Retail Therapy: Unicorn Frappuccino fail and the year of crazy bad jeans

Starbucks' own baristas stirred up bad reviews for the rainbow drink, while Levi's bares all with its new "bare-butt" jeans.

It’s been yet another weird week in retail.

Starbucks nearly broke Instagram (and the souls of baristas everywhere) with its limited-edition Unicorn Frappuccino, Levi's invented "bare butt jeans" — no joke — and French luxury fashion house Balenciaga's new tote bag looks a lot like Ikea's reusable bags.

This, and more, in this week’s Retail Therapy.

The Unicorn Frappuccino fiasco

This week, Starbucks released a flavor-changing “unicorn” drink that looks like Lisa Frank threw up in a cup. Many reviews said it doesn’t taste much better than it looks. The drink is made with a “sweet dusting of pink powder” blended into a creme Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with “pleasantly sour blue powder topping,” according to a company press release.

Initially, the drink stirred up excitement from consumers eager to taste the “color-changing, flavor-changing totally-not-made-up-limited-time-only Unicorn Frappuccino.” But after participating locations began serving the "magical" beverage on Wednesday, intrigue quickly turned to indignation for some Starbucks baristas.

One employee posted a video on Twitter ranting about how terrible both the craze and the drink itself were. “Please don’t get it!” Braden Burson, a Colorado Starbucks barista, said in the video. “I have unicorn crap all in my hair and on my nose. I have never been so stressed out in my entire life.”

While many baristas hope the drink makes like a unicorn and magically disappears, some customers weren’t so quick to judge. Some described the drink as tasting like “rainbows and butterfly kisses.” Whatever that means. Taste test at your own risk.​

Zara goes for the alt-right crowd

Fast-fashion retailers like Zara need to be extremely in touch with the latest trends and cultural references in order to consistently deliver on-trend fashion items — but it clearly missed the mark this week.

The apparel retailer reportedly took down a denim skirt decorated with cartoon images of two green, sunglasses-wearing frogs from its e-commerce site, The Guardian reported. The problem? Those frogs look a lot like the Pepe the Frog meme that's associated with the alt-right and white supremacy groups, and was labeled a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

Critics took to social media to roast the retailer for failing to understand the social context of the charged image. Many also took the opportunity to dig into Zara’s history of selling insensitive clothing — remember the children's clothes that resembled concentration camp uniforms?

Levi's bares all

Denim has been out of control this year — just think back to Barney’s nearly $1,000 inside-out jeans and TopShop’s $95 “Clear Panel Mom Jeans.”

Now Levi's has upped the ante with its collaboration with French fashion brand Vetements. The two have created an interesting pair of “bare-butt" jeans. As you might imagine, these jeans zip straight down the back and provide a little breathing room for your back end. The bizarre jeans retail for $1,261. 


Balenciaga pays homage to Ikea

Ikea just became high fashion.

This week, luxury handbag maker Balenciaga began selling an oversized blue tote that closely resembles Swedish furniture retailer Ikea's plastic, reusable "FRAKTA" bags that are used to pick up items in its stores. The "Arena Extra-Large Shopping Tote" is being sold online at Barney's for $2,145. (But you can get yours at Ikea for less than a dollar.)

They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and Ikea was honored. "We are deeply flattered that the Balenciaga tote bag resembles the Ikea iconic sustainable blue bag for 99 cents. Nothing beats the versatility of a great big blue bag.”

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Filed Under: Consumer Trends
Top image credit: Starbucks