Dear Ulta Beauty: One Thing I Would Do

Ulta continues to expand its brand selection, often testing new brands online or at a small number of brick-and-mortar locations first, before scaling the offering. This worked wonders for MAC Cosmetics—Ulta’s most successful ecommerce launch…


The difference between Supreme and Everlane’s long lines

If you happen to be near a Supreme store on a Thursday around 11am, you’re likely to see hundreds of people waiting in a barricaded line for the latest drop. Just a few blocks away from Supreme, you’ll see a line of one or two dozen people outside…


What can the direct-to-consumer explosion learn from the farm-to-table movement?

In the mid-2000s, the farm-to-table movement transformed the food industry. Though the food industry is often ahead of others because it sells products that people physically consume, the consumer goods space—fashion, apparel, beauty, CPG and…


Antiscale — with Charlie Ambler of Strike Gently Co

On the 51st episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, a show about the rapidly changing consumer economy, I talk with Charlie Ambler, the founder of Strike Gently Co, a company that started off making pins and patches and expanding into a growing…


Loose Threads 2016 year in review: six trends at the intersection of fashion, technology and commerce

2016 was quite a year for fashion, technology and commerce. This was the year where the reality of different ventures, channels, and theses started to become clearer, as we moved on from the pure hype cycle of endless venture funding and direct to…


The Scale Series — Part V: Bigger isn’t always better

Part I of this series explored the capital conditions that got us to a place where many brands swung for the fences, while Part II and Part III investigated some of the successes and failures in this growth environment. Part IV proposed a new…


The Scale Series — Part IV: Localized Luxury

The early 2000s were full of brands launching adjacencies, some of which we looked at in Part II and Part III. Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Burberry and many others created endless diffusion lines and offshoots that tried to take the spirit and cache…


The Scale Series — Part III: Brands that have endured

In Part II we looked at brands that have overscaled their promise. Now, we'll examine successful fashion brands that have balanced their creative and commercial aspirations over the long term, which allows the strength of a brand to compound.


The Scale Series — Part II: Brands that overscaled

In Part I, we looked at the factors that both businesses and brands need to consider when scaling. With this foundation, we'll now examine some of the failures and some of the successes in the fashion industry. This piece will look at the former,…


The Scale Series — Part I: How and why brands overscale

A person starts a business to grow it. The general goal is to earn some revenue, and then some more revenue, and then lots and lots of revenue, while being profitable along the way. The process of getting there is often called scaling the business,…


Nasty Gal: the dangers of ephemeral growth and focus

Nasty Gal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, which allows the company to reorganize its finances but continue operating. The company, started by Sophia Amoruso as an eBay store selling vintage clothing in 2006, quickly grew over…