Happy Thursday and welcome back to The Spin! Today, we tell you how Facebook plans to take on Google & Co, and how young entrepreneurs use vending platforms and social media to hustle fashion without ever coming into direct contact with clothing or customers. And while another mall-based US retailer just filed for bankruptcy, two former Colette employees started their own innovative project in Paris. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


The voice. With its new Portal, social media giant Facebook is entering the home device market. The voice-activated gadget sports a large screen for video chatting and cameras for facial recognition. It will launch in fall 2018, retailing for $499. The Portal is seen as a competitor to Apple's Siri, Amazon's Echo Show and Google's Assistant. Facebook, which already makes VR headsets through its Oculus division, unsuccessfully tried to launch a phone in 2013.


The hustle. A completely new breed of web savvy intermediaries has evolved, directing offers for obscure products from obscure vendors into the feeds of fashion hungry social media users. Marketing product from dropshippers on platforms like Shopify, these self-appointed middlemen pull their strings without ever coming into direct contact with either products or consumers.


Pay to play. On Wednesday, Italian luxury brand Gucci opened its Gucci Garden at Florence's historic Palazzo della Mercanzia. On the ground floor, the brand experience space houses a bazaar-like store with exclusive Gucci items and a restaurant. On the higher floors, which cost €8 to access, exhibition areas feature contemporary and vintage Gucci products, a cinema and an explorative space dedicated to things that inspire Creative Director Alessandro Michele.


Harvey's havoc. Texas-based women's fashion and accessories retailer A'Gaci has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company cites poor financial performance on a failed expansion and hurricane induced damages as part of the reasons for its current troubles. In addition to the reorganization of about $62 million in debt the company plans to close up to 49 of its 78 US stores.

The smell of Paris. For young French fashion aficionados, the famed Parisian concept store Colette was not just a shop, but a creative melting pot where magic happened. With its eclectic assortment, informative books and high level of expertise, the space offered many fashion novices both a fashion education and a crash course in business. Colette closed on December 20, 2017.

Entre Nous. On January 8, Colette's ex-staffers Sébastien Chapelle, former head of tech and watches, and Marvin Dein, former head of the sneaker department, opened their own concept store. Located at 48 rue Cambon, three blocks north of the former Colette location, and backed by an unnamed investor, the 150 sqm "Nous" offers (in French) streetwear, tech, watches and books.


Getting curved... There are many ways to electronically reshape bodily bulges. For customers who want to bring that look into the real world, there are (press release) countless realistically shaped silicone prosthetics to add curves. Realistic butt and hip pads, for example, create Kardashian-worthy behinds, while strong waist cinchers complete the hourglass shape.

...and shifting shape. To keep up with those changing customer contours, shape shifting robotic mannequins now offer apparel makers added flexibility. Models like the Euveka that was just revealed on the Consumer Electronics Show can actually change shape in less than two minutes. In addition to fashion, these flexible forms also have applications in medical, sports and security.


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