Fashion to lead the way for 35 percent boost in UK etail

Good news for online fashion retailers like Asos - apparel, and footwear are set to become the biggest contributors to growth within the sector. The UK etail market is predicted to grow 35 percent over the next five years, reaching 68.8 billion pounds by 2022, according to GlobalData.

However, it's not just clothing and footwear that will help drive this surge in online retail, as sectors such as beauty and health will also see a significant rise during the next five years, according to the retail analytics firm. Over the next five years, shopping via smartphone is set to remain consumers preferred shopping channel of choice, as mobile spend is predicted to increase 112 percent. This focus on mobile shopping will be spearheaded by ongoing improvement in mobile shopping, paired with UK consumers need to instant gratification.

78 percent of the population in the UK has shopped online over the last year, as the channel offers shoppers a sense of convenience as well as the lure of lower prices. Young shoppers, in particular, are shopping more and more online in the UK. “Our E-retail report shows online shopper penetration for 16-34-year-olds above 90 percent affirming the importance of the online channel for younger consumers,” said Sofie Willmott, Senior Retail Analyst at GlobalData. “Online pureplayers including Amazon and Asos continue to innovate introducing new technology and driving up consumer expectations of delivery and user experience, requiring multi-channel players to quickly follow suit to maintain their relevance.”

However, online returns are also predicted to grow at nearly the same rate as online spend over the next five years, raising concerns with return management and delivery costs. Clothing and footwear are forecast to account for 70 percent of all online returns in the UK by 2022, as online pure players continue to struggle to solve issues with sizing and fit. “Despite the online channel providing a lifeline to bricks & clicks retailers experiencing tough offline sales, e-retail still imposes significant challenges, including the management of returned stock,” adds Willmott.

“Online returns will continue to rise over the next five years as consumers become more experienced and confident in managing the free and simple returns processes, combined with increased availability of online delivery saver schemes.”

Photo: Asos, screenshot

Amazons opens first fashion studio Blink in India

After fashion studios in London and Amsterdam, online giant Amazon decided on India as the third location for its state-of-the-art Blink fashion studio. It will provide high-quality images and videos to fashion sellers associated with the online retailer and is an extension of Amazon's imaging and cataloguing services that helps retailers with product photography at an economical price.

The new 44,000 square foot studio is located in financial and IT hub Gurgaon, just southwest of New Delhi. The opening coincides with the Amazon Great Indian Festival Sale, which is scheduled to be held from September 21-24. The fashion studio is also expected to increase the sellers' reach to a wider audience during the festive season, which begins with the nine-day Navratri celebrations on 21st September, culminates in Dussera on 30th September and Diwali, the festival of lights, on 19th October, interspersed with the wedding season and ending in Christmas on 25th December and New Year's eve celebrations on 31st December.

“At Amazon, we are always thinking about how we will raise the bar, how we will redefine the way the customer discovers, engages with and shops for fashion online. All of our efforts we’ve made for this studio in terms of technology, scale and talent are designed to deliver high-quality imagery that inspires and educates our customers," said Arun Sirdeshmukh, head, Amazon Fashion India, in a statement.

Part of the studio are 16 photography bays, a ramp, a presentation area and workspaces, which will allow the fashion brand partners to create and edit images and videos and develop creative content with assistance from Amazon. Brands can rent the studio and present their latest styles and innovative ideas, launch new collections and market their creations through fashion shows and other events.

“We have photographers, models, stylists, video editors and other resources. We are constantly looking at new ways of collaboration," added Sirdeshmukh. “With this studio, we will continue to strengthen our relationships across the entire industry – with brands, designers and creative talent. This is part of our plan to innovate in how fashion is displayed on the site and be the best possible place for fashion brands to present themselves online.”

The new studio was inaugurated with a launch party on 13th September, which saw leading designers Varun Bahl, Tarun Tahiliani, Suneet Varma, Nikhil Mehra and JJ Valaya in attendance, as well as supermodels Sonalika Sahay, Shashi Bangira and Madhulika Sharma.

Since the beginning of the year, Amazon Fashion has added close to 50 top fashion brands to its offerings, including fashion brands that debuted in India like Under Armour, Steve Madden Jewelry and Juicy Couture Watches. Its growing selection includes Marks & Spencer, New Balance, Forever 21, Forever New, French Connection, Calvin Klein, Mothercare, Emporio Armani, Versus by Versace and more.

Photo: Amazon Facebook

Los Angeles - Resortwear designer Marie France Van Damme just announced her first U.S. boutique opening. The Hong Kong-based designer will be unveiling her flagship in the country later on this month set in Beverly Hills.

The store will mark Van Damme's ninth boutique total. The new boutique will be located at the Peninsula hotel boasting 464 square feet, according to WWD. The location was chosen by Van Damme due to the city's status as a popular shopping hub. As the brand is a favorite among celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Olivia Palermo and more, targeting the Peninsula hotel is a strategic move on Van Damme's part. “Foot traffic is an important factor for my retail locations, and I felt that the constant stream of guests in and out of the Peninsula would provide the right visibility for the brand,” she told WWD.

The store is set to open September 25 at the Beverly Hills location. Aside from her nine retail stores, Van Damme's label is also available at various boutiques globally. The line retails at Neiman Marcus, Harrods, Bergdorf Goodman, and approximately 100 other retailers currently. The new store will open with the brand's resortwear and vacation-inspired styles.

Hill & Friends set to open first store during London Fashion Week

London - Hill & Friends is gearing up to open its first stand alone store in London during the upcoming London Fashion Week. Named 'The House of Hill and Friends,' the new store is located in the heart of Mayfair, at 63 South Molton Street.

The debut store opening, which is set to coincide with the brand's two year anniversary, comes after a period of rapid growth for the accessories and handbag label founded by Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley. Hill & Friends first launched its debut collection during London Fashion Week SS16, hosting a presentation in Claridge's which saw bell boys dressed in pastel suits present the collection on silver trays accompanied by ponies dressed in ribbons.

Hill & Friends to open debut store in London

Hill & Friends first retail store, located in a Georgian townhouse, is set to offer 1,750 square feet of retail and showroom space, housing the brand's design team as well as the store. The store's interior features the brand's signature touches, such as an all-pink decor and fun oversized visuals such as pandas and flamingos, as well as a personalization bar.

"We want to put the fun back in fashion," said creative director and co-founder Hill to BoF. "I live in a townhouse in Notting Hill, and my house has a pink door with googly eyes… we wanted to replicate this idea of a family home for the store, so we have dog bowls of water for puppies and big flamingo statues alongside a customisation bar, in among other things." on the store opening. "I live in a townhouse in Notting Hill, and my house has a pink door with googly eyes… we wanted to replicate this idea of a family home for the store, so we have dog bowls of water for puppies and big flamingo statues alongside a customisation bar, in among other things."

"The experience of the brand is not just product, it’s just one part of it," she added. "We’re really good at the whole environment and making people experience the brand with our visual ideas, so we wanted somewhere that was our own." The new retail space will also help the brand further establish its brand presence among its customers and allow for "crazy visual merchandising," adds co-founder Gerogie Fendley.

Hill & Friends first store opening marks the young brand's rapid success, driven by exceptional sales. The brand is set to offer its AW 17 collection at 35 wholesalers in 8 countries and its direct-to-consumer online sales are up 92 percent from last year, underlining its appeal. Of course, Hill has ample experience driving a brand's growth as the former creative director at Mulberry has been credited for overseeing the heritage label's expansion and growth during her six-year tenure.

Hill & Friends are set to open the doors of its first stand alone store on September 22.

Photo: Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley

Just 33 percent of British consumers are comfortable with a cashless society, according to new research released by Mintel to coincide with the new style 10-pound notes.

The research reveals that cash is still important for the majority of British consumers, with just a third saying they would be happy to go cashless, which drops to just 20 percent for British consumers over 55 years old.

The age group that is most willing to consider a cashless society is Brits aged 25-34 years old, with 46 percent willing to give up cash.

When it comes to the genders, women are less in favour of a cashless society with 28 percent, compared to men, 38 percent. While the regional divide shows that London and Scotland are most comfortable dispensing with cash, 37 and 36 percent respectively. This compares to just 30 percent of Brits living in Yorkshire and Humberside and South East/East Anglia.

Patrick Ross, senior financial services analyst at Mintel, said: “While alternative payment methods continue to grow, the demise of cash has been greatly exaggerated. Many people still prefer using cash, while others simply like to have some cash with them just in case. Although card payments are almost universally accepted in urban areas, cash continues to play an important role in everyday life.”

The top three payment methods used in the last three months are cash (93 percent), debit card (82 percent) and direct debit/standing order (79 percent).

Snow+Rock to open “statement” store in Bluewater

Outdoor sports brand Snow+Rock is set to open one of its largest stores in the UK at Bluewater in Kent this November.

The 13,000 square foot store is being described as a “statement” offering from Snow+Rock as it will stock skiwear, climbing and snow sports gear for men, women, and children from brands such as Arc’teryx, Fjall Raven, Patagonia, Kjus, Icebreaker, Garmin, and Rab, as well as a Runners Need shop-in-shop, offering products from world-leading running brands, expert advice and free gait analysis.

Located on the shopping centre’s Upper Rose Gallery the store will also house clothing, luggage, footwear, camping equipment, electronics, and accessories, alongside a range of bespoke services, including expert boot fitting and an exclusive snowboard care area for shoppers to edge and wax their winter sports equipment.

Snow+Rock to open “statement” store in Bluewater

Paul McDermott, marketing and omnichannel director of Snow+Rock and Runners Need said: “We are delighted to be opening a store at Bluewater and look forward to joining an impressive collection of brands and retailers. We are confident that Bluewater will appeal to Snow+Rock and Runners Need’s core customers and help us attract a new audience, additionally, Landsec’s focus on experience is aligned perfectly to our own philosophy of providing an authentic retail destination for our customers.”

Landsec portfolio director Russell Loveland added: “This one-stop shop for outdoor sports lovers will bring a whole new experience-led retail offer to Bluewater, providing something new and exciting for guests.

Snow+Rock to open “statement” store in Bluewater

“We have worked very closely with Snow + Rock to deliver another statement store that we are confident will engage Bluewater’s guests, providing an experience unavailable anywhere else in the South East.”

Snow+Rock was founded in 1982 on High Street Kensington, London and was acquired by AS Adventure Group in 2015, which also owns Cotswold Outdoor, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need.

Images: Snow+Rock

Mr Porter launches curated selection of Piaget watches and jewellery

Mr Porter is set to follow in the footsteps of its sister site Net-a-Porter with the launch of a curated selection of Piaget luxury watches and jewellery. As of September 12, Mr Porter will a select number of timepieces and fine jewellery from the brand's Altiplano, Piaget Polo and Possession collections.

“In partnership with Mr Porter, Piaget has curated a lineup of pieces that truly reflect the aspirations and tastes of the most discerning and stylish watch enthusiasts,” said Chabi Nouri, Piaget CEO. “The effortless elegance and technical credentials of both the Altiplano and Piaget Polo continue to make these timepieces an essential staple for customers.”

Mr Porter launches curated selection of Piaget watches and jewellery

Mr Porter will offer four watches from the Altiplano collection, four from the Piaget Polo S and Piaget Polo S Chronograph, as well as two bracelets from Piaget’s Possession jewellery collection. Prices for the pieces are set to range from 1,730 pounds to 27,000 pounds. The curated launch of pieces from Maison Piaget sees the online luxury menswear retailer expand its offering of watches and jewellery, to better cater to its customers every need.

Mr Porter launches curated selection of Piaget watches and jewellery

“We are excited to be launching Piaget, a fine watch and jewellery manufacturer,” commented Toby Bateman, Managing Director, Mr Porter. “We also recognise the change in the contemporary watch customer, and we are launching the new Piaget Polo S limited editions to meet this. Mr Porter has an increasingly eager and aspirational fine watch customer, and Piaget offers them a curated choice of both elegant and sporty timepieces.”

Photos: Piaget

Zara's Indian online store finally launching in October

Spanish fast fashion brand Zara announced the opening of its own online shop in India on its Facebook page a few days ago. Finally, one should say, as the popular brand has been active in the country since 2010 and is doing good business. Though the brand is available online through third party providers like Amazon.in, the Spanish brand had so far not managed to open its own webshop.

This is about to change. “Dear India, our online shop is opening on October 4th” said the short but sweet note as the reaction of Zara's Indian fans showed - the post was liked by more than 6,000 people, shared already more than 500 times and elicited more than 2,000 comments. “Thank God! Better late than never. Was waiting all the while,” said Facebook user Ivan Basumatary. “Finally!!!! Can't believe it took you so long to go online, now I don't need to travel half a day to go to your store!!,” commented Chennai-based Ria Mukherjee, referring to the horrendous traffic conditions in most Indian metros that turn a trip to the store into a half-day outing.

Though Zara has been operating its own website at zara.com/in, so far, interested shoppers could only browse the collection and check prices as well as available sizes and colours but were not able to buy from the site itself, which has been a gripe with many Zara fans in India.

The online expansion may come just in time too as after Zara's instant retail success in 2010, seven years later, things are starting to slow down: sales as well as the expansion of brick-and-mortar stores due to a shortage of new shopping malls and thus high-quality retail spaces. Currently, there are 18 Zara stores in India.

“Plans are to open a few more Zara stores in India over the next three to four years in the major cities—the primary challenge to faster expansion is the availability of high-quality retail spaces which can be expected to generate reasonable sales throughput,” said Trent Ltd, Zara’s Indian joint venture partner, which is part of the Tata Group, in its annual report.

Though with 17 percent, there was still double-digit growth for Zara in the year that ended March 31, 2016 and revenues of around 131.7 million US dollars, it was still a decline by 7 percent compared to the previous year when growth of 24 percent was reported. Opening its own online store should give the Inditex daughter a boost at just the right time.

Photo: Zara Facebook
Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop to open store and launch print magazine

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, the online tour de force that started as a weekly lifestyle newsletter and turned into a multi million dollar business, is launching its first stand alone store and print magazine.

The company is due to open a 1,300 sq ft boutique in Los Angeles' upmarket Brentwood Country Mart, where brands like James Perse, Christian Louboutin and multi-brand Calypso and Intermix all have stores.

Goop is further launching its first print magazine and this week debuted its cover photo, which sees Paltrow nude, covered in mud, with an aptly titled header that reads "Earth to Gwyneth."

Not removed from criticism, Goop's fashion products are often depicted as expensive and unnecessary items for the rich and famous, however that criticism has proved short of the company's success, which also sells beauty, homeware and offers lifestyle tips.

Goop's first foray into e-commerce started with a simple white t-shirt that retailed for 90 dollars back in 2012. Of all the 480 items in its current fashion store, the most expensive item in its e-shop is a pink leather jumpsuit by Maison Ullens that retails for 3,240 dollars.

Back in May Goop partnered with Nordstrom in its first major pop-up with a notable retailer.

The new store at Brentwood Country Mart will carry Goop's fashion items as well as those from its collaborations, like a bar cart, daybed and wallpaper created by the store designers Roman And Williams. There will also be shoes in partnership with Christian Louboutin, and other notable designers and brand partnerships are planned for the future.

Conde Nast will publish the magazine, which will be available from 15 September.

Photo credit:Goop Magazine cover, source: Goop.com

Bracknell's The Lexicon opens

Following months of anticipation, the five year, 240 million pounds regeneration project, which has transformed Bracknell’s town centre into a shopping and leisure center under the name The Lexicon, has opened.

Bracknell's The Lexicon opens

Leading fashion brands such as H&M, Joules, Superdry, Office, Next, River Island and Timberland opened their doors on Thursday, September 7, alongside a new full-line Fenwick department store.

Bracknell's The Lexicon opens

Proving to be a popular attraction, crowds queued in the hope of securing an introductory offer and a first look at the new stores, with an estimated 10,000 people visiting before lunchtime.

Bracknell's The Lexicon opens

“We are delighted that The Lexicon has now been opened by the community in Bracknell. This scheme has transformed the town and will be a catalyst for creating value and further opportunities elsewhere in the town centre,” said James Lass, Fund Manager for the Schroder UK Real Estate Fund.

The Lexicon has created 3,500 jobs across a million square feet of retail and leisure spaces, helping to transform the area into a vibrant retail destination.

Photos courtesy of The Lexicon