Welcome back to The Spin! Today we investigate why talks between HBC-owned Galeria Kaufhof and the German trade union Verdi have stalled again, tell you about protests at Dior’s flagship store in Paris, and reveal how real people actually like their outfits styled by Amazon’s new Echo Look. As we’ll observe tomorrow’s US Independence Day, we will see you here again on Thursday! Enjoy the read, Ulrike


The grand seduction. With its new Echo Look, Amazon tries to dominate the fashion sector. Based on data about all of its users’ clothing purchases, the online giant aims to market its private label lines, 66 of which include fashion. But tests of Alexa’s capabilities as a stylist, which resulted in outfits based on body measurements and statistical data, did not completely convince in terms of style.


Chain limits. As entire industries - including ours - are preparing to embrace blockchain, it does make sense to check the innovative technology for any limitations. Through digital record-keeping, blockchain promises to record all transactions, verify data integrity and practically eliminate all middlemen. It’s only limit, it seems, lies at the junction between the real and the online worlds. Where mere mortals enter data, errors and manipulations can still happen...


Road block. Reports of negotiations between Kaufhof-owner HBC and Karstadt-owner Signa are stalling (paywall; in German) the collective bargaining between Galeria Kaufhof and German union Verdi about a new labor agreement. HBC and Signa are allegedly discussing a merger between Kaufhof and Karstadt, with plans to give operational control to Karstadt where personnel costs are said (paywall; in German) to be 15 percent below Kaufhof's. Although talks are not confirmed, Verdi claims that a solution cannot be developed unless all conditions are fully disclosed, as a merger will most likely result in store closures and job cuts.


It's not over... Two weeks after Perry Ellis International's board approved a $27.50 per share bid by founder and former Chairman George Feldenkreis, Randa Accessories has submitted a competing offer of $28 per share. The new bid values (paywall) the company at $444 million, sending its shares above $29 on Monday. Randa owns and holds licenses for over 50 brands including Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland. If the new offer gets accepted, Perry Ellis would have to pay Feldenkreis a breakup fee of $8.7 million.

...til it's over. Following Esprit's spring/summer delivery, HBC-owned Galeria Kaufhof has delisted (paywall; in German) the label's menswear collection from its 96 German department stores. The line will be replaced by Danish Bestseller Group’s Selected Homme, Danish menswear label Bruun&Stengarde and Italy’s slightly higher priced Antony Morato collection. For the year ended June 30, embattled Esprit Holdings expects an operating loss of HK$2.17 billion to HK$2.27 billion.

Wind of change. To celebrate Maria Grazia Chirui’s fall collection, which is inspired by the Paris student riots of May 1968, Dior has completely wrapped the facade of its Paris flagship store in protest posters from that time. Similar bills had formed the backdrop to the show last February. Starting July 19, the luxury brand is going to roll out similar decor in 15 additional locations.


Pampered users. Successful retailers consider their customers users of the brand, rather than buyers of a product. Their secret lies in an intelligent combination of tech and data with human touch. As apparel sales continue to move online, physical spaces become second homes, where users get pampered with VIP experiences, hard to find items, and immaculate personal service, which puts renewed focus on store personnel.


Show me the money. On WWD's list of the 25 highest paid executives in US fashion, the top spot went to Ralph Lauren's Patrice Louvet, whose 2017 compensation reached $23.8 million. He's closely followed by Walmart CEO Doug McMillan ($22.8 million) and Ralph Lauren himself at $22.6 million. The final spot on the list is shared by Walmart’s digital chief, Mark Lore, and A&F CEO Fran Horowitz, who both received $10.3 million, although Lore’s compensation fell 96 percent, as Horowitz's more than doubled.


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