Welcome back to The Spin! Today we are looking at China's fast-expanding online market for luxury goods, the increase in robotic piece picking and the latest controversies regarding modern interpretations of the hijab. Enjoy the read and feel free to share. Cheers, Ulrike


Pricing probe. Amazon's shares fell $3 on reports that the US Federal Trade Commission is probing its pricing methods. The US Consumer Watchdog alleges that the online giant uses inflated reference prices to make consumers think that they are getting a bargain, while Wikibuy claims that school supplies cost 15% more on Amazon than on other sites. Amazon denies the allegations.


China conncection. Louis Vuitton has launched its eCommerce website in China, adding yet another player to the country’s booming online market. Currently available in twelve cities, the site offers leather goods, shoes, accessories, jewelry, watches and scents. Payments can be made via WeChatPay, Alipay and UnionPay.

Catching up fast. On mainland China, online purchases already make up 26% of luxury spending. A large portion of China’s luxury online sales are generated via Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com, but specialized online luxury retailers like the multi-brand retailer Secoo, flash-sale site Mei.com, Meici, 5Lux, Shangpin, IhaveYou and Xiu.com are catching up fast.


Pile it up. Instead of an elaborate staging, Vetements has placed a huge pile of clothes in the window of Saks Fifth Avenue's New York flagship. And it is not even the company's own clothes, but items donated by Saks employees and out of stock merchandise designated for a good cause. To reflect excess in fashion, the pile will be added to every day until everything gets donated on August 10th.

Crawl stroke to Europe. In partnership with German distributor F1-Generation Californian swimwear specialist Manhattan Beachwear is expanding into 23 European countries. In addition to five own labels like The Bikini Lab and La Blanca, Manhattan Beachwear holds licenses of ten brands including Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole, Trina Turk and Lucky Brand.


"Total nonsense" - this is how S. Oliver Group’s CEO Armin Fichtel sums up German press reports claiming (in German) that he’s fed up with the company and with his job. But the 60-year-old manager does concede that he is not going to stay forever and that headhunters are already actively looking for a successor.


Picky robots. To speed up logistics and cut costs, several retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue and JD.com have begun testing (paywall) robots to pick merchandise in their fulfillment centers. According to experts and manufactures of robotics, automation could reduce picking costs by 20% to 50%. As this technology evolves it will likely also disrupt other fulfillment methods.

Fueling the forklifts. In April, Amazon announced a $70 million investment in fuel-cell maker Plug Power allowing the online giant to buy up to 55.3 million shares equaling a 19% stake in the company that makes the batteries powering its forklifts. Although Plug Power’s stock went up 73% on the news, Walmart has now struck a similar deal, lifting Plug Power's stock another 10%.


Must-have... It took merely a week to sell out American Eagle's $20 denim hijab. Other brands that have recently made headlines with innovative headscarves are Uniqlo's collaboration with Muslim designer Hana Taijim and Pittsburgh-based nonprofit For Good, which offers $6 doll scarves Hello Hijab made from donated hijab.

...creates backlash. But not everybody applauds hip headscarves. Some Muslim women feel that Western companies reduce headscarves to superficial fashion statements. Others view modern hijab styles like Nike's Pro Hijab performance headscarf as support of the enslavement of women and suggest Nike branded rocks to stone those who dare to remove the headscarf.


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