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London - Beat, a UK-based eating disorder charity, has renewed its partnership with online fashion retailer Asos. The new, expanded remit includes targeted support for men suffering from eating disorders.

Asos has been a partner of Beat for the past five years, and the funding from the renewed partnership will be used to extend the opening hours of the charity’s national helpline and provide a new online one-on-one support service, created to appeal to men in particular, who may be less inclined to use a helpline. The service will offer tailored practical help as well as emotional support to those suffering from eating disorders.

In addition, Beat will share information and advice about eating disorders and the importance of mental health and a positive body image with Asos, which will arm the retailer with best practice knowledge to support its customers and employees. Asos employees will also be given the opportunity to volunteer and lend their skills to the charity in different ways, including mentoring Beat’s Young Ambassadors, helping facilitate online support groups and taking part in research and campaigning.

“We know that eating disorders affect both men and women and the earlier sufferers access our support, the better their chances of a full recovery are,” said Beat CEO, Andrew Radford in a statement. “By 2021 we intend to be supporting ten times as many people as we are today and Asos’s partnership is crucial to helping us achieve this goal.”

Asos’ Director of Corporate Responsibility, Louise McCabe added, “At Asos, we’re committed to promoting a healthy, positive body image to our customers and colleagues so it makes total sense for us to continue supporting Beat and its invaluable work.”

After working as chief executive for Planet Blue, James Williams is now launching an advisory firm geared towards the fashion industry. The former excecutive, who still remains a part of the company's board, is launching a firm focused on luxury, digital, retail, and fashion.

The firm is called JSW/Strategic and will focus on helping brands grow and emerge in the industry. “My practice will focus on helping brands reposition for growth and profitability against the backdrop of our new retail order through strategic counseling and full-stack process consulting," Williams told WWD of the new firm. "In addition to fashion and retail brands, I will be serving investors and real estate/media companies with interests in retail as well as entertainers and artists looking to extend their brand [direct-to-consumer] through merchandising.”

Williams worked previously at Loeb & Loeb LLP before his days at Planet Blue. He held the position of partner and chair for the Fashion and Luxury Brand Group for the company for one year before moving into the California-inspired retail brand. He was then hired last chief operating officer and general counsel for Planet Blue, where he served in that role for three years before becoming CEO. Williams was CEO for the brand for seven years up until January 2018 before making the move to his own company. In his new venture, it'll be interesting to see how the strategic advisory business fares for the future.

The publicly traded company’s same-store sales rose 6.3 percent during the month of January. Zumiez’s (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) shares rose by 0.1 percent in the first day of trading following the news.

The fashion retailer last posted its earnings results on November 30th, 2017, when it recorded 0.48 dollars earnings per share for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of 0.48 dollars apiece. According to Zacks, Zumiez had a return on equity of 7.99 percent and a net margin of 2.84 percent.

The firm had revenue of 245.80 million dollars for the quarter, surpassing consensus estimate of 244.50 million dollars.

Recently, analysts at B. Riley set a 23 dollars price target on Zumiez and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report. Earlier this year Jefferies Group set a slightly lower price target – 22 dollars apiece - on Zumiez, recommending investors to hold on the stock. William Blair also set the same price target on the company’s shares, although rating the stock as a “buy”. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of 20.57 dollars.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Ameriprise Financial Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Zumiez by 1.3 percent during the second quarter to a total 91,853 shares of the apparel and footwear maker’s stock worth 1,135,000 dollars after acquiring an additional 1,135 shares during the period.

Disciplined Growth Investors Inc. MN enlarged their stake in Zumiez by 0.6 percent during the same period, reaching 259,975 shares’ worth 3,211,000 dollars. New York State Common Retirement Fund, The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, and Teachers Advisors LLC also grew their respective holdings in shares of Zumiez over the second quarter.

Asics Ventures, the investment subsidiary of sportswear brand Asics, has made its first investment, taking a stake in Ai Silk Corporation, a Japanese start-up affiliated with Tohoku University that is developing conductive textiles.

Ai Silk was founded in 2015 and specialises in conductive textiles that are comfortable on the skin, utilising technology researched by Tohoku University. Many devices that gather the body’s data from the skin tend to irritate the wearer’s skin when used over extended periods of time, whereas Ai Silk has developed a proprietary silk textile conductive technology that is gentle on the skin. The fabric is highly absorbent and causes limited allergic reaction and the fabric permits high conductivity and data gathering is extremely user-friendly.

Asics has stated that the technology will be used together with Asics Institute of Sport Science’s expertise in developing sports apparel made of high-performance materials.

One of the core strategies in Asics growth plan 2020 is to create distinctive innovations and the sportswear brand has been focusing on developing revolutionary products, services, and processes that could change customers’ lifestyles and experiences.

Asics Ventures was launched in November 2016 in order to pursue innovations at a faster pace, and has been collaborating with venture companies with leading-edge products, technologies, and personnel.

Louboutin loses EU trademark in red sole court case

Christian Louboutin has lost a landmark case in the European Union’s highest court against others using his signature red-soled shoe design.

The case saw Louboutin file a case against Dutch high street shoe company Van Haren, which in 2013 sold high-heeled shoes with a red sole, a design attributed to Louboutin.

The EU court’s Advocate General Maciej Szpunar sided with the defendant in a trademark suit Louboutin originally filed in 2012. At that time, the designer was victorious when Van Haren was forced to cease production of the shoes in question when the Brussels Court of Appeal ruled in favor of an injunction by Louboutin, finding that the red soles represented a distinctive marker for consumers.

Van Haren, which argued that the trademark in question is invalid, seemed to now have the upper hand, with Szpunar ruling that a trademark combining color and shape — such as Louboutin’s red-soled pumps — could be refused or declared invalid on the grounds of EU trademark law and sent the case back to Dutch courts for consideration.

While Louboutin has been victorious in trademark litigation in the U.S. — the designer successfully sued YSL in 2012 for trademark infringement — the brand has seen mixed rulings in other regions.

In February 2017, Swiss courts turned down a final appeal by the luxury label to trademark its red-soled heels there, finding that the red soles are merely an aesthetic element. The courts further noted that the fact that the brand has won the battle for trademark status in other markets including China, Australia and Russia did not mean the shoes should enjoy the same status in Switzerland.

In December, Louboutin was awarded 150,000 US dollars in damages and a permanent injunction against two shoe dealers — Kamal Family Footwear and Adra Steps — for infringing on the trademark in India.

Photo credit Christian Louboutin website; source Footwear news

BYT rebrands to The R Collective and partners with Redress for the Design Award 2018

London - Sustainable designer collection BYT has rebranded itself as The R Collective as it announces its partnership with NGO Redress for the Redress Design Award 2018. The world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition for emerging and established designers has opened its 2018 cycle to all applicants around the world and is offering the winner the chance to join the R Collective and create a future upcycled collection for the brand.

The R Collective originally stems from Redress’ 10-year legacy and aims to shine a light on the possibilities offered by collaborating with leading emerging designers to create affordable, yet luxurious upcycled collections from premium textile waste. The R Collective currently works with four designers, who are previous winners of the Redress Design Award (formerly known as the EcoChic Design Award) and include Kévin Germanier, a Central St Martins graduate; Hong Kong Chinese Victor Chu whose creativity in zero waste design has been translated into various collections; British knitwear designer, Kate Morris, who also boasts a major 2017 PETA award; and Israeli Lia Kassif who has won a prestigious ‘People’s Award’ for her upcycling.

BYT rebrands to The R Collective and partners with Redress for the Design Award 2018

“The fashion industry is one of the world’s most polluting industries and 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is laid down at the design stage,” said Christina Dean, The R Collective’s Co-Founder and Redress’ Founder in a statement. “We know we can make fashion a force for good by empowering the incredible vision from the world’s best sustainable fashion designers by retailing their upcycled, limited edition collections. It’s vital to cater to the significant shift in consumer appetite for original, authentic fashion brands whilst capitalising on the increasing sustainable fashion market.”

BYT rebrands to The R Collective and partners with Redress for the Design Award 2018

The 2018 cycle of the Redress Design Award is now open to designers around the world who have less than three years’ industry experience. The competition application deadline is March 13, 2018. In honor of the new partnership, 25 percent of The R Collective future profits will be donated to Redress.

Photos: Kate Morris, courtesy of The R Collective

Burberry Foundation partners with Oxfam & PUR Projet to support cashmere production in Afghanistan

London - The Burberry Foundation, the independent charity founded by Burberry in 2008, has teamed up with charity Oxfam and PUR Projet to launch a new programme supporting rural cashmere producing communities in Afghanistan. Together the organizations will launch a five-year programme, the first of its kind in the country, which aims to empower local communities by creating a more inclusive and sustainable cashmere industry.

“We are very proud to build this programme with Oxfam and PUR Projet in Afghanistan to support and improve the livelihoods of thousands of people across the country,” commented Leanne Wood, a trustee of the Burberry Foundation and Chief People, Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer at Burberry in a statement. “There is enormous potential for the Afghan cashmere industry and we believe our programme will deliver resources that will go some way to making it a profitable and sustainable industry for local communities.”

Burberry Foundation supports cashmere production in Afghanistan

The programme will offer cashmere goat herders the training and tools needed to enhance their livelihoods and help lift them out of poverty. Afghanistan is the third largest global producer of cashmere, after Mongolia and China respectively, exporting approximately 1000 tons of cashmere per year, equal to 7 percent of the total global production. As the majority of Afghanistan population lives in rural areas and is fully depended upon agriculture and livestock for their livelihood, the programme aims to work with local herders to create community-owned cooperatives and provide them with the needed knowledge, technical skills, essential services and access to markets to support sustainable farming and economic development.

“Oxfam is very excited to launch this programme with the support of the Burberry Foundation to expand our work on sustainable livelihoods in Afghanistan,” continued Sachitra Chitrakar, the Interim Country Director for Oxfam in Afghanistan. “With extreme poverty on the rise, it is important to continue our commitment supporting local communities in the fight against poverty.”

Pierric Jammes, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of PUR Projet, added: “PUR Projet is very excited for the opportunity to work with the Burberry Foundation and Oxfam on this fantastic initiative in Afghanistan. It is through such partnerships that innovative solutions can be found to drive true change and support local communities in their endeavours to bring themselves out of poverty and manage their natural resources sustainably. We strongly believe that this will be a demonstration of the true potential of businesses to engage in positive change and support our global community.”

The new programme also aims to support the promotion of gender equality by ensuring women are an integral part of the design and management of cooperatives and offering women leadership training. The new programme aligns with Burberry Group’s responsibility agenda to support one million people in the communities that sustain the wider luxury industry over the next five years, thereby helping build a more sustainable future.

Photo: Couresty of Burberry

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Thursday posted a 35 percent surge in net profit in the third quarter, fuelled by a record-breaking sales bonanza during its annual Singles Day shopping festival.

The company said profit jumped to 24.1 billion yuan (3.7 billion US-dollar) between October and December, compared to 17.9 billion yuan in the same quarter in 2016. Alibaba runs an annual promotion on November 11 that draws the country's growing consumer class which can buy an array of products at the click of a button on their smartphones. Last year's event recorded 168.2 billion yuan (25.9 billion dollar) in payments, a 39 percent increase from the 2016 festival. Rivals such as JD.com had also reported brisk business on November 11.

"Alibaba had another great quarter driven by the continued strength of the Chinese consumer and the wide and innovative range of services we provide for merchants and consumers," Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang said in an earnings report. "We are excited by the continued momentum in new retail, which came to life during another record-breaking 11.11 Global Shopping Festival," Zhang said. Alibaba, which has made billionaire founder Jack Ma one of China's richest men and a global e-commerce icon, has been on a roll, regularly beating revenue estimates. The New York-listed company said revenue jumped 56 percent to 83 billion yuan (12.76 billion dollar) in the third quarter. (AFP)

My Size, Inc., developer of proprietary, smartphone measurement applications, announced today the pricing of a public offering of 3,000,000 shares of its common stock to the public at 2 dollars per share. In addition, the investors will receive five-year warrants to purchase an aggregate of 1,500,000 shares of common stock, at an exercise price of 2 dollars and 65 cents per share.

The aggregate gross proceeds to My Size from the public offering are expected to be $6.0 million, prior to deducting placement agent fees and other offering expenses. My Size intends to use the net proceeds from the public offering for repayment of debt, working capital and other general corporate purposes. The offering is expected to close on February 2, 2018, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

Roth Capital Partners is acting as sole placement agent for the offering.

The company recently regained full compliance with NASDAQ listing standards, after they met the minimum bid price rule and the market. Their return to the stock market appears to be a celebrated one.

Iconic brand Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is having a rough start to 2018. The label is currently close to ending a class-action lawsuit at the cost of 25 million dollars over worker issues.

The employers are now required to reimburse employees that are required to purchase a work uniform, according to WWD. Last Friday, approximately 260,000 current and former employees of Abercrombie and Hollister alleged that the retailer forced them to buy branded apparel to wear at work without reimbursement. The employees affected by this class-action lawsuit date back to those working in 2013 until now.

Regarding these allegations, a company spokeswoman told the publication, “Abercrombie strongly contests the allegations, however, it believes it is in the best interest of the company and all its stakeholders, including its employees, to settle this matter.”

The settlement agreement will ultimately result in 25 million dollars towards a worker payment fund. Out of this total, approximately 8.5 million will go towards legal fees and 16.68 million dollars will remain for disbursements. While the company still disregards the validity of these allegations, it seems Abercrombie is willing to pay its dues and move forward.