Welcome back to The Spin! Unexpected business closures and takeovers, a massive truck driver shortage in the US, and tighter eCommerce rules in India - there is no lack of challenges as the apparel industry prepares for the start of the international fashion weeks, which will kick off with the Tom Ford show in New York this Wednesday. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Bye-bye, Bluefly! After more than 20 years in business, discount fashion e-tailer Bluefly unexpectedly closed its doors last Friday, leaving customers and employees out in the cold. While the website states that “We Will Return Shortly”, insiders reveal that the New York-based company plans to liquidate. The news comes just weeks after Bluefly reported a 20 percent sales increase on Black Friday, partly fueled by the launch (paywall) of its new Mirakl Marketplace platform.

Localize it! US sports chain Foot Locker has decided to bring (press release) its neighborhood oriented Power Store format, which has been testing in Liverpool (image gallery), London and Hong Kong, to the US. The first location opened January 25 in Detroit, with about a dozen additional stores planned for this year, including Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia as well as Milan, Italy.


The transporters. In response to a dramatic shortage in truck drivers, Amazon is testing self-driving trucks by Embark to transport cargo on the I-10, which runs across the US from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida. Autonomous trucks are designed to allow drivers to operate safer and more efficiently. Starting February, rival Walmart raised salaries for its truck drivers to almost $90,000 - almost double the median annual wage in the US.

Disrupting the disruptors. Since India put new eCommerce rules into effect last Friday, Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart struggle to pull thousands of products from their virtual shelves. India’s new rules ban foreign vendors from selling exclusives on products and items from vendors that they own equity in.


From Prada to Tory Burch. US fashion label Tory Burch has named (paywall) Stefano Sutter president for Europe and the Middle East, effective February 4. Sutter comes to Tory Burch from Milan-based Prada Group, where he last served as regional director for Northern Europe for both Prada and Miu Miu. He succeeds John Mehas, who took the CEO position at Victoria’s Secret in November 2018. At Tory Burch, he will work closely with newly appointed CEO Pierre-Yves Roussel who married Tory Burch in December.

A closer look. David Simon, CEO of mall operator Simon Property Group, is openly nervous about looming bankruptcies in the US, which could shake out in the first quarter. Still, the executive expects the number of retail failures to decrease compared to 2017 and 2018. On the other hand, Simon has been able to attract stores by digitally native brands like Untuckit (press release) and Warby Parker.


Stretching the limit. Chinese apparel and textile giant Shandong Ruyi (Aquascutum, SMCP, Bally) has acquired Lycra’s parent company, Invista Apparel and Advanced Textiles. The business, now renamed The Lycra Company, will be based in Delaware. The purchase includes eight manufacturing facilities and four research-and-development labs as well as additional brands like Coolmax, Thermolite and Supplex, and is valued at over $2 billion.


Never too late! 97-year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel has just signed a contract with modeling agency IMG, which also represents Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss and Gisele Bundchen. In addition to modeling, IMG will also represent (paywall) Apfel for appearances and endorsements.


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