Are algorithms the future of factoring?

Capital is the lifeblood of a business. For companies that make physical things, such as fashion brands, accessing the right capital at the right time is crucial. Both direct to consumer and wholesale brands have to pay for products to be manufactured before the end seller— the customer or the retailer—pays for them. This capital hole, which is entirely man-made, requires many brands to look for outside capital to finance their operations. 

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At the whim of a buyer

People have been selling things since the beginning of time. A transaction between two people or businesses is nothing new. More recently, the nature, context and demands of the transaction have changed. Deals can be more complex, take longer, and involve more people than before. But a trade is still a trade.

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Loose Threads Podcast: Creating a Shopping Street on the Internet — with Chris Morton of Lyst

On the sixth episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Chris Morton, the founder of Lyst, the fashion platform that acts as a shopping street on the internet. We talked about how Lyst was started; where the fashion industry is going; the underutilized value of returns; where Amazon is taking over; the powers and pitfalls of in-store fulfillment; the opportunities for mixing data and human-driven curation; and what luxury brands need to do to build digital cultures. 

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"Cutting out the middleman"

If I had to pick one phrase that best sums up the current state of ecommerce startups, “cutting out the middleman” would be it. Almost no other phrase has been uttered so much while simultaneously being the founding pillar of so many soon-to-be venture-backed startups.

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Amazon's success phasing out list pricing is exactly where JCPenney failed

There's an article in the New York Times entitled Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices. List prices, or manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), serve two main purposes. First, it's illegal for a company that sells goods to a distributor or retailer to dictate the price of an item. A clothing brand can't tell a boutique how much to sell a dress for. That's price fixing and is illegal. The brand can, however, "suggest" a retail price, which is how we end up with list prices and the "suggested" in MSRP.

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Vetements follow up: Kanye, staying in stores longer and selling online

The response to my piece on Vetements and the exaggerated death of wholesale has been really exciting. The piece's contrarian view clearly resonated. Even so, there are a few points I want to expand on. Adam Wray, from Fashion REDEF, sent me a nice note after the piece came out highlighting a few points worth discussing further. 

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Macy's, newspapers and Amazon eating the middle of the retail market

The middle of the retail market continues to evaporate. Two articles recently summed up this transformation: Big-Box Retailers Have Two Options If They Want to Survive, in the Harvard Business Review, and The Macy's factor in Politico. Big-box retailers—Macy's, Walmart, Target, Kohl's, JC Penny, you name it—are suffering as the internet, and more precisely Amazon, continues to devour the middle of the market.

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Vetements and the exaggerated death of wholesale

There's a great piece in the Wall Street Journal called The Cult of Vetements, a detailed look at the Paris-based fashion brand that has, since 2014, been the talk of the industry. The piece goes into detail about the brand's pricing, production and distribution model, the latter of which has been vastly under-appreciated among all of the hype. Vetements might be the greatest example that wholesale is not dead.  

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A Prime misunderstanding: explaining Amazon Prime's success

Amazon Prime is the greatest and most misunderstood loyalty program ever created. This is a loyalty program with no point system. A loyalty program customers have to pay $99 a year to be a part of. Prime is not predicated on signing up for another credit card and getting a fleeting one-time discount on a purchase. Prime is not about free shipping or fast shipping. Prime is not about streaming video or music. Prime is not about discounts.

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Vertical vs horizontal mindsets: the fashion tech horserace

During the most recent Exponent podcast, which was a podcast about podcasts, Ben Thompson made a fascinating point about the current media landscape. He was reminiscing about the focus of current media platforms to organize vertically. Medium, Soundcloud and Vimeo, for example, are focused on specific verticals, such as text, audio and video respectively. However, as Thompson mentioned, we're moving into a world where content and the people and brands behind it are focused horizontally.

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Loose Threads Podcast: Building the Knitwear Platform of the Future — with Ben Alun-Jones of UNMADE

On the 5th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Ben Alun-Jones, CEO and co-founder of UNMADE, a fascinating fashion tech company based in London. UNMADE is building a platform that brings legacy knitwear machines into the 21st century, and reimagining the supply chain along the way.

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Modernizing fashion education

I had a great talk with Doug Hand, the eloquent and well-known fashion lawyer, on the latest episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, titled "Navigating the Legal Complexities of the Fashion Industry." Towards the middle of the episode, we were talking about the disconnect between the business skills emerging designers need to run their business and the business skills they actually have.  

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Loose Threads Podcast: Navigating the Legal Complexities of the Fashion Industry — with Doug Hand of HBA, LLP

On the fourth episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, I talk with Doug Hand of HBA, LLP about navigating the complexities of the fashion industry. We discussed Doug's journey to become a leading fashion lawyer; the reactivity of the law; how IP protection operates in the fashion industry and where to pick your IP battles; the balance between speaking legalese and speaking creatively; the funny occurrence of designers losing the rights to their own name when they depart a namesake brand; and the looming environmental issues the fashion industry is slowly coping with.  

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Chat bots and interfaces in the fashion industry: a hybrid approach

Chat bots, the automated and sometimes smart contextual messaging systems, are all the rage, fresh off the heels of Facebook's annual developer conference and the release of Kik's bot platform. Think piece after think piece is trumpeting chat bots as the future of commerce and the next great user interface. With the conversation around chat bots at a hyperbolic level, it's important to figure out what chat bots will actually be good for.

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Loose Threads Podcast: 3D Printing a Personalized Future with Jon Schwartz of Voodoo Manufacturing

On the third episode of Loose Threads, I talk with Jon Schwartz, co-founder of Voodoo Manufacturing, about the recent advances in 3D printing; how 3D printing has evolved since his last startup; the growth of bridge manufacturing; Voodoo's work with Chromat during fashion week; the growth of 3D printed shoes; using recent manufacturing advances to customize fit, not just aesthetics; and building design software that lowers the barrier of entry for 3D design.

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Artificial intelligence and fashion: a platform play

Artificial intelligence, often called AI or deep learning, will undoubtedly transform the fashion industry. This transformation will have a few important qualities: 1) AI will be a platform play, not something brands build and launch individually; 2) the effects will mostly be invisible to the consumer; and 3) AI is as much a mindset as it is pure technology. It will not be a quick fix—it will take time. 

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Friction and the future of shopping: finding a sales associate

Tracking down a sales associate in a store is a big pain point. Sometimes they are busy, sometimes they aren't paying attention, and sometimes you're in a dressing room and your options are limited. Some brands, like Rebecca Minkoff, have created complex solutions to this problem, such as "connected dressing rooms" and interactive mirrors.

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Loose Threads Podcast: The CFDA Report, Zara's innovations, and Kanye's fluidity—with Adam Wray of fashionREDEF

On the second episode of Loose Threads, I talk with the always astute and articulate Adam Wray of fashionREDEF about the CFDA Report, the under appreciated aspects of Zara, the pioneering release of The Life of Pablo, innovating our way out of fashion's ethical problems, the benefits of athleisure, Broilers, reimagining the fashion show, and Adam's journey to appreciate Vetements

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