July 24, 2020
Is sustainable fashion sustainable during a pandemic?
On July 16, the Commerce Department data showed that U.S. retail sales exceeded forecasts in June for a second straight month, as states reopened and expanded jobless benefits stimulated consumers to spend. Retail purchases increased 7.5 percent from the previous month after a record 18.2 percent surge in May. What's more, clothing and clothing accessories sales rose 105.1 percent over the previous month.
But as COVID-19 cases spike around the country, forcing states that reopened too soon to contemplate shutting down businesses again, and jobless claims continuing to rise to levels higher than previously projected, analysts are warning that the unexpected exuberance may be short-lived. "Retail sales are now back to their pre-coronavirus levels,” Oxford Economics’ Lydia Boussour and Gregory Daco told Bloomberg News. “But while today’s report gives the illusion of a fearless consumer spending lavishly, the reality is more sobering: consumers are increasingly fearful amid new spikes in Covid-19 cases and a looming fiscal cliff.”
Back in April, Studio 30 contributing writer Michael Applebaum's trend report on how the clothing industry's embrace of green fashion has forced fast-fashion giants H&M and Zara to adopt a more sustainable footprint and eco-friendly marketing message to meet the environmental concerns of its core millennial and Gen Z customers. And now "mainstream retailers," Applebaum added, "including Macy’s, Nordstrom and the Gap, are jumping on the resale bandwagon through new partnerships with ThredUp, and analysts are now predicting that the secondhand clothing market will overtake fast fashion during this decade."
Ad Age retail reporter Adrianne Pasquarelli recently reported that the coronavirus pandemic may have accelerated this trend. In its annual resale report, released a month ago, ThredUp "says it saw more visitors and activity to its site during coronavirus-related lockdowns—consumers spent 37 percent more time on ThredUp’s site than pre-COVID-19, the company says, noting a record number of visitors in May."
Read more here.
July 21, 2020
Oprah puts the 'O' in Oatly
When the case study "How Oatly Became the Oat Milk Brand to Beat" was published in March, during the height of the first wave of the coronavirus, few could have predicted that the dairy alternative would have been one of the most in-demand products in pandemic panic buying. Nielsen data for the 52 weeks ended March 7 showed that retail sales of oat milk (up 347.1 percent) were five to six times higher than those of dried beans and rice, outpacing even household items like rubbing alcohol (up 253.8 percent) and bath & shower wipes (up 253 percent). Only hand sanitizer (up 470 percent) and aerosol disinfectants (up 385.3 percent) saw bigger increases during the period. And for the week ending February 22, oat milk sales spiked more than 300 percent—even outpacing spikes in hand sanitizers (54 percent) and disinfecting spray (19 percent).
We weren't the only ones to notice: Oatly made news last week with the announcement that it had secured $200 million in new capital from an investment group led by Blackstone and a group of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman, as well as former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Rabobank Group’s investment arm. Meanwhile, the corporate parent of Oatly's rival Chobani Oat took a stand when it joined the Facebook ad boycott over what the "Stop Hate for Profit" movement says are the social media giant's inadequate response to hate speech on its platform.