Stitch Fix, Inc., an online personalized styling service, has announced they have filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a proposed initial public offering of shares of its Class A common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. Stitch Fix intends to list its Class A common stock on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "SFIX."

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC will act as lead joint book-running managers for the offering, Barclays Capital Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, LLC will act as book-running managers for the offering and Piper Jaffray & Co., Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated and William Blair & Company, L.L.C. will act as co-managers for the offering.

The offering will be made only by means of a prospectus.

Founded in 2011 by Katrina Lake, StitchFix delivers one-to-one personalization services through the combination of data science and human judgment. Today, the company employs more than 5800 people worldwide.

Fashion for the disabled gears up for a positive road ahead

One in five American adults, or 53.3 million people report having disabilities, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report states. However, among the 1.2 trillion dollars global fashion industry, wherein over 250 billion dollars are spent annually on clothes in the United States alone, brands and designers aren’t investing in fashion for the disabled. The segment is witnessing some positive developments with designs being created specifically for people with disabilities on a small scale, however pricing continues to remain a major issue.

Big brands yet to fully cater to this segment

According to industry research, trouble with mobility, cognition and living independently are the three most common types of disabilities and for people who are looking for options to suit their needs, it’s not about well-fitting clothes to make them look good but it’s more about functional and tailored clothes that can make them feel included in society.

While the market has seen some small brands and designers make clothing for people with disabilities, some big brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Nike have also made an effort in fulfilling the needs of people facing physical challenges in their day-to-day lives.

Tommy Hilfiger launched a special children’s collection last year in collaboration with the adaptive fashion-focused organization, Runway of Dreams. Founder of the organisation, Mindy Scheier makes sure that the brands/designers follow the same designs as their original clothes but with modified closures, adjustability, and alternate options for the comfort of the people with special needs.

She launched this project when she failed to find a fashionable pair of jeans for her son, who uses leg braces as a result of muscular dystrophy. A former fashion designer, she spent some time switching a button and zipper fly for magnets, while making sure that pant legs have wider openings and magnetic closures. Her efforts resulted in a collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, when she presented her ideas for clothing for people with disabilities to the company.

Though Tommy Hilfiger succeeded in creating a ripple in the world of adaptive fashion with its offerings, most of its designs followed a successful line of dress shirts for adults, called MagnaReady. Maura Horton, of Raleigh, North Carolina had designed a MagnaReady shirt for her husband who is battling with Parkinson’s. She incorporated custom-designed, machine-washable magnets behind the non-functional button flap of traditional button-up shirts, which allowed the wearer to put on and take off the shirt easily and independently. After selling around 20,000 shirts through her online platform between 2013 and 2015, she partnered with PVH Corp in 2016 to develop a collection of Van Heusen men’s dress shirts using the MagnaClick adaptive technology, which were retailed online and offline by Belk, JCPenney and Kohl’s along with etailer Amazon.com.

Sportswear giant Nike, on getting a request from a 16-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, created a sneaker with a wraparound zipper in place of shoelaces and a bigger opening to make it easy for the wearer to wear and remove the shoes. After an online, limited edition launch last fall, the company has introduced the same design in their new basketball and running shoe collections.

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Land’s End too has made an effort to fulfil the needs of customers with a mastectomy. The company has created a swimsuit design that includes a raised neckline and armhole of a conventional swimsuit to cover scar tissue or sensitive skin due to radiation and the bra is without an underwire and contains a prosthesis pocket.

Elsewhere, in Russia, Tobias Reisner and Yanina Urusova, the founders of Bezgraniz Couture meaning ‘without borders’ in Russian — have been creating awareness through workshops, educational forums and fashion shows since 2008. The company initially held competitions asking designers to design clothes for people with disabilities. In March 2014, shortly after the Paralympics in Sochi, Bezgraniz Couture launched its first line of adaptive fashion clothing to showcase at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. The duo has been part of fashion weeks till most recently in Los Angeles and at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia, Moscow, on October 23, 2017.

Apart from participating in fashion weeks, Reisner and Urusova in 2014 also launched an art project called Acropolis, wherein models with disabilities replicated the famous figures of the statues of the Acropolis. According to Bezgraniz Couture website, the idea behind this project was to combine the classical spirit of ancient sculpture with the bodies of models with disabilities to showcase beauty redefined by the unique complexities of the human body. Bezgraniz Couture is also working with design schools in London, Russia and the United States to make designs for people with disabilities part of the core curriculum.

Lucy Jones, a 24-year-old fashion designer from Cardiff, United Kingdom, made it to the Forbes list ‘30 Under 30’ in 2016 for her innovative “seated designs” developed for people in wheelchairs. Brazilian designer Christiano Krosh has created a fashionable yet functional line of clothing using Velcro, zippers, hidden openings and even Braille labels for the disabled.

The efforts made by these brands and designers are noteworthy, however according to Luz Pascal, Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, they fall short in serving the market in full. Pascal notes what is missing is apparel that’s chic and also injects self-confidence into the wearer.

Educational institutes make an effort

Though the market for adaptive type of clothing is relatively small at the moment, it is attracting growing interest of design institutes, which are letting students explore various ways of creating affordable and user-friendly clothing. For example, in 2014 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched an Open Style Lab to bring together students in design, engineering and occupational therapy to create clothes for people with disabilities.

Also researchers at MIT’s international design center created a specialised fashion line to include fewer sensory triggers such as fraying, rough zippers and scratchy tags for children and adults with autism because of their sensitivity to certain textures and colours.

Outside of the US, students like Sophie Neff at Nottingham Trent University in the UK developed a knitwear collection for people in wheelchairs that includes pockets on thighs instead of the backside of the pants and tight fitting cuffs, to prevent sleeves from getting stuck in the wheels.

And every summer Parsons's Open Style Lab (OSL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing clothing for people of all abilities hosts a 10-week research program that brings together these diversely skilled individuals to learn, collaborate and create bespoke clothing for four or five clients with disabilities.

Fashion for the disabled gears up for a positive road ahead

Small initiatives may go a long way

Earlier adaptive clothing lines were mostly created for the elderly, however with young designers trying their hand at such line of clothing, fashionable adaptive clothing has taken birth for both - the young and the old.

Dr. Sheri Prentis, founder of Be Sassy & LIVE, who had clinically disabling lymphedema (persistent swelling) of her right arm, hand and fingers due to rigorous treatment for breast cancer and who had to wear a compression glove and sleeve daily in order to control the swelling, she decided to design her own line of compression garments that are stylish, comfortable and affordable. And Stephanie Thomas born with congenital disabilities on her right hand and feet designed Cur8able, a fashion and lifestyle website, that allowed people with disabilities to style clothes that can be worn independently.

On the retail side, Silvert’s, stocks a wide range of casual clothing, accessories, and undergarments for the disabled and its online platform lets the user select their specific disability and then guides him/her to items specifically designed for their needs. The collection is colourful, stylish designs having clever adaptations like a cardigan having a snap back.

As the name suggests, USA Jeans offers variety of jeans, slacks, and shorts for people using wheelchairs. The line uses variety of materials, ranging from lightweight denim to olive khaki and also offers slim, regular and comfort fits. While the range doesn’t look any different, it does have a high back and low front and pockets and belt loops have been removed because those can lead to pressure sores.

Rackety's has a separate selection of vibrant casual clothes for kids and adults. Able2Wear sells adaptive men’s suits, shirts, trousers and outdoor wear, as well as women’s and children’s outdoor wear and accessories. While their focus is more on people who use wheelchairs, the company also stocks clothes for other disabilities.

Adaptations has ready-to-wear and customised pants, shorts, arm warmers, swimsuits, and cute boots for people of all ages. Easy Access offers camo cargo pants, Polartec hooded capes for children, and polo shirt bodysuits, while Able Apparel has a selection of outdoor ponchos for all seasons, bandana bibs, matty bibs, and wheelchair accessories. Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel, is known for adaptive socks and colorful clothing protectors.

Fashion for the disabled gears up for a positive road ahead

Heidi McKenzie began designing special clothing after a car accident in 2007 left her a T4 paraplegic. Her line of jeans, ‘Alter Ur Ego’, is both functional as well as fashionable.

Of many small companies and designers that have been catering to the fashion needs of people with disabilities, some have tasted success, while others had to shut shop. For instance, designer Izzy Camilleri had to pull shutters on her adaptive fashion line IZ Collection last fall owing to falling sales and timid response.

Camilleri, who has dressed celebrities like Angelina Jolie and David Bowie, launched IZ seven years ago when a wheelchair-bound local TV personality requested for a customised piece of clothing. “It’s not a decision that came quickly or overnight,” Camilleri told the Toronto Star, adding, “The growth has been quite slow and it’s been difficult to sustain. We produce locally and ethically, and it’s hard for us to juggle pricing.”

Designer Stephanie Alves, who begun offering adaptive fashion in 2011 launched ABL Denim, a line of special jeans, in 2013. She later tied-up with Walmart to sell her jeans for people with disabilities on its online platform. While the range continues to be available on the ABL Denim website most sizes on the Walmart site have not been restocked.

The makers are having difficulties expanding their designs and collections. Customisation is often necessary to meet the needs of people with different disabilities and this requires high investments. Orsola de Castro, founder of the nonprofit organization Fashion Revolution, who spoke to the Guardian, hopes the market for people with disabilities will become as viable as the growing segment that touts the use of sustainable and recycled materials. She says: “For this niche market to grow, big brands will have to be willing to accept lower profits and see values in providing an important service. Many doubted sustainable fashion as viable – and look at the growth we’ve seen there.”

Pictures:Runway of Dreams (Instagram),Bezgraniz Couture (Instagram),Nike (Instagram),Sophie Neff website,Silverts (Facebook>

Inditex’s online sales in Europe increase 35.4 percent

Spanish major Inditex’s subsidiary that manages online sales in Europe, reached a turnover of 1,137.94 million euros (1,343 million dollars) for the financial year ending January 31, 2017 increased 35.4 percent, reports elPeriodico.

The report added that the company saw its workforce increase from 340 to 417 employees during the period under review and it reported a net profit of 57.31 million euros (67.6 million dollars), a rise of 15 percent over the last year, according to the accounts filed with the Central Mercantile Registry and provided by Infoempresa.com. The company’s operating income for the year was 78.49 million euros (92.6 million dollars) against 70.51 million euros (83.2 million dollars) in the previous year.

Owner of a diverse brand portfolio that includes Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius, Uterqüe, Oysho, Massimo Dutti and Zara Home among others, Inditex that caters to markets such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Romania, Germany, France, Monaco, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, United Kingdom and Ireland added Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia in 2016.

First half sales up 11.5 percent

Inditex posted a net profit of 1,366 million euros (1,613 million dollars) in the first half of fiscal year 2017-2018, an increase of 9 percent over the same period of the previous year. Sales reached 11,671 million euros (13,781 million dollars), an increase of 11.5 percent and comparable store sales rose 6 percent, while sales at constant exchange increased 11 percent.

Picture:Zara UK website

Puma raises full year guidance on strong Q3

In the third quarter 2017, consolidated sales at Puma increased currency adjusted by about 17 percent or approximately 13 percent reported to 1,122 million euros (1,325 million dollars) compared to 990 million euros (1,169 million dollars) in the third quarter last year. The operating result (EBIT) in the quarter increased to about 101 million euros (119 million dollars).

In light of the strong third-quarter increase in sales and profitability as well as the positive business outlook for the fourth quarter of 2017, Puma has raised the full-year guidance for its consolidated sales, gross profit margin, operating expenses and operating result (EBIT). The management now expects that currency adjusted sales will increase between 14 percent and 16 percent (previous guidance: currency adjusted increase between 12 percent and 14 percent). The gross profit margin is now anticipated to improve to approximately 46.5 percent (previous guidance: approx. 46 percent).

Due to the expected increase in sales, the management now foresees operating expenses (OPEX) to increase at a low double-digit percentage rate (previous guidance: increase at a high single-digit percentage rate). As a result, the operating result (EBIT) is now anticipated to come in between 235 million euros and 245 million euros (277 and 289 million dollars) compared to previous guidance: between 205 million and 215 million euros (242 and 253 million dollars). Net earnings too are expected to improve significantly in 2017.

Picture:Puma website

International business growth boosts Skechers' Q3 result

Skechers USA net sales for the third quarter increased 16.2 percent to 1.095 billion dollars compared to third quarter 2016. Earnings from operations were 116.5 million dollars or 10.6 percent of net sales, which was an increase of 13.1 million dollars or 12.7 percent over the third quarter of 2016. Net earnings increased 41.8 percent to 92.3 million dollars and diluted net earnings per share were 0.59 dollar compared with 0.42 dollar in the prior year.

“Third quarter net sales of 1.095 billion dollars set a new quarterly record for the company, surpassing our previous record in the first quarter earlier this year by 22 million dollars, and resulted in a new nine month record with sales exceeding 3 billion dollars,” said David Weinberg, Skechers COO and CFO in a statement, adding, “The growth came across our three distribution channels. The strong international growth, including the continued strength in China, the resurgence of the United Kingdom and growth across all of Europe combined with our strong international retail business, resulted in international wholesale and retail representing 53 percent of our total sales in the third quarter.”

Summary of Skechers’ third quarter results

Third quarter net sales growth, the company said, was the result of a 25.7 percent increase in the company’s international wholesale business, a 1.4 percent increase in its domestic wholesale business, and an 18.6 percent increase in its company-owned global retail business with total comp store sales increases of 4.4 percent.

Skechers added that increase in its company-owned retail business, which included sales growth of 9.5 percent in its domestic channel and a domestic comp store sales increase of 3.1 percent, came despite temporary store closures in Texas and Florida, and continued store closures in Puerto Rico due to the recent hurricanes. The xompany reported net sales last year of 1.5 million dollars for the days corresponding to the days closed this year due to the hurricanes.

Gross profit for the quarter was 520 million dollars or 47.5 percent of net sales, compared to 430 million dollars or 45.6 percent of net sales, for the third quarter of 2016.

Highlights of Skechers’ nine month results

Net sales for the nine month period were 3.19 billion dollars, while gross profit was 1.48 billion dollars or 46.5 percent of net sales, and earnings from operations were 327.2 million dollars. Net earnings were 245.8 million dollars and diluted net earnings per share were 1.57 dollars per share.

“Achieving three record quarters of net sales in 2017, as well as annual record net sales in 2016, is a testament to the power of our team and the brand. Now, more so than ever before, we are approaching our business from a global perspective, developing product that will resonate with consumers in the Americas, across Europe, throughout Asia, and the rest of the world,” added Robert Greenberg, Skechers CEO.

Based on these key indicators, Skechers said that the company will achieve net sales in the fourth quarter in the range of 860 million dollars to 885 million dollars, and diluted earnings per share of 0.09 dollar to 0.14 dollar.

The company expects its capital expenditures for the fourth quarter to be approximately 20 million to 25 million dollars, which includes corporate office upgrades and an additional 12 to 15 company-owned retail store openings and several store remodels.


Nordstrom won't go private...yet

The latest wave of retail bankruptcies has given Nordstrom cold feet. The upscale department store operator will be shelving its plans to go private, at least for the time being.

Earlier this week the Seattle-based company said the namesake family members have stopped actively exploring a path to take it private.

However, the company advanced that members of the Nordstrom family, which owns more than 30 percent of the stock, may still consider a plan to take the iconic retailer private after the key holiday shopping season.

It’s worth recalling that back in June, some members of the Nordstrom family — including company co-Presidents Blake, Peter and Erik Nordstrom — said they were thinking about acquiring the approximately 70 percent of the stock they don't already own. Going private could give the upscale retailers more flexibility to navigate a rapidly changing retail environment, noted analysts back then.

Nordstrom (JWN) shares fell nearly 5 percent on the news, sharing the burden with other fellow retailers such as Macy’s (-2 percent on Monday), JCPenney (JCP) was down 1 percent Monday and, on a related note, Sears stock plummeted nearly 10 percent on the same day after a key investor, Bruce Berkowitz of mutual fund firm Fairholme Capital, said he was stepping down from the company's board at the end of the month.

This niche has been reeling lately, with Macy's (M) shares falling nearly 45 percent this year, Sear’s stock plunging 60 percent in the year to date and Sears (SHLD), which also owns Kmart, having lost a third of its value so far in 2017. Furthermore, a couple of lucrative deals with Amazon haven’t been enough to save Kohl's (KSS), which stock is down 15 percent in 2017.

Investors have grown increasingly nervous about sluggish sales as customers shop more online. Department stores are fighting back, but some worry that it's too little too late.

Nordstrom recently announced plans for new Nordstrom Local stores that would let people buy clothes selected by personal stylists. These stores aim at bridging the virtual and physical shopping experiences: the stores will not have inventory, requiring customers to make their purchases online.

Refresh your memory

More about the privatization of Nordstrom in the timeline. Navigate by clicking the arrows.

Photo:Nordstrom Online

The Korean asset manager IMM Private Equity has announced it will be acquiring a 60 percent stake in fashion retailer W Concept Korea from its parent firm ISE Commerce, for 61.2 billion won (circa 54.2 million dollars).

After the deal closes, ISE Commerce will retain a 20 percent holding in the fashion brand, according to a regulatory filing.

The purchase will be made through the private equity firm’s IMM Rose Gold III Fund with payment in cash expected to be carried out from November, 30 to December, 29.

IMM is acquiring W Concept with its third funding round worth 1.5 billion US dollars.

W Concept, launched in 2008, operates an online store selling local designer brands. It reported a net income of 1.76 billion won in 2016, up 85 percent compared to 2015.

IMM Rose Gold III specialises in medium and large-sized companies in the consumer, retail, food and beverage, industrials, health care, technology, media, financial services and manufacturing sectors.

Hanes provides Q3 update, acquires Alternative Apparel

Announcing the acquisition of Alternative Apparel, HanesBrands said that it expects to report third-quarter net sales of approximately 1.80 billion dollars, EPS of approximately 0.55 dollar, and adjusted EPS of about 0.60 dollar – consistent with the company’s previous guidance. Hanes also expects year-to-date net cash from operations of approximately 330 million dollars.

“We met our goal of returning to organic growth, and we continued to generate strong operating cash flow,” said Hanes Chief Executive Officer Gerald W. Evans Jr. in a statement, adding, “Our sales and EPS results, driven by stronger-than-expected international growth, are expected to be consistent with our guidance.”

Hanes acquires Alternative Apparel

Hanes said that it has purchased privately held Alternative Apparel in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately 60 million dollars on an enterprise basis on October 13, 2017. The company expects Alternative Apparel, based in Norcross, Georgia, to have full-year 2017 net sales of approximately 70 million dollars.

“This is an exciting acquisition that supports our activewear growth strategy. Adding the Alternative brand and product lineup further diversifies our sales mix as we emphasize growth across all channels, including online,” added Evans.

Hanes further states that the post-synergy purchase price multiple is expected to be approximately 3.5 times projected EBITDA. Hanes funded the acquisition with cash on hand and short-term borrowings on its revolving credit facility.

Alternative Apparel, founded in 1995, sells Alternative brand better basic T-shirts, fleece and other tops and bottoms. The company operates three Alternative stores – in Venice, California; SoHo, New York; and San Francisco apart from ecommerce platform Alternativeapparel.com.

Alternative Apparel CEO Evan Toporek will remain with Hanes to continue leading the business out of Norcross. “We’re thrilled to share Alternative products and experiences on a grander scale by leveraging Hanes’ global supply chain and growth platform,” Toporek said.

Picture:Alternative Apparel blog

H&M Group invests in new recycling technology company re:newcell

London - H&M Group, parent company of leading Swedish fashion retailer H&M, has taken a minority stake in Swedish company re:newcell to help speed up its transition to a circular business model. Re:newcell uses a new technique to recycle used cotton, viscose, and other cellulosic fibers into a new, sustainable dissolving pulp. In turn, this pulp can be used to make new textile fibers and fed into the textile production cycle.

The investment will help H&M achieve its ambitious goal of using 100 percent recycled and other sustainably sourced materials by 2030. "Re:newcell´s technology has the potential to become a commercial and scalable solution for the industry and accelerate the journey from a linear fashion industry towards a circular one", said Cecilia Brännsten, Acting Environmental Sustainability Manager, and circular economy lead, at H&M group in a statement.

"I am proud that H&M group sees the advantages of our innovation," added Mattias Jonsson, CEO of re:newcell. "Together we can contribute to changing the way fashion is produced and recycled." In order for the H&M Group to move to a circular business model, it must find solutions to substitute the fibers it currently uses with recycled fibers or other sustainably sourced alternatives, which is why the group is working with numerous initiatives.

At its plant in Kristinehamn, Sweden, re:newcell uses both used clothes and residues from textile production to create new fibers, decreasing the amount of textiles dumped in landfills. Its plant features a closed loop production system for chemicals and water and uses renewable energy and is able to produce 7,000 tons of pulp per year, with additional units being planned.

"This is the link that has been missing from the production cycle. re:newcell has closed the loop," added Jonsson. "The way fashion is produced and consumed can hopefully be transformed into a never-ending loop in the future." News of the sustainable fiber investment comes as H&M stands accused of incinerating 12 tonnes of unsold, usable apparel per year in Denmark rather than recycling it. H&M has denied these claims, arguing the clothing destroyed was not safe for recycling.

Photo: courtesy of H&M

Alibaba executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai said Tuesday he expects to boost US jobs by expanding the Chinese firm's e-commerce platform -- not by hiring American workers.

Tsai, speaking at a California tech conference, made the comments to follow up on a headline-grabbing pledge earlier this year by Alibaba founder Jack Ma and US President Donald Trump that the Chinese internet firm would create one million US jobs.

The pledge by Ma was seen at the time as more of a public relations move than a promise to hire in the US. When asked what Alibaba was doing to deliver on the promise, Tsai responded that giving merchants in China an online platform to boost sales indirectly created tens of millions of jobs in that country.

"We believe we can bring the same idea -- bring a platform here to let American companies sell to Chinese consumers," Tsai said during an on-stage interview at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California. "It is not direct job creation in (that) we are going out and hiring employees. Given the leverage here, we think that is how we can go out and create a million jobs."

Alibaba boasts more than a half-billion customers, most of them using mobile devices. Sometimes referred to as the Amazon of China, Alibaba is a force in e-commerce, cloud computing and digital entertainment. "Our peer in the US, Amazon, they seem to have gobbled up a whole lot of foods," Tsai responded playfully when asked whether Alibaba was out to "eat everything" when it came to expanding into new markets.

"Maybe, if you look at that you can find some mirror image of what we are doing." For now, Alibaba is still "swimming in its own little pond," and its international expansion is focused on enabling its customers in China to do business abroad, according to Tsai.

It faces dominant local competitors such as Amazon and eBay. China's largest online shopping portal went on the defensive after the office of the US Trade Representative put its massive electronic sales platform Taobao on its annual blacklist, saying it was not doing enough to curb sales of fake and pirated goods.

Although inclusion on the blacklist carries no penalties in itself, it dealt a blow to Alibaba's efforts to improve its image and boost international sales. (AFP)