Welcome to this new edition of The Spin. Today we're looking into the efforts of small companies to survive against goliath competitors. Proenza Schouler has found new financial backers. Two luxury American boutiques are joining forces to fight gigantic online retailers. There are constant changes happening on the technological front. For instance Walmart is testing AI in its lab, Bluefly tries selling through a gamified flash page. Enjoy the read. Best, Caroline.


New financial wings. Proenza Schouler has found (paywall) new financial partners. The American company, created by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, is buying out private equity firm Castanea Partners. The new investors will inject funding into the struggling business and help the New York fashion studio expand globally. Also a new senior executive team is replacing the old guard. The founders of Proenza Schouler follow the example of Stella McCartney, who last March ended its link to Kering.


Stronger together. Two American independent luxury boutiques, Need Supply Co (Virginia) and Totokaelo (New York, Seattle) are merging into (paywall) a single company called NSTO. Both stores are backed by the Canadian investment firm, Cormack Capital. They will use the technology platform, created with Cormack support to develop NSTO's e-commerce volume and better compete with Net-a-porter and Farfetch. The 2 boutiques are known for their new wave choices: Dries Van Noten, Ganni, A.P.C, Rick Owens, Vetements...


Another AI lab. The hypermarket giant Walmart is building an AI (Artificial Intelligence) laboratory inside one of its stores in Levittown (New York). The so called project Kepler aims to explore new applications that are able to track low inventory, detect the number of carts available at the entrance or identify spills. Walmart's leaders eager to build its technological platform are also testing Virtual Reality in store number 8 in California as well as Cloud technology in Austin (Texas).

Are you game? Online fashion retailer Bluefly is teaming up with start up Newants to sell products via an interactive gamified flash page. Shoppers can earn bigger discounts once a day by sharing the products page with their social media. Newants gives them 3 attempts. The advantage for the seller? It should drive up interest in the offerings. If shoppers become hooked, it could be the beginning of a big shift in e-commerce marketing.

Shopping with Alexa. American consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones and tablets during the holiday season. According to Citi Retail Services (CRS), 42% will do their shopping on the phone and 13% will require the help of their virtual assistant. Millennials (55%) and GenXers (48%) lead the pack on this mobile use. Surprinsingly, GenXers (22%) are the most eager to try voice driven shopping, perhaps because a lot of them own connected devices.


Mr Italy in New York. Mr and Mrs Italy, the outerwear expert, has tapped (paywall) Marco Pievani as its first US CEO. The new boss has been an American fixture. He was the North American president of Etro for 18 years and before that he headed Valentino's North American division. Mr Pievani will be based in New York city. His mission is to extend the presence of the brand on this side of the Atlantic. Mr and Mrs Italy is already in luxury department stores, such as Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

Beauty shakeup. Coty, the giant beauty group is cleaning up its senior ranks: the CEO Camillo Pane is out and the chairman Bart Becht cedes his siege to Peter Harf. The conglomerate JAB Holding company, owner of Coty, is replacing Camillo Pane with Pierre Laubies, who was number one at Jacobs Douwe Egberts, another division of JAB. His mission: fix Coty's multiple supply chain issues. The beauty company owns several luxury perfume licences such as Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Chloe...


Going fur free. Jean Paul Gaultier joins the long list of designers who have banned fur from their collection. The creator said live on French television that the way animals are killed "is absolutely deplorable". His decision comes years after PETA's protests against the use of fur, among such protests was the take over of his Paris boutique in 2006. Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Gucci, Galliano, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors...have all finally adopted fake fur.


is a product
delivered to you by | Imprint