Louis Vuitton launches e-commerce in China

China can now say hello to shopping for Louis Vuitton online. The luxury fashion brand has launched e-commerce in the country to tap the booming online shopping market there.

While Louis Vuitton has had a presence in China since 1992 when they opened their Beijing store, this is their first e-commerce venture for the country. On Thursday, louisvuitton.cn officially launched. The site offers bags, small leather goods, shoes, accessories, watches, jewelry, luggage and writing instruments.

Louis Vuitton enter Chinese online shopping market

E-commerce is available for the following cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Haerbin and Wuhan. In a statement, Louis Vuitton said they plan on expanding to more Chinese cities at a later date.

While luxury brand were long resistant to e-commerce, they have been steady to embrace it over the past several years. The expansion into China marks the eleventh market for Louis Vuitton's e-commerce. The company first launched e-commerce in France, and also offers online sales in the U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, the U. S., Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia.

In China, payment can be made via UnionPay, Alipay and WeChat Pay.

photo: via Louisvuitton.cn
Abercrombie & Fitch to launch on Alibaba’s TMall

Abercrombie & Fitch, the struggling US apparel brand, is set to launch on Alibaba Group’s Tmall, China’s largest consumer platform for brands and retailers.

Abercrombie & Fitch have seen success in China, operating ten physical stores as well as a recent flagship store opening in Hong Kong’s Harbour City. The brand also have a local website, abercrombie.cn. The US apparel retailer will launch its full offering of Abercrombie & Fitch and abercrombie kids products on Tmall, on July 26.

Catering for a wider audience, who do not have access to a physical store, Abercrombie & Fitch joins sister brand Hollister, who launched on Tmall in 2014. “Building on our Hollister brand's successful partnership with the leader in China's online retail space, we are excited to bring our A&F brand experience to the broader Chinese market, beyond the reach of our physical stores through Tmall," said Fran Horowitz, Chief Executive Officer of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

Since reevaluating their target market to consumers in their twenties who shop digitally, Abercrombie & Fitch currently aligns better with Tmall demographics; 75 percent of which are under the age of 35 and 80 percent of sales take place on mobile devices.

Tmall supplies brands with innovative marketing tools such as live-streaming, helping to provide consumers with a personalised and interactive shopping experience. “Abercrombie is focused on delivering both an engaging and seamless experience for its customers, whenever, wherever, and however they choose to shop,” the brand noted in a press statement. The brand are also planning to provide additional omni-channel capabilities to consumers through Tmall.

"We are excited to welcome Abercrombie & Fitch to the Tmall platform," said Jessica Liu, President of Tmall Fashion, Alibaba Group. "Abercrombie is an iconic global brand that consumers, both on our platform and in China, have sought out for some time. We look forward to connecting our consumer base to the brand and working with Abercrombie & Fitch to further its international growth."

Photo courtesy of Abercrombie & Fitch, website

Retailer Urban Outfitters has just confirmed its first ever flagship store in Austria. The store is set to open next week on Friday, July 28.

The store will serve as the retailer's first boutique in Austria. The location will be in Vienna. Up until this month, Urban Outfitters was only available through its online shop. The retailer has opened stores internationally in other countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, and more. According to Vienna Online, the store has been looking for a location in the area for the past three years. Now, there are confirmed plans to open in Austria, as Urban Outfitters is already looking for a full staff.

The store will open offering its contemporary and vintage-inspired clothing. The boutique will also offer other merchandise including accessories, shower, home decor, lifestyle products, and more. Founded in 1970, Urban Outfitters operates more than 200 locations in the U.S. This expansion shows that the retailer is maintaining its efforts to expand globally.

There's nothing like pop-up season in East Hampton. Stylist and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe knows this, and has decided to take the opportunity to explore the East Coast and Hamptons retail scene. She will be opening her first ever "pop-in" shop at What Goes Around Comes Around. It will feature pre-fall and fall pieces from Rachel Zoe collection, along with vintage pieces styled from WGACA's vintage selection.

The shop will be open from August 5 to 13. Zoe will kickoff its launch with a VIP shopping night on August 4.

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“I wasn’t ready to open up my own pop-up shop for the whole summer, but I have known the guys at What Goes Around Comes Around for 20 years, so we thought, ‘Why not do a pop-in shop for part of the season?’ It’s a great way to have a presence in a place that’s like my second home. In August you’re still wearing sundresses but you’re also in a fall state of mind, so why not mix in some chunky knits, statement outerwear and boots? I love mixing my own new pieces with vintage, and my customer dresses that way too,” she said to WWD.

The shop will showcase pieces including silk tops, dresses, faux furs and jumpsuits. Accessories and jewelry will also be featured. Price points for the collection range from 195 dollars to 695 dollars.

Tod's doing customization pop-up

Everyone wants to be unique. Tod's recognizes this. As a result, their 650 Madison Avenue store now has installed a pop-up my Gommino shop. Shoppers can customize Tod's best selling driver loafers.

The pop-up opened July 19, and will remain open through October. The customized loafers are at a starting price point of 550 dollars.

When shoppers enter the store, they are directed to a toggle screen where they have over 2000 color options available.

Prior to the program entering the U.S. market, it had already been tested and enacted in Italy.

Tod's chief executive officer Diego Della Valle said: “I wanted to launch a project that empowers our customers to create their own Gommino whilst focusing on the detail of our handmade product and craftsmanship. ‘My Gommino’ allows Tod’s to bridge creativity, technology and the knowledge of our artisans with the outcome resulting in a customized classic driving shoe, the epitome of Italian style.”

In an era of made-to-measure popularity and customization, Tod's chose an excellent time to launch this program. The value proposition that custom items make for more satisfied customers who will want to come back.

Although Tod's group SpA has scaled back on store openings and reduced their projected figures, programs like this are sure to help make up some ground for those original projected losses. Tod's is attempting to get back to that 100 million dollar mark after net profit declined to 96.1 million dollars last year.

photo: Tods.com
Amazon launches Spark, with shoppable images

Amazon has launched a new addition to its app: Amazon Spark, thereby allowing users to shop for products via images. This new ‘see now, buy now’ option was developed to encourage social interaction online by sharing and commenting on images.

Similar to social platform Pinterest, Amazon users - who must be Prime membership holders to use Spark, are able to discover images related to their chosen interests, such as ‘Style & Fashion’ or ‘Food’. Images are shown in an Instagram style feed, allowing users to share images to their own Amazon profile and comment with expertise about products and experiences.The main feature however, is the capability to click the products in the images and buy them instantly from Amazon.

Amazon Spark taps into ‘see now, buy now’ with shoppable photos

This is not the first time social platforms have seen the opportunity for a ‘shoppable photos’ app, Instagram launched a similar feature with a number of brands back in March. However, Amazon is the first online retailer to seize the opportunity - continuing to innovate their portfolio of products with a move towards social media.

Amazon, who are in ‘prime’ position for a shoppable image app - just saw their biggest ever ‘Prime Day’ sale event on July 11, reporting a 60 percent growth on global sales compared to last year, processing “tens of millions” of purchases made through the Amazon app. The sale day, which surpassed Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales figures also saw the registration of more new Prime members than on any previous single day.

The launch of Amazon Spark also follows the launch of Prime Wardrobe, a service that allows users to try up to five items before buying. With a clear focus on fashion, Amazon appointed new president, Christine Beauchamp in May and have recently added brands such as Nike to their portfolio - joining a plethora of high-street and designer brands available for users to purchase directly from Amazon.

Currently only available to US users, Amazon Spark will still have a huge starting audience to test whether the new addition to the app will live up to other shoppable image technologies.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

MAP: The Top 10 Fastest Growing Prime Retail StreetsINTERACTIVE MAP

Retailers and shoppers alike can breathe easy, as fears of a hard Brexit have done little to scare away shoppers. London's New Bond Street has been hailed as one of the world's prime fashion retail destinations, according to CBRE Research's semi-annual Global Prime Retail Rents. West End’s New Bond Street prime rental rates grew 39.1 percent during Q1 2017 compared to the same period in 2017, making it the fastest growing prime retail location in the world. And the second most expensive retail location, with rent averaging 1,753 US dollars per square foot per year.

The news map can be found after the next two paragraphs.

New York City remains home to the world's most expensive shopping street, namely Manhattan's Upper 5th Avenue, but London showed the strongest annual rent growth, climbing up the ranking to the second most expensive shopping street, with rent averaging 1,753 US dollars per square foot per year in Q1 2017. London’s overall strong retail performance is said to be emblematic of the wider retail strength spotted across Europe, which was the only global region to register rent growth. Retail rents declined in the Americas, driven by weakness along the US Eastern Seaboard. Overseas in Asia Pacific, rents fell, but key cities, notably Hong Kong, rents started to stabilize, according to the report.

FashionUnited has mapped the Fastest-Growing Retail Locations, named by CBRE.

Instructions:Open the menu by clicking the button in the top left of the menu or click on the icons in the map to learn more about the locations and their retail rents.
Tip: For an optimal experience we recommend you view this map in full screen. Hit the button on the top right 'view larger map'.

Photo: Pexels

Reuters has reported that U.S. retail sales have fallen a second straight month in a row. Retail sales declined in June, tempering expectations for acceleration in economic growth for the second quarter.

The Commerce Department said that sales fell 0.2 percent, caused by declines in receipts at service stations, clothing stores and supermarkets. Americans also cut back spending on restaurants, bars and hobbies.

There are signs that a recession could be upon us (auto delinquency rates surging, Americans living paycheck to paycheck, subprime borrowing, etc.) However, the U.S. is far from reaching the conditions that caused the great recession of the mid to late '00s.

In more promising news, retail sales did rise 2.8 percent year-on-year in June.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales slipped 0.1 percent last month after being stagnant in May. These core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

Many consumers are being more cautious about spending given the turbulence of Trump's presidency and an unclear picture of what it could mean for America's economic future. As negotiations for NAFTA take place and other economic policies like healthcare are on the table, consumers are holding their pocketbooks close. For now, the U.S. is still retaining a level of economic stability.

Ross Stores opens 28 new locations

Ross Stores has announced the recent opening of 21 Ross Dress for Less and seven dd's Discounts stores across 15 different states in June and July. These new locations are part of the company's plan to add approximately 70 Ross and 20 dd's locations in 2017.

"With this opening group, we continued to expand Ross and dd's in both new and existing markets. Ross grew in its newest market – the Midwest – as well as existing markets, including California, Texas and Florida. And in June, dd's opened its 200th location and expanded into its newest state of Pennsylvania," said Jim Fassio, president and chief development officer. "Looking ahead, we remain confident in our expansion plans and continue to see plenty of opportunity to grow across all of our markets. We continue to believe that over the long-term, Ross can grow to 2,000 locations and dd's can become a chain of 500 stores."

Discount chain Ross continues expansion

Ross Stores, Inc. is an S&P 500, Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 company headquartered in Dublin, California, with fiscal 2016 revenues of 12.9 billion dollars. Currently, the Company operates Ross Dress for Less, the largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the United States with 1,384 locations in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. They offer first-quality, in-season, name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at savings of 20 percent to 60 percent off department and specialty store regular prices every day. The Company also currently operates 205 dd's Discounts in 16 states that feature a more moderately-priced assortment of first-quality, in-season, name brand apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at savings of 20 percent to 70 percent off moderate department and discount store regular prices.

In an era of consumers opting for either luxury goods or fast-fashion and discount chains, Ross is in a good place for expansion. While most retailers and department stores have been struggling and shuttering stores, discount apparel retailers have seen growth as consumer shopping habits shift. Outlet and discount chains are now considered a bright spot in a struggling retail industry according to Buxton. While development of most full-priced malls has come to a halt, outlet and discount stores could see about 25 percent growth.

Photo: via Ross Dress for Less Facebook page

New app aims to spot counterfeit luxury goods

It was only a matter of time before an app was designed to see if online purchases of luxury goods are authentic or could indeed be counterfeit.

Entrupy, a tech startup, aims to solve any doubts if the Hermes Birkin or Chanel 2.55 you are buying online is the real deal.

The New York-based company recently raised 2.6 million dollars in a Series A funding round as it aims to expand its technology to become an industry standard application.

Founded in 2016, the company's software is used by hundreds of secondhand luxury sellers to authenticate goods where it can charge 10 dollars per authentication.

According to Luxury Daily, Entrupy’s technology looks to replace the subjective manual authentication process with one that is less open to human error or uncertainty. Using a device provided by the company, the user scans a product and sends images to Entrupy.

The service will compare the images to a database of millions of microscopic photos and return an answer on the product’s authenticity in seconds. The user can also create and share a certificate of authenticity. Entrupy’s on-demand solution allows businesses to authenticate anytime, anywhere with our mobile app and portable device.

How does it work?

The software has complex detection algorithms into that allow to analyze various materials ranging from canvas and leather to metal and wood. The Entrupy device that scans the item takes microscopic photographs of different areas and runs them through a computer that uses proprietary algorithms. Authentication accuracy of over 96.4 percent and is steadily increasing, according to Entrupy.

LVMH invited the company to showcase its solution at the conglomerate’s Luxury Lab during Viva Technology in 2016, just finished a Series A funding round.

"We are excited about the opportunity this funding gives us to accelerate the development and expansion of our solutions, increasing our ability to reach across product categories and geographies," said Vidyuth Srinivasan, CEO and co-founder of Entrupy. "We look forward to bringing to bear a future where trust is the norm in secondary-market transactions and no consumer gets duped or worse by a fake product."

Entrupy currently offers monthly plans which authenticate Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Godard, Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Burberry, Balenciaga and Prada styles.

Photo credit:Entrupy.com