The DRG retail index: COS, Afound Sweden, H&M Paris, John Lewis, Browzzin, Depop

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COS Repurposed cotton project

Here’s our latest monthly retail round-up celebrating experimentalism and innovation on the high street. From re-sale to re-make, this month our news feed is buzzing about the latest sustainability campaigns from high street players, while influencer-commerce is entering a new democratic phase.

COS RE-MAKES SWEATSHIRTS
COS is the latest H&M brand to launch a dedicated circular-fashion collection as part of its goal to be using 100% sustainably-sourced materials by 2030. The Repurposed Cotton Project (above) is a capsule line of sweatshirts for men, women and kids, made using cotton scraps left over from the brand’s main production process. After shredding and compacting the surplus cotton, COS re-uses it to make freshly dyed crewneck sweatshirts that are the same price point as regular COS products. ‘The repurposed sweatshirts look and feel exactly the same as other similar items. It was challenging, but also very important that we have been able provide the customer with the same level of quality,’ COS creative director, Karin Gustafsson told Glossy. (Buy it here.)


H&M SAYS BONJOUR PARIS

H&M has opened a new concept department-store style flagship on Rue la Fayette in Paris, in the same area as Paris luxury destinations Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.

With this 5000 sq. m store, set over six floors, H&M is launching a new ‘Take Care’ retail campaign. Customers are invited to ‘refresh, repair and remake’ their wardrobes across a number of store experiences, such as repair and customisation stations and an environmentally friendly laundry product area. Plus there will be regular showcases for H&M’s sustainability-focused collections such as Conscious Exclusive, which is made from recycled fibres.

The new look flagship will be the blueprint for H&M’s other ‘tier one’ stores, where exclusive events such as new capsule collection previews will take place for members of the H&M Club loyalty scheme. Behind the scenes, a raft of new in-store tech such as artificial intelligence (AI) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will help H&M provide more efficient customer services and turn its flagships into click and collect destinations that are more in tune with online shopping habits, according to this Business of Fashion report.


AFOUND LAUNCHES IN SWEDEN

H&M has quietly opened its new off-price retail brand, Afound in Stockholm and Malmo, as well as online. Selling old stock from a mix of H&M-owned brands such as COS or Monki alongside Nordic contemporary brands such as Whyred and Ganni, customers can shop street-style inspired looks or ‘trending’ pieces. ‘The idea was to create an innovative marketplace in the off-price sector with a relevant, curated and inspirational offering for our customers, says Mattias Ekberg, creative director. Afound feels like a cross between ASOS, Zalando and a mid-market The RealReal offer – and describes itself as a ‘style and deal-hunting paradise’. We like the mix of visual-search recommendations, unexpected brands and bargainista tone of voice – a combination that’s likely to raise the profile of re-sale marketplaces on the high street. We’re brushing up on our Swedish while we Shop the Style on the Afound website here.


JOHN LEWIS BACKS RE-SALE

The re-sale market is gathering pace on the British high street, thanks to a pilot incentive scheme from John Lewis that is working with social enterprise app Stuffstr, to buy back worn and unwanted clothing from its customers. The aim is to reduce the amount of clothes that are sent to landfill every year. While customers need to have bought the clothes from John Lewis in the first place, anything from socks to suits can be scanned, uploaded, valued and collected in exchange for vouchers. ‘We felt Stuffstr offered a unique solution to this particular issue, which shows people the value of items they no longer wear, and encourages them to change their habits to buy high quality items which last a long time,’ John Lewis sustainability manager, Martyn White, told Vogue.

Is this a tipping point for ownership of fast-fashion wardrobe excesses? Consumers are more educated now – M&S, H&M and Zara all have unwanted clothes drop off points in-stores already – but John Lewis is raising the bar a touch higher with its phygital approach. By utilising the convenience of technology combined with the current consumer trend for ‘reducetarianism’, there’s more incentive than ever to redefine what it means to have ‘enough’ clothes.


BROWZZIN, DEPOP APPS CHANGE THE FACE OF INFLUENCER-COMMERCE

Influencer-commerce has shaken up the fashion industry – first editors became store buyers, bloggers the new design collaborators and now fashionistas are doing the job of retailers. And while Instagram or luxury sites such as Vestiaire Collective are the catalyst for much of the change, emerging community re-sale apps are taking the movement into mainstream territory.

Depop has opened its first physical retail location in Los Angeles and more stores are planned. The Gen Z-focused social selling app promises to disrupt the re-sale marketplace and young entrepreneurs are finding their feet in the fast-paced world of hype-commerce. ‘Our brick-and-mortar effort is very much linked to our other purpose, which is to empower people, especially creative people,’ CEO Maria Raga told Glossy. ‘The way we’ve been basically doing it is by building communities. When you start to get to know people that use the app, they really crave to have that real-life experience.’

Meanwhile the Browzzin app has launched with the idea that everyone can benefit from affiliate links through its AI visual-search technology. The shopping platform works by linking outfit posts from influencers and consumers to recognised, similar products available in nearby stores via geo-located user searches – and there are a raft of high street names already on board including ASOS, Topshop and Uniqlo. ‘The beauty of Browzzin is that the curation is done by users with our AI supporting them to make it seamless. With several million products and over 10,000 brands, our catalogue offers massive choice and we are committed to adding more brands every day,’ explains co-founder Harry Markle.

This column is contributed by DRG retail editor, ALISON FARRINGTON. Read her previous posts on Disneyrollergirl and discover more of her retail insights on her blog, The Retail Planner.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Alison Farrington
IMAGE: COS
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