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 Skechers' latest board appointments to Adidas' partnership with Waffle House, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Skechers adds Yolanda Macias to board
Skechers this week named Yolanda Macias, the chief content officer at Cinedigm Entertainment Group, to its board of directors, bringing the number of women on its board up to three. Increasing its board diversity is a relatively new effort for Skechers, which named Katherine Blair to its board in 2019 and prior to that had no women on its board.
In a 2019 Retail Dive analysis of gender diversity at the top five athleticwear brands, Skechers had the fewest number of women across both its board and its executive team. One person out of the company's 10 board members was a woman (Blair) and none of its four executives were women.
The appointment of Macias comes on the heels of a board overhaul in December, at which time four Skechers directors resigned and Zulema Garcia joined the board. Skechers said at the time that the departures were not the result of any disagreement with the company. The board shakeup also followed an increased stake by activist investors Tremblant Capital Group.
Now, with Garcia, Macias and Blair on the footwear retailer's board of directors, nearly half of Skechers' eight-person board is composed of women. However, of the four executives Skechers lists on its website, all are men.
Dick's Sporting Goods names new brand ambassadors for Calia brand
A few months after Carrie Underwood said she would be stepping away from the women's activewear brand she built with Dick's Sporting Goods, the retailer has named a new collective of brand ambassadors for the Calia label. The group of ambassadors includes wellness entrepreneur Hannah Bronfman, actress Dascha Polanco, golf journalist Alexandra O'Laughlin, and gymnast Shawn Johnson East, according to details emailed to Retail Dive.
Dick's launched a new campaign alongside the announcement, dubbed "Choose What Fits," which began airing late last week. The company has frequently touted the success of its Calia brand and is planning a number of expansions for the private label, including its first golf apparel (set to debut this spring) and its first maternity line. Maternity activewear as a category has been underserved, and retailers have worked to remedy that in recent years. Nike launched its first dedicated maternity collection in 2020.
Private labels have become a bigger part of Dick's strategy, with the retailer investing in its owned brands to fill gaps in its assortment. That strategy has included launching a men's apparel line, VRST, in March last year and building out a roster of brand ambassadors to represent each private label.
President Biden, touting benefits of labor unions, declares, 'Amazon, here we come'
In a pro-union speech addressing members of North America's Building Trades Unions on Wednesday, President Biden, preaching to the choir, elicited plenty of applause.
Biden said he created the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment in part because he believes that unions are "about providing dignity and respect for people who bust their neck."
The president noted that unionized workers not only enjoy higher wages, benefits like health insurance and paid leave, protections against discrimination and harassment, and safer workplaces, but also gain power and a voice at work. He also called out Amazon, where a warehouse in Staten Island in New York last week became the first to unionize in the company's history (a decision Amazon intends to appeal).
Some labor experts believe that victory could instigate further unionization efforts at Amazon and elsewhere, something the president appeared to endorse.
"And, by the way … Amazon, here we come," he said to further applause, per a transcript of the speech released by the White House. "Watch. Watch."
Walmart tries to lure more sellers to its marketplace
Walmart is offering a 50% discount on commission rates for the first 90 days to new sellers on its marketplace. It also extended a deal on its fulfillment service (Walmart Fulfillment Services) that it offers third-party merchants, with free storage and a 10% discount on fees.
The retailer has been working to attract sellers to bolster its online assortment to compete with Amazon, which remains the largest domestic online marketplace by a wide margin. Sellers also bring in service and advertising revenue through WFS and the company's burgeoning ad business.
Walmart has said gross merchandise volume in its WFS arm grew 500% last year, and sellers using the service experienced 50% sale growth for items. According to Marketplace Pulse, Walmart has more than 142,000 sellers on its platform, with some 4,000 joining in the past month. Amazon by this time last year had more than 3.1 million sellers in North America.
A waffle good partnership
Adidas this week announced it partnered with the restaurant where you can get your hashbrowns scattered, smothered and covered. That is none other than Waffle House. Or WaHo if you are from Georgia and used to eat there at 2 a.m. after a long night of studying (wink) and were thankful they had menus where all you had to do was point at the pictures.
The result of this unlikely pairing is a golf shoe, dubbed the Tour360 22 x Waffle House. It features a "batter-like" colorway "similar to the batter that is constantly filling waffle irons" at the restaurant's nearly 2,000 locations. The famous Adidas stripes have a checkered waffle pattern, and the Waffle House logo is featured on the heel. So everyone instantly knows how cool you are.
"Waffle House is such a well-known restaurant in Georgia and throughout the U.S., we knew it would be fun to partner with their team on a design that brings a piece of the famous restaurant to everyone, all in our flagship silhouette," Masun Denison, global footwear director of Adidas Golf, said in a statement.
The shoe comes in men's and women's sizes for about $200, but unfortunately all of them are already sold out. Thanks a brunch, Adidas.
What we're still thinking about
That's Shein's purported valuation, should the Chinese fast-fashion retailer succeed in securing another $1 billion in funding that Bloomberg reports it's pursuing. As fast-fashion stalwarts like H&M, Zara and Forever 21 have faltered, and while Gen Z consumers give their attention to secondhand clothing, some analysts have speculated that the apparel segment will swiftly decline in coming years. But Shein, which leverages social media to reach its young customers and runs a super-speedy supply chain to refresh its trendy styles and ring up sales, is upending that narrative.
Gopuff is cutting 3% of its global workforce of about 15,000 employees. According to a letter from co-founders Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, the layoffs are part of an internal "realignment." The layoffs come as Gopuff nears the closing of a $1 billion funding round led by Guggenheim Partners, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources.
What we're watching
One of last year's DTC IPOs is already at risk of bankruptcy
Last year was one of milestones for direct-to-consumer company Digital Brands Group. It went public, acquired the Stateside and Harper & Jones apparel brands, and grew its revenue by nearly 45%. "And now we're taking that momentum, and we're going to just continue to accelerate it and move forward," CEO Hil Davis said in the company's most recent earnings call.
But the company's finances are at serious risk, based on its disclosures. In its 10-K, Digital Brands said it may have to file for bankruptcy, or seek alternatives, if it can't come up with enough cash to operate. The 10-K and its most recent S-1 filings also include "going concern" language that it might not be able to survive through the next 12 months without sufficient capital.
Digital Brands' net losses tripled from 2020 to $32.4 million last year, and it has been warned by Nasdaq its stock could be de-listed if its value doesn't increase (at the time of this writing it was trading at around $1.25 a share).
One of a huge class of 2021 IPOs, Digital Brands is already facing steep financial challenges, even as it tries to continue growing its revenue and brand stable. In fact, it opened this year with another acquisition, the women's apparel brand Sundry. That acquisition is contingent on financing before it can close.