Instagram last year announced that it would be trailing shopping options within the image-sharing social media app, and now they can confirm that tests from brands including Kate Spade has seen “great results”.

The feature, allows brands and retailers to ‘tag’ up to five individual products featured on their photos, once a tag has been clicked users will be able to see a detailed view of the product and price, and then if the consumer taps the ‘Shop Now’ link they will go directly to that product on the brand’s e-commerce site where they can buy the product.

Kate Spade New York’s EVP and chief marketing officer Mary Beech said: “Our partnership with Instagram has been very successful. Traditionally, our customer had turned to Instagram for inspiration, and we’re seeing that she’s reacting positively to the new shopping experience, which allows her to seamlessly tap and shop the product – going from inspiration to information to purchase in just a few steps – we’re excited to see where the feature continues to take us.”

Other brands who tested the shopping tag features included J.Crew, Macy’s, and Warby Parker and because of the “encouraging early results” of the test Instagram has announced that it will be rolling out these shopping features to thousands of businesses that sell apparel, jewellery or beauty products in the coming weeks.

Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s president and creative director added: “While Instagram is a place for inspiration and visual wonder – there is nothing more satisfying than being able to buy that thing you love right now!

“The number of times I have found myself in a rabbit hole hunting down that pair of shoes, that beautiful chandelier, those sunglasses, rugs, flower arrangements, random gift ideas – countless!! We were thrilled to be a part of this pilot and to have our customers experience the next generation of shopping via Instagram.”

Brands and retailers using the feature will also have access to Instagram’s insights meaning they will be able to track views and gather insight on how many users click on the photos and how many shoppers purchase the brand’s products via the app.

Initially this will be just for Instagrammers in the US, however, it is expected to roll out to other markets including the UK.

MyTheresa launches Korean language site

Luxury online multibrand retailer MyTheresa.com has launched a dedicated Korean language website for its customers based in South Korea after the brand recorded triple-digit growth in the market.

“The Korean luxury market is moving quickly to digital. Ever since our first activities in Korea, we have seen a massive consumer shift to digital and a triple digit growth in the market,” said president Michael Kilger. “We strive to provide the best customer experience for women worldwide. For us, it is thus a natural next step to offer our finest edit in luxury fashion to Korean customers also in their mother tongue.”

The German-based e-tailer’s Korean website provides all the relevant free trade agreement documents for products manufactured in the EU for Korean customers, alongside offering free exchanges and returns within 30 days, including a free collection service and 72-hour deliveries. In addition, MyTheresa also offers a personalised customer service with Korean-speaking customer care teams.

Mytheresa.com was founded in 2006 and was acquired by the American Neiman Marcus Group in 2014. It stocks around 200 international designers including Stella McCartney, Gucci, Miu Miu and Saint Laurent. It ships to than 120 countries and is available in English, French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Arabic.

Image: Mytheresa Korea

H&M’s sister store has announced that it is opening a new location in SoCal. Bowing in Los Angeles, & Other Stories is opening a flagship next month off of famous shopping strip Melrose Avenue.

The new store will pop up in West Hollywood opening next month. In addition, & Other Stories will also start using tags that read “Los Angeles Atelier,” as a way to even further promote the brand’s location in L.A. The space has a lot of natural light which fill sits minimalist, white interior decor. The brand also reflects its sophisticated, luxe ambiance which complements the rand itself. As the company just opened its first Asia store and has made roots in Stockholm and Paris, it seems L.A. is the latest in a slew of cities that & Other Stories aims to conquer. “We knew we needed a contrast to Paris and Stockholm and two years ago we decided it would be in Los Angeles,” managing director Samuel Fernstrom told WWD of the atelier. The studio has been open for approximately a year, but just decided to bring in retail starting with its spring 2017 collection.

This particular location will also offer the brand’s newest project. In the past, having collaborated with Rodarte and Clare Vivier, & Other Stories is bringing a new footwear collection along with its Melrose flagship. Starting April 11, the store will also have its collaboration with footwear brand Toms available.

Women’s clothing retailer Charlotte Russe is stepping up its performance. IBM just announced that the retailer is using Watson Customer Engagement solutions on IBM Cloud that ultimately helps the retailer process record online sales.

Last year, Charlotte Russe was able to partner with IBM in order to analyze American consumer shopping habits and their online purchases. The solution offers cognitive technologies that allow for retailers like Charlotte Russe to use this data to their advantage in the current retail climate. The solution was operating for Charlotte Russe for the past seven months and showed that its initial sales and transactions that were predicted for the holidays were lower than what the data had shown. The fast-fashion retailer then used this information to see that their online sales would increase over 2015, which meant in the future they could be better prepared in customer orders and service. As a result, for the 2016 5-day holiday shopping peak, the retailer made sure all systems were performing at peak capacity for optimal service and customer orders. Although Charlotte Russe had record volumes of orders, there were no performance issues due to IBM’s help.

"The always-on customer's relationship with a retailer lasts only as long as the business's ability to keep their unique needs and interests at the center of every interaction," said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Customer Engagement said in a statement. Charlotte Russe has now made online shopping easier than ever for customers, in order to improve sales. Customers could now order apparel on their smart phone and pick up the item at a nearby location. Using the new technology, the system will check inventory and identifies which store can quickily fulfil the order. It seems that despite mall traffic declining, the retailer has focused on improving other methods of buying. "Like all retailers, our business is judged by its ability to serve the needs of our customers. If we can't meet their expectations we can't compete," said Debra Jensen, CIO for Charlotte Russe.

Ryan Seacrest's Distinction Collection is set to expand into a larger lifestyle brand. This means the inclusion of activewear, or what the brand is referring to as "lifewear." That also means for the first time ever sportswear will be merchandised in Macy's tailored suiting section.

The new lifewear category will be offered in 150 Macy's stores beginning in September. The brand is exclusive to Macy's Inc., and has been one of the strongest performing brands at the store according to Seacrest's team.

“Ryan Seacrest is the definition of a modern man, building a multimedia empire all while impeccably dressed,” said Karin Darmanin, Macy’s executive vice president of men’s and kids, in a statement. “His dynamic life inspires the designs behind Ryan Seacrest Distinction. Ryan knows the importance of day-to-night dressing, as he navigates between his morning radio show, daily business meetings and red carpet events. His collection for Macy’s now includes essential pieces designed to coordinate with the suiting, that offer great versatility and fashion for a modern career.”

The new category expansion comes just a few months after Seacrest brought on creative director Matteo Gottardi six months ago.

New items featured in the collection will include outerwear, wovens and knits. It is not athleisure though, as Gottardi noted that lifewear pieces are meant to be worn with more of a blazer.

Target coming to 34th Street

Target has announced that they have signed a lease for a 43,000-square-foot store at 34th Street in Manhattan. This move places them in the vicinity of Macy's famous Herald Square location.

The store is slated to open in October, making it Target's third small-format unit in Manhattan. The two small-format stores are located in Harlem and Tribeca. They have their sites on the East Village and Hell's Kitchen for potential future locations.

The small-format stores are expected to help Target make a turnaround, because their net earnings for the fourth quarter ending January 28 declined 42.7 percent to 817 million dollars. Sales for the three months declined to 5.4 percent to 20.6 billion dollars. The bright spot was digital sales, which jumped 34 percent in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to offset the slump in brick-and-mortar.

Target to open location by Macy's Herald Square

The retailer plans to spend 7 billion dollars over the next three years on a capital investment program and sacrifice 1 billion dollars in operating profit so they can compete against other retailers like Wal-Mart and TJ Maxx.

New York is a primary market for the company's growth. Target has a total of 32 small unit stores, and have set a goal to have 100 by 2020.

The new 34th Street location will feature both apparel, groceries, food-to-go and a CVS pharmacy.

“The addition of the Herald Square store location is exciting for Target as we expand our footprint with small-format stores in Manhattan,” said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, properties to WWD. “Not only will we be able to serve the thousands of working professionals that travel through Herald Square each day, but we’ll have the opportunity to showcase Target’s exclusive brands and compelling offers for the many tourists from around the world who shop in this vibrant neighborhood in Manhattan.”

photo: via Target Facebook
Eva Mendes’ fashion line to expand

Actress Eva Mendes is expanding her fashion collaboration’s retail presence with partner New York and Company to over 50 shop-in-shops and 19 Eva Mendes boutiques.

The ‘Eva Mendes Collection’ has achieved over 50 million dollars in sales over the past year, explained Greg Scott, chief executive of New York and Company, and with the business predicting reach 100 million dollars “in the near term”, the company is looking to make the actresses collection more accessible.

The expansion will see new shop-in-shops added to the New York and Company retail network in high-traffic stores, including in Dadeland Mall and Miami International Mall in the Miami-Metro area and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, VA, as well as standalone Eva Mendes boutiques.

Eva Mendes’ fashion line to expand

Scott added: "Eva has been a fantastic partner and I'm excited to see how this expansion will impact Eva's fans. By expanding to six new stores and by designating more space to the 50 Eva shop-in-shops, we are introducing new clientele to her amazing collection while addressing the strong demand in these markets for both, the Eva Mendes Collection and our New York and Company brands."

Mendes's newest collection, which launched earlier this month, is her largest yet, features more than 100 pieces of apparel ranging in sizes 0 to 20, as well as a wide selection of accessories including handbags and jewellery.

"It was important to me for my spring collection to include something for everyone, which is also why we are currently offering more styles and inclusive sizing from 0 to 20," explains Mendes in a statement.

The Eva Mendes Collection is available in New York and Company stores across America and online at nyandcompany.com priced from 46.95 to 129.95 dollars.

Images: courtesy of New York and Company

Is the allure of fast fashion fading?

The gilded growth of fast fashion appears to be losing its shine and momentum, as industry giants H&M and Zara both posted significant drops in sales.

Swedish retailer H&M saw its monthly sales drop for the first time in almost four years, whereas Zara saw its profits dwindle to its lowest in 8 years.

Consumers are spending on experience, not apparel

Last week the US annual census report stated consumer were spending their cash on things to do, not things to wear. The repercussions for the fashion industry are seeing consumers opt for more lifestyle and leisure activities over apparel.

According to Bloomberg, H&M shares fell as much as 5.1 percent in Stockholm, the most in three months. A one percent drop in February sales was caused by the month having one day fewer than in the leap year of 2016. Adjusting for that, revenue rose 3 percent in local currencies, missing estimates.

Zara's parent company Inditex's gross margin narrowed to 57 percent from 57.8 percent in the 12 months through January, noted Bloomberg, missing the Spanish retailer's goal to keep the measure within 0.5 percentage points of the previous year.

The shares fell as much as 2.7 percent, the most since December, though pared their losses after Chief Executive Officer Pablo Isla said that at current exchange rates, the gross margin won't fall this year.

Inditex will continue to open flagships in the world's key retail destination. It's strategy is to absorb smaller units into adjacent stores. New openings are slated for Nagoya in Japan, as well as Qatar and Mumbai. There are also plans in the works for Zara to open its largest retail unit in its home country, a 65,000 square feet space in Madrid.

Photo: Lefties SS17 campaign

Digital commerce company Brandshop has just announced a new venture in digital retail. The retail company is set to bring about “MiniShops” which will serve as one-day shopping events for its customers.

The platform will launch these temporary shopping days hosted by a network of women in order to help widen their customer reach. The creative digital commerce company is starting MiniShops as a way to help build emerging brands as well as enrich the shopping experience. This project is ultimately set to help bring more exposure to these brands and help bring them a wider engagement. Created by founders Laura Martin Mills and Hillary Crittendon, the two came together to expand the reach of these emerging brands. The retail brands will be able to see upcoming events by their location, dates, and hosts according to WWD. The brands are then able to decide whether or not they want to participate in the MiniShop. The host will have the final say of which retailers will be able to partake in these events.

The events will be held at each host’s home featuring up to three brands. The event will last only three hours with a guests expectancy of about 30-50 women according to WWD. These mini-stores will serve as a trial for Brandshop to see how these emerging brands are reacted to. In the future, these Minishops will pop up in cities such as Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans, and others. With a partnership of over 50 brands, it’ll be interesting to see when and where these shops pop up. At the moment, the first Minishop’s date and location has not yet been announced.

& Other Stories, sister brand of H&M, has moved into new territory. The lifestyle brand just announced its first ever Asian flagship located in Seoul, South Korea.

& Other Stories announced that the company would reach Asia eventually in Apgujeong. The newly opened store spans approximately 7,100 square feet located in Seoul’s luxury shopping district. The location has three floors including a white exterior with a minimalist aesthetic. Because of Seoul’s fashion influence in South Korea, the city was a clear choice for the brand for a launch in the country. “When we started to look at potential openings and expansion, we felt that Korean women had such amazing style and are so fashion savvy,” public relations manager of & Other Stories Elke Kieft told WWD.

Although similar to H&M, the brand varies in style as well as in price points. With elevated prices and a more sophisticated style, the company ranges up to approximately 373 dollars compared to H&M’s lower-fared prices. The company currently has stores located in Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Washington D.C., and New York. Worldwide, the country operates stores in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and more. While & Other Stories continues to grow, it’ll be interesting to see if the company moves forward with more Asia flagships.