Zara, Netflix and the rise of the Amorphous Brand

Most consumer product companies, especially direct-to-consumer brands that start out by serving a specific niche audience, sink or swim based on how they position themselves around a target customer. These brands define “our girl” or “our guy” and…


Kidproof — with Rachel Blumenthal of Rockets of Awesome

#69. Rockets of Awesome creates modern children’s clothes, conveniently delivered to busy parents. We talk with Founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal, who started the company after running a previous business that made mothers’ lives easier, and has…


It takes decades to build a meaningful brand—and minutes to destroy it

In a previous edition of The Filter, we presented the concept that Brand and The Brand are two different entities. We defined Brand as “the accumulation of all of a company’s actions to make something meaningful and memorable” and we defined The…


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…


The Grinds: Best Buy, other retailers crack down on returns, Duty-free airport retail thrives, ASOS stands out with its product descriptions, West Elm sells experiences with local artists

Best Buy and other retailers are cracking down on the number and frequency of returns, but are risking their customer relationships. To-the-point analysis about one of the four important stories from the week.   What happened Best…


The Grinds: Fast-fashion full-price sales fall, Amazon expands Amazon Go, Younique raises Coty’s profitability, Adidas’ Speedfactory innovates the supply chain, ABC Carpet & Home sells top floors as office space

Fast-fashion retailers are seeing falling full-price sales, led by H&M and more recently, Zara. To-the-point analysis about one of the five important stories from the week.   What happened Analysts were already concerned with Zara’s…


Creation over Commodities — with Joe Ferrara of Resonance

#59. Resonance is a venture-operating company that is helping designers scale their brands at record speeds. We talk with its co-founder, Joe Ferrara, who started the company with Lawrence Lenihan after spending close to a decade investing in…


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…


Dear Zara: One Thing I Would Do

Working in the consumer products space, I have examined many different companies, but Zara remains one of the most fascinating studies. Your accomplishments—from a supply chain, retail, digital and culture perspective—rival few others because of the…


The Plus Size Opportunity

There’s a significant divide in the apparel industry between the sizes available in stores and the sizes women wear—a divide that’s becoming increasingly important as retailers seek to differentiate themselves from fast fashion and Amazon. Over…


Could localized manufacturing be the solution to endless markdowns?

Today, two seemingly different questions are top of mind for many physical goods brands: 1) How do we end the catastrophic parade of endless sales and markdowns?; and 2) Is there a way to bring back domestic manufacturing in some capacity? But are…


Building Bulletproof Brands — Part I: Why don’t brands last like they used to?

How does one build a brand that lasts for centuries? Today, in the consumer goods space—specifically in apparel, fashion, footwear, beauty, cosmetics, accessories, and furniture—it's an especially challenging quandary given the ferocious speed at…


Mickey Drexler and the death of a supply-driven world

J.Crew’s Mickey Drexler Confesses: I Underestimated How Tech Would Upend Retail read the headline of a big feature in the Wall Street Journal, which ricocheted around the retail and technology world last week. The piece highlighted J.Crew's…


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…