KEY TAKEAWAYS / 07.09.2024

Daily news and stories covering everything from the Fashion System, Investment, and AI to WEB3 and Crypto that truly matter in Metaverse Fashion.



💥 HBC, the parent company of luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue, has confirmed reports that its long-awaited deal to acquire rival Neiman Marcus Group — owner of Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman — for $2.65 billion is finally here. And as a pending investor in the merged company, Amazon has found a new path (or underground tunnel) into luxury fashion.

💭 “We’re thrilled to take this step in bringing together these iconic luxury names, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman,” said Richard Baker, HBC executive chairman and CEO, in a statement. “For years, many in the industry have anticipated this transaction and the benefits it would drive for customers, partners and employees. This is an exciting time in luxury retail, with technological advancements creating new opportunities to redefine the customer experience, and we look forward to unlocking significant value for our customers, brand partners and employees.”

💥 An interesting development is Amazon’s involvement. Amazon will be an investor in and work with Saks Global “to innovate on behalf of customers and brands partners following the close of the transaction”, a release issued by HBC reads. This will give Amazon discrete access to luxury products, stores, sales associates and data. At the same time, the retailers stand to gain access to more sophisticated technology and logistics; Salesforce, which has been steadily rolling out generative artificial intelligence tools for retailers, will also become an investor.

👔 Amazon, the largest clothing retailer in the US, has for years worked to expand into luxury fashion, which has higher margins but is somewhat at odds with Amazon’s efficiency-over-style ethos. During the pandemic in 2020, it brokered deals with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the British Fashion Council to start a new luxury stores division, recruiting brands including Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Cohen and Adam Lippes. In 2022, it expanded that effort to include Europe, with brands including Christopher Kane and Elie Saab. It sponsored the CFDA awards in 2023.


Jing Daily

💈 Luxury brands must swiftly adapt to Gen Z’s expectations, sustainability demands, and market nuances, especially in China, to remain competitive and avoid decline.

🌊 Today's luxury market is increasingly volatile with decelerating growth rates. Brands face a perfect storm of challenges, necessitating a strategic overhaul in brand strategy, storytelling, client experience, and a more sophisticated sales approach.

📉 Several luxury brands underperformed in Q1 2024. LVMH, despite its significant market presence, reported a 2% decline in nominal revenue (+3% organic at fixed exchange rates), missing analyst expectations. The wines and spirits division, notably Hennessy Cognac, saw a significant 12% drop due to cautious restocking in the US and soft demand in China during the Chinese New Year. Kering faced even more dramatic difficulties, issuing a rare profit warning due to weakening demand for Gucci in China, where sales declined by 10% year-over-year.

📱 Gen Z is reshaping the luxury market with their digital-first approach, especially in China, and their distinct values and expectations. This generation demands authenticity, sustainability, and inspiring experiences.

🌀 Many luxury brands are too slow to make decisions and too detached from key markets like China. Chinese clients expect products made for them and with them in mind. This requires a shift from centrally imagined one-size-fits-all products to a high-speed, highly proactive client-centric and localized approach.

⛩ The luxury market is more competitive than ever. New entrants, disruptive technologies, and shifting consumer behaviors intensify the competitive landscape. China presents unique challenges and opportunities. The rapid pace of change and sophisticated, discerning clientele demand a nuanced approach. Western brands often falter by relying on outdated strategies and failing to understand local preferences and cultural nuances. Western luxury car brands are seeing their market shares erode. In my view, this is not temporary but only the beginning.



😁 Memes are taking over finance. And, behind the community forums, comical volumes of wealth emerging within days, and sometimes-crude humor, something tremendous and meaningful is happening.

🕸 On the surface, memes are just photos and video clips that zip around the internet in text messages, social media timelines and community forums. It’s easy to overlook them and dismiss that they may carry with them more than a humorous reference. Memes transmit subtle but powerful cultural meaning in a digitally-native way. A meme that is popular to a community or a culture often signifies something about that group and their values in that particular moment in time.

💲 Blockchain technology has offered the capacity to financialize nearly anything that is digitally-native, so it’s only natural that crypto has captured meme culture over the years. However, meme-ified finance is not unique to crypto. Across traditional and Web3 finance, meme-ified finance has brought together powerful online groups. And now financial gamification, though still in a rudimentary state, is revealing a new path forward.

🎀 In TradFi, a fringe Reddit community in 2021 became a harbinger for the type of community-first, anti-institutional, anti-sensible finance that is deeply and inextricably linked to the intersection of gamification and humorous meme culture. The r/wallstreetbets community “stuck it” to traditional finance, gaming the traditional stock market and reveling in their success with facetious online posts.

🎆 Crypto is changing the face of finance, but it’s not happening in a technological vacuum. It is accelerated by memes and by the deep economic gamification that is core to blockchain systems. The power of finance is no longer in knowledge of esoteric financial principles. It’s no longer even in the kind of relationships built in stoic financial corporations. The power is in community, in virality, and in deep cultural synchronicity.


The Verge

Key Takeaways from the Interview:

🎨 You started the company in Australia. There are a few pretty high-profile startups in Australia, but Canva is pretty global. It’s used everywhere. How have you thought about that aspect of it, and why haven’t you been forced to immigrate to Silicon Valley yet?

🗣 We feel like we really get the best of both worlds. We have built an incredible team here in Australia, but then we have offices around the world, including in the United States, and we have a lot of investors over in Silicon Valley. It feels like we’ve been able to get amazing talent and amazing investors and build a really great team headquartered here in Australia.

🎨 This is a lead-up to the questions that will come about AI, but in the beginning, 10 years ago, people said, “These Canva templates, they’re letting the kids do this work that I usually do,” and that is the story of this company. Is that still what you’re doing — democratizing design — or have you moved up the chain?

🗣 With Canva, we really set out to fill a huge gap in the market, and this gap was that people that wanted to create an amazing design and turn that into something awesome didn’t really have any tools unless they went and learned really complicated software that would take a very long time. Canva sits in the middle of the Venn diagram, right between productivity and creativity, and there was nothing on the market that really filled that gap. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last decade and will continue to do for decades to come: to enable people to take their idea and turn that into reality in the end product and have very little friction between those two things.

🎨 I want to wrap up by talking about AI and then a little bit about competition. As I said at the start of the show, it is an angsty time in the design world. You’ve mentioned AI a couple of times. It’s come up. All the new features, I think you said, are infused with AI, and then you mentioned a bunch of people wanting to protect their intellectual property. Those ideas are in massive tension. I think your AI features, you’re partnered with OpenAI, I believe.

🗣 If we wind all the way back to 2017, obviously search and recommendations are all powered by AI. The first big AI feature that we put into Canva was background remover. And I’ll dive into that one for a second because I think it’s quite illustrative of the way we think about it. So people would typically go and spend a long time deep etching an image in something like Photoshop, and we found this amazing company, Kaleido, that enabled that to happen with one click.



💸 The European Investment Bank’s venture capital arm has committed €350 million ($379 million) into what’s set to become Spain’s biggest venture capital fund — part of a European drive to help local companies overcome an investment slump and to stop them from relocating overseas.

🛡 The investment is part of the 2023 European Technology Champions Initiative, a push to provide funds to growing startups in key industries such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Spain has traditionally lagged many of the other large European countries for startup funding. It ranked seventh in 2023 at €2.2 billion in VC funding, behind the UK, France and Germany among others, according to data from Dealroom.

⛓ The ETCI has so far invested in eight European technology funds, as well as €240 million directly into Spanish companies, including HR software maker Factorial.

⚔ The initiative follows a slump in private venture capital after the Covid-19 pandemic. Funds pulled back on investments when growth in some digital services slowed after lockdowns ended. Investors put about €16.3 billion into European startups during the first quarter, an improvement on 2023 but down more than 50% from the first quarter of 2022, according to data from Pitchbook.


The Guardian

🌓 When the immersive London exhibition venue Lightroom announced The Moonwalkers, a high-budget production narrated by Tom Hanks charting the first landing on the lunar surface, the aim was to allow visitors to relive those historic small steps and the “giant leap for mankind”.

👠 For the venue’s next project, the focus will be on historic steps of a very different kind. Vogue: Inventing the Runway will explore the history of the catwalk, from the intimate couture salons of the early 20th century to the all-singing, all-dancing global productions of the present.

🎩 The list of houses and designers signed up to be involved reads like a who’s who of the industry, past and present. It includes big luxury names such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Versace, Burberry, Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Prada, as well as younger, buzzy names such as the cult British designer Martine Rose and the French designer to thank for minuscule bags and gargantuan hats, Simon Porte Jacquemus.


Fashion United

🌋 Members of US congress have come together to create the Congressional Slow Fashion Caucus, through which they hope to introduce “climate-smart politics to reduce, repair, rewear and recycle textiles”.

🏛 The caucus was founded by district of Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree, Washington district’s Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and California's Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who have been backed by major players active in the sustainable fashion industry, including Patagonia, ThredUp, Remake and The RealReal.

🔥 Among the proposals of the caucus, and alongside the aforementioned possibility of introducing incentivisation initiatives and returning to more local production methods, those supporting the cause said they want to develop “circular economy” policies akin to those in the EU, promote textile reuse infrastructure and build on public awareness.

🎹 The caucus was welcomed by a number of fashion industry representatives, including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), which said it welcomed Pingree’s efforts to “elevate conversations” surrounding circular policies in congress.

Daily news and stories covering everything from the Fashion System, Investment, and AI to WEB3 and Crypto that truly matter in Metaverse Fashion