The apparel and textile business blog from Katie Smith
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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.
Retailers urged to use plus-size mannequins
09 Sep 2013 12:44
UK apparel retailers have been urged to put plus-size mannequins in their stores to promote healthier attitudes to realistic body images for women.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said retailers display the latest fashionable outfit on "size 10 dummies" despite the average dress size increasing from 12-16 in the last decade.
Debenhams is preparing to display size 16 mannequins in its Oxford Street store in London. Earlier this month, it released a swimwear image featuring a size 18 model to encourage customers to "feel confident on the beach" and to prompt other high street retailers to use a variety of body shapes in their photography.
UFKT plans Let's Make it Here re-launch
05 Sep 2013 13:51
The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) is to re-launch its database of UK apparel manufacturers in November.
Let's Make it Here, which profiles UK textile manufacturers, will feature extensive category listings including garments, accessories, fabric, footwear, yarn, components, ancillary equipment, and service providers.
The database is designed for companies who own production facilities in the UK and can manufacture for designers, brands and retailers to their own specifications and their own label.
Any firm who is seeking UK manufacturers will be able to use the database to search for companies who can supply services such as pattern cutting or grading for free.
An improved search functionality and a detailed google map search by UK postcode will also be featured on the revamped site, according to UKFT.
"We think this improved resource is vital for the industry which is demanding more and more UK made products," UKFT said.
JC Penney share price tumbles on cash concerns
07 Aug 2013 15:21
Some analysts believe JC Penney could be bankrupt by Labor Day (2 September)
Struggling department store retailer JC Penney has seen its share price tumble after concerns it would close the current quarter with US$1.5bn in cash sparked worry among investors.
The retailer's share price fell 3.9% to $13.28 at the close of play yesterday (6 August) - the lowest level it has been since 2001. And it has continued to fall today, down 2.4% to $12.96 at 2:40 GMT time.
It also comes after rumours circulated that chief financial officer Ken Hannah was considering leaving the company.
The retailer yesterday appointed Debra Berman as senior vice president of marketing, with a focus on "revitalising" the JC Penney brand.
JC Penney last week disputed cash flow concerns by dismissing a report that commercial lender CIT had stopped financing deliveries from smaller manufacturers to its stores as "untrue".
Some analysts previously reported that the department store retailer could be bankrupt by Labor Day (2 September) if it continues to lose money at its current rate.
The Plano, Texas-based company, however, secured a five-year US$2.25bn loan in May - $500m more than it originally expected - to provide it with the "financial flexibility" to pursue plans to turn the business around under CEO Mike Ullman.
Ullman, who returned to JC Penney in April - replacing Ron Jonhson - has outlined plans to improve the ailing business, which include better marketing, connecting with core customers as well as attracting new ones, getting the right mix of products and strengthening the online business.
Luxury growth accelerates at Kering and LVMH
29 Jul 2013 11:36
Luxury goods powerhouse LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering, owner of upmarket brands Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Yves Saint Laurent, both reported accelerated sales growth last week, thanks to higher demand in Europe and Asia.
During the first half, growth picked up at LVMH's fashion and leather goods division, which saw sales rise 1% to EUR4.66bn (US$) from EUR4.71bn in the same period last year. This contrasts with the much slower year-on-year sales growth of 0.4% during the first quarter.
The group, which remains confident in its outlook, said its 6% total revenue growth was driven by good momentum in the US and Asia, and continued gains in Europe in a more difficult economic environment.
Meanwhile Kering, which was formerly known as PPR, said luxury sales reached EUR3.08bn during the six months to 30 June, up 5.3% on EUR2.92bn last year, while comparable revenue rose 7.9%.
Kering said revenue generated outside the eurozone rose 6.3% year-on-year in the first half and accounted for 79% of the group total, compared to 78% in the prior year. Sales in France represented 5.4% of the company's total revenue in the first half.
Chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault said the "robust growth" in the second quarter was powered by a "solid performance" in its directly operated stores and mature markets.
Despite the growth in luxury, both companies reported declines in half-year profit as LVMH reported a 6% drop, while Kering saw profits plummet 64%.
Shulman inspires future fashion leaders at UKFT Rise
28 Jun 2013 15:15
Shulman talked about her career and the rapidly changing fashion industry
British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, and UKFT Rise newcomer award winner Emma Shipley inspired the next generation of fashion leaders at the UK Fashion and Textile Association's fourth Rise event last night.
UKFT Rise, which was established last year, is a network for up and coming people working in the fashion and textile industry.
Covering a wide range of topics, Shulman talked about her career, the rapidly changing fashion industry, and the growing importance of London as a fashion capital.
London is the "most looked at fashion capital in the world" now, she said, reminding the audience of a time not that long ago when many of the major UK designers had given up on fashion week here, believing that it's "never going to work" but there is more and more talent coming through.
Foreign brands are now fighting over the smallest space to get into London, she said. There has been a "high street explosion" because of the huge attraction to tourists.
Interestingly, she said she was not really interested in heritage and doesn't mind if a product is not made in the UK, believing that the interest in this is "a bit of a phase".
With the increasing number of fashion brands, having a story or a message you can get across does can help fashion brands get recognised, Shulman explained.
Meanwhile scarf designer Emma J Shipley, who won the hotel indigo UKFT Rise newcomer award earlier this year, talked about setting up her own luxury fashion brand.
Having worked with brands like M&S, Umbro and Nicholas Kirkwood, she emphasised the importance of collaboration with bigger brands, particularly when you're in the process of setting up your business. You have to find that balance with collaborations and working on your brand, she emphasised.