Hermès pop-up Hermèsmatic opens at Selfridges in Manchester

Hermès has launched its celebrated Hermèsmatic pop-up store in Selfridges Exchange Square, in Manchester.

The pop-up, which first opened in Strasbourg, France last year, was developed in order to encourage Hermès customers to give their old scarves a new look by taking them to the laundromat. Entitled Hermèsmatic, the immersive experience, which features washing machines in the luxury house's signature orange, invites customers to dip-dye their scarves Hermès and treat them to restore them their original softness.

The complimentary service takes approximately 48 hours and customers can choose from three colours; namely denim blue, fuschia pink and bright red. The opening marks the first time Hermès brings its travelling pop-up Hermèsmatic to the UK and follows on from successful openings in New York, Amsterdam, Kyoto and Munich. The pop-up is set to move to Los Angeles in November.

In addition to the complimentary services offered by Hermèsmatic, Selfridges will also offer free silk styling workshops for Hermès clientele, offering them lessons on how to transform their silk scarved into headpieces, bags, browns and even apparel.

The Hermèsmatic pop-up is set to run for a week from October 5 to October 12 at Selfridges in Manchester.

Amazon struggles to sell high fashion

Paris - Paris Fashion Week just ended. Between shows and showroom visits the topic of Amazon is suddenly a topic of conversation. We are discussing fast fashion, couture and e-commerce, and unanimous amongst our group of fashion cognoscenti (and well-seasoned shoppers) is that nobody in our immediate fashion circle has ever bought clothes from Amazon.

Earlier this month L2, a research company that studies brands' digital performance, released a report called Amazon Intelligence: Fashion. It stated that the online behemoth will surpass American retailer Macy’s as the world’s largest seller of apparel by the end of this year. That is quite a coup, even for Amazon, which is better known for selling everything from books to gadgets, but not high fashion.

Amazon sells private label clothes

But the findings are not surprising as Amazon has made many advancements in launching itself as a fashion destination. It has cleverly created a hub of private labels of self-produced clothing brands, cutting out wholesalers and opting for a direct to consumer approach. Probably because this is where profit margins are to be had.

But Amazon trades almost entirely in the fast fashion category retail space. Designer brands, specifically luxury, have largely shunned Amazon, citing lack of user experience and an unappealing website for fashion as reasons.

Bent on forging its own path, Amazon recently launched Prime Wardrobe, a service allowing shoppers to try on clothes at home prior to making the purchase agreement. So what exactly are shoppers buying from Amazon when its comes to fashion?

The answer is basic, affordable fashion and commodity products. This includes multi-packs, like men’s underwear, socks and ladies hosiery. What it clearly isn’t selling is designer fashion, luxury, high end denim or even the latest athleisurewear.

Amazon struggles to sell high fashion

Amazon sells clothes, not fashion

As Bloomberg noted, Amazon good at selling clothes, but not at selling fashion. “That distinction is part of a broader problem Amazon must solve in its quest to dominate more retailing categories.”

“Currently, the Amazon user experience is great for replenishment or task-oriented purchases. When you run out of laundry detergent, Amazon makes it easy to find and buy the same brand you always purchase. When you want to buy the novel your book club is reading, Amazon also makes that simple. But Amazon is not so great for shoppers who are in discovery mode. When you're looking for a dress to wear to a wedding, you're not necessarily looking for a specific neckline, length, color or brand, you're just browsing for something that catches your eye. When you're redecorating your bedroom, you know you want a new duvet, but don't have some specific pattern in mind.”

This is reflected in L2’s findings were all the products on Amazon’s top 100 list cost less than 20 dollars. Its bestselling private label fashion brand is Amazon Essentials, which sells mostly polo shirts and socks. Ranges such as its Essentials label may prove to be stiff competition for brands such as Hanes and Levi’s, which also operate in the same retail space.

According to L2 contemporary brands that do not officially distribute on Amazon have fallen victim to gray market distribution. For example, there are more than 2,300 third-party listings for Tory Burch products, for which discounts as low as 71 percent of the recommended retail price.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon will need to create an online experience that is about discovering fashion, not to mention to make it easier to sift through its vast offer of clothes.

There is so much stuff on Amazon, to navigate its enormous offer is more of a chore than a delight. Until it learns to delight fashion customers, Amazon better stick to selling the basics.

Photo credit: Amazon Essentials, L2 report Amazon Intelligence: Fashion, article sources; “Amazon is too Basic for its Fashion Ambitions;” L2 report Amazon Intelligence: Fashion

Denim Capital Amsterdam: This is where all the big brands are

INTERACTIVE When Adriano Goldschmied, co-founder of leading Italian denim label Diesel, better known as the 'Godfather of Denim', was asked to explain the special bond that exists between the Netherlands and denim, his answer was clear and concise: ”The Dutch have jeans in their blood. Denim fits with their mindset.”

Amsterdam has the reputation of being one of the world's leading denim capitals, together with Los Angeles and Tokyo, and everyone who knows the city’s facts and figures will understand why. The Dutch capital is not only the birthplace of well-known brands such as G-Star and Denham the Jeanmaker, is it also the backdrop of denim related events such as trade fair Kingspins and the Blueprint Festival - both of which are part of the Amsterdam Denim Days. In addition to that, the city is home to the House of Denim: a unique platform which focuses on craftsmanship and innovation within the industry. In addition to this, it is also home to the world’s first Jean School, which is located in the west of Amsterdam. Unsurprisingly, the city has the highest number of jeans companies per square kilometre in the world,making it clear - if there is a city that deserves the title denim capital, it is Amsterdam.

Scroll down for the interactive map, which can be found after the next two paragraphs...

According to Mariëtte Hoitink, co-founder of House of Denim and owner of fashion recruitment and consultancy agency HTNK, it is not very surprising that so many denim labels have chosen Amsterdam as their home base. One of the main reasons behind the city’s appeal is its international character says Hoitink: “Amsterdam has become some sort of global village, which in turn makes it a very attractive place to other international professionals. From creatives to salespeople: everyone would want to work here.” Another reason for the city’s appeal, is the favourable Dutch tax system, as well as the fact that the country has a relatively high number of art academies. And last but not least, Hoitink completely agrees with the words spoken by Denim Godfather Goldschmied. “The Dutch are very down to earth, especially in Amsterdam. Every day is casual Friday - the Netherlands is not about couture. Comfortable and laid-back: that is what truly describes us.”

Denim Capital Amsterdam: This is where all the big brands are

Amsterdam has managed to attract a large number of both Dutch and international denim labels. FashionUnited has listed the brands that chose the denim capital as the location for their office or head quarters and created a map containing all of these locations.

Instructions:Open the menu by clicking the button in the top left of the menu or click the icons in the map for more information..

This overview of denim labels with a (head) office in Amsterdam includes both Dutch as well as international brands. Labels or retailers included specifically focus on denim. Despite the fact that many fashion retailers nowadays also offer denim in their collections, they are not included in this overview, as they are not categorized as true denim specialists.

Tip: This news map can also be opened on a mobile device, for example during your next visit to Amsterdam. Instruction: download the Google Mapps app. Search for the title of this map, ‘’Denim brands in Amsterdam’’, on Google.com (i.e. in the browser on your phone). Upon selecting the map, it will automatically open in Google Maps. When clicking an icon, the app can then provide a route description from your current location.

Denim Capital Amsterdam: This is where all the big brands are During the month of October FashionUnited focuses on Denim. For all our articles on Denim, click here.

Photos: FashionUnited.

Arket announces first store opening in the Netherlands

London - H&M's newest brand, Arket, is set to open its first store in the Netherlands next spring. The flagship store will be located in the capital city of Amsterdam, at Koningsplein 20. An official opening date has yet to be confirmed, said a spokesperson to FashionUnited NL.

The new Arket flagship store will span 1,000 square meters, spread over three floors. In addition to offering Arket's apparel, accessories, and interior collections, the store will also be home to a cafe, which will be based on Arket's New Nordic Food Manifesto. "We are very happy to be opening our first Arket store in the Netherlands at such an amazing location on Koningsplein in Amsterdam", said CEO Lars Axelsson in a statement. "Although the store is not set to open until next spring, Arket is already available online in the Netherlands and 17 other countries."

The store is located in the vicinity of H&M's group other retail chain & Other Stories, which the Swedish fashion group launched in 2013. The opening of the store follows on from Arket's previous store openings in London, Copenhagen, and Brussels earlier this year. In addition to opening its first store in the Netherlands next year, Arket is also set to open stores in Stockholm and Munchen this month.

View the Arket shops on the map. Click on an icon to find out more about the (planned) store.

Photo: Arket Facebook

Digital innovation helped axe 62,000 retail jobs in 2016

Digital innovation and the rise of online is said to have affected 62,000 jobs in the UK retail sector last year, according to new research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS reported that employment within the UK retail sector declined by 62,000 last year, as stores and outlets across the nation saw a 2.2 percent dip in headcount. This drop, fuelled by the collapse of BHS among other retailers, is more than any other sector as most saw a significant increase in their headcount, reported the Telegraph.

The chief executive of Retail Economics, Richard Lim, claimed that an increased focus on digital and omni-channel retailing is another reason why employment numbers dropped. "High street retailers’ real growth area is online, so they are looking at whether they need so many stores and in many cases, they are cutting back," said Lim to the Telegraph.

"Retailers are also having to adapt to consumers’ growing expectations of convenience, which has meant they have had to switch investment from stores to their online operations to cope with changing shopping habits." In addition, Lim added that many retailers have cut back so much from their operational cost base, that increases from the National Living Wage and the pinch in labour costs have led to many retailers opting to cut back on the number of staff in favour of introducing new technology.

"As the cost of operating a retail business continues to rise, they will look at implementing other technological innovations to strip back costs even further," concluded Lim.

Photo: via Pexels

Brand Attic launches national TV advertising campaign

Manchester-based e-tailer Brand Attic is celebrating its continued expansion with the launch of its first nationwide TV advertising campaign to promote its autumn/winter 2017 collections.

The TV spots will run across prominent channels including ITV, Channel 4 and E4, from October 9 until early December. The advert itself heavily features the brand’s partywear offering, both its own-label pieces and its partner brands.

Steph Linton, e-commerce manager at Brand Attic, said: “2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for us and every month has brought new opportunities for expansion. The TV campaign will be key in positioning us alongside the biggest names in the online fashion world and I am so proud to see our collections hitting TV screens across the country.”

Brand Attic launches national TV advertising campaign

The move comes as the online retailer turns two this year and is part of strategy to rival the likes of Boohoo and Asos.

In addition, Brand Attic has also recently added DKNY to its brand portfolio and have launched a new collection in collaboration with the New York-based fashion house consisting of nine premium styles of loungewear that will be marketed through Brand Attic’s network of influencers.

Jessica Chen, head buyer at Brand Attic, added: “The reason behind our DKNY collection was to give our customers the choice of premium winter essentials with great quality and design. The range is absolutely perfect as we head into the gifting season and we’re expecting it to prove popular this Christmas.”

Brand Attic is a multi-brand retailer owned by LF Europe and was launched in 2015 offering menswear and womenswear across a curated selection of more than 30 leading brands including Fashion Union, Wal G, Neon Rose, A&G and AX Paris. It employs 15 full-time staff across marketing, e-commerce, design, and buying based at their Eccles, Greater Manchester headquarters.

Images: courtesy of Brand Attic

Australian accessories retailer to make UK debut

Australian handbag and accessories retailer Colette by Colette Hayman is set to make its UK debut with the opening of its first flagship store in London, followed by a second store in Manchester.

Colette by Colette Hayman have secured a 2,325 square foot flagship store at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, which is expected to open later this month.

Its second store in Manchester Arndale shopping centre will follow in November and is expected to be a similar size.

The brand, which was founded in Sydney, sells quality, affordable, fast on-trend fashion accessories. It has more than 160 stores spanning across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the UAE.

Sacha Laing, chief executive of Colette by Colette Hayman, said: “Having established Colette by Colette Hayman as the market leading fast-fashion accessories brand in our existing markets we are thrilled to be entering one of the worlds fashion icons, the UK.”

Graham Barr, head of UK retail agency, at CBRE, added: “Colette are an exciting brand who are actively looking to grow and expand their presence in the UK. Their arrival is a vote of confidence for the retail sector and demonstrates that the UK remains an important market for international brands to be present in.”

Image: courtesy of Colette by Colette Hayman

London - Luxury e-commerce platform Net-a-Porter is set to roll-out a new tool powered by artificial intelligence (AI) which is designed to select garments for consumers based on their future plans.

Shoppers will be able to search for product suggestions by typing in the location they are travelling or the type of event they are headed to get instant results, according to the Mail on Sunday. In addition, Net-a-Porter is also set to launch another tool which will put together full outfits for shoppers based on the other items they have already selected.

The new technological driven tool is part of Net-a-Porter’s 442 million pound investment in technology and consumer personalisation and is set to launch in a few months.

The British Retail Consortium is partnering with Timewise, the flexible recruitment specialist, to launch a new initiative to drive gender diversity in retail to support retailers’ efforts in improving talent attraction and retention.

The retail industry is the UK’s largest private sector employer, employing around three million people, with flexibility cited as one of the top reasons to work in retail, according to British Retail Consortium research, approximately two-thirds of these employees work part time and the majority of whom are women, and it is hoped that this new flexible job design programme will help career progression.

The aim of the initiative is to tackle the problem that part-time workers, particular women, are being held back from progressing their careers and raising their earnings, from fear of losing that flexibility in their working hours. The scheme follows research by the British Retail Consortium that revealed that 65 percent of part time retail employees stated that they would want to progress into a managerial role if they could maintain a flexible or part time working pattern.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of British Retail Consortium, said:“As the largest private sector employer in the UK with around three million people working across retail and wholesale, the pay and progression of our staff is incredibly important to us.

“Our Retail 2020 research revealed that flexibility is the second most important reason to work in retail, but in some cases this is a trade-off which may hold some people back from fulfilling their potential or optimising their pay.”

Dickinson added: “It is important that these part-time workers are able to progress within organisations when they choose to and we’re working in partnership with Timewise, to support retailers with the task of delivering these opportunities in flexible ways. Such collaboration is important to ensure retail remains an attractive industry to work and grow in.”

Emma Stewart, joint chief executive officer of Timewise, commented: “With a post-Brexit labour market in sight, robust flexible working strategies where jobs are designed with their people in mind, is what will create a win-win situation for UK retailers – from being able to attract the best possible people, maximising the skills of their existing talent, ensuring career progression, and addressing challenges such as low productivity and gender equality.”

The programme has been piloted by Timewise over the last 18 months with five retailers: the John Lewis Partnership, Tesco, B&Q, Cook, and Dixons Carphone.

Russian children’s apparel label Choupette prepares for UK debut

Choupette, a mid-segment children’s wear brand from Russia is set to move into new European markets. The Moscow-based label revealed to FashionUnited that it aims to open its first stand-alone store in London in spring 2018.

“The store in London is likely to open sometime next spring, but the most important thing is to choose the right location, so we are now looking at different areas in London,” said Anatasia Vasilkova, director of development at Choupette to FashionUnited RU. Choupette hopes to open its store near one of London’s busiest shopping areas, Oxford Street, but aims to secure the best location to best suit its brand offering and market positioning.

Choupette to move into new European markets

The brand specialises in offering high-end baby and children’s wear as well as homeware, producing its own products in Russia. Its design studio works together with a fashion agency based in New York to ensure its collections are always on trend and up to the premium standards. Choupette, which offers apparel for infants and children up to the age of 10, currently runs a number of flagship stores in Moscow, Russia as well as stores in the Ukraine and Armenia. The brand opened its first store in the United States in Los Angeles three years ago and opened its first store in Geneva, Switzerland in 2016.

In addition to setting its sights on expanding to the UK, Choupette also aims to open its first mono-brand stores in Spain and Germany next year. The brand has yet to decide on the location of its store in Barcelona, as they are deciding between opening the store in a shopping centre or city centre. “At the moment we represent the brand in Europe through a franchise system. The stores look just like our stores in Russia, offering the full assortment of collections, branded furniture, a carousel. But now our task is to expand to new markets through the opening of mono-branded stores,” said Vasilkova.

Following the opening of its first stand-alone stores, Choupette also aims to move into international wholesale to help build its brand’s presence abroad. "But in our opinion, this is a narrower path, because when you work with multibrand companies and your brand is poorly represented in this or that market, then it can ruin you,” warns Vasilkova. “That is why we want to first open our stand-alone stores and then move into wholesale.”

The children's wear brand has made a name for itself in its home market thanks to its romantic, lace ruffle dresses and multi-colour patterned designs. At the moment Choupette operates over 80 franchised stores in Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.

Photo: Choupette