Happy Tuesday and welcome back to The Spin! While luxury brands are bringing production back in-house, North Korea aims to strengthen its role in low-cost garment production for the mid-tier segment. On the retail front, another slew of closings is only partly counterbalanced by a few openings. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Kim's comeback. With a very productive workforce and wages less than half of those in China, North Korea is emerging as an interesting low-cost sourcing destination. The country’s clothing industry is estimated at $725 million, often serving brands which label the merchandise as “made in China”. New interest from Asian manufactures might revive the country’s garment industry which has been plagued by export bans and import caps.


Coming home. As international demand for luxury products continues to rise, luxury brands aim to exercise more control over their supply chain. Gucci, for example, has announced to bring back more of its production in-house, while Louis Vuitton added workshops in France and Burberry took over its Italian leather goods supplier.



Paris calling. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has co-designed a 70-piece fashion collection with British online retailer Boohoo. Channeling the socialite's looks from the early 2000s, Paris Hilton x Boohoo offers (image gallery) sexy pieces in animal prints, metallics and hot pink, including her shimmering 21st birthday dress that was famously copied by Kendall + Kylie in 2017. Launching June 20 the line retails from £3-£35.

Drinkee. As spending in airports continues to increase, QVC-owned luggage brand Lug has opened its first brick-and-mortar location at the Baltimore/Washington airport. On 1,290 sqft, the brand offers a selection of its merchandise as well as touch screen kiosks and a free water station for thirsty customers.


Dream worlds. Consumers' interest in experimental shopping continues to fuel technology investments, particularly in Augmented and Virtual Reality. Driven by innovative retail applications, global spending for AR and VR products and services could reach $27 billion this year, a 92 percent increase over 2017.


Expensive lesson. Following the bankruptcy (paywall; in German) of Sempione Fashion AG, 132 OVS stores are being liquidated (in German) - including the flagship on Zurich’s Sihlstrasse. Over 1,180 jobs might be affected. Two stores are being bought by competitor Chicorée. OVS-backed Sempione AG had acquired (press release) struggling retailer Charles Voegele in 2016 to fast-track OVS’s European expansion.

Down to business. German Karstadt AG plans to convert (paywall; in German) its department stores into omni-channel platforms and distribution centers. The first location at Berlin’s Gropius Passagen, followed by a new store scheduled (press release; in German) to open in 2019. The new concept offers the group's entire assortment, including that of partners, as well as services like Click & Collect and home deliveries. By 2021 the company plans to convert its entire store network.


From Tommy to Sequential. US brand management company Sequential Brands has named Karen Castellano President of its Fashion division. Castellano comes from apparel maker G-III, where she was (press release) President of the Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Denim and Sportswear license, managing design, sales, marketing and merchandising.


Fit face! As part of its expansion into experimental retail, Saks Fifth Avenue has opened a Face Gym on the second floor of its New York flagship store - expanding on the services traditionally found in department stores. Using a customized training serum, workouts start with a warm-up, followed by face cardio, a sculpting massage and electrical skin stimulation. Face Gym originally started in Britain. A freestanding store in New York's Soho neighborhood is scheduled to open in September.


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