Amazon has launched a new luxury fashion platform, VRSNL (pronounced versional), with evidence suggesting the e-commerce has been operating in secret since September 2019. The website provides a range of apparel, footwear and accessories from high-end designers, including Gucci, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney and Prada. VRSNL is planned to compete with other high-end luxury retailers such as Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and Matches Fashion.
Reiss has recently confirmed it is partnering with technology expert brand OneStock in an effort to enhance customer experience and service global demand. This will allow Reiss to fulfil both digital and in-store orders from any stock location. The fashion retailer said it ‘will use the technology to obtain a holistic view of its inventory, then deploy a range of unified commerce services including ship-from-store, return in-store and click-and-collect’. This strategic transformation project is set to launch in the UK in Q2 2020.
To create its latest jewellery collection, Mango has adopted innovative 3D printing processes. Mango partnered with Spanish company Comme Des Machines, which specialises in 3D printed jewellery. The collection has been created using 90% sustainable materials, including birch, PLA, terracotta, plastics of biodegradable vegetable origin, woods and ceramics. The collection will be sold online and in 30 physical stores in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal.
Although rental fashion is not a new phenomenon, hiring clothes is becoming increasingly popular. Hurr, the fashion rental app, recently launched its first ever physical pop-up at Selfridges Oxford Street, giving customers access to high-end fashion at a fraction of the retail price. The six-month pop-up offers options to rent for seven-day stints from brands including Ganni, Rixo, Mara Hoffman and Gucci. It will also house an iMirror by NOBAL Technologies, the world’s most advanced interactive mirror, allowing customers to seamlessly combine the online and in-store offerings from Hurr.
GANT has also recently announced it will make a small selection of its SS20 collection available to rent at its Regent Street store (as well as other select stores in its key international regions), as part of a wider sustainability strategy. Its rental service includes 10 styles that will be available in a range of sizes, from May. GANT customers will be able to rent pieces for three days at 20% of the recommended retail price and have the option to buy the item outright at the end of the rental period.
London Fashion Week has taken place this month, during which Burberry revealed that its runway show was a carbon neutral production. The event was held in a certified sustainable venue, no air freight was used and electric vehicles were prioritised. Gifting for show guests was also reviewed and Burberry opted to collaborate with PUR Projet and its local partner to plant trees in Australia on guests’ behalf, helping restore native ecosystems devastated by the recent bushfires.
Burberry also announced that it was creating a Regeneration Fund to support a portfolio of ’carbon insetting’ projects to directly tackle the environmental impact of its operations. The projects, which will be implemented within Burberry’s own supply chain, will work to promote biodiversity, restore ecosystems and support the livelihoods of local producers as well as storing carbon at source and removing it from the atmosphere.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, has announced he plans to spend £7.7 billion of his own fortune to help fight climate change. Bezos, in an Instagram post, said that he will start giving grants this summer to scientists, activists and non-profits working to protect the earth. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change,” Bezos said in the post.
Animal rights organisation PETA has purchased a 1% stake in Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group in a bid to be able to exert pressure on department store House of Fraser to re-instate its no-fur policy. This follows PETA taking shares in March 2019 in fast fashion etailer Boohoo to try to influence it to restore a decision (which it later backtracked on) to ban the sale of products containing wool. PETA also has a stake in leading British luxury etailer, Farfetch, which announced it was banning the sale of fur a year ago.
The coronavirus outbreak is expected to have an adverse effect on the luxury retail sector. According to investment firm Jefferies, last year Chinese buyers who shopped domestically or travelled, accounted for 40 per cent of the £236 billion spent on luxury goods globally, but drove 80 per cent of the growth. The chief executive of Gucci parent company Kering has stated: “Our environment has changed significantly with the coronavirus outbreak. Due to the evolving nature of the situation, it is impossible at this time to fully evaluate the impact on business and how fast it will recover.”
In an attempt to ensure all its staff remain safe in the global health emergency, Burberry closed 24 of its 64 stores in mainland China. Apple also shut all 42 of its stores in China for at least eight days, while denim retailer Levi’s shut about half of its stores in China due to the outbreak.
The health and beauty retailer Body Shop is introducing a revolutionary new ‘open hiring’ strategy involving no interviews, background checks or drug tests. Under this strategy, which is set to launch this summer, the first candidate that meets the most basic requirements for a job will be appointed. This follows a successful pilot at its distribution centre in North Carolina at the end of last year.
Home Secretary Priti Patel revealed post-Brexit immigration plans this month. Patel announced new measures stipulating that skilled workers from the EU and outside of the EU will be treated with equal priority and must have a job lined up with a salary of at least £25,600 (this has been reduced from an earlier proposal of £30,000) to enter the country. They must also be able to speak English. The changes are designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain but aim to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas. Employers will have until 1 January 2021 to meet the requirements and ensure their staff have a right to work in the UK. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has stated that the plans do not meet the needs of the retail supply chain. Director of Business and Regulation at the BRC Tom Ironside explained: “Retailers rely on complex supply chains and for these to function effectively must be able to access an adequate supply of workers….it is disappointing that the Government has not understood the needs of the economy and the vital contribution of workers supporting the operation of warehouses, food factories and city centre stores.”
The BRC has set new guidelines to ensure that vegan fashion is really 100 per cent free of animal products and has published the Voluntary Guideline on Veganism in Fashion with the aim of providing assurance to consumers that any vegan product can be purchased with confidence. Businesses now need to examine every material used in a product including the ingredients of glues, dyes and waxes.
Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which owns Juicy Couture, Barneys and Tretorn, and two US landlords have purchased Forever 21 for just over $81 million (£63 million). It comes after Damian Webb and Allan Kelly of RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP were appointed as joint administrators of Forever 21 UK Ltd on 30 September, after the parent company in the US filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. An ABG spokeswoman said: “There is also a very strong opportunity to open new stores in the UK and other territories.”