Welcome back to The Spin! Today we give you Bernard Arnault's response to rumors about LVMH pursuing Chanel. We also check-out, which brands use their employees as models, and which 116-year-old department store finally revealed a long-lost wallet - and a mummified monkey. Enjoy the read - and your weekend! Best, Ulrike


Fake news! With those "Trumponian" words, Bernard Arnault dismissed rumors about a possible Chanel acquisition by LVMH. The French luxury group's Chairman and CEO spoke during the company annual meeting, acknowledging (paywall) that Chanel was an outstanding business but that there's no contact between the companies. So far, the reclusive billionaire brothers Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, who run Chanel since the early 1970s, have not indicated any interest in unloading it.


Puma's gang slang. German sports brand Puma, which just raised its guidance on strong Q1 results, had to apologize for language that seemed to glamorize illegal drug trade. An invitation to its "House of Hustle" party, which was set in a location that looked like a crack house, used terms like "trapping", which in gang slang refer to drug dealing. Puma defends its use of wording by stating that it was meant as synonymous with "hard work" and "hustling", emphasizing that the company does not endorse drug culture.

Model employees. While most luxury brands still advertise with skinny models, several innovators feature their own employees in their ads. To increase brand authenticity and broaden diversity, J. Crew regularly features employees in its look books, while Modcloth cast team members for the current swim campaign. With its new "Style Crew" program, Macy's goes even further. Designed to transform its employees into influencers, it encourages them to create video content for Macys.com and post on social media.


The right stuff. Many e-tailers currently experiment with physical stores, using them as showrooms and/or distribution centers. But that’s nothing compared to Alibaba's $8 billion retail offensive. In the past six months, the Chinese online giant acquired or took stakes in about 30 Chinese brick-and-mortar retailers. To match that, Amazon would have to invest in every major physical retailer in the US. Since online retail counts for just a fraction of total retail sales in the US and China, it's all about getting the mix right.


Upwardly mobile. In 2017, US consumers increased their mobile spending by 29 percent to an estimated $153 billion, or about one third of all online spending. Now that people have become accustomed to the practice, Forrester predicts (paywall) a continuous rise of 16 percent annually to $209 billion or about half of all online sales in 2022. Simultaneously, tablet sales will lose momentum with an estimated annual growth rate of 6 percent.

Store tech. Express currently tests a concept in New York, that groups garments by work styles like "office work" and "creative careers". To encourage shoppers to hang out (and get some work done), it also offers free Wi-Fi and charging stations. Over in LA, Fred Segal has partnered with MasterCard for a "Rock 'n Roll Holy Land" pop-up store with shoppable windows. It offers more than 300 vintage and custom garments from local brand MadeWorn as well as memorabilia and special items from rock legends like Kiss' Gene Simmons and Def Leppard's Phil Collen.


Something's going on. Retail and malls are thriving in Bangkok, thanks to regular upgrades, innovation - and billions of Chinese visitors, who generate 20 percent of total sales. Thailand's capital is marked by long stretches of interconnected malls, a crowded skywalk, high-end boutiques, and construction everywhere. One of the latest development is Central Group's luxury lifestyle mall, Central Embassy. From live performances to cultural events, malls in Bangkok always have something going on.


Monkey business. The current retail transformation offers some unexpected discoveries. Along with decades-old Easter eggs and a stolen wallet, a mummified monkey has been found in the ceiling of a former Dayton department store in Minneapolis. The 116-year-old building, which used to house a pet store, is currently being remodeled and repurposed. According to a spokeswoman, the building is working with local museums to trace the critter's origin. A nearby town's mayor suspects his dad stole it in the 1960s...


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