Happy Thursday and welcome back to The Spin! Today we reveal which sports giant has just filed a patent to improve golf ball retrieval, and which apparel giant is getting into wearables. We also explore the long-term consequences of automation on the global economy. Enjoy the read and - as always - feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Golf aid. Nike Inc, which exited the golf equipment business in 2016 to concentrate on apparel and shoes, has filed a patent for a new golfing technology. Based on smart glasses, AR and high-tech golf balls, the product allows players to track a myriad of factors including their location on a golf course, the velocity of their shots, the ball's exact location, its distance to the pin and the score.

Big box. With the planned purchase of the Altra footwear brand from connected fitness specialist Icon Health & Fitness Inc, US apparel giant VF Corporation enters (paywall) the market for wearable sports products. Altra shoes have zero drop platform soles and a larger toe box and can be connected to mobile devices to monitor and improve workouts. Terms were not disclosed.


Vibrant community. The new owner of Lord & Taylor's New York flagship store, co-working company WeWork, has a new vision for the eleven-story building. In addition to the WeWork headquarters and co-working spaces, the company plans (paywall) a selection of shops, restaurants, cafés and communal areas on the ground floor as well as a condensed Lord & Taylor presence on the two or three floors. WeWork recently signed a deal to open J. Crew pop-up shops in WeWork facilities.

Profit from the core. US shoe discounter DSW will close its online discount shoe seller Ebuys, which it acquired two years ago to expand (paywall) its online and international presence. DWS will now concentrate on its core omni-channel strategy, transforming its DWS stores to utilize them as warehouses for its DWS online store.


Fashion extremists. Crazy times call for crazy fashion, and this season designers did not disappoint. From Demna Gvaslaia's apocalyptic visions for Balenciaga to Rick Owen's padded, protective pieces and Alessandro Michele's rootless Gucci rebels, many collections challenged the norm, including the purpose of clothing itself. The most notable moments scored high on Instagram.

Turbulent times. The impending wave of automation in the service sector - including retail - combined with a rapidly aging population and rising inequality is going to profoundly reshape the global economy. For the the next 20 to 30 years, experts expect high volatility, especially in the US. A short term boom due to accelerated investments and higher economic output will most likely be followed by a bust due to the elimination of millions of jobs and declining demand, creating extremely unbalanced economies where income is concentrated among people who save and invest, not consume.


The new detectives. As fake accounts and robot activity on social media continue to rise some influencers' following and resulting fees are artificially lifted to new heights. Some social media marketing companies like Dovetale, Captiv8 and Sylo have developed metrics to vet accounts for fraud and bot activity. Soly even assigns a quality number similar to a Nielsen rating, moving some control from the social media platforms to the hands of the advertisers.


Leaving earth. Stephen Hawking's insights are universal. The brilliant physicist, who approached fashion through its tactile quality, observed for instance that "intelligence is the ability to adapt to change" - a determination that is particularly meaningful for the movers and shakers in our fast paced industry. Stephen Hawking died on March 14, the birthdate of Albert Einstein, at the age of 76.


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