rate of 50% day-on-day.
Sales of stylish activewear have soared 119% in January year-on-year, with 70% of women admitting to wearing accessories and make-up such as lipstick during workouts - following in the footsteps of Taylor Swift.
And it's not just clothing that has benefited.
Sales of dumbells and yoga mats are up 106% this month as British consumers imitate workouts by celebrities such as Britney Spears. Treadmills and cross trainers, meanwhile, have seen sales shoot up by 132% so far in January.
US retailers forecast $3.4bn holiday fraud loss
09 Dec 2013 17:07
Holiday return fraud is likely to cost US retailers US$3.39bn this year, new research suggests.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 5.8% of holiday returns are expected to be fraudulent in 2013, up slightly from 4.6% last year.
Nearly all (94.8%) retailers surveyed said they have experienced the return of stolen merchandise in the last year, while 69% noted they have experienced the return of products purchased on fraudulent or stolen tender.
In addition, 29.3% found criminals using counterfeit receipts to return merchandise.
One of the biggest issues retailers faced was 'wardrobing' - the return of used, non-defective merchandise such as occasion wear.
To combat this, many companies have employed specific tactics, with 62.1% having been victims of wardrobing in 2013, down from 64.9% last year.
Burberry bags two British fashion awards
03 Dec 2013 13:21
Bailey was awarded menswear designer of the year for Burberry
Burberry won two awards at this year's British Fashion Awards. The luxury brand was awarded designer brand of the year, while newly-appointed CEO Christopher Bailey was named menswear designer of the year.
The event, which took place last night (2 December), was organised by the British Fashion Council (BFC).
The womenswear designer of the year accolade was awarded to Christopher Kane, while the honour of outstanding achievement in fashion was given to Terry and Tricia Jones. The newly-created international designer of the year award, meanwhile, went to Miuccia Prada for Prada.
Lady Amanda Harlech received the Isabella Blow award for fashion creator, in recognition of her creative inspiration and influence in the fashion industry.
Nicholas Kirkwood was named accessory designer of the year, Simone Rocha was awarded emerging womenswear designer, and design duo Agi & Sam received the emerging menswear designer award. The emerging accessory designer of the year was given to Sophia Webster for her footwear label.
In addition, JW Anderson was named the new establishment designer for 2013.
Cyber Monday crosses the Atlantic
02 Dec 2013 17:29
Cyber Monday - the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US when shoppers hit the internet to search for the best deals and discounts - has crossed the Atlantic to the UK.
An estimated GBP450m (US$736.5m) is set to spent online today (2 December), with more than 7.7m online transactions, according to figures released by Visa Europe - making it the busiest online shopping day of the year.
A combination of pay-day falling on the last Friday of the month and a weekend spent browsing the shops, results in shoppers buying gifts online during the Monday closest to the start of December, the company says.
Department store retailer John Lewis expects cashmere and Uggs will be among the most sought-after products. Online director Mark Lewis said: "Our customers' shopping habits have changed over the past few years, and our peak time for browsing and shopping on johnlewis.com is now Sunday evening.
"With shoppers becoming more comfortable when purchasing via mobiles and tablets, coupled with better connectivity and the rise of smartphones so people can browse online through the day, it's not surprising the way we shop has changed."
Over in the US, the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects more than 131m shoppers to go online today, up from 129m last year. Some 24.8m of shoppers said they will use a mobile device to shop, up 22% from 20.4m a year ago.
“Regardless of the exciting online promotions we’ve already seen, retailers are prepared to pull out all the stops for their Cyber Monday shoppers,” added Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell.
Lululemon criticised over plus-size comments
18 Nov 2013 15:08
Lululemon is being urged to make clothing for plus-size women
First Abercrombie & Fitch and now Canada's Lululemon Athletica.
Back in May, A&F's CEO Mike Jeffries came under fire over the retailer's lack of plus-sized clothing - and comments including: "We go after the attractive all-American kid."
Now the yoga wear brand's founder Chip Wilson has been criticised for his comments about women's bodies.
In a television interview last week, Wilson suggested Lululemon yoga pants do not work for some women's bodies, and that piling can occur from rubbing at the thighs.
Wilson then issued an apology, saying he was really sad for the repercussions of his actions.
An online petition, which has over 7,000 supporters, is now calling for Lululemon to produce fitness clothing for larger women, after it pointed out the brand's products are only available up to size 12.
"If Lululemon is really a brand for women who are pursuing health and wellness, shouldn't Lululemon clothes be made in sizes larger than the average, too?" the petition asks.
Earlier this month the company faced fresh complaints about the quality of its products, eight months after it was forced to pull a line of black Luon trousers from its stores after the fabric was found to be see-through. The latest complaints related to piling on the brand's Grove Pants.
What will retailers do to lure Christmas shoppers?
17 Oct 2013 13:13
Around 15% of respondents will buy all their gifts in-store this year
With just ten weeks to go until Christmas, the question among many retailers is how to lure shoppers to drive sales growth this year?
According to new research conducted by OnePoll for retail technology company Retail Assist, 34% of UK consumers have already started shopping online, in-store and via mobile devices.
- 57% of people expect to shop online and offline
- 25% of consumers expected to do all their shopping online
- 15% will buy all their gifts in-store
With people expected to spend 35 minutes browsing online per gift, the main reason for avoiding the shops for 57% of consumers is to avoid the crowds in-store.
- 6% of purchases will be made on a work computer
- 15% of shoppers will use tablet devices
- 5% will use mobile phones
- 37% of consumers expect to use Click & Collect
Alan Morris, executive chairman and co-founder of Retail Assist, said: "The retail industry has been gearing up for Christmas for months, but now as we hit ten weeks to go this is an exciting and crucial time for high street and online retailers.
The research, he adds, should be "encouraging" to retailers as it shows consumers are comfortable using the variety of online options, but also still "value the experience of hitting the high street".
"However, with queues and crowds coming out as the top reason people are disinclined to hit the high street during Christmas, retailing giants should work to increase store efficiency, show accurate stock knowledge, and provide faster service in order to attract customers back," Morris added.