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Fashion, luxury and lifestyle news aggregator - June 2024

Posted: 01/07/2024

Shein’s IPO

Earlier this month ultra-fast-fashion retailer Shein filed for a London listing which could value the company at up to $50 billion. It comes after reports that an initial listing in the US fell through as a result of the giant’s extensive operations in, and links to, China.

Shein, known for its affordable, trend-driven fashion, has seen rapid growth in recent years, with sales more than doubling in 2020 to $10 billion, although growth has reportedly since slowed. The retailer has also faced criticism for its environmental impact and labour practices, with some activists calling for a boycott of the brand.

The listing is expected to be one of the largest in London in recent years and would support the City's status as a global financial hub. However, it also comes at a time of increased scrutiny of fast-fashion brands, with regulators and consumers increasingly concerned about their environmental and social footprint.

The listing highlights the continued growth of fast-fashion, as well as the challenges and controversies that come with it. The British Fashion Council commented that the listing would be ‘of significant concern to UK fashion designers and retailers’ and others have expressed similar sentiment: ‘Shein shouldn’t be rewarded with the credibility of being listed in the City’.

As the industry continues to expand, the spotlight will be on fast fashion giants to address concerns about their environmental and social impact, and to work towards more sustainable and ethical practices.

Sustainability in trend

Harrods recently published its first environmental, social and governance (ESG) report earlier this month, demonstrating its commitment to sustainability, ethical sourcing, and diversity. The report outlined a number of specific targets including reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero by 2050, aiming for 50% of all products to be made from sustainable materials by 2030, and targeting 50% of all leadership positions to be held by women and 20% by ethnic minorities by 2025.

Berlin Fashion Week similarly announced new sustainability requirements for participating brands, following in the footsteps of Copenhagen Fashion Week. Starting in 2025, all brands will be required to meet minimum standards, including using at least 50% sustainable materials in their collections, ensuring fair working conditions throughout their supply chains, and providing transparency over their environmental and social impact.

British designer Stella McCartney and champagne house Veuve Clicquot also teamed up with the announcement of a new venture focused on sustainable innovation. The partnership introduces a grape-based alternative to animal leather and presents a collection of six handcrafted luxury accessories from Veuve Clicquot’s post-harvest waste. As part of the collaboration, Veuve Clicquot has committed to using 100% renewable energy in its production processes by 2025, and to reducing its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. The champagne house will work with Stella McCartney, who is a known advocate for sustainability in fashion, to develop new sustainable packaging solutions, and use materials such as recycled plastic and mycelium as alternatives to leather.

LOEWE and ON also recently collaborated on an outdoor clothing range at Selfridges, as part of LOEWE’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, with many of the pieces made from recycled materials.

Retail’s Love Story: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour

As Taylor Swift brings her record breaking Eras Tour to the UK this month, is the economy… Ready for It?

‘Swifties’ have flocked to see the artist perform over 100 shows in an Untouchable tour that has spanned six continents and will last a total of 21 months. Concert goers have splashed out on hotels, flights and restaurants, spiking the economy and demonstrating Swift’s cultural and financial impact All Too Well – so much so, it has been dubbed ‘Swiftonomics.’

The Love Story continues in London: Swift descended onto Wembley Stadium at the end of June and will return in August for a total of eight nights. Barclays predicts that this will boost the economy by nearly £1 billion, with an average spend of £848 per person on tickets, travel, accommodation and merchandise. A new outfit for the night is also in Style, with many fans seeking to replicate one of Swift’s eras in their attire. It is no coincidence that the UK’s retail sales have increased by 2.9% in May (as opposed to the 1.5% expected), which some have labelled the ‘Taylor Swift effect’. Indeed, fashion brands were bracing for demand, with online searches  for ‘cowboy boots’ and Swift’s ‘not a lot going on at the moment’ t-shirt increasing by 216% and 175% respectively. Athletic retailer Gymshark in fact launched a new workout collection of five looks inspired by Swift’s most notable Eras Tour outfits. Emily Lorimer, head of social, posted that they ‘couldn't let arguably the biggest cultural musical moment of 2024 pass without getting a little bit involved’.

The UK economy is not Out of the Woods yet and it remains to be seen whether the new government on 4 July 2024 will be the Mastermind of a growing economy. However, it cannot be denied that Swift’s impact and the Eras Tour has certainly helped… Long Live Swiftmania!

Retail reforms: party manifestos unpacked

With the general election fast approaching, the political parties have revealed their plans for the retail sector. Against this backdrop, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has outlined five priorities for a new government to support economic and social growth, employment, and opportunity in the fashion sector. These include the restoration of tax-free shopping and reform of business rates to boost growth in the fashion sector; more trade and export investment for UK fashion designers; support for the fashion education sector; development of a new generation of businesses and skilled workers in the industry; and introduction of legislation to encourage sustainable business practices to meet decarbonisation and net-zero targets.

A summary of some of the key points announced by the Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties that are likely to affect the sector are unpacked below.

The Labour Party manifesto has touched on some of the priorities listed by the BFC. It has pledged to replace the business rates system to ‘raise the same revenue but in a fairer way’. The BRC has previously stated that the current level of rates has cost the UK consumer 6,000 storefronts in the last five years, so this could be a welcome change, although it is not clear what the proposed system will look like.

The manifesto has also included measures to protect retail workers against rising crime levels, promising to create a new specific offence for assaults on shopworkers and ‘scrap the effective immunity for some shoplifting’. Retail leaders have called for an end to shoplifting of goods worth less than £200 being dealt with as a lesser offence in Drapers’ ‘Fashion Retail Manifesto’.

With regard to apprenticeship and skills, Labour has promised to give businesses more flexibility over how they spend government money currently reserved for apprenticeships.

Chief executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, has commented on the Labour manifesto, stating that it has included many of the right policies to help retail invest for the future, upskill its workforce, and play its part in the growing the UK economy.

Rishi Sunak has vowed to ‘keep cutting taxes in the coming years’ and aims to develop a tax system that ‘incentivises businesses to invest’. The party has pledged to ‘continue to ease the burden of business rates for high street, leisure and hospitality businesses’ by raising rates for warehousing. They will provide £4.3 billion of business rates support for small businesses over the next five years. However, the retail response has conveyed discontent, with Helen Dickinson commenting that the Conservatve promise to ease the burden will ‘ring hollow to many retailers’.

The Conservatives have further pledged to toughen sentences for individuals who assault retail workers, and create 100,000 new apprenticeships annually over the next five years.

Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats propose to replace the business rates system with a commercial landowner levy to reduce the financial burden on high street businesses and encourage investment in local retail areas. The party also promises to replace the ‘broken apprenticeship levy with a broader and more flexible skills and training levy’.

Helen Dickinson praised the commitment to reform the business rates system and the reform of the apprenticeship levy, but expressed disappointment that the manifesto made no mention of retail crime.

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