Welcome back to The Spin! Although Amazon allegedly manipulates reviews for its own brands, they don’t seem to perform particularly well. Serial returners are also plaguing the industry, as new startups make a business of reselling returned merchandise. There is also an artsy new cure for depression and diabetes. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Amazon's worst performers. Although Amazon allegedly manipulates reviews for its own products, the practice doesn’t seem to work very well - especially in apparel. The vast majority of Amazon’s long list of private labels is for clothing, but according to a study by Jungle Scout, those only account for 1 percent of its private label sales. The weakest category is womenswear, where Amazon’s brands supposedly sell (paywall) fewer than 100 items each per month.


Getting physical. By 2019, lifestyle platform Highsnobiety.com plans to expand (paywall; in German) into eCommerce with a private label, designer collaborations and exclusives. The company is also working on a stronger physical presence. With past projects including partners like Moncler, Prada and Celine as well as an in-store events for Gucci with artist GucciGhost, Highsnobiety seems to be off to a good start.

Returning problems... Due to a rising number of "serial returners", several retailers in the US and UK are overhauling their sometimes very generous return policies. Some, like Costco and L Brands’ Victoria’s Secret, track customers’ return rates, others consider following Amazon in banning clients who habitually give back product.

...and solutions. New startups like Optoro already make a business of helping retailers resell returned items online. In addition to recuperating some of the lost funds, these initiatives promote sustainability. According to Zac Rogers, post-retail sales of both returns and overstocked items totaled (paywall) $554 billion in 2016 with a growth rate of an estimated 7.5 percent a year.


New horizons. MyTheresa CFO Markus Holzherr is leaving (paywall; in German) the Neiman Marcus-owned luxury retailer to pursue other opportunities. In late September, Neiman Marcus got under fire for transferring MyTheresa's eCommerce business to its corporate parent, Neiman Marcus Group Inc. Debt holder Marble Rich Capital views this as an attempt to move the business beyond the reach of existing creditors. According to Neiman Marcus, the transfer is in line with the company’s credit documents.

From Airfield to René Lezard. Following an investment by Turkish textile company Cemsel, German fashion brand René Lezard announced the appointment of Andreas Angerer to Creative Director Womenswear. Angerer succeeds Hedwig Bouley, who decided to focus on her own company, LPJ Studios. Back in September, Sebastian Pangels was named Head of Wholesale. Following last year's insolvency proceedings, CEO Heinz Hackl was replaced (in German) by Isabella Hierl in February.

Driving denim. Effective January 2019, Nicole Komaritzan has been named (paywall; in German) division head at Marc O'Polo Denim. Komaritzan started her career at retailer P&C Duesseldorf and most recently worked for Hamburg-based Tom Tailor Group, where the search for a successor is ongoing. At Marc O’Polo, which has been expanding (in German) in China, she is expected to build out the denim category.


An education - and a cure. Raf Simons, whose Spring 2019 collection for Calvin Klein received mixed reviews, continues to admire people who have an opinion - even if its against him. The Belgian-born designer, who incorporates a lot of Andy Warhol in his work, started looking at art when he was a teenager. He might have been on to something: In Montreal, doctors can now prescribe visits to art museums for ailments like depression and diabetes.


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