Welcome back to The Spin! As Macy's implements VR technology to reduce return rates, Walmart and JCPenney are in line to take over Sears' customers. We also check out a concerning consumption shift in China - and Christian Louboutin's surreal new capsule collection featuring manicured nails and toe rings... Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Space Odyssey. In one of the largest virtual reality rollouts in retail history, Macy’s is bringing VR installations to furniture departments in 70 stores nationwide. In tests, the technology proved (press release) to help customers make better buying decisions, increasing sales by more than 60 percent and reducing return rates to under 2 percent. In January, Macy’s plans to expand the space-saving program to 20 additional locations.



Sears vs Predator. The struggles of Sears Holdings, which just received approval to access its $300 million in debtor-in-possession financing, might benefit several of its competitors. Among them are JCPenney, which operates stores in close proximity to almost half of Sears’ locations, and Walmart, which has a strong overlap of customers in terms of age and income. Total store closings in the US have already reached almost 5,000 this year.

Home for the holidays. Teen accessories retailer Claire's has emerged from bankruptcy reorganization with $1.9 billion less debt and $575 million in new funding. The Chicago-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 in March with 7,500 stores worldwide, now operates 2,471 stores in North America and Europe plus 6,631 concessions and 687 franchise stores. Contrary to some reports, major store closures are currently not scheduled in the UK.

Size paradise. Following a successful mobile retail tour in 2017, three-year-old digitally native brand Universal Standard now disrupts brick-and-mortar retail with the world’s most size-inclusive fashion store. Located at 65 Greene Street in New York’s Soho neighborhood, the store offers luxurious basics in sizes 00 to 40, with plans to expand into new categories like accessories and shoes.


The fixer. Former Cherokee Chairman Robert Galvin has been named CEO at Iconix Brand Group. He succeeds President and CEO John Haugh who abruptly left the brand management company in June after Walmart and Target dropped its Mossimo, Danskin and OP labels. Meanwhile, Executive Chairman Peter Cuneo functioned as interim CEO. The company’s 28 brand portfolio also includes Lee Cooper, Ed Hardy and London Fog.


The China Syndrome. Consumer spending is slowing in China, affecting both the burgeoning middle class, where parents now give education priority over consumption, as well as the luxury market. Following Ermenegildo Zegna’s forecast of a slowdown in Chinese luxury demand for the second half of the year, luxury stocks continued their downward trend (paywall) on Tuesday to reach an accumulated loss of about $160 billion.

Coming home. Due to automation and the need for faster shipments, apparel manufacturing might be heading back (paywall; in German) to the West from China and Southeast Asia, where rising wages continue to increase costs. Travel time for items from Asia to Europe can reach 30 days, while transportation from Turkey to Germany only takes three to six days. More than three quarters of experts surveyed by McKinsey expect such a swing by 2025.


Loubi's shades of nude. Expanding on the brand's broad range of nude shades, Christian Louboutin has developed a surreal new capsule collection in seven different skin tones. Designed to look like bare feet with manicured nails and sparkling toe rings, the sneakers are complemented by black bucket bags with hand-shaped appliqués in matching nude shades. They will be available for Spring 2019.


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