The Retail Apocalypse is Old News. Now What?

In 2019, regardless of size, tenure or segment of business retailers, brands and suppliers must recognize that they can no longer navigate the new landscape with old maps.

Tomorrow’s retail winners will be nimble, data-driven, fast-to-market and cost efficient. They will have the foresight, fortitude and fearlessness to disrupt their own identity and legacy models.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

The rate of change will escalate. There is no time for deep contemplation. Winners will leap, measure and then optimize.

Failing fast will be a requirement, not an option. Succeeding fast will be a requirement, too.

The Alchemist’s Retail Prophecies for 2019:

Warning: One can identify prognosticators who use a crystal ball to predict the retail future. They’re the ones with glass shards in their bleeding hands and smoke issuing from their charred eyebrows.

20 Companies Account for Nearly All Retail & Fashion Profits

20 “super winner” companies now account for 97% of economic profit in the retail and fashion industry, a dramatic increase from 70% in 2010.

This finding is one of many interesting insights released in the “State of Fashion 2019” report from McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion.

The study shows increased polarization, with luxury and value advancing and mid-market players falling behind. “Well-known European luxury companies tended to be overrepresented in the top 20, with North American companies coming in a close second.”

Over time North American department stores lost out, with none remaining in the top 20, compared with three 10 years ago — a stark illustration of the fragility of the traditional retailing model.

The report states that 20% of companies represent 128% of the total industry economic profit.

Ralph Lauren’s Barber

Ralph Lauren’s barber, Clemente Dimonda, used to work on Jamaica Ave., in Queens.

Dimonda said. “One day, this man grab me by the jacket, and he say, ‘Look at me!’ I say, ‘I look at you!’ He say, ‘You’re too qualified for this area. You got to go to New York. You make a lot of money.’ Mr. Dimonda raised his finger and poked the air to finish: “I never forget.”

That was 50 years ago. Mr. Dimonda still wields scissors at age 85. He gives a “gentleman cut, no crazy look, high class, clean,” and uses old-fashioned supplies like witch hazel & cotton necklaces to catch loose hair.

After years located on 5th Avenue & 46th St., Mr. Dimonda now works from a shop designed by Mr. Lauren and tucked into the Polo headquarters at 650 Madison Ave. The operation looks like “the sort of a barbershop you’d expect to see on an ocean liner in the ’30s.”

Tommy Hilfiger “used to come here for an excuse,” Dimonda suggested that Mr. Hilfiger was less interested in a haircut than a look around the Polo offices. “He used to come at night. One night I show him out, ‘Tommy, let’s go.’ He say, ‘No, go ahead, I follow you.’ I say, ‘No. You follow me.’ Since then, no more Tommy.” Mr. Hilfiger did not return a request for comment.

– Steven Kurutz for The New York Times.

Vegan Stan Smiths, a Birthday Present for Stella McCartney.

The British designer, a champion for cruelty-free fashion, has used “vegan” animal-free leather to create a sustainable take on the iconic adidas tennis shoe.

“Many years ago, I was given a special pair of vegetarian leather Stan Smiths by my husband and Adidas,” she told Vogue Magazine. “It occurred to me that you really couldn’t tell the difference between the real leather and the faux leather pair. I could not help but think of how many animals’ lives could be saved if Stan Smith and Adidas would change from real leather to vegetarian leather, and use non-animal-based glues.”

The “Stella Stan Smith” looks nearly identical to the classic, except for a few details: Instead of a Kelly-green heel, the shoes feature a burgundy and navy color-block stamped with McCartney’s logo. The stripes down the side are replaced with tiny punched-out stars, a McCartney motif, and while Stan Smith’s profile remains on the right tongue, the left one features Ms. McCartney.

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The shoes are available for sale, today, in time for Stella McCartney’s birthday, and fashion week – they retail for $325.

 

 

New York Fetes Ralph Lauren During Fashion Week. And Vice Versa.

Happy 50th anniversary Ralph Lauren.

The weather, although warm, was pleasant. A good thing, as the celebration during New York Fashion Week (NYFW) was held in Central Park at Bethesda Terrace.

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The guest list included fashion icons Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Anna Wintour (of course); also, Steven Spielberg, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain.

Hillary Clinton, who often wears Lauren’s clothing, was present. Yet it was Oprah Winfrey who was most quotable. ”Your story exalts our collective story,” Oprah said. “Your designs define integrity.”

It was Oprah who toasted Lauren.

“The real reason we are here is not the show,” she said. “It’s you. You Ralph Lauren, and 50 years of your designing our dreams. When I first moved to Chicago and was making enough money to pay my rent… and still had something left over, I thought I was a success. My idea of celebrating that success wasn’t to go out and get a fancy car, or art or jewelry… it, was a Ralph Lauren bath towel that I had [craved] for over 10 years.”

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Designer Ralph Lauren holds a child model after his 50th anniversary fashion event during New York Fashion Week in New York

There’s a lot of unknown, out there…

“Last year, Randa created a division devoted to honing its digital offerings, optimize data collection for its direct-to-consumer operations, as well as to assist retail and brand partners.

Randa Digital Labs is responsible for, among other projects, online content for each of its products, provided to retailer partners free-of-charge, establishing a basic standard for content when an online retailer sells a Randa-made product.

“If someone is putting Levi’s belts as a third-party seller and taking horrible photography, RDL assures that adjacent pages are populated with wonderful storytelling and great photography,” David J. Katz, Randa CMO said.

If Randa’s recent bid for Perry Ellis is any indication, the company is aiming to write the rules itself and remain on the prowl for M&A targets that could further elevate its enterprise to beyond just manufacturing.

“There’s an awful lot of unknown out there,” Katz said. “What’s not healthy is trying to hold onto an old model.”

– Excerpt from Business of Fashion

Faded Department Store Brands Search For New Identity Online

“Brands and the licensees that make their clothes are rewriting the rules of retail as they work together to court the modern consumer and compete online.” BY CATHALEEN CHEN,  AUGUST, 2018

For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough

Today corporate innovation is all the rage. Large companies host accelerators, launch internal startups, and court potential startup partners in a quest to harness young companies’ innovativeness and energy for themselves.

But large legacy companies shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by neglecting their core business and assuming it has minimal room to grow.

In this article, I will detail how our company, Randa Accessories, grew from 25 to 50 percent market share in several categories and channels by focusing on its core business and adjacent “bridge” categories, and offer some takeaways for other businesses based on that experience. (I will also describe how Randa launched its own successful internal startups — I’m not saying corporate innovation isn’t useful, just that it needs to be one part of a broader strategy to excel.)

First, a little about Randa. You many not know our name, but you know our products. Our products are available under 50 brands, and are sold at over 20,000 points of sale, and millions of digital touch points.

We’re the world’s largest men’s accessories company. We sell ties, and belts, wallets, bags, hats, slippers and luggage.

Randa is completely vertical, business-to-business and direct-to-consumer, with 4,000 employees working from 23 global offices.

Our culture emphasized growth and efficiency and led us to success in revenue, margin, penetration, and market share.

For example, we’re the leading supplier of belts to Nordstrom… and to Walmart, to Kohl’s and to Amazon, and The Hudson’s Bay, Liverpool, Printemps, El Cortes Ingles, David Jones, John Lewis and to Costco.

We spent over $50 million to assure that when a consumer walks into a retail store for pants, they immediately see our belts nearby. Dress shirts? There are our ties…

And then, we hit a wall. 

Continue reading “For legacy companies facing disruption, corporate innovation won’t be enough”

Hot off the presses

Monday’s edition of the New York Post became a must-have accessory this morning due to its full front- and back-page ads touting the cult skateboarding brand “Supreme.”

Newsstands were reportedly sold-out before the sun came up.

Monday morning, Supreme posted an Instagram video of its NY Post collector’s edition rolling off the presses in The Bronx — and customers began buying and selling the limited edition copies. (Aren’t all newspaper issues limited editions?)

While “The Post” generally sells for $1 an issue, some people were already re-selling single copies for up to $100. ($100 for copies of the printed ad?) Expect to see this issue selling on eBay shortly for even more…

Supreme is an American skateboarding shop and clothing brand established in New York City in April 1994. The brand caters to youth culture, in particular the skateboarding, hip hop, and rock cultures. The brand’s clothes, accessories and skateboards are sold extensively in secondary markets.

(c) David J. Katz, 2018