A new trendy clothing and accessories store is now joining the ranks of businessesopening up in the Ballston Quarter mall.
Called Francesca’s, the new store opened today (Friday) and sells women’s apparel as well as shoes, hats, jewelry, and hair accessories.
Ballston is one of several D.C. area locations for the chain, which also has opened up shop in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, as well as in D.C, Tysons, Springfield, and Alexandria. Despite the local expansion, the company has also faced some recent struggles.
The new store occupies a 1,600 square foot space on the second story of the mall, across from another women’s clothing store, Gossip Boutique, and watch retailer Bering.
A PR rep told ARLnow that the store is offering a buy one, get one 60% off deal through Wednesday, August 21.
A woman from Tipperary is taking on the environmental impact of fast fashion by starting her own designer dress rental service.
Edel Lyons, 31, a former marketing executive and fashion blogger started Rag Revolution just three months ago from her bedroom in Dublin, a premium fashion rental service that allows customers to rent dresses for special occasions, paying a fraction of the price, and returning the item when the event is over, helping save money – and the planet.
According to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, clothing production has approximately doubled in the last 15 years, while the annual value of clothing discarded prematurely is more than 350 billion euro.
While the average consumer bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than in 2000, people now keep each garment for half as long, and discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.
Second only to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world, and produces nearly 20% of global waste water.
As the drive to be more environmentally conscious becomes more immediate, Lyons saw a gap in the market for Ireland’s fashion forward to be more sustainable, supporting reuse instead of consumption.
“I had a lot of events over the last three years, balls or weddings and work functions and was struggling to find something a bit different but that wasn’t really expensive, and I didn’t like the fact I was only wearing things once, it wasn’t good for me money-wise or the environment.
“I kept seeing expensive and real statement pieces that I knew if I bought, I wouldn’t wear again. We’re not like our mums’ generation, we don’t keep pieces anymore for a long time.
“With social media having such a presence in our lives, we’re less likely to re-wear outfits, people don’t want to keep wearing these statement pieces because there’s already a picture of them wearing it on Instagram or Facebook, and it sounds awful but that’s how people are now.
“While all this was going on, I was becoming more and more aware of the effect ‘fast fashion’ was having on the world.
“I am very environmentally conscious and I wouldn’t buy a lot of clothes, and stick to key pieces, and that’s how I fell into this idea.
“I did some research and I couldn’t see anything that offered style that I would wear, and saw the gap and thought; ‘I should do this’.”
Rag Revolution offers dresses from designer labels such as Rixo, Reformation, Olivia Rubin and Self-Portrait, who can command up to 400 euro for a dress, and rents them out for as little as 70 euro.
Lyons’ thoughts on the future of the industry runs parallel with economic experts, who predict that the way we think about clothes is about to shift, as the industry moves to cater to sustainability and mindful shoppers.
Recent research by Deloitte revealed over 80% of millennials across Australia, Canada, China, India, the UK and the US say it is important for companies take steps to diminish their environmental impact.
Consumers aged 25-35 are projected to spend 135 billion euro on sustainable goods by 2021.
“I’m quite interested in the industry and they’re predicting in a few years we’re not going to be buying clothes like we are now,” Lyons added. “We’re all headed toward buying key pieces, good jeans and boots – things like that, but you’re not going to have a wardrobe full of dresses from the high street or occasion-wear.
“At this rate the industry can’t keep going as it is, even in regard to the disposal of clothes. 90% of fashion go to a landfill and aren’t recycled. It’s on a lot of people’s minds now about how and where they shop, people used to want to have loads of clothes, but that’s a thing of the past, people are looking for something more sustainable.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this and I just took the leap, it’s not for the fainthearted but it’s really satisfying, I’d tell anyone who has an idea to just go for it.”
On the morning of June 25, mega-fashion influencer Arielle Charnas, who’s collected more than 1.2 million followers on Instagram and has her own clothing line Something Navy at Nordstrom, announced when Amazon’s Prime Day would be kicking off this year.
It was a not-so-subtle signal about what Amazon hopes to accomplish with its annual deals extravaganza this year. It still wants to be a bigger name in fashion.
When you think of Prime Day, you might be thinking about deals on Instant Pots and Amazon Echo devices — not half-off dresses and designer heels.
But the market for apparel and accessories globally is worth more than $1 trillion, so Amazon clearly sees there’s a lot at stake here. It’s using Prime Day to tout fashion deals. And it’s also had a slew of recent initiatives and tie-ups with fashion influencers — beyond Charnas — to show it’s trying to establish the site as a place to shop for more than just the basics. It hopes to take market share as other apparel retailers are struggling. And it hasn’t been afraid to experiment.
Typically, when it comes to selling clothes, Amazon is really good at “the boring stuff,” Wells Fargo retail analyst Ike Boruchow said.
Wells Fargo has estimated that Amazon generated roughly $35 billion in sales in 2018 related to apparel and footwear, out of $232.9 billion in sales overall. For context, athletic apparel retailer Lululemon brought in $3.3 billion in sales last year, while Gap Inc.’s net sales were $16.6 billion, and Costco has said it generated $7 billion in sales in 2018 from clothes and footwear. Amazon dwarfs them all, even combined.
But a lot of those transactions for Amazon stem from “commoditized” clothing items like white T-shirts, jeans and underwear, according to Boruchow. Amazon’s in-house brand, AmazonEssentials, is popular for that sort of thing — selling a four-pack of women’s camisoles for $24.50, or a 10-pack of cotton crew socks for kids for $9.45.
Bezos’ vision for fashion
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos frequently told colleagues in the early 2000s: “In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food,” according to the book profiling Amazon’s ascent, written by Brad Stone, called “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.” At that time, Bezos set his benchmark based on the size of Walmart’s sales, Stone said.
Amazon surpassed $200 billion in annual sales for the first time in 2018. That figure includes revenues from its other businesses like Amazon Web Services, not just retail. Meanwhile, Walmart’s total revenue was $514.4 billion for its latest fiscal year.
Amazon is trying to sell more fashionable clothes today as mall-based apparel retailers like Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s, Dressbarn-owner Ascena Retail Groupand Forever 21are closing stores and struggling to draw-in shoppers. And department store chains like J.C. Penney and Macy’s, which have historically been reliant on their apparel businesses to drive sales growth, are shrinking. It’s been estimated retail store closure announcements could reach 12,000 this year, setting a record, with many of those stemming from apparel-based businesses like Charming Charlie and Charlotte Russe.
This Prime Day, which kicked off Monday at 3 a.m. ET and runs for 48 hours, will put Amazon’s latest efforts to be a bigger fashion destination to the test.
Lessons from Prime Day
Prime Day 2019 will include hot deals on staple items, like sweatshirts and socks, but also is promoting Amazon’s own fashionable items to highlight the range of clothing it offers.
Ahead of Prime Day this year, Amazon was pushing deals for as much as 50% off leggings, accessories and more, Jacquelyn Cooley at analytical intelligence company 1010data said. Fashion items very well could be on the top sellers list this year, considering how the deals are panning out, she said.
On Prime Day, Amazon is touting 30% off Calvin Klein and deals on some of its own exclusive apparel merchandise.
On Monday morning, button-down shirts from Amazon’s Goodthreads line were 30% off, its own Lark & Ro dresses were 50% off, and certain Calvin Klein and Adidas merchandise was 30% off. Charnas took to social media again to tout her #PrimeDayPicks, including items from Amazon Essentials, Splendid and Rebecca Taylor.
Overall, this year’s Prime Day could bring in as much as $5.8 billion in sales globally, up from an estimated $3.9 billion in sales in 2018, when the event ran for just 36 hours, according to Coresight Research.
Beyond Prime Day
But a fashion business isn’t built on a two-day sales event. Amazon has seemingly been amassing an army of fashion influencers on social platforms like Instagram, bringing with them tens of millions of followers altogether, to write posts with taglines like “I #FoundItOnAmazon.”
Women including Paola Alberdi, Sierra Furtado, Emi Suzuki, Leonie Hanne and Patricia Bright each have more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Now, they all share something else in common. They’re working with Amazon to promote the platform as a fashion destination — alongside their posts about Reformation, Revolve, Channel, Rebecca Minkoff, and other trendy and luxury labels.
One of Amazon’s new influencer-focused ventures called “The Drop” went live in May.
With The Drop, Amazon is partnering with fashion influencers like Bright, a U.K.-based vlogger known for posting chic looks and night-out outfits to her Instagram, and Furtado, an LA-based YouTuber known for her more laid-back style. These partners are designing limited-edition apparel and accessories collections that Amazon will then create in-house.
There’s a scarcity element involved because shoppers are only given 30 hours to shop each influencer’s collection before the next one is dropped. A text alert notifies shoppers when a drop is happening. Amazon also says on its website it only makes limited quantities of each drop, so products are expected to sell out.
The Drop sounds a lot like fast-fashion retailer Zara’s strategy, which has found success by never making the same thing twice, only shipping limited quantities of items to stores, and rotating inventory frequently to keep shoppers coming back again and again to flip through racks of clothes. Amazon appears to be taking its own stab at this approach.
In order to be a two-hundred-billion-dollar company, we’ve got to learn how to sell clothes and food.
Amazon also has its own subscription box program akin to Stitch Fix called Prime Wardrobe, where users can pick out a handful of clothing items, try them on at home and then only pay for what they want to keep, shipping back what they don’t want.
And just last month it launched an artificial intelligence tool called “StyleSnap.” Within Amazon’s app, users can either take a photo or upload an existing image of an outfit, and StyleSnap will use machine learning to “match the look” with clothes for sale on Amazon.
Making shopping fun
Still, analysts and fashion experts agree that navigating Amazon’s website for clothes often is more arduous than it is enjoyable. The website’s design isn’t desirable for discovering new things or new brands. Most people shopping on Amazon go there knowing exactly what they’re looking for. With fashion, Amazon must figure out how to make the experience more fun.
There’s also reluctance for brands to partner with Amazon because they lose autonomy over pricing and marketing, founders have told CNBC.
On the whole, it hasn’t been easy for Amazon to entice popular fashion brands to sell there. The majority of product listings on Amazon’s fashion page are from third parties. This is likely one of the reasons why Amazon has been incubating so many of its own apparel and accessories lines in-house. It has more than 60 today, according to tracking by TJI Research, like Core 10 for women’s leggings and sports bras, and Goodthreads for men’s khaki pants and button-down tops.
More clothing sales shifting online
Separate data from eMarketer shows Amazon is on track to grab nearly 30% of the market for apparel and accessories sold online in the U.S. this year, up from 22.7%, or about $18.38 billion in sales, in 2016.
But remember: U.S. e-commerce sales still represent less than 15% of total retail sales, according to eMarketer. The majority of purchases are still happening in bricks-and-mortar stores.
RBC Capital Markets’ retail team is predicting 40% of apparel sales in the U.S. will take place on the internet by 2023, up from closer to 30% today. Currently, RBC says e-commerce accounts for roughly 20% to 25% of clothing and accessories sales for most retailers. For specialty retailers it’s closer to 29%, for department stores it’s about 24%, and for off-price retailers it’s just 2%, according to the firm.
And in a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. ages 18 to 34 released in June, RBC found more than 50% of respondents say they start their searches for clothing online on platforms carrying numerous brands, rather than directly from a single brand’s website. That could end up boding well for Amazon.
“We believe Amazon could have a material presence in fashion, over time,” RBC said in a recent note to clients. “That said, we believe that Amazon would need to respond to changing style trends at a faster pace, especially with its own private label inventory. … Also, Amazon could improve its browsing experience for fashion customers — try searching for ‘women black dress’ and you will get over 350 options.”
Designer Ridhi Mehra is all set to launch her first flagship store at the upscale, The Kila, Seven Style Mile in Mehrauli, Delhi.
She will also launch her Basra AW 2019 collection. The new collection is Mehra’s take on opulence and refinement, inspired by the beauty of the world-renowned Basra pearls.
It showcases exquisite floral and geometric patterns of the Islamic art and architecture which she has brought to life with her delicate dori work, French knots and sequins.
The collection has her signature semi-couture silhouettes of belted anarkalis, jacket and pre-pleated saris, peplum-lehengas in soothing hues of ivory, champagne beige and crepe pink.
This graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology and the School of Management at the University of Nottingham launched her label in 2012. She won the FICCI YFLO High Flyers Award six years later. Most of her pieces are an eclectic mix of vintage European aesthetics and Indian heritage.
Speaking about her store, Mehra says, “This will be my first ever flagship store, and is obviously very close to my heart. The design of the store reflects the aesthetics of my designs. Each piece of art, and each table in the store is a masterpiece that is Mughal-inspired, with jewel-toned furniture, which not only reflects the aesthetics but also brings out the character in the store.
“We chose a neutral colour palette of soft grey and beige, juxtaposed with lustrous gold metallic keeping in mind that the designs have to be subtle and soothing to the eye!”
Apart from the designer clothes, the major attraction of the store is the stunning mouth-blown glass, floral chandelier, designed by Mehra in collaboration with The Glass Forest.
A hi-end fashion destination, The Kila, is home to a number of other brands like Amit Aggarwal, amd Namrata Joshipura.
When it comes to sports footwear, Skechers is a brand known for comfort. Apart from casual daily wear, they also have a lineup of performance oriented sports shoes. The latest in their performance series is the GOrun 7 – a lightweight running shoe with what Skechers calls the ‘Hyper Burst’ midsole.
Thanks to the knitted upper, the shoe gives you a snug fit and unhindered breathability. We like that the insole can be removed if you Find it a tad too tight. The unique design includes two pull tabs on the shoe which allows for quick and easy wearing/removal. The webbing-style lacing system stays locked during exercise and ensures the shoe doesn’t become loose. And at just about 220 grams per shoe, GOrun 7 is one of the lightest running shoes available today.
Another highlight is the new midsole that provides excellent energy return (it’s a noticeable boost while walking/running) without sacrificing on comfort. We used the shoes on surfaces like grass, treadmills as well as concrete roads and found them to be well balanced with superb grip.
The outsole has good flexibility which helps in easy foot movement and provides great support. Skechers has added rubber pods on the outsole that are designed for extra traction while running, especially on uneven surfaces.
Overall, we think the GOrun 7 is amongst the best running shoes in this price range. At this price, you’re also spoilt for choice with good options from Reebok, Puma and Adidas.
At OutDoor by ISPO, shoe specialists such as On (running shoes) or Lowa (trekking and mountain sports) will be presenting with new models, as will representatives of the classic shoe trade such as Ecco or Gabor.
The exhibitors also include major brands such as Adidas, Aku, Kamik, Keen, Meindl, Merrell, Tecnica and the insole specialist Sidas as well as the sole expert Vibram.
The latest trends and models from the world of shoes, socks and accessories can be found in a special show in Hall A5 in the Shoe & Trailrunning Village. Visitors can test shoes on a 50 metre long test track, no matter if they prefer stylish sneakers or specialized high tour boots.
The area will also host the Run & Trail Summit on Tuesday, July 2nd. The agenda includes an elevator pitch for the most innovative trail running products at the fair.
Outstanding and innovative shoes were also awarded at Outstanding Outdoor.