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 Casper's latest wholesale partnership to Walmart's efforts to progress sustainability, here's our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Walmart announces its first green bond
Walmart on Wednesday announced it priced its first green bond, with a $2 billion offering. The retailer will use the net proceeds from the offering for existing and upcoming initiatives that will allow Walmart to hit its sustainability goals. Four minority- and women-owned firms lead the issuance as active bookrunners.
Walmart's inaugural sustainable green bond issuance came following other industry efforts to boost renewable energy, reduce carbon emissions and minimize waste to landfills.
Klarna and Beautycounter unveil livestream shopping series
On Wednesday, payment service platform Klarna and DTC cosmetics company Beautycounter teamed up to air a four-part livestream shopping series, dubbed Better Beauty. Christy Coleman, celebrity makeup artist and chief artistic officer at Beautycounter, will be hosting the episodes. Klarna and Beautycounter initially sealed their partnership back in August last year.
The two companies join several retailers, including Walmart and Nordstrom, in launching their own shoppable livestream shows. The livestreaming market in the U.S. is expected to reach $25 billion by 2023, according to Coresight Research.
Casper ties up with Sleep Country, marking largest Canadian distribution partner to date
DTC mattress brand Casper on Thursday announced it partnered with Sleep Country to sell its products across the retailer's 287 stores and e-commerce platforms. The tie-up represents Casper's largest distribution partnership in Canada and allows for "strategic growth and product innovation for Canada's leading specialty sleep retailer," the company said in a press release.
"As we strategically and thoughtfully expand Casper's footprint, we aim to partner with respected retailers that possess unparalleled sleep and market expertise, and who prioritize a commitment to customer service," Casper's Chief Commercial Officer and President Emilie Arel said in a statement.
Sleep Country will stock Casper's core-mattress collection as well as products with the brand's cooling Snow Technology. The two companies will also work together to create new products exclusively for the Canadian market. Products will become available in stores and online in early October.
The partnership adds to Casper's growing wholesale business, which also include retail partners like Nordstrom, Costco, Target and Sam's Club.
In bid for growth, Gap Inc. no longer excludes plus consumers. Torrid isn't worried.
After years of treating plus customers as an afterthought, Gap Inc. has seen the light. The company's Athleta activewear brand, for example, earlier this year announced that it's expanding its size options, and is taking care to ensure that its merchandising and marketing are also inclusive. And in a move that will likely appeal to an even larger market thanks to its scale and value proposition, the company's Old Navy brand has similarly launched "Bodequality." That effort entails folding all sizes into its women's assortment and merchandising them in stores as well as online, a reversal from the years when the retailer had to be coaxed to even take plus returns.
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs annual retail conference on Thursday, Gap Inc. Chief Financial Officer Katrina O'Connell said that such efforts are a "long time coming" and are now integral to the company's long-term strategy. "We think that's a very strong market for Old Navy in particular to play in," she said, adding later, "There's no one else in the top 20 mass market that is doing this, that is launching the entire women's assortment at the same price across stores and online."
Attention to the needs of customers of all sizes, at Gap Inc. and many other retailers, is mounting just as plus specialist Torrid embarks on a growth trajectory as a public company. For decades, many plus customers have longed for retailers to include them rather than ignore them or isolate them into special sections or stores. But Torrid Chief Executive Officer Liz Muñoz welcomed the latecomers and expressed confidence in her customers' loyalty.
"There are plenty of big girls to go around that are wildly underserved, you know, close to 90 million," she said this week. "So I personally welcome other people coming into this space, I think it excites the customer about her possibilities. ... Our product fits like no one else's. We do extensive competitor research, we are and always have been aware of all the competitors in the space, and they have traditionally not had any impact on our business."
Kanye West drops the curtain
Anyone hoping for another Yeezy Gap drop, even yet another color of the collab's one and only release so far, probably shouldn't hold their breath. Eventually, the curtains will part — maybe literally. Kanye West late last month registered a trademark intended to cover a host of home goods, including curtains and shower curtains, blankets and throws, pillow covers, and towels, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
For now, though, West is preoccupied with the release of his 10th album, "Donda," and events tied to it. Gap Inc. executives, speaking to analysts regarding their latest quarter, counseled patience. "We're pleased with the product and the product pipeline that we have coming," CEO Sonia Syngal said of the Yeezy Gap rollout. "The coolness of it will mean we don't fully reveal that much on our earnings call versus out there on Twitter or something, but more to come in the coming months and years."
Banana Republic compares itself to Wakanda
Banana Republic — the underperforming sibling at Gap Inc. — announced this week that it is revamping its brand. A new campaign, which launches on Sept. 28, represents the original intention of imagining the brand as a fictitious territory.
"Like Shangri-La, Middle Earth, Westeros, or Wakanda, Banana Republic is an imagined world," the company said in a press release. Yup, that's right. Banana Republic is comparing itself to Wakanda.
In describing the new fashion direction, Chief Brand Officer Ana Andjelic said that, "Keywords are utilitarian chic and modern casualwear. Safari meets tuxedo, formalwear meets casualwear, menswear meets womenswear, vintage meets tailoring, functionality meets imagination." Which is certainly a lot of different words put together to form a sentence. What that sentence means — who knows? Has a safari ever met a tuxedo? Who are on these tuxedo-wearing safaris?
Andjelic went on to say, "Just like punk and yuppie defined a decade and grunge and metrosexual clashed on the same streets, The New Look blurs sartorial codes. Call it post-genre fashion. Or call it post-fashion altogether: The New Look is less about fashion and more about living." Which, again, is a bunch of words put together in a slap-dash kind of way and means ... exactly what? The reality is that the collection involves a lot of khaki, which doesn't feel like post-fashion. It just feels like more of the same.
What we're still thinking about
That's when Lululemon was supposed to be reaching all of its recent business goals. Instead, the company is hitting them early. Lululemon expects to surpass its 2023 revenue target by the end of the year, and its Power of Three growth plan is also proceeding ahead of schedule. "In 2020, we achieved our goal to double our e-commerce business. This year, we will likely achieve the goal we set to double our men's business, and we remain on track to quadruple our international business by 2023, if not sooner," CEO Calvin McDonald said on a call with analysts.
That's the amount Beauty Pie raised in Series B funding this week, joining a spate of retail startups that have raised $100 million in recent years. Buzzy beauty brand Glossier raised that much in 2019, plus an additional $80 million in July. Allbirds, which has since gone public, raised $100 million last fall, and oral care company Quip just raised the same amount last week. (If it wasn't $100 million, did you even raise money?)
What we're watching
An AMC-GameStop deal on the horizon?
From existential crises, to "meme stock" status, to potential housemates — GameStop and movie theater chain AMC have had a strange ride over the past 18 months or so.
In August, AMC CEO Adam Aron referenced the voluminous inquiries from investors about a possible team-up with GameStop. At the time Aron said, "We're on the case," but also noted — after being asked twice by analysts about tapping AMC's theaters for gaming competitions and experiences — that AMC had not yet reached out to GameStop. This week, Fox Business' Liz Claman tweeted that Aron told the anchor that AMC had made contact with GameStop on a partnership but wouldn't elaborate on the details.
Meanwhile, as GameStop tries to engineer its own transformation amid the rapid digitization of its core product, it is being unusually quiet. Not only have executives kept mum about any potential partnerships with AMC, they're not taking any questions about their business at the moment.