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Inside Retail (Oct 18th, 2019)

Hi Inside Retail readers,

Check out this piece from The Atlantic that questions the sustainability of so many of today's buzzy DTC brands. While we love new products and ideas, today's issue weaves an overarching theme of how retailers are going back to the drawing board to reboot in pretty traditional ways. Increasing foot traffic, doing brand collaborations, and improving the workforce are evergreen constants that retail will always be faced with.

Take a look at the story, then hit reply to let me know your thoughts on whether old retailers are going to beat digitally native brands in the long run, or if it's a draw.

– Cassidy

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1. Authentic Brands Group's plan for Barneys is to close several remaining seven stores and license the name to Saks Fifth Avenue. ABG submitted a stalking horse bid of $271.4 million with investment bank B. Riley Financial to get the process started. The stalking horse bid sets the baseline amount of what Barneys will be sold for so that any other offers have to be higher than it. Other bids may be accepted until October 22, in which case Barneys would hold an auction and sell to the highest bidder by October 24. Barneys filed for bankruptcy in August. - REUTERS

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2. The Children's Place is bringing Gymboree back from bankruptcy death and will open 200 new shop-in-a-shop stores and relaunch its e-comm site next year. The Children's Place President and CEO Jane Elfers said, "We are making every effort to meet [the consumer's] high standards for curated and elevated product and eagerly anticipate welcoming her back to the Gymboree brand." E-comm features include free shipping and returns with no minimum purchase, remerchandised collections with full size runs, an easier checkout process, and upgraded loyalty program. The Children's Place bought Gymboree and sister brand Crazy 8 for $76 million after the company filed for its second bankruptcy in two years. It closed 800 stores earlier this year as part of a strategy to cut debt. - CNBC

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3. #FlashbackFriday: Colorful Italian fashion brand United Colors of Benetton is trying American retail again and will open a pop-up in Santa Monica next week. Benetton's creative director Jean-Charles de Castelbajac said "our style has never been more relevant." The wave of 90s nostalgia helped bring "Color... all over the world now, even in luxury." The pop-up is a showroom where customers will be able to try on product and order, though they will not be able to buy anything on site. It's part of the brand's goal to "eliminate waste." It opens next week and will run for a month.

Benetton launched in 1965 and opened its first U.S. store in 1980. Its campaigns challenged racial and cultural social constructs of the time and focused on unity. Last year it used images of migrants in Europe for a campaign. Benetton had 60 stores in the U.S. but began closing them in 2014. In 2017 its founder returned to lead the company at age 82 to help it reboot after it lost market share to European competitors Zara and H&M. - WWD

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4. Walmart launched its second year of its online toy lab where kids can virtually interact with toys for Holiday 2019. "Being a retailer isn’t simply about selling items anymore – it’s about creating an experience for our customers," said Walmart's VP of toys Anne Marie Kehoe. Walmart partnered with eko to create a tech-based experience modeled after YouTube unboxing videos. WalmartToyLab.com is accessible on both laptops and tablets. - RETAIL DIVE

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5. Five Below will build gaming venues attached to possibly up to 70 stores as part of a new deal with e-sports infrastructure company Nerd Street Gamers. Five Below's CEO said, "gaming is a trend our younger customers are actively enjoying," and that the spaces would introduce customers to its assortment of cheap "technology-related products and accessories." The pilot program will carve out 3,000 square feet gaming spaces in Five Below stores over the next few years. - LICENSE GLOBAL

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6. Macy's signed a deal to bring Potbelly Sandwich Shop into four stores in an effort to boost foot traffic in store. Potbelly has 450 franchise locations across the U.S. The Potbelly shops will go into three Macy's locations in California and one in New York. In addition to offering its own restaurants in some locations, Macy's has existing deals for in-store dining with Cheesecake Factory, the Burger Bar, and Wolfgang Puck. - RETAIL DIVE

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7. Lululemon launched its first high fashion collaboration with womenswear label Roksanda. The 16-piece collection includes leggings, puffer coats, dresses, capes, and tanks.  Prices range from $78 to $998 for the puffer coat that can also be styled as a vest and trenchcoat. The collection launches October 22 online and also in select lulu and Roksanda stores. - FASHIONISTA

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8. Chipotle will help its employees pay their college tuition if they are studying business or technology. Employees who have been with the company for 120 days can choose from 75 degrees offered at The University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Wilmington University. Disney and Walmart also offer educational subsidies which have helped attract a new generation of employees. Starbucks also offeres tuition assistance. Chipotle's chief people officer said, "financial barriers can be one of the biggest obstacles that impede our employees from achieving their fullest potential." - FORTUNE

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9. LVMH-owned French brand Christian Dior is the latest retailer to apologize to China for violating its "one China" sovereignty policy. A map showing Dior's network of stores in China excluded Taiwan that was shown at a recruiting presentation that took place at a university in China. Dior apologized saying, "Dior always respects and upholds the one China principle, strictly safeguards China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and treasures the feelings of the Chinese people." Versace, Givenchy, and Coach also recently apologized to China over similar issues with maps. - REUTERS

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10. Under Armour made spacesuits for amateur astranauts who will buy Virgin Galactic tickets to go into space. UA CEO Kevin Plank said the partnership centers on UA's focus on "performance." Features include temperature regulating fabric and compression elements to help with circulation. Virgin Galactic is in the final stages of testing its spacecraft and has a list of 3,000 potential customer who will pay $250,000 a ticket to fly in space for ten minutes. - CNBC

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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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