Welcome back to a new issue of The Spin. Today we check out how Amazon combines human and artificial intelligence to combat counterfeits. Over in Britain, retailer LK Bennett struggles for survival, while the Karstadt-Kaufhof joint-venture in Germany prepares to cut the number of its suppliers. On a lighter note, its currently a perfect time for models over 50. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


Counterfeit crackdown. To combat knock-offs, US online giant Amazon has launched a new anti-counterfeit program, currently only available by invite. Project Zero is a mix of human and artificial intelligence, aiming to bring the number of counterfeits down to zero. It provides brands a tool to independently nix forgeries on the site, while automated protections block them on the back end.

Rock the robot. The use of robots is rising sharply in North America, with shipments grown 7 percent in 2018. US retailers like Walmart and Target are joining the trend in a partnership with FedEx to test its last-mile delivery robots. FedEx’s autonomous, battery-powered SameDay Bot (video) rolls on four wheels, is able to climb stairs, and can avoid obstacles through sensors and cameras, with speed reaching (press release) 10 mph.


Close to collapse. British luxury retailer LK Bennett, a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge, is struggling for survival. If no investor is found, the 41-shop chain will go into administration. Accountant EY has already been selected to oversee the insolvency. Almost 500 jobs are at stake. LK Bennett was founded in 1990 by Linda Bennett, who sold the business in 2008 but returned in 2017 to help revive the struggling retailer. She since put about £11.2 million into the company.

Driving efficiency. As part of the consolidation of its purchasing divisions, the German joint-venture of Signa-owned Karstadt and HBC-owned Kaufhof will drastically reduce the number of suppliers. Remaining vendors can expect larger orders - and new negotiations of terms and conditions. Talks are expected to start this week. In an interview with German fashion trade magazine TextilWirtschaft, the joint-venture’s head of strategic purchasing, Jörg Peter Schmidden, explains (paywall; translated by Google) the details.


Taking shape! The new personnel structure of the joint-venture between German department store chains Karstadt and Kaufhof is becoming clearer. Last week, the names of 25 top managers in the second management level have been announced internally. These include the top buyers for the fashion sector, which counts for about half of total sales. TextilWirtschaft has the names (paywall; translated by Google).


Amazon's $5 million coat. A $139 China-made puffer jacket from a third party retailer on Amazon is gaining cult status in the US. Known to insiders as The Amazon Coat, the Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket comes in five colors and sizes xx-small to xx-large, with several sizes in several colors already sold out. According to Orolay founder Kevin Chiu, who sells mainly through Amazon, January sales totaled about $5 million, with annual sales expected to reach $30-$40 million.

The softer side of Vans. Although highly coveted, Vans skate shoes are not known for their comfort. Since 2016, the company has been working to change that, but that required a lot more than just adding some cushioning. To increase padding while keeping the silhouette, the company had to redesign the shoe’s interior as part of the new ComfyCush technology.


The best years! From style icon Celine Dion to super model Iman, over-50 year old influencers are on the rise. The latest example is supermodel Stephanie Seymour, who famously closed the Versace show in February, while 97-year-old style icon Iris Apfel proves, that there is absolutely no age limit to becoming a model.


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