Today we highlight the European apparel market's return to growth, women's bleak working conditions in Asian factories and why Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford might triple a certain refund. Enjoy the read and feel free to share!


Shops without shoppers. In the wake of Gymboree's bankruptcy filing, US retailers including Sears, Claire's Stores, Nine West Holdings, 99 Cent Stores, J. Crew and True Religion Apparel might be the next names to default over the next 12 months. High debt leverage, weak operating trends and ongoing real estate development is driving up the sector’s default rate. In the next five years, about a quarter of all US shopping malls should be closed.


Sears' situation. Sears Canada, which split off from US-based Sears Holdings Corporation in 2014, is running short on cash. Following mixed Q1 results, the Toronto-based company needs additional sources of liquidity, otherwise it might not be able to continue as a going concern. A similar warning was issued in March by Sears' sibling in the US, which has just announced 400 lay-offs.

Short life. Only nine months after the launch of Style.com, Condé Nast has closed the global multi-brand eCommerce site. Visitors to Style.com are being redirected to online platform Farfetch.com in which Condé Nast has been an early investor. Farfetch, which bought certain assets from Style.com, is supposedly eying an IPO, valuing the company at up to $5 billion.


Europe outpaces US. In 2016, Europe’s textile and apparel industry grew (in German) 1.1% to €171 billion. According to Euratex the number of employees increased 0.2% to 1.7 million. Exports picked up 0.6% to €45 billion, while imports grew 0.5% to €110 billion. In the US, the trend is reverse with the value of US man-made fiber and filament, textile, and apparel shipments sinking 2.1% to $74.4 billion in 2016, and the number of job holders down 2.5% to 565,000 from 579.300 in 2015.

Toxic tale. According to a new investigation by the Changing Markets Foundation, global fashion brands including H&M, Marks & Spencer and Zara are buying chemically processed viscose from firms which contaminate drinking water in China, India and Indonesia. The toxic run-off from plants in those countries has been linked to increased cancer risks and environmental damage.


The Art of Living. French model and writer Carine Roitfeld was honored with the 2017 Art de Vivre Award by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). The Global Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar, founder of CR Fashion Book and former editor of Vogue Paris received the award on June 12th in New York City.

Ivanka's women who work. Ivanka Trump, who famously wrote about work-life balance in her book Women Who Work , seems to turn a blind eye the work conditions of women in the Asian factories that produce her garments. According to press reports, these female workers earn some of the lowest wages in all of Asia. Their pay is apparently too low to afford food and necessities for their children.


Sweetening the deal. The Shanghai Consumer Council is investigating Lane Crawford for possible breach of contract. According to customer complaints, the Hong Kong-based luxury retailer cancelled hundreds of discounted online orders after customers had already paid. Lane Crawford blames (in Mandarin) an error on the website for deep discounts of up to 90%. To make up for the loss, the company verbally offered to refund affected customers with shopping cards worth three times as much as the original payment.


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