What Fashion Retail Professionals Need to Know Today


Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion […]

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion professionals working in retail, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distills business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Explore global job opportunities in retail on BoF Careers today, from a sales manager at Bloomingdale’s or a store operations assistant at Burberry to a client advisor at Prada Group or a retail merchandiser at Carhartt WIP.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for retail professionals today:

1. Where US Consumers Are Shopping and What They’re Buying

Pedestrians on a busy retail corridor.

In the US, fashion’s new hotspots are Dallas and Orlando, according to Census data and real estate leasing rates. But the suburbs are seeing far higher demand in brick-and-mortar retail than in urban markets: about 4.65 percent of suburban retail properties were available to lease in the second quarter of 2023, compared to 5.15 percent for urban properties. What American consumers are buying is also changing.

As a whole, they’re still spending. Retail sales rose 0.2 percent in June and 1.5 percent from a year earlier, according to US Census Bureau data released Tuesday, marking the third straight month of growth (in Europe, May retail sales were flat month-over-month and down 2.9 percent compared to the previous year). However, luxury has lost steam. Kering, which owns Gucci and Balenciaga, among other brands, saw sales in the US drop 18 percent in its first quarter. That’s compared to an 80 percent gain between 2019 and 2022.


2. Can Gap Be Barbie-fied?

The world can’t seem to get enough of Barbie, and Gap Inc. is the latest company to chase its halo effect. The American mall chain announced Wednesday it had tapped Barbie-maker Mattel’s chief operating officer Richard Dickson to be the new chief executive, concluding a year-long search for the right leader to revitalise its portfolio of ailing brands, including the namesake Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. Dickson has been credited with helping orchestrate Mattel’s turnaround in recent years, lifting sales for the Barbie franchise to a 15-year high in 2021 of $1.7 billion, compared to just north of $1 billion in 2014.

Leaders at the company have been trying to turn the business around for the last 20 years with little avail. Gap Inc.’s market capitalisation has shrivelled to less than $4 billion — a quarter of its annual revenue. However, Dickson said he looked to the fashion business as a parallel for revamping Barbie. “We run [Mattel] very much like a fashion company,” he told BoF in an interview earlier this month. “The first and most important aspect is to build a connection with consumers. Those fundamentals from fashion, applied to toys, is one of the ingredients that has made Mattel … so culturally relevant and unique.”

3. Where Did Luxury’s Aspirational Shoppers Go?

Aspirational Shopper

Among aspirational consumers (those in the $40,000 to $100,000 earning bracket, according to Earnest Analytics) luxury spending was down 20 percent year-over-year so far in 2023. After growing its US business 80 percent between 2019 and 2022, Kering saw its sales in the country fall 18 percent during the first quarter of 2023. Even LVMH, which saw first quarter sales grow 8 percent in the US, said that boost came from the lower-priced Sephora, while demand for fashion and leather goods softened.

Resale has redirected some entry-level shoppers away from purchasing directly through brands, as they can buy from the same labels but with the cultural cred of savvy consumership. “How do you buy a Birkin? You can just go onto a resale platform and buy one” said Liana Satenstein, Vogue contributor and host of archive-centric webcast “Neverworns.”

4. Why So Many Brands Want to Expand Into the UK Right Now

Regent Street, a shopping hub in London.

Even if the UK economy is stuck in a rut, it retains an allure for international brands looking for their next market to conquer: It’s the biggest predominately English-speaking economy after the US, and it’s a sizeable market for fashion and beauty. Its wealthiest shoppers are concentrated in London, also a global tourism destination.

“In London, I can open 15 or 20 stores, whereas in Germany … if I want to do a dozen stores, it has to be in many different cities,” said Juliette Levy, Oh My Cream’s founder and chief executive — the clean beauty chain launched in France in 2013 and entered the UK in November. The question for consumers, and the brands chasing their business, is whether the good times can last. Higher interest rates and the return of colder weather, which are likely to send energy bills soaring again this winter, could yet bring the party to a crashing halt.

5. Martine Rose on Fashion’s Football Obsession

Martine Rose x US Women’s National Team

When the members of the US women’s national football team stepped off the bus in Auckland, New Zealand, in July, ahead of their opening game of the Women’s World Cup, their eye-catching formalwear marked a departure from the usual pre-game tracksuits or training gear. The athletes were dressed in navy-blue custom suits bearing the team crest and each player’s initials, along with sunglasses and sneakers in vibrant colourways created by London-based luxury designer Martine Rose in collaboration with sportswear giant Nike.

For brands and their designer collaborators, women’s football presents a prime opportunity to reach untapped consumers. Viewership of the sport has increased dramatically in recent years: a record 1.5 million tickets have been sold to date for the ongoing World Cup, up from one million sold for the 2019 edition, while Australia’s opening game of the tournament hosted a record-breaking crowd of 75,000 in Sydney last week.

Two women shopping in Los Angeles holding Valentino bags.

6. How Inflation Changed Fashion

The US appears to be winning the war against inflation. In July, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that consumer prices rose by 3 percent in June, the lowest pace in more than two years. Inflation had topped 9 percent last year. Even so, the fashion industry has had to make some tough adjustments, first to the period of high inflation — the first in a generation — and then to the aftermath.

Sales at clothing and accessories stores were up slightly in the first quarter of 2023 compared to a year earlier. At the same time, that’s partly explained by the fact that these retailers have raised prices more aggressively than other sectors of the economy this year, according to the BLS. But it’s also true that US consumers are continuing to buy shoes, dresses and slacks, even if they’re more expensive. The high price tags may also represent a broadening of the pandemic trend where luxury brands, capitalising on booming demand and supply shortages, were able to hike prices repeatedly.

7. Zara Owner Inditex Says It Will Stop Buying Clothes From Myanmar

Zara store | Source: Shutterstock

Zara owner Inditex is in the process of stopping purchases from Myanmar, the company told Reuters on Thursday, as a result of a campaign by global workers’ union IndustriALL to convince companies to divest from the country. Myanmar, whose garment industry is a major employer supplying clothes and shoes to big Western brands and retailers, has been plunged into a political and humanitarian crisis since a military junta took power in early 2021. IndustriALL says that labour rights have been eroded since then.

Brands and retailers have been under pressure to disengage, but their exit could cause job losses and further economic pain for workers. The European Union’s stance is that companies should continue sourcing from Myanmar. Inditex has had an agreement with IndustriALL since 2007, which it renewed in 2022, according to its annual report. The agreement commits the company to maintaining dialogue with trade unions and to addressing workers’ needs throughout the supply chain.

8. Amazon Prime Day Isn’t the Only Game in Town Anymore

Amazon Prime Day regularly sets records for online spending.

Amazon Day’s annual shopping holiday doesn’t feel quite so special anymore. It’s not just that Target, Walmart and others now hold blockbuster mid-July sales of their own. These days, shoppers looking for fashion deals can open Shein’s app anytime. Now there’s also Temu, which didn’t exist when Amazon held its 2022 Prime Day, and is now the No. 1 most-downloaded shopping app in the US. TikTok, home of infinite #Sheinhauls, wants to boost its e-commerce sales past $20 billion this year worldwide.

Where does this leave everyone else? While sales around Prime Day have proliferated, it hasn’t yet become a Black Friday-style shopping holiday where anyone who promises good deals can count on a flood of shoppers. Many brands are back to their non-stop discounting habits — there are plenty of “July 4″ sales still ongoing. Prime Day mainly serves to put more pressure on these companies to offer markdowns. Or to join Amazon – Victoria’s Secret began selling lingerie on the marketplace in early June; it was included in Amazon’s initial Prime Day announcement just a couple weeks later.

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