Welcome back to The Spin! As retailers struggle with growing return rates, the trend to product personalization may offer some relief. We also take a look at the most interesting collections from Milan’s menswear shows, and tell you, which US retailer has just launched an adaptive clothing line for special needs kids. Enjoy the read and feel free to share! Best, Ulrike


It's a jungle out there. Sports and casual wear continues to play an important role at the Milan menswear shows (image gallery), with tropical themes, bold colors and recycling elements adding new impulses. But the location is also being discussed. Following a strong Pitti Uomo (paywall) event in Florence, Milan’s calendar this season was further shortened by Prada’s move to Shanghai.

Style for special needs. Joining retailers and brands like Target, Zappos and Tommy Hilfiger, US department store chain Kohl’s is introducing sensory-friendly and adaptive clothing for children with various disabilities. As part of its kidswear labels Urban Pipeline, Jumping Beans and SO, these items mirror regular fashion styles, featuring wider neck and hem lines, two-way zippers, flat seams, reinforced loops and openings for abdominal access.


Outside the box. To expand their business, several retailers are adding new categories to their assortments. Canadian yogawear chain Lululemon has launched a selfcare line with dry shampoo, moisturizer, deodorant and lip balm at 50 of its own stores, several partner studios, certain Sephora locations and online. Meanwhile, US electronics chain Best Buy is expanding its online assortment to include fitness gear and home workout machines like spin bikes, treadmills and rowing machines.

The final blow. The struggles of small US shoe stores are currently being amplified by high order limits from top footwear brands like Adidas, Nike and Ugg. Small merchants are usually unable to buy hundreds of pairs from a single brand, leaving that business to large retailers like Walmart, Costco and Target. But when important chains like Sports Authority, Sports Zone and Payless Shoe Source fail, this strategy can backfire as well…


Back through the middle and around again. Excess return levels are a serious issue for many online retailers, but initiatives to prevent customers from ordering a large amount of clothing in different sizes and colors, and then sending most back, can also backfire (paywall). Still, retailers have begun to charge or cut off serial returners - and are now dealing with the consequences.

Make it fit. To secure higher conversion and lower return rates, merchants and labels like Rihanna x Fenty (paywall) are increasingly turning to personalization. After all, customized, monogrammed or otherwise personalized items are usually not returnable. In addition, US companies are turning to digital manufacturing of highly customized (video) clothing as a response to the looming trade wars with China and Mexico.


Filling the shoes. Ed Record, CFO at Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company, is taking (press release) a medical leave. In his absence, Becky Roof from the global consulting firm Alix Partners will take on his duties as interim CFO. In this position, Roof reports to Helena Foulkes, CEO at HBC, which owns Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue and the ailing US department store chain Lord & Taylor.


I kissed a girl! The future of storytelling may lie in the virtual hands of avatar influencers like the computer-generated Lil Miquela, who has 1.6 million Instagram followers, and infamously kissed Bella Hadid in a controversial Calvin Klein ad (video). Replacing real humans, these virtual creatures can be constantly steered in the desired direction - although that does not necessarily prevent backlash, like the queer baiting accusations for the above mentioned Calvin Klein commercial.


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