Aug
 29
 2017



Ulrike

Hello,

Happy Tuesday! Today, we check out what some bankers' recent divestitures of their own companies' stocks might indicate about the state of the US economy. We also look at Alibaba's current interest in brick-and-mortar retail, and how fashion at the Burning Man festival has evolved over the past 28 years. Enjoy the read, and feel free to share. Best, Ulrike



tech

Fashion formula. Online giant Amazon is working on AI systems that could soon design fashion on their own. The technology can determine if a look is "stylish" by analyzing a few labels attached to popular photos, while an algorithm uses images to learn about styles and then generates similar looks. The combination of early trend spotting, quick AI design and on-demand production might soon give Amazon another competitive edge.


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Room for improvement. As consumers increasingly shop on social media, they expect to have customer service issues handled on platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well. However, retailers currently respond to just 19 percent of questions on social media. To do so, they take an average of almost 11 hours, although 42 percent of those consumers expect a response within an hour, while 32 percent actually want a reply within a half-hour.





markets

Foreboding shadow. During the past ten weeks, investors and insiders have pulled out billions of dollars from US stocks. While Wall Street analysts keep urging investors to invest in the big US banks, executives and board members at the top six US banking institutions have sold (paywall) over 9.3 million shares in their own firms on the open market this year. This reverses last year’s trend, when insiders at JP Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America actually bought more shares than they sold. Experts view bank stocks as a barometer of the government’s policies, suggesting a decline in faith.





retail

Betting on bricks. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba sees its next big opportunity in physical stores, engineering a bold experiment to revamp China’s entire retail landscape. Over the past two years, the Hangzhou-based company has invested as much as $8 billion in brick-and-mortar retailing, acquiring stakes in electronics and supermarket chains and swallowing the Beijing-based retailer and mall operator Intime Retail.



Going East. US lifestyle company Cole Haan has signed a long-term distribution agreement with Hong Kong-based Sitoy Group Holdings Ltd, bringing its footwear, outerwear and accessories for men and women to Hong Kong, Macau and China. Meanwhile, Abercrombie & Fitch is expanding its Middle Eastern partnership with Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim. The first Abercrombie & Fitch store in Saudi Arabia will open at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah, followed by new locations in Oman and Bahrain.





people

Out of outlets. Under its new CEO Daniella Vitale, US department store chain Barneys New York has drastically reduced its outlet business. While most brands and chains specifically produce low price merchandise for their off-price stores, Barneys has only kept enough branches to clear merchandise from its full-price stores. Instead, Vitale puts the emphasis on rare, exclusive product, which is more immune to extreme mark-downs and now accounts for about 20 percent of sales.





last

From overalls to unicorns. Started in the 1986 as bonfire ritual for 20 friends at a beach in San Franciso, the massive art and self-expression festival Burning Man has since moved to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, pulling in up to 70,000 participants each year. With its expansion the festival has become a hotbed for innovative and avant-garde extroverts. Business Insider has looked at how fashion evolved over the years from casual workwear looks to today’s outlandish costumes.



Just forgot it. Nike still features Brazilian soccer player Neymar in a FC Barcelona kit on its website. His move from Camp Nou to Paris Saint-German F.C. put Neymar on the same level as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Nike might not mind the mixup (the sports apparel giant also sponsors Paris Saint-Germain) Neymar could be irritated since he is in conflict with Barcelona over an unpaid €26 million loyalty bonus. Barcelona, in turn, alleges a breach of contract which - if proven - would void the payment.







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