It's been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week and what we're still thinking about.
From Cupshe's new category launch to Lululemon's investment in a sustainable materials company, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
More collabs coming to Kohl's
Along with rival department stores and apparel retailers, Kohl's second quarter reflected significant recovery from last year's pandemic-related challenges. Net sales in the period rose 31.4% year over year, with total revenue up 30.5% to $4.4 billion. Net income reached $382 million, up from last year's $47 million. In a call with analysts on Thursday, CEO Michelle Gass gave props to the company's partnerships with third-party brands, including Amazon (for returns), Lands' End, Eddie Bauer, Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Sephora. That last, which will have the beauty retailer's shop-in-shops in 200 Kohl's stores before the year is out, "will quickly become one of the industry's most differentiated and largest partnerships," Gass said.
There will soon be more, she also said. "We are on the eve of launching several transformational partnerships that will drive sustainable growth for years to come and further establish Kohl's as the leading destination for the active and casual lifestyle."
But it's no big lift to post better results after a year like 2020, and comparisons to 2019 reveal some trouble. Kohl's 1.3% net sales gain over the last two years is slightly worse than similarly soft performance at Macy's, according to emailed comments from GlobalData Managing Director Neil Saunders.
That's "disappointing given the more favorable location of Kohl's stores which are mostly off-mall, and the various initiatives the company has put into play over recent years," Saunders said. "In our view, the business is falling short of its potential. One of the reasons for this is that there are too many stores which lack energy and excitement. They may be neater than the likes of Macy's and J.C. Penney, but they can still be dispiriting."
Meanwhile, Amazon's reported plan to set up stores that sound remarkably similar to Kohl's represents a fresh challenge, analysts warned this week.
Crate and Barrel, Shinola team up for exclusive furniture and housewares collection
Crate and Barrel collaborated with Shinola to launch a line of furniture and accessories inspired by the idea that items "should be built well or not at all," according to an announcement Wednesday. The product line, dubbed the Shinola for Crate & Barrel Collection, features 115 products with prices ranging from $24 to $4,299. The collection will be exclusively available at select Crate and Barrel locations beginning Aug. 18 and online at crateandbarrel.com.
Along with the partnership, Shinola also announced the opening of its first Shinola Home retail location in Detroit's midtown, next to its flagship store.
Altar'd State rebrands its mid- and plus-size fashion line
Women's apparel retailer Altar'd State announced this week that it has rebranded its mid-size and plus-size fashion line. Formerly known as A'Beautiful Soul, the new name is now Arula, a word meaning "shining as the sun, brilliant and filled with grace." Items cater to women in sizes 10 to 24.
"We value our guests above all, and what we heard from them is that the old name had some negative implications, and that's not how we want our guests to feel," Dana Seguin, Arula chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "After reflecting on this feedback, we realized that we needed a new name, one that more accurately reflects what we stand for."
The retailer will open stand-alone Arula locations starting this fall.
Swimwear brand Cupshe moves into athleisure
Cupshe, an online swimwear brand, on Monday expanded into athleisure, a category the company said could reach $113.4 billion by the end of this year. The brand's Weekends at the Beach House collection launched with 40 styles, including leggings and matching sets. Items are available in sizes XS to XL and range in price from $18 to $46.
Cupshe was founded in 2015 and has grown to become Amazon's top-selling swimwear brand, according to the company.
Shrek-preme is coming to a swamp near you
Some-BODY once told me, we're all gonna see a lot of Shrek-related puns gracing the internet in the weeks ahead, and this column is no exception. Supreme, known for its sometimes bad, sometimes interesting and always ridiculous product releases, is capitalizing on Shrek stardom in its latest collection.
Yes, from the same brand that gave you bricks with the word "Supreme" on them, newspapers with the word "Supreme" on them and various apparel items with the word "Supreme" on them, comes a T-shirt, beanies and some skateboards with the word "Supreme" on them. Except: Green and ogre-esque. While there's a lot to bash Supreme and its fans for, we can't bash them for partnering with the best DreamWorks character in the swamp (do you think they're compensating for something?).
[NEWS] This morning, Supreme announced their fall/winter 2021 lineup, including a Shrek x Supreme Collab! Here's a look at the t-shirt, skateboards and beanies! pic.twitter.com/UcXr3nVg9u— ShrekHistory (@ShrekHistory) August 16, 2021
Shrek, who Wikipedia describes as "an anti-social and highly-territorial green ogre," only gets more relatable with age, as we all feel the need to periodically yell "What are you doing in my swamp?" at unwanted guests or even sometimes just friends that have overstayed their welcome. Now, all the people that break out into "All Star" every once in a while to remind the world at large that this gem of a film still exists can also overpay for merchandise that is half-Shrek and half streetwear brand.
If you are the crossover fan that likes both Supreme and Shrek — Shrek-preme, if you will — your moment has come.
What we're still thinking about
That is how many Toys R Us shop-in-shops are set to open in Macy's department stores in 2022. Toys R Us had more than 700 stores open in the U.S. as of early 2018 before closing them all in bankruptcy. The revived brand opened two stores with b8ta in 2019, but those have closed as well. Macy's represents perhaps the biggest revival to date in terms of sheer numbers. Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette said it could quadruple the retailer's toy business.
Walmart's digital sales growth has slowed since the early, harrowing months of the pandemic. But the retailer's sales are still on a strong upward trajectory, thanks in large part to a return of customers to its stores, and its online business is still ticking up. For the year, executives expect to pull in $75 billion from e-commerce worldwide.
Target is also still on a tear. In the second quarter, the retailer posted an 8.9% increase in comparable sales on top of last year's best-ever growth. The company said the increase this time around was entirely due to store traffic.
What we're watching
Lululemon's investment in sustainable materials company Genomatica
Lululemon is going all-in on sustainable material innovation. The athletics company in July put out a yoga mat made from Mylo, a leather-like material made from mushrooms. Now, Lululemon has announced an equity investment in Genomatica, its first in a sustainable materials company. (Remember that Lululemon's acquisition of Mirror started as an investment).
The companies plan to create a "lower-impact, plant-based nylon to replace conventional nylon," which Lululemon says is the "largest volume of synthetic material" it uses to make products. The collaboration will last multiple years, and Genomatica will work closely with Lululemon's fabric supply chain to eventually incorporate the material into products.
"Replacing the petrochemicals that make up many popular materials with more sustainable alternatives is a major step forward in reaching our Impact Agenda goals. By transitioning our nylon to renewable content, we will impact over half of the synthetic materials we use in our supply chain," Patty Stapp, vice president of raw materials at Lululemon, said in a statement. "We have seen Genomatica repeatedly and successfully deliver industry-changing bio-based materials at commercial scale and are confident this partnership can truly change the way we source products, while continuing to provide the exceptional quality we are known for."