- Boohoo and H&M Group announce quarterly sales this week
- Rivals Inditex and Uniqlo said last week that sales and profits were up as they were able to raise prices without canceling demand
- Shein continues to gain ground on category incumbents, although Chinese brand growth reportedly slows
Inflation should be the kryptonite of fast fashion. Even by industry standards, these brands operate on low margins and their customers have the least ability to absorb higher prices. And yet, the biggest players in the category seem to be thriving. Both Uniqlo and Inditex posted booming growth last week, with the latter reporting increased e-commerce sales and its highest gross margins in a decade. It seems consumers are still opting for fast fashion as they look to refresh their post-pandemic wardrobe.
The two fast fashion giants who announced their results this week have been on shaky ground lately. Boohoo doesn’t have the global clout of Uniqlo or Inditex, and last month warned for the fourth time in a year that sales would be disappointing. Scale isn’t an issue at H&M, but the retailer has not recovered from a boycott by some customers in China following the company’s criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The wildcard for all of these companies is Shein, which is still stealing market share, albeit at a slower pace. The private equity-backed giant could have an opportunity to attract more customers as its listed rivals, which come under greater pressure to meet quarterly sales and profit targets, raise prices.
The essential : As Missguided’s failure shows, differentiation matters more than ever, even in fast fashion. If you’re going to charge higher prices, you need to convince customers that the clothes are worth it.
The moment in men’s fashion
- London Men’s Week runs until June 13; Wales Bonner shows at Pitti Uomo on June 14; Milan Men’s Week starts June 17
- More and more brands are presenting men’s collections separately, reversing a trend of recent years
- Separate shows reflect booming menswear sales, including lucrative accessories such as shoulder bags
This week kicks off nearly a month of menswear shows in London, Florence, Milan and Paris. Not so long ago, the relevance of menswear weeks was questioned, with some brands opting to include menswear in collections shown in February and September rather than holding separate shows in January and July. This trend is now going in the opposite direction, with brands such as Celine and Gucci showcasing menswear collections in the coming weeks. The new emphasis on men’s runways reflects the strong sales of these collections as shopping occasions like weddings and the resumption of travel, and as luxury casualwear categories like sneakers and small bags are mainstreaming, absorbing spending that was previously spent on office apparel categories like suits and ties. Zegna has built its entire rebranding strategy around this idea. He closes the week in his nature reserve outside Milan.
The essential: The integration of the shoulder bag is an example of how catwalk trends can turn into lucrative merchandising strategies, as it offers luxury brands a long-awaited new market for the most important accessories category.
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