Welcome to a new edition of The Spin. Retail news dominates the headlines today with a new majority owner of Liberty London, a new H&M collaboration and more woes for JCPenney. Meanwhile several US stores are bracing for a bitter back-to-school season and a possibly cruel summer – but only time will tell. You'll also learn why people slammed Macy's for stocking a "fat shaming" dinner plate. Have a terrific Tuesday. Best, Christopher


Give me Liberty. There's a new owner of the 40 percent controlling stake in the storied department store Liberty London. Glendower Capital, a privately held London-based investment firm, has acquired it from Bluegem Capital for about £300 million, thereby giving Bluegem a profit of £268 million from what it paid for the stake nine years ago. Liberty's sales have zoomed by almost £100 million since Bluegem bought it thus making the store a clear exception (paywall) in a suffering sector.

Speaking of suffering... Despite publicly denying a report published by Reuters late last week saying that it has hired advisors to explore restructuring or bankruptcy options, JCPenney saw its stock price fall again yesterday by nearly 9 percent to 82 cents per share. Even if it can avoid bankruptcy analysts fear its debt of about $4 billion and continuously declining sales will be ongoing problems for the chain.

Chinese cooperation. H&M's next designer collaboration will be the first one it has ever done with a designer from China. The Swedish chain announced (paywall; translated by Google) that it will offer a special 45-piece collection by Angel Chen that will be sold in its stores in China and countries with large Chinese populations starting in September. The capsule will include pieces based on those from her previous collections and feature some traditional Asian motifs such as bamboo and cranes.

Dismaying dishes. Macy's has pulled a dinner plate from its Story shop-in-shop in New York after Twitter users found it offensive and said that it could promote eating disorders. The dish, made by a small company called Pourtions, features three concentric circles with the largest outer one labeled "mom jeans," the middle one labeled "favorite jeans" and the small inner one called "skinny jeans." A shopper tweeted the image on Sunday and based on the social media firestorm it created, Macy's announced it would stop selling the plates just a few hours later.


Make retail great again. With slowing foot traffic and diminishing sales hitting many stores in the US, some analysts are already predicting dire news – even an "unmitigated disaster" – when retailers start releasing their Q2 numbers next month. Many stores have excess inventory that needs to be cleared for back-to-school apparel and this is also hurting manufacturers such as Levi's and PVH. And new research by UBS says that US retailers should expect "Back-to-School Blues" this year due to more cautious consumer spending in the US.


Back to Baker? Is Ted Baker's founder Ray Kelvin pondering a return to the company? Recent reports say he is – and wants to buy it out and take it private. Kelvin left the company in March after being charged with inappropriate behavior in the workplace but has retained a 35 percent stake in Ted Baker. Shares in the brand rose 13.5 percent yesterday in the wake of the news.

How to be cool. A new study by the University of Michigan's Roth School of Business has outlined ten key characteristics – everything from being exciting to being connected to a subculture – that help make brands seem cool to consumers. Not all ten are required to make a brand cool, but the researchers say the more, the better. The study surveyed students in the US, UK and Europe.


It girl. Seventeen-year-old singer Billie Eilish has conquered the charts – and now she's conquering fashion. The pop sensation, who appeared in a Calvin Klein ad earlier this year and will front MCM's fall campaign, is launching her own capsule collection with California-based brand Freak City that features her signature (gallery) printed and baggy looks. And she also appeared at an exclusive Chanel party on Shelter Island, New York over the weekend and basically stole the show.


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