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Rihanna Takes on Aerie and Victoria's Secret

This week, everyone will be talking about Rihanna's Savage X Fenty show at New York Fashion Week, the new #BoF500, Zara's global e-commerce strategy and J.Crew's new look. Read our BoF Professional Cheat Sheet.
Rihanna at the Savage X Fenty launch | Source: Getty Images/Kevin Mazur
By
  • Brian Baskin
BoF PROFESSIONAL

Hello BoF Professionals, welcome to our latest members-only briefing: The Week Ahead. Think of it as your 'cheat sheet' to what everyone will be talking about on Monday.

THE CHEAT SHEET

A New Player Joins the Lingerie Fray

Source: Savage X Fenty

  • Rihanna's Savage X Fenty undergarments line launched online in May
  • Savage X Fenty popups to open in New York, the Mall of America and other locations
  • Like American Eagle's Aerie, puts body-positive message at center of marketing
Rihanna knows how to wow the fashion crowd. But following up her September 12th show at New York Fashion Week with a popup in Minneapolis’s Mall of America is a sign the pop star-turned-mogul has bigger ambitions than selling bras to fashionistas. The lingerie market is red-hot: sales of American Eagle's Aerie brand grew 27 percent in the second quarter. Savage X Fenty and Aerie share the kind of price points and body-positive messaging that has helped Aerie successfully peel away customers from ailing juggernaut Victoria’s Secret. Aerie has a massive retail footprint, while Savage X Fenty offers more sizes, and sexier, more-playful branding; Aerie’s “black” and “neutral” are “caviar” and “dusty peach” in Rihanna’s world.
The Bottom Line: Rihanna is repeating the formula that worked so well with her Fenty Beauty line: clearly identify what the incumbents aren't doing, and filling that gap.

Meet the New #BoF500

  • The sixth annual #BoF500, featuring the people shaping the global fashion industry, will be unveiled on September 10
  • To mark the occasion, BoF will host a gala in New York tonight with attendees from more than 25 countries
  • Four #BoF500 members are featured on the covers of the accompanying special print edition: François-Henri Pinault, Virgil Abloh, Yara Shahidi and Kalpona Akter

It’s not always easy to pick out the optimistic notes in a discordant age, but with the latest edition of the #BoF500, BoF is highlighting the movers and shakers making a positive mark on the industry. This year BoF inducts 96 new names, pulled from every facet of the fashion industry. The full index will be online on Monday morning, and the cover subjects offer a hint of what to expect: a socially conscious mogul, an outsider designer who ascended to the fashion industry’s highest ranks, a teenage actress redefining her role and a fearless labour activist.

The Bottom Line: In turbulent times it's more important than ever to highlight the progress that is being made. On Sunday night, BoF will do its part to shine light on some of the fashion world's heroes.

Zara's Plan for World Domination

Zara store | Source: Shutterstock

  • Zara parent Inditex plans to sell its clothes in 96 countries by 2020
  • The company reports second-quarter results on Wednesday
  • Sales growth has slowed amid competition from online brands like Boohoo and Amazon 
Zara hears Amazon footsteps and is racing to match the e-commerce giant's global reach. The battle to deliver apparel to anyone, anywhere will largely be fought on the logistics, rather than the fashion, front. Zara wrote the modern fashion supply chain playbook, with strategically located factories and airfreight to speed clothes to stores. Amazon is equally legendary when it comes to distribution, building an unmatched network of warehouses, planes and, soon, 20,000 delivery vans. Zara has a couple key advantages: its apparel is trendier than much of what's sold on Amazon. And Amazon must calibrate its delivery network for everything from fashion to furniture; Zara only has to ship clothes.  
The Bottom Line: Zara may be late to the e-commerce party, but don't count the company out yet. Inditex was efficiently manufacturing and moving goods around the world back when Amazon was still just a bookseller.  

The Debut of the New J.Crew

J.Crew Fall 2018 | Photo: Courtesy

  • J.Crew will sell through Amazon for the first time 
  • Thriving Madewell brand launches first men's products
  • A brand-wide relaunch will be unveiled Monday
Two weeks ago, this newsletter was quite negative on J.Crew’s prospects. Today the outlook isn’t quite so bleak: same-store sales are up after nearly four years of declines, and chief executive Jim Brett has outlined a definitive break from the Mickey Drexler era aimed at drawing new customers. Point Sur’s more bohemian garb will infiltrate prep-centric J.Crew stores. The cheaper Mercantile line will be available on Amazon, the first time the company will sell through the e-tailer. One holdover is a commitment to discounts: a storewide 40-percent-off deal brought in crowds over the Labor Day holiday. 
The Bottom Line: New leadership’s unsentimental approach to J.Crew should yield short-term dividends, but may run into trouble in the long run if the brand loses its identity.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

Source: Shutterstock

Readers had plenty to say about Doug Stephens' opinion piece "The End of Amazon":

"If anything, all the data and money they're collecting will be used to further their brand. It seems naive to think they don't already have a long-term plan to meet market needs." -@chineseworkethic

"Brands are in a lose-lose situation ... it's to the point where they have no choice but to join [Amazon] or have no shot at competing." -@klassico

"The smart stores are creating experiences. Powell's Books here in Portland, Oregon is stronger than ever because it's a destination. You can enjoy the community it offers. Humans want connection, and shopping can offer that." -@vanessabogaert

SUNDAY READING

Professional Exclusives You May Have Missed: 

The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com

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