The Fast or Frivolous 2018 Playbook: How to build a brand that stands the test of time

Fast or Frivolous? How consumer brands are evolving, accelerating and evaporating, our flagship report from 2017, charted the rapid changes—but also continuity—that the internet brought to the consumer economy. Pre-internet, the playbook…


Digiday: ‘A giant billboard for the company’: How digitally-native brands negotiate wholesale partnerships

Press commentary on how digitally-native brands are strategically striking wholesale partnerships.


Direct-to-consumer ageism and the power of execution

Heritage brands have always held the same promise: We’ve done this for a long time and therefore you should trust our brand and the products we release under it. As the brands continued to push this rhetoric, consumers substantiated it. Many iconic…


For-profits versus non-profits and the rise of philanthrocapitalism

In today’s hyper-globalized and -politicized world, more consumer product companies are seeking to align with initiatives that ameliorate society and the world, either at inception or later in their life cycle. Whether environmental sustainability,…


The Grinds: JCPenney banks on babies; Malls house digitally-native brands, coworking offices; Casper plans for 200 stores; VF ditches denim

JCPenney banks on babies, but seizing Toys R Us’ market share continues to ignore the company’s endemic problems. What happened JCPenney is opening 500 baby shops in its department stores, sweeping up market share from the liquidation of Toys R Us…


The Grinds: IKEA downsizes and digitizes, The RealReal raises $115 million, Disney and 21st Century Fox strike merger, A Ma Maniére fuses streetwear with hospitality

IKEA downsizes and digitizes to retain its hold on young clientele. What happened Since 2015, IKEA has opened 24 small format stores—an average of 9,700 square feet, compared to its traditional 82,000 square foot warehouses. Customers aren’t able…


Kylie Cosmetics and the value paradox of celebrity brands

Forbes recently put Kylie Jenner—member of the Kardashian clan and founder of Kylie Cosmetics, one of the fastest growing beauty brands ever—on the cover of its America’s Women Billionaires issue. The feature, which came with an…


Does Amazon understand customer experience more than most brands?

More than 50% of product searches now begin on Amazon. This week we wrote about how the company has won over consumers' wallets by prioritizing convenience and functionality over design—and what other brands should do about it.


Dear Comme des Garçons: One Thing I Would Do

Comme des Garçons has pioneered a new model of creation and ownership over the almost 50 years of its existence, fostering a thriving horizontal ecosystem of brands and retail stores. No other company has the breadth and the depth that Comme does,…


Do DNVBs exist anymore? Revisiting the buzzword

Andy Dunn coined the term DNVB—digitally-native vertical brand—in 2016. The clearest possible reading of the addition of the word “vertical” is that it means “control,” akin to the idea of vertical integration, in which a company controls various…


Trading up or down: Ulta Beauty and Stitch Fix appeal to ever-growing consumer markets by giving customers a choice

Though the number of brands has mushroomed since the digital boom, the vast majority of new brands are founded in coastal urban areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The specificity of their geography and the values and ideas that…


The market of female empowerment: Bulletin and the Wing are growing a women’s network with different degrees of accessibility

Though the number of brands has mushroomed since the digital boom, the vast majority of new brands are founded in coastal urban areas like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The specificity of their geography and the values and ideas that…


Digitized: Away and Goop aim to be digital-first “lifestyle brands,” but they are still just product companies

“Lifestyle brand” is a buzzword that has lost meaning in the consumer economy. Either imposed or self-ascribed, companies with the label use it as a justification for their ambition to become much more than a brand, but a way of life. Some are…


The Grinds: Walmart plans to redesign site, Click-to-buy morphs into click-to-buy-and-make, b8ta expands “retail as a service,” Domino’s delivers to customers en route

Walmart is making its website more sleek, but where does that leave Jet? What happened Walmart, which continues to devote more resources to its ecommerce operation, plans to debut a resigned website that spotlights its higher-end brands and…


Dear Entireworld: One Thing I Would Do

Building a traditional basics brand today is a somewhat futile quest, riddled with endless products and price deflation. The way to make it work, then, is to build a basics brand by not building a basics brand. The current manifestation of…


Glossy: The forces working against contemporary fashion

Press commentary on the consolidation of the luxury industry and what this means for mid-tier brands.


The Grinds: Target opens small-format stores, BuzzFeed adds new beauty and style vertical, JAB Holding Company conquers coffee, Glossier launches new pop-up

Target is the latest mass retailer to open small-format stores, whose focus on private label could help it provide even more differentiated products. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.  …


Why is Walmart intentionally launching brands outside its ecosystem?

Last week Walmart announced that it’s launching two new standalone brands: Allswell for mattresses and other bedding products, and Co Squared for beauty and personal care. These are the first two standalone brands Walmart has launched since its…


Playbook: How to Navigate the Off-Price Epidemic

As the off-price market continues to grow despite the improving economy, many brands and retailers are falling into a trap, selling more off-price products to compete in the consumer economy, and lowering their margins in the process. This Playbook,…


Basics brands are commodities. Why do people keep building them?

The hidden secret of most businesses is that the more boring the business, the better the business—the flashier, the worse. This heuristic is especially true in the consumer goods landscape, where brands run the hazard of seeking attention over…


Hyper-Value — with Ryan Babenzien of GREATS

#56. GREATS is the first digitally-native footwear brand that is hyper-focused on bringing extreme value to the sneaker market. We talk with Founder Ryan Babenzien about how GREATS has prioritized quality and simplicity and flourished into a booming…


The uncertain road from a single product to lasting brand

A single-product company that desires to become a brand needs to diversify its products over time to maintain interest and evolve with the market. But few single-product based companies have been able to build lasting brands with a wide assortment…


From Down Under — with Jonathan Shokrian of MeUndies

On the 48th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of consumer, retail and commerce, I talk with Jonathan Shokrian, the founder of MeUndies, one of the early direct to consumer subscription brands that is injecting some…


The (Invisible) Long Tail of Packaging — with Stephan Ango of Lumi

On the 13th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce, I talk with Stephen Ango, a co-founder of Lumi. Stephan’s company is simplifying the process of designing and producing all sorts of…