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Inside Retail (Aug 7th, 2019)

1. Luxury department store Barneys New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing 15 stores. In a statement, Barneys CEO said rents were too high and that filing for bankruptcy protection will allow the retailer to "review our current leases." On Insta, @BarneysNY wrote "Trends come and go, but institutions are timeless." The bankruptcy petition revealed Barneys owes almost $10 million in unpaid rent. Barneys will close most of its stores but keep its New York flagship open on Madison Avenue, which costs $30 million a year to rent. Barneys filed for bankruptcy in the 90s and restrucutred its debt in 2012. Volcom's parent company, Authentic Brands Groups (ABG), is said to be interested in buying Barneys and would add it to its brand portfolio that includes Juicy Couture and Sports Illustrated. Barneys owes Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's The Row the most it owes any fashion brand, with $3.7 million outstanding in payment for "trade payable." LVMH's Celine is owed $2.7 million. - CNN

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2. A Walmart employee used an internal communications platform to send a company-wide e-mail to fellow employees calling for a strike until Walmart stops selling firearms, and Walmart retaliated. Thomas Marshall, who is an e-comm category specialist at Walmart, called for an employee strike after 22 people died in a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart, following another two people who were killed in a Mississippi Walmart days before. Marshall's petition concluded, "As associates, we can and must leverage our power and ability to change our company for the better." Marshall's coworker, 22-year-old Katie Kesner, said "Though eCommerce makes up a small fraction of Walmart’s total business, we are the future of the company."

Walmart is America's largest private employer and also is the largest seller of guns. Both Marshall and Kesner had their company emails and Slacks suspended after announcing their intentions on those channels. Walmart told Gizmodo that, "company channels are provided to help associates do their work, and this associate indicated that he was not planning to work today." The employee-led strike follows the Wayfair Walkout in June which took place in Boston after employees found out they were sending childrens beds to detention centers and disagreed with the company's policy.

Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are investigating after panic and chaos erupted Tuesday inside a Walmart there there following reports of shots fired. "Preliminary investigation results gathered are that a shooting incident did not occur, however the investigation is ongoing," the sheriff's office told Fox News. - GIZMODO

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3. JargonWatch: Greenwashing, which is what H&M was recently accused of by a Norwegian consumer watchdog. Greenwashing happens when a company makes misleading statements about the environmental benefits of a product that send the message to consumers that a brand is more environmentally friendly than it really is. There's a false advertising aspect and also the holistic damage it does to the value of the brand through consumer eyes.

Examples of greenwashing include when Walmart sold plastic bottles labeled as "biodegradable" and "compostable' that were not actually made of those plastics. Walmart had to pay $1 million to settle a greenwashing case from California. Volkswagen's "clean diesel" emissions scandal was another example of greenwashing, and Nestle is in a class action lawsuit right now over cocoa beans it sold as "sustainably sourced" chocolate when their harvest is allegedly causing deforestation in West Africa.

H&M's greenwashing is more ambiguous because it is not clear what environmental benefit the collection confers, although the retailer has used its position and global influence to help lead a sustainability discussion in retail which is a good thing. H&M experimented with alternative sources for textiles, such as pineapple leaves to make Piñatex leather-like material, and citrus peels which are spun into a fabric with a silk-like hand. Greenwashing in retail is a bit of a double edge sword because it's a pretty safe bet that creating any new product is going to pay an environmental toll. Here are a few ways to spot when a company might be greenwashing. Also, here's a list from this year's Earth Day with more companies that are accused of greenwashing of products including paper plates, Chiquita bananas, and batteries.

To end our environmental discussion on a positive note, Patagonia launched Black Hole Bags that are made from 10 million recycled plastic bottles. The collection includes 25 water-resistant and durable backpacks, wheeled duffel bags, sling bags, and tote bags in a rainbow of colors.

Does greenwashing impact your brand loyalty? Hit reply to let me know what your thoughts are on companies accused of greenwashing.

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4. Kmart launched an AR-powered ad campaign that lets users visualize select furniture in its spaces. IKEA first debuted AR with furniture in 2013, and Target began using AR to help its furniture and home business for two years. Kmart is running the ads on multiple platforms including BuzzFeed, Reddit and Yahoo. - MOBILE MARKETER

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5. Amazon launched its Scout autonomous delivery robots in Southern California. Amazon says the robots will only work Monday through Friday during daylight and for now they will be accompanied by a real person called an Amazon Scout Ambassador. Amazon initially piloted Scout in the Pacific Northwest and said it is starting with a "small number" of robots in Irvine, California. - TECH CRUNCH

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6. Obsess is a CGI platform created by a former Vogue staffer that aims to make e-comm shopping more enjoyable by creating a user experience of a virtual store. @ObsessVR tweeted today that it launched its consumer site where customers can shop virtual yoga and athleisure style in lululemon-like stores, shop for home and party supplies, and beauty in trendy immersive virtual environments. The site is laid out by category and has influencer partnerships making it somewhat of a hybrid marketplace/social network/e-zine, but Jezebel's Frida Garza points out that the CGI stores miss the point of the physical joy of shopping. - BUSINESS OF FASHION

I checked out the Pantone Color of the Year shop and I couldn't help but hearing Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling" as I scrolled up to see fish swimming overhead. The site is beautiful but it doesn't replicate good old fashioned brick-and-mortar retail therapy for me. Hit reply and tell me if you'd use this instead of going to a store?

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7. Swedish installment payment platform Klarna is now worth $5.5 billion with its latest round of funding and plans to expand in the U.S. Klarna was founded in 2005 and has 10 percent of the e-comm marketshare in Europe. H&M partnered with Klarna last October to pilot a program where customers could take home their new clothes and wear them before having to pay for them, similar to layaway. Top retail shops on Klarna include TOMS, Agent Provocateur, and Totême. - TECH CRUNCH

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8. Boohoo Group bought the e-comm businesses of British women's fashion brands Karen Millen and Coast for 18.2 million pounds (roughly $22.1 million). Boohoo did not buy any of the physical stores or shop-in-shops that the stores operate in the UK. Boohoo owns PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal which cater to younger consumers. The Karen Millen and Coast brands will help Boohoo meet an older e-comm consumer. - WWD

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9. Over 100 models have petitioned Victoria's Secret to prevent men ranging from photographers to Jeffrey Epstein who "appear to have leveraged their working relationships with Victoria’s Secret to lure and abuse vulnerable girls." Christy Turlington Burns, Doutzen Kroes, Gemma Ward, and Milla Jovovich are among the models who wrote an open letter to the company calling for accountability. The CMO of VS's parent company L Brands announced his resignation on Monday.

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10. Skechers settled its lawsuit with Adidas over striped sneakers. Adidas initially sent Skechers cease and desist letters over its Goldie-Peaks sneakers which have four stripes. Skechers took a preventative measure and sued in California court to get a judgment that would allow it to continue selling its shoes. The lawsuit went on while Adidas lost another trademark dispute when a judge in the EU said the three-stripe mark was invalid. The footwear brands settled out of court. - WORLD IP REVIEW

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Written and curated by Cassidy Mantor, a brand storyteller with a decade of retail marketing experience including in-house at Nike and Oakley. Occasionally she writes a “think piece” about fashion law for the American Bar Association. She is happy to be based in coastal Virginia except when there’s a hurricane. She can be found on LinkedIn.

Editor: Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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