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Inside Retail (Oct 7th, 2019)

Happy Monday, Inside Retail readers!

Uniqlo opened in India and the country's Minister of Textiles was present for the opening. One of the reasons I love retail is because it generally isn't directly involved in politics. When retail does intersect with politics, it's unfortunately usually in the form of a trade war or cultural appropriation. However, the ambassadorial nature of India's Minister of Textiles gave me pause for some of the more unifying aspects of apparel's global marketplace.

Hit reply and let me know what you think!

Cassidy

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1. Bankrupt department store Barneys is preparing to get a $220 million bailout bid from a group of retail executives led by Sam Ben-Avraham. A Barneys spokesperson said the retailer was "in advanced negotiations with a potential purchaser" and expects to have an agreement by this week. Ben-Avraham is behind '90s New York boutique Atrium, men's fashion trade show Liberty Fairs, and co-founded streetwear brand Kith with Ronnie Fieg. - WSJ

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2. India's Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani, was present for the recent opening of Uniqlo's first store in India. Irani tweeted, "We look forward to more & more Indian designers/craftsmen joining hands with Uniqlo & bring out the best of Indian-Japanese clothing culture. Uniqlo posted this video store tour on @uniqloin. One customer told Nikkei Asian Review that "I've heard a lot about Uniqlo's good quality, so I wanted to see for myself." Uniqlo opened its first store in Italy last month, and will enter Vietnam next with a store planned for Ho Chi Minh City. - NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW

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3. PayPal backed out of the Libra Association, a group of 30 retailers that formed around Facebook's cryptocurrency and currently includes eBay, Farfetch, Uber, and MasterCard. Facebook did not comment but referred to a statement from the Libra Association that said, "It requires a certain boldness and fortitude to take on an endeavor as ambitious as Libra... We’re better off knowing about this lack of commitment now, rather than later." Burn! - TECH CRUNCH

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4. Victoria's Secret cast its first plus-size model in a collaboration with British lingerie brand Bluebella. Bluebella's founder explained her brand's focus by saying the Bluebella customer does not buy "lingerie as a functional or traditionally sexy purchase. She sees it as a fashion crossover style and a personal self-indulgence." The partnership is clearly engineered by VS's board who is trying to change the company's image from male fantasy to shift to speaking directly to a female customer. This is the first time Victoria's Secret has hired a woman who wears size 14. - GLAMOUR

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5. Walmart sold e-comm retailer ModCloth to Go Global Retail and it may be ModCloth's return to coolness. Walmart bought ModCloth in 2017 as part of its strategy to capture millennials. At the time, ModCloth was a 15-year-old brand known for using real women as models with a refreshingly accessible message and unique and affordable product. Many customers were turned off from the brand when Walmart bought it. Go Global Retail's managing director said, "I don’t think the [ModCloth] customer will see a change. If they do, I hope they’ll be happy with what they see." - THE VERGE

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6. Sneaker marketplace GOAT launched an AI feature to virtually try on rare shoes. This Twitter user astutely pointed out, "All these shoes-trying-apps in #AR are all powered by Wannaby. That startup has made bingo with its feet tracking algo." Here's a look at Wannaby, a Belgian start-up that is led by a Google alum. - UPLOAD VR

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7. Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin partnered with Sugarfina and now makes gin-infused candy. "The alarming lack of gin-based snacks available for purchase provides @sugarfina and Aviation a true advantage. I look forward to literally owning the luxury micro-treat category," Reynolds said. The collection includes Gin Fizz Bears dusted with tart sugar, and the lime-flavored airplane-shaped Gimlet Gummies. They're $28 for a trio of luxury micro-treats. - DELISH

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8. Pretzel Pop-Tarts are launching in December with two filling options and people seem grossed out. Food influencer @candyhunting tasted the Pop-Tarts in Atlanta at the 2019 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) trade show. They will have the "same texture as normal Pop-Tarts, but have a distinct pretzel flavor and added saltiness." People seem to be generally turned off by the idea of them. One Instagram user wrote, "This is disgusting," while another said, "I give it two months before they take it off the market." The Pop-Tarts will come in chocolate and brown sugar cinnamon. - ELITE DAILY

What's your take? How do you feel about pretzel Pop-Tarts? Hit reply to share your thoughts.

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9. Although the U.S. economy added 136,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent last month, the retail industry lost 11,400 jobs mainly in apparel and accessories. Bank of America's chief U.S. economist Michelle Meyer told Yahoo! that, "you continue to see this move to online shopping," and that consumers "are just spending differently and retailers are trying to accommodate that.” The Labor Department said in its monthly report that "since reaching a peak in January 2017, retail trade has lost 197,000 jobs." Some 9,000 new jobs in the food and beverage area of retail were added in September, which offset the 11,400 clothing jobs lost.  - YAHOO! FINANCE

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10. Coca-Cola is testing using recycled plastic and made 300 prototype bottles out of ocean trash in Europe. Coke's supply chain head for Western Europe said, "As these begin to scale, we will see all kinds of used plastics returned as good as new, not just once but again and again, diverting waste streams from incineration and landfill." Coke worked on the bottles in the Netherlands with Dutch company Ioniqa Technologies which has a proprietary process that converts recycled plastics into food-grade PET. - ENVIRONMENTAL LEADER

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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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