Retail Therapy: 6 trends and travesties that plagued 2018
While the year has brought many unwelcome products, we are thankful for one thing: the $100,000 Louis Vuitton toilet that'll flush them all away.
It's been another weird year in retail, and as a special gift from Retail Dive, we're resurfacing all of the best trends (read: disasters) from the industry in 2018. This year we saw everything from Equinox's #committosomething marketing campaign (which was aggressive motivation at best) to Neiman Marcus selling absurdly expensive everyday items (pointing directly at that $152 velvet hair bow).
As the holiday creeps closer and stress ensues, take a minute to sit back, relax and remember that there's a chance retailers made bigger mistakes this year than you did.
6. Nike's 90/10 sneaks hit the mark
They say we make our own demons. Nowhere is that more true than in fashion, where any self-respecting member of society can look back at his or her past choices and think with deep regret that they really should not have worn those platform crocs to that pool party.
In a move that seems to encourage users to make their own bad designs — because Nike has already patented their own bad designs (aka its treadmill sneakers) — the company released a collection of shoes in February that are 90% done and 10% your own adventure, Teen Vogue reported at the time. The creatively-named "90/10" line lets buyers choose from a variety of shoe designs (from disappointingly Earth-bound moon boots to honeycomb-inspired sneakers) that look like they came out of a quarantined hospital wing.
Users can then inflict their own creative genius on the shoes, for an effect not dissimilar to sending a crayon-holding kindergartener into a white-walled playroom. And yet, despite the copious possibilities for disaster, we can safely say that, however horrendous the design, Nike's 90/10 shoes will be way more acceptable to wear in public than Christopher Kane's bedazzled, spring-boosted sneaks, first reported by Vogue.
Worn properly, these shoes literally put a spring in your step — which just goes to show that not every idiom should have a real-world correlate.
I used the SF AF-1 Hi from the Nike 90/10 collection as a canvas for a design of my own creation ???????????? The surface was super fun and easy to paint on, thanks so much #nike for the new kicks!???????????? #airforceones #nike #illustration #basketball #art https://t.co/XSyCCaDKCD Kri… pic.twitter.com/2sY8TYC01B— iNSPIRE (@ifckrcom) February 11, 2018
Nike dropping a lot of fire lol. Those 90/10 forces swoooo— Rich Rozay (@finance_rich) February 12, 2018
5. Where best friends are ... fighting over discounts
Build-A-Bear, like so many specialty mall-based retailers that were once all the rage (i.e. Hot Topic, Claire's and Wet Seal) is struggling to stay relevant. Toys R Us knows a thing or two about falling at the hands of children and actually contributed to the recent decline in store traffic, executives at the teddy bear maker said in the company's latest earnings call.
But somewhere in a corner office a lightbulb went off — and with that, Pay Your Age Day was born. Talk about a plan for driving store traffic at a store where each fluffy friend is $35 to $60 a piece.
It should come as little surprise that thousands upon thousands of customers swarmed stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for their chance to take home a bear at a fraction of the price — and creepiness — of a Hatchimal. The catch, though, was that shoppers had to join the company's membership program.
In theory, it was a well-intended idea to boost membership and surge stores back to life with new shoppers. In practice, the too-good-to-be-true deal didn't end up well at all. Local media reports from around the country cited instances where security officers and police had to assist long winding — and sometimes unruly — crowds.
Alas, only hours after the glorious discounts were unveiled they were shut down. It's safe to say that parents with screaming toddlers who had been waiting in line for five hours weren't exactly happy. Many turned to Twitter to voice their frustration. And the company sheepishly tweeted back coupons for those that became Bonus Club members that day.
If only Build-A-Bear could construct a non-chaotic marketing strategy.
@buildabear PAY YOUR AGE' turned out to be a joke.. turned up to what was a queue to the end of the shopping centre door (2hr wait apparently). Staff advised people to come back around 3.30.. came back and the shops closed with a sign. Lol. Nice one Build A Bear ???????? #buildabear pic.twitter.com/rmz2WJbGh3— Aneesa Khan (@AneesaxKhan) July 12, 2018
My Dearest Love— Ludibriumventis (@ludibriumventis) July 12, 2018
The fighting is intense, and the wails and cries of the women and children can be heard from far and wide. I despair we shall never see a resolution to this dreadful conflict.
Take care of Fluffy for me, for I fear I shall never return#buildabear
**Urgent Alert:— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
Per local authorities, we cannot accept additional Guests at our locations due to crowd safety concerns. We have closed lines in our stores. We understand some Guests are disappointed and we will reach out directly as soon as possible. https://t.co/aSFfPCcfsG pic.twitter.com/WZJ53tOAEH
Our Pay Your Age Day generated an overwhelming response. Please refer to our website for info about a voucher for our Bonus Club members. Thank you for your patience and support. US: https://t.co/uFX3ckPC8w UK: https://t.co/71BsjjTG9p pic.twitter.com/vuCMQM6lKQ— Build-A-Bear Workshop (@buildabear) July 12, 2018
4. Step aside, Kohler: Louis Vuitton toilets have arrived
They say not to flush your money down the toilet, but it's hard to heed that advice when someone creates a functional brown and gold monogrammed toilet out of the scraps of Louis Vuitton bags.
The "Loo-uis Vuitton Toilet," which was selling on Tradesy for $100,000 in April (for any math minds out there, that's about 1,000 times the price of an average toilet at The Home Depot), looks disturbingly like your last luxury knock-off bag ran into Midas and a pair of scissors.
Despite the fact that this toilet is literally the patchwork quilt of luxury, the product description placed great emphasis on the quality of the materials, including "24 different authentic Louis Vuitton bags" that were "repurposed" so that whoever ends up buying this "toilet art" can be reminded just how rich they are every time they take a s---.
Who knew there could be so much money in toilets? Especially if you're willing to send your dignity down the drain.
Might need to get that @LouisVuitton toilet for my Michigan house ????— Jeffree Star (@JeffreeStar) December 14, 2017
I just learned that there’s a $100,000 Louis Vuitton toilet. Bananas.— Mellific (@Mel_lific) November 21, 2017
3. REI, Warby Parker play the fool
April Fools' Day is the one time of the year retailers feel the right to be "clever" in a painstakingly Dad joke kind of way and then pretend they've had a sense of humor all along. This year was no different.
Either because they're masochists or because they thought the jokes were actually funny, Cnet compiled a detailed list of retailers' pranks that stretches longer than the Nile River and is just as prone to dampening our spirits.
Nevertheless, we can't ignore April Fools' Day any more than we can ignore the number of bankruptcies retail has managed to rack up, so without further ado, we turn our weary eyes to Warby Parker's joint prank with Arby's (creatively named WArby's), which gave birth to the Onion Ring Monocle and a collection of clothes we never need to see again. Worst of all, it suggested we put fried food somewhere other than our mouths, which we just don't see eye-to-fry on.
For an #AprilFools gag to work, the stunt has to be plausible. My only thought when I read the #Warbys release was that I must have gotten the date wrong b/c this is a terrible joke from @WarbyParker & @Arbys Agree with @Eater. This one is half-baked: https://t.co/wEfVwyz892 pic.twitter.com/E2GEQNqVhj— Modern Fellows (@modernfellows) March 31, 2018
Early prototype? pic.twitter.com/ktbzt4PSbZ— Arby's (@Arbys) March 27, 2018
REI's ZipAll, on the other hand, was subjectively the funniest prank to grace the internet this April.
The suit, advertised as the "last piece of gear you may ever need," zips off just about everywhere imaginable and looks like it belongs in the closet of the National Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America. Say what you will about the ZipAll, but you can't say it wasn't made with convenience in mind, especially considering the well-placed Velcro flap, so that "when nature calls, you can quickly take care of it."
Tell the boy scouts that being prepared is outdated. Being totally unzippable … now that's something worth selling popcorn on a street corner for.
2. Some like it small
In a move that had us wondering "why wear anything at all," Asos released a crop top for men in August that looked like a poorly-made sports bra, especially considering it covers little besides the upper chest.
According to Teen Vogue, the "Reclaimed Vintage inspired extreme cropped vest in white" was selling for about $13, but only on the company's U.K. site, either because there's more demand for shrunken men's tank tops in the U.K. or because British consumers are more tolerant of bad products. Although, judging by the size of the Yeezy flip flops Kanye wore around the same time (to a wedding, might we add), the Asos man tank would likely be a hit in the fashion wasteland that the U.S. has become.
And really, why shouldn't men wear products that are way too small to cover their chests? Women have been dealing with too-small pockets for years — a fact that The Pudding called out in an expose on the oppressively small pockets women have been forced to put up with over the years, with Guess, Ralph Lauren and J. Crew in particular having, frankly, offensively small pockets.
For unclear reasons, it was decided that women either didn't carry enough products to need pockets, had smaller phones than men or elsewise would find the absence of pockets an attractive feature, because they are on average 48% shorter than men's and 6.5% narrower, according to the Pudding's report.
If, like us, you're wondering what difference this really makes, we'd like to call your attention to our favorite item that fits in just 10% of women's pockets: A woman's hand.
1. The Sephora product that caused a Twitter witch fit
This Halloween, we sought to remember a few important things: Three Musketeers are underrated, any adults trying to go trick-or-treating as Ron Burgundy should probably be accompanied by their kids (that is, after all, who trick-or-treating is aimed at), and witches are real.
How do we know this last part? Because the Wicca community (at least those that overlap with the 'active on Twitter' community) threw an absolute fit over Sephora and Pinrose selling a "Starter Witch Kit" — replete with Tarot cards, fragrances, a quartz crystal and sage — which was set to debut in stores starting Oct. 5, according to Glossy.
While launching a witch kit may have seemed to the retailer and brand like a seasonally appropriate way to drive traffic and sales in the months leading up to Halloween, it was also apparently a guaranteed method for getting an entire community to hate on your brand over social media and spark claims of cultural appropriation — because the most important diversity issue in retail is definitely the appropriation of Wiccan culture and not workplace lawsuits or the ever-increasing number of CEO's charged with sexual misconduct.
Twitter comments ranged from users slamming Sephora for not taking Wicca seriously as a religion to others asserting that Tarot "is not an entry-level skill" and that anyone buying the kits wouldn't be able to achieve the same results as real witches. The outrage even led to a change.org petition and — like magic — all the protests worked.
Witches be crazy, man.
How hard is it for people to grasp. #Wicca is a legitimate religion like Christianity. It's not a joke so I don't get why @Sephora thinks that a "Witches Starter Kit" is remotely okay to sell? Where's the "Christian Starter Kit" or the "Jewish Starter Kit"?— Zadidoll (@zadidoll) September 2, 2018
In light of this disturbing Sephora witch kit fiasco, please comment below if you are someone who sells and/or makes products for use in spellwork, witchcraft, and other occult practices and I’ll give you a promo!! I want people interested in witchcraft to buy from good sources— pink witch ???? (@sapphicstrology) September 1, 2018
Sephora selling “witch kits” actually makes me really upset. Witchcraft isn’t something you just throw around, people put their entire being into this way of life and work so hard at it. I’ve been made fun of way too much for being a witch for it to just become another trend.— ???????????????????? ⚰️ (@kayyloween) September 1, 2018
sorry still on this @Sephora witch kit thing— mermaid queen ????????♀️✨ (@MerQueenJude) September 2, 2018
you don't START with tarot, that is not an entry level skill.
i’m all about trash talking sephora witch kits but don’t act like half of y’all didn’t get into spirituality and any of this stuff if it wasn’t for the capitalistic market for it and the initial aesthetic interest.— super astronomical (@WHITELIGHTCAM) September 1, 2018
the witches making a stink abt the sephora kit on twitter arent actually mad about the appropriation of a thing that has roots in many different cultures anyway but are actually mad that something they like is getting popular and they'll be "like other girls" again— artemis (@maartjeskivvies) September 2, 2018
On the sephora "witch kits" being cancelled pic.twitter.com/HAHacTj9xX— Salad Enthusiast (@lxLittleBirdxl) September 6, 2018
Caroline Jansen contributed to this report.