Welcome back to The Spin! Today we explore the fate of the countless returns expected to hit US retailers right after the holidays. We also tell you which legendary designer has partnered with Gucci to open a boutique in Harlem, and what Nike’s biggest spokesperson, basketball pro LeBron James, gave his son for Christmas. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Cheers, Ulrike


New direction. North American department stores will continue to reinvent themselves in 2018. While Kohl’s is welcoming a new CEO to fine-tune its strategies, Sears is planning more store closures. Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and German Galeria Kaufhof, is planning a bigger online push including a partnership with


Return bar. Items valued an estimated $90 million are going to be returned this holiday season, but only about half will make it back onto retailers’ shelves. The rest will most likely end up in landfills. Some merchants try to manage the onslaught by banning customers with too many returns from giving back any product for a period of time. Help is also available from companies like Happy Returns which offer brick-and-mortar return bars to give back online purchases from a variety of different companies.

Primark's problems. Irish low-price fast fashion retailer Primark has been missing (paywall) expectations in the US, prompting it to reduce the footprint of several stores in the region. The low-margin brand’s brick-and-mortar-only strategy depends on strong traffic, which it has been able to generate in Europe. In the US, however, Primark’s stores have not been as productive, and the lack of e-Commerce contributes to insufficient brand recognition. A planned click & collect initiative is supposed to reverse that trend.


From Esprit to Primark. To accelerate its international growth, Primark has hired (paywall) current SVP and Head of Esprit Woman Paula Dumont López to lead the womenswear segment. The former Head of Product at Zara Basic will start her position at the Irish fast fashion retailer in January. Last June, López was named Chief Creative Officer at New Look but the decision was reversed in September after CEO Anders Kristiansen left the brand.


Dream deferred. Gucci has partnered with legendary Harlem designer Daniel Day aka Dapper Dan, whose designs the Italian luxury brand was recently accused of copying. In January, the two will open a fashion boutique in New York’s Harlem neighborhood. Inspired by Dapper Dan’s original boutique that closed its doors in 1992, the new store will offer unique Dapper Dan-designed bespoke pieces made of fabrics, prints and patches provided by Gucci. Gucci also plans to include a Dapper Dan capsule in its fall 2018 collection.


Slow boat from China. Although China is set to surpass the US as the world’s largest economy, the country is still struggling to create a globally successful fashion brand. One of the more prolific Chinese designers is Huishan Zhang who just opened his first boutique in London, but most Chinese designers still rely on Asian retailers like Alibaba and JD. Both online retailers are working to raise their caché through partnerships with international fashion weeks.

The great sell-off. China’s once so acquisitive conglomerates have begun to sell off some of their high-profile properties. While Fosun International (St. John, Caruso) just sold an office tower in Sydney, HNA Group is trying to offload about $6 billion worth of properties including the 1180 Avenue of the Americas building it put on the market last March. Amidst government scrutiny, highly-leveraged Dalian Wanda Group behind the Wanda Department Stores backed out of buying the Nine Elms Square building in London.


Bronny's boost. Adidas, which has just been named (in German) the most beloved sports brand in Germany, has quite a number of die-hard fans in the US as well. One of them seems to be Cleveland Cavaliers basketball pro and top Nike spokesperson LeBron James. For Christmas, James apparently just gave his son Bronny a pair of Yeezy Boost 500s by Adidas Originals.


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