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Vintner’s Daughter Skin Care Launches Tea Collaboration – WWD

As her brand’s name may suggest, April Gargiulo comes from a lineage of vintners. Now, she’s taking her ingredient expertise to another variety of beverages: tea.
The entrepreneur is translating her background in agriculture and skin care into a new collaboration with Tea Huntress, which consists of a bespoke blend called Oolong Radiance, available on Vintner’s Daughter’s website for $35. The plants in the tea mirror her products’ ingredient lists, with nette, alfalfa and mint serving as the base of the recipe.
Like the rest of Gargiulo’s interests, she came to tea as an enthusiast, not an expert. “I don’t know a ton about a lot of things, so I came to this loving tea, and only knowing a lot about the agriculture or winemaking,” she said. “I didn’t know all of the different methods of combining teas and flavors, and I came to the table knowing we didn’t have to follow all of the rules.”

With that in mind, Gargiulo’s own philosophical background drove her interest in tea, starting with her studies in Buddhism. “In the tea world, there’s two philosophies: the Western philosophy, that you drink tea as a pick-me-up. Then, there’s an Eastern philosophy that is about this deep connection to source, and the idea of connecting yourself with the earth,” Gargiulo said. “I came to tea through an Eastern philosophy — I studied Buddhism for many years and there was actually an entire philosophy within Buddhism surrounding tea and tea culture. That’s how I started to investigate and research and meet people.”

Vintner’s Daughter’s collaboration with Tea Huntress
Photo courtesy of Vintner’s Daughter

When she met Sarah Scarborough, founder of Tea Huntress, Gargiulo said the two instantly gelled.
“The collaboration really came about through this shared reverence for the natural world, and the connection that the botanical world allows,” Gargiulo said. “With Vintner’s Daughter, we start with some of the most powerful, nutrient-dense whole botanicals in the world, and over the course of three weeks, we capture all of their beautiful nutrition while they’re active.
“There’s this level of connection that can happen with skin care — when you open the bottle and you have a sense of the botanicals that greet you, and another layer of connection when you’re physically connecting with your skin as you’re applying it,” Gargiulo continued. “Sarah also believes in that connection when you’re brewing tea, you’re watching the leaves come to life in hot water. Then, there’s that sensorial connection when you drink the tea.”
Garguiolo’s blend also has benefits for the skin, much like her fan-favorite skin care line. “Nettle has one of the naturally highest levels of silica, and silica is incredible for skin, hair and nails. Then you have spearmint, which is an antibacterial, antifungal and great for your intestinal flora. Alfalfa has extraordinary amino acids and vitamin C. Oolong tea in general is just this extraordinary ingredient for antioxidants,” she said.
Gargiulo said Vintner’s Daughter fared well throughout the pandemic, and although she doesn’t have any products on the horizon — ”We don’t want to create your next product, we want to create the last product you’ll need,” she said — the brand just gained its carbon-neutral and green business certifications. Much like her tea, ingredients for her skin care come from “some of the most conscious growers in the world, growing plants in a way that allows them to have this incredible vibrancy and more nutrition,” she said. “Plants are the heart and soul of Vintner’s Daughter.”

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Klarna Acquires Inspirock, Giving Consumers New Ways to Plan Travel – WWD

With many having postponed or canceled plans for travel during the pandemic, consumers are feeling a bit of ongoing wanderlust — with holiday travelers even willing pay more this season to see loved ones. Moreover, according to survey data from Klarna, 21 percent of consumers had travel at the top of their categories to splurge on in 2021.
With the aim of making travel planning a smoother experience for its consumers, Klarna has announced its acquisition of Inspirock. With Inspirock consumers are able to quickly and easily explore a destination and create personalized itineraries while discovering local expertise and with help form the company’s artificial intelligence.
Notably, over 25 million travelers a year use Inspirock for planning travel, saving hours of planning.

“By bringing Inspirock to Klarna, we are bringing the best of Klarna’s smoother customer experience to the travel sector,” said Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO and cofounder of Klarna. “For customers, this makes the whole journey from inspiration to planning and preparing for a trip simpler, less stressful and more fun, while enabling our retail partners to better reach and engage with their audiences by offering more personalized content. It’s a natural extension of the benefits Klarna brings to payments and shopping.”

With Klarna, consumers will now be able to use Inspirock’s capabilities to plan a trip and pay for it in installments on the Klarna app.
“We are excited to bring simpler, easier trip planning to Klarna’s 90m global consumers,” said Anoop Goyal, CEO and cofounder of Inspirock. “Our goal at Inspirock has been to make planning a trip fast, fun and easy. Together we can deliver on Klarna’s ambitions of providing a smooth shopping experience to the travel space in an innovative way. Klarna and Inspirock together can bring great inspiration, tools and shopping experiences, making planning the trip as fun as the actual trip itself.”
In addition, Klarna says the acquisition will offer additional advertising and marketing opportunities to its over 250,000 retail partners by providing access to high-intent shoppers with more curated and personalized content created specifically for travelers’ plans and preferences. Notably, Klarna’s marketing solutions include its AI-driven styling engine tool, comparison shopping, and an influencer marketing and measurement platform.

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VF Touts Momentum While Wall Street Takes Cautious Stance – WWD

COVID-19 continues to disrupt fashion, but the comeback is still on at VF Corp. — even if Wall Street is taking a wait-and-see approach.
The corporate parent to Supreme, Vans, The North Face and Timberland posted top and bottom line gains in the second quarter and stuck by its earnings outlook for the full fiscal year. VF continues to look for adjusted earnings per share of about $3.20, compared with EPS of $1.31 a year ago. About 25 cents of the company’s EPS this year is expected to come from Supreme, which it bought last year.
VF’s sales outlook did get a minor tweak, with the company now projecting annual revenue growth of 30 percent to “approximately $12 billion,” where the projection in July left more room open for upside and called for revenues of “at least $12 billion.”

Revenues for the second quarter ended Oct. 2 rose 22.6 percent to $3.2 billion from $2.6 billion a year earlier. Net income increased 81 percent to $464.1 million, or $1.18 a diluted share, compared with $256.7 million, or 66 cents a year ago, when the first coronavirus lockdowns took a big bite out of the business. 
Adjusted earnings tallied $1.11 a share, coming in shy of the $1.15 analysts anticipated. 
Investors were feeling cautious despite the gains and pushed VF shares down 7.9 percent to $74.07 in premarket trading .
“As we move through the halfway point of our fiscal year, I remain encouraged by the underlying momentum across the portfolio, and the broad-based nature of this strength gives me confidence that we are driving the right strategy to accelerate growth in the quarters ahead,” said Steve Rendle, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “While the recovery has been impacted by further pandemic-related disruptions, we continue to see accelerating demand signals across our business, and our ability to reaffirm our fiscal 2022 revenue and earnings outlook is a clear testament to the resiliency and optionality of our model.”
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Pinterest Revamps – WWD

Change is in the air for Pinterest, whether due to a possible acquisition by payments giant PayPal or through its own self-described “revamp” of the platform, including new partners, layout changes, Idea Pin shopping features and a creator rewards program.
On the latter point, the company revealed a slew of updates this week for Idea Pins, Pinterest’s multipage video format formerly known as Story Pins — including tying them to Amazon shopping, opening up product tagging and integrating shopping recommendations and augmented reality try-ons.
The attention to Idea Pins will be evident immediately, with a modified layout that highlights a Browse tab and a new Watch tab.

“[It’s] a whole new feed experience. We’re redesigning the home feed that allows people to both consume browse-oriented content and also be able to dive in deeper with a new Watch tab that’s immersive,” Naveen Gavini, Pinterest’s senior vice president of product, told WWD. “It’s full screen, it shows just Idea Pins, and people can engage with fresh content directly from creators, so it really has all the best Idea Pins that are personalized to that person’s tastes and preferences.”

As for the pins themselves, Pinterest is expanding its shopping power by tying into the Amazon Associates Program. When the company launched product tagging for Idea Pins in July, it revealed arrangements with affiliate partners like Rakuten and ShopStyle.
Now Amazon is on board, allowing Pinterest influencers to use affiliate links from its massive e-commerce ranks, immediately making millions of more products available.
“Creators can now share the inspirational content our customers love on Pinterest while delivering an easy shoppable experience across the millions of items available on Amazon. Amazon Associates is always looking to introduce new ways for creators to share products they love while increasing their earning potential and Idea Pins do just that,” said Matt Watson, director, Amazon Associates.
Product tagging for Idea Pins already went live in the U.S. and the U.K., but is now available for all users.
Personalized shopping recommendations are also making their way to the video format. Driven by visual search, the update means that Idea Pins can do more than peddle specific product. Idea Pins can now act as a jumping-off point that lets consumers seek out other items that look similar to those in the posts, informed by their behaviors on the platform.
“We do our best with trying to understand and then build recommendations for you, a lot of it based on the tastes that you express on the platform and what you interact with, and what similar people who have similar tastes kind of interact with,” Gavin explained. “Then we try to make that connection of things that you might like.”
The cascade effect will likely drive more transactions across Pinterest, while giving consumers more reason to stay on the platform. But it’s not entirely clear how encouraging shoppers to explore other products, pins or Pinterest accounts helps the originating creator.

Gavini explained that this update is not about fast transactions, but more of a long game.
“We see creators creating for all sorts of different reasons, right? Some are creating to really just inspire, some are creating to monetize. So people have different goals,” he said. “I think it’s going to be attractive, based on the kind of goals that you have.
“Ultimately, these are all things that we want to try to tie into our creator rewards program. And so, allowing creators to be rewarded for that journey, even if it’s not your particular pin and even if you lead to a purchase downstream from a brand. We want to try to connect brands with creators that do that. And so that’s kind of our long term aspiration,” Gavini added.
The monetization and rewards program, Pinterest’s first, launches now with a sizable investment.
“In the U.S., we’re investing $20 million to support creators, rewarding them for building a presence on the platform and engaging their community to take action on those inspiring ideas that they published,” Gavin added. Pinterest creators will also be in good stead, he added, as the company partnered with high-profile creators Storm Reid, Megan Thee Stallion and Jennifer Lopez on new content series for the platform.

Jennifer Lopez, Storm Reid and Megan Thee Stallion have deals with Pinterest on content series for the platform.
Courtesy photos

Another feature coming to Idea Pins draws on one of the most influential technologies in the beauty biz: virtual try-ons. Creators select the “try-on” sticker and search for an AR-enabled product — there are more than 10,000, according to Pinterest — to add to their pin. Fans can click to see what they look like wearing different shades and shop directly from the pin.
Pinterest, perhaps above all of the other social media platforms, always seemed like a natural fit for shopping. As a digital equivalent of shareable mood boards, the concept of inspiration is in its DNA, and the company draws heavily on that as a differentiating factor in its pursuit of social commerce. After all, the business of retail and the activity of shopping has always been about what inspires consumers.
Judging by its development path and platform updates over the past couple of years, the company seems determined to take this concept as far as it can go, and the latest moves only seem to underscore the idea. Now, there’s at least one company that appears to have gotten the memo: PayPal, which is reportedly looking into acquiring Pinterest for a deal that may be worth as much as $45 billion.

Pinterest’s changes land during a time when the broader internet is mulling over this proposition. The company declined a WWD request for comment on the matter, but the scenario has intrigued industry watchers. Some are, frankly, baffled by the notion, while others see the upside in such a deal.
Gary E. Barnett, chief executive officer of Semafone, a payment security solutions company, points to a study from his company that revealed 56 percent of consumers do not want to share payment details over social media.
“With PayPal potentially being the primary payment method for Pinners buying their latest sources of inspiration, they have tremendous control over the entire consumer experience from ease of transacting to security, something they have great experience in,” he said.

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Vicky Krieps on Life Post ‘Phantom Thread,’ New Movie ‘Bergman Island’ – WWD

When Vicky Krieps got the script for her latest film, “Bergman Island,” she knew immediately she would sign on, despite the fact that shooting began in just three weeks and Krieps, who has two children, had a summer holiday with the kids planned.
She was a longtime fan of director Mia Hansen-Løve, and therefore had already started thinking of ways to explain her new change in plan to her children’s father before she learned the film was about a woman trying to balance mothering with her art — much like what Krieps was experiencing in that very moment.
“Bergman Island,” out now, is a movie Krieps describes as “quiet and silent,” “tender and delicate” and one that continues to teach her about herself even throughout the press tour.

“It’s the same thing I was dealing with in real life. When I got the script, I was happy on one side because I knew, yes, of course, I’m going to do this movie. But on the same hand, I had this problem of, like, ‘Oh, what am I going to tell the father of my children now?’ Because that means that I will work again. And it was supposed to be our summer holiday,” she says.

Vicky Krieps
Landon Speers/WWD

Filming began in three weeks (Greta Gerwig was originally cast in the role and had to drop out last minute), so Krieps ended up taking her children with her on location, where summer holiday collided with mom’s latest job.
“I’m struggling with these things on a daily basis and that’s what the movie is about. And that’s what’s amazing, that the show has so many layers of parallel to my life and to Mia’s life,” Krieps explains. “It’s hard, of course; you always have to ask yourself, ‘What is the thing you should fight for? And am I a good mother?’ You’re always questioning yourself, ‘Am I a good enough mother? Should I be a better mother?’”
Much like her character, she believes in the value her work gives her to be a good role model for her children, and thus wants to show them she can strive for both, to be there for them and also have her work.
“I think we have to find a way to balance, but it’s definitely not easy. And that’s what’s been challenging,” she says.
The Luxembourg native was very suddenly in the spotlight when she was cast alongside Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2017 film “Phantom Thread,” in which Day-Lewis played a fashion designer and she his muse, Alma. It was obviously a huge boon for the actress’ career, but it also caused a lot of displacement for Krieps.

Vicky Krieps
Landon Speers/WWD

“I think I got quite lost for a year or so, when I felt like Paul [Thomas Anderson] had found me and taken me out of my little fantasy world that I was living in and put me on the big screen, but then afterward, I was alone and I didn’t know…now if I go back, it feels like I have changed to the people around me, but I didn’t feel like leaving from where I come to go somewhere. Why would I have moved to the U.S. — I would have felt like an imposter,” she says. “So really for a year or two years, I would say, I was wandering around not knowing my place, and ‘Bergman Island’ really helped me understand this question of in what ways my life changed by then. It was doing this movie that gave me back my strength.”

The movie, she continues, was the right kind of role to help her feel like whatever this current version of herself is — post-Hollywood breakout but not at all interested in blockbuster superstardom.
“I know I’m different and I know I will never fit into the system or any kind of system just because that’s how I was raised. And I’m too dreamy, but it’s OK to be dreamy and it’s OK to be weak and it’s OK to be vulnerable. And it’s OK to feel lonely,” she says. “I made peace with this feeling of loneliness that it had put me. I must say, ‘Phantom Thread’ really put me in a place of loneliness because I don’t know if you understand what I mean, but people were looking at me in a certain way of like, ‘Oh, this is the girl who did this film. This is Alma.’ And I didn’t find anywhere where I just felt ‘me.’ And then I understood, well, it’s OK to feel alone. And I will move on and I will grow. And that’s what happened. I just gave myself time. And I grew up and now I understand that as actors, we always live in this place of freedom.”

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Edward Gorey’s Haunting Art Inspires Halloween Party Theme – WWD

DARK AND DASTARDLY: Edward Gorey’s work casts a haunting gloom and next week party guests will be able to embrace a similar inherent darkness at Gorey 849.
Organized by Evan Hungate and Kayvon Zand, the Oct. 30 party will raise money for the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust. Attendees received all the details on a headstone-shaped invitation with a Gorey-sketched image of three flashlight-wielding policemen trailing a well-dressed woman pushing someone bundled up in a wheelchair as an armed man lurks in a stone building. Oh, and an elevated body is outstretched overhead.
The ghoulish set design at the Kimpton Hotel is being handled by Jasin Cadic. Fashion designer-DJ Timo Weiland will be handling the music with Erik Izquierdo. BLT founder and chef Laurent Tourondel will be serving up the hors d’oeuvres. In terms of the dress code, the hotel’s staff at 849 Sixth Avenue has been advised to go with the Edward Gorey theme. Anything black is a safe bet. Gorey has been a source of inspiration for fashion collections including Imitation of Christ’s one last fall in a Los Angeles skate park.

Recognizable for his macabre artistic style, Gorey, who was also a writer and Tony award winning costume designer, died in 2000. The artist’s charitable trust has received a $10,000 donation and 50 percent of the table sales for the event will also be donated.
At next weekend’s event, there will also be a series of performers including The Girls of Karen Black and Amanda Lepore, among others.
Fans of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City” and “Real Housewives of New Jersey” will find Luann de Lesseps as a special guest and Margaret Josephs as mistress of ceremonies. Gorey 849 will also feature drag performer CT Hedden, who was instantly sold on the theme of this year’s party. “He’s one of my favorite artists. I love the simplicity of the line work. It’s a really big deal. This is the first time that his trust has partnered with anything to do with nightlife,” said Hedden, who prefers to be identified as “he” or “him.”
The performer plans to depict a live painting of himself in Gorey’s style of work. That means that Hedden’s makeup will be akin to the artist’s linear aesthetic. A test run has already been done and others will follow before the event on Halloween Eve. Afterward, Hedden plans to dash upstairs to a hotel room to be filmed transforming into an inner animal look that he has been developing for four months. He will then return for a performance. Koji Ichikawa will style Hedden’s hair, the Liverpool-based JacXson is providing the look and MAC Pro is providing the cosmetics.
Having done a walkthrough of the venue, Hedden said Gorey 849 will cater to both the gala-charity world and the nightlife one. Already under construction, the space is being reconfigured with a hedge maze being set up in one of the rooms. There will also be four different stages with an assortment of vignettes and performers planned.

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Victoria Beckham Teams With Woolmark on Merino Knitwear Capsule – WWD

LONDON — Victoria Beckham has teamed with The Woolmark Company to launch her brand’s first end-to-end traceable collection of knitwear, which lands on shop floors this week.
The “farm to shop floor” collection is the fruit of Beckham’s time spent judging the International Woolmark Prize in 2012, 2014 and 2016.
Known as Victoria Beckham x The Woolmark Company, the Merino collection is aimed at adults and children and includes polo and crewneck sweaters, V-neck cardigans, gift sets of scarves and hats.
The styles have colorblocking, intarsia detailing and contrast stripes, while colors have been made using a plant-based, natural dye process, and the only technology certified by The Woolmark Company.

Despite the no-chemical process, “the dye creates incredibly vibrant shades through the use of alternative ingredients such as flowers, leaves and berries,” Woolmark said.

The collection launches on Oct. 21 and will be stocked at stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Zalando, Mytheresa, Harrods, Barneys Japan, La Samaritaine and Hudson’s Bay. The capsule includes a 20-piece adult knitwear collection and 14-piece children’s wear offer. Prices range from $370 to $845 for the adult sizes, and $240 to $255 for the children’s wear.

A look from Victoria Beckham x The Woolmark Company capsule.
Image Courtesy of Victoria Beckham

Beckham’s brand said the environmental impact “has been considered throughout the design process, from sourcing materials to the development, manufacturing, production and packaging of each piece.”
The collection has been made in Pescara, Italy, with renewable and biodegradable Merino wool, which is fully traceable to five Australian wool growers, according to The Woolmark Company.
The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool. It works on behalf of about 60,000 wool growers that help fund the company.
Beckham is a champion of traceable, sustainable sourcing, in particular with regard to Victoria Beckham Beauty, which launched with clean formulations and eco-conscious packaging.
The brand provides full transparency on each ingredient used, and the role it plays in the product. The secondary packaging comes from 100 percent post-consumer waste while the shipping materials are recyclable or biodegradable. Products come wrapped in a protective packaging that can later be dissolved under the bathroom tap.

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The Most Plugged-in Wellness Apps – WWD

Gen Z was born in the digital world, so it only stands to reason that the way they approach wellness transcends traditional frameworks and options and veers into the technology realm. And currently, many of those alternatives lie within innovative health and wellness apps that tap into their penchant for community, gaming and virtual interaction.
“Any service that Gen Z is looking to receive, the digital space would be 100 percent in that pipeline of potential options,” said Sinéad Bovell, futurist and founder of Waye. “In fact, they’re more likely to go there first over something that’s purely in the physical world.”
According to App Annie, the mobile data and analytics company, a recent study found that 98 percent of Gen Z consumers own a smartphone, on average receiving their first at age 10. Gen Z spends 4.1 hours per app per month on the top 25 apps, excluding games.

Whatever the activity, Gen Z is as likely to turn to their phone to handle it. Take matters of health. Young people are as likely to turn to their phone as to the closest urgent care when questions arise. “The data around Gen Z preferring telehealth hovers at about 40 percent,” Bovell said. “Gen Z, in particular, as it relates to telehealth and wellness, not only opt for these channels in a digital capacity, they also consider receiving care.”

Self-guided mental health tools are a critical part of Gen Z’s toolkit, too. According to YPulse, a research and insight company specializing in Gen Z and Millennials, one in three young people have tried a mindfulness, mediation smartphone app in the last year to combat stress and anxiety, and a third are interested in trying one.
“Gen Z is precocious generally when it comes to categories in both wellness and beauty,” said Lucie Greene, trend forecaster and founder of Light Years, who cited the hypnotherapy app Clementine as one that is particularly resonant with younger users given its emphasis on mental and emotional health. “We’re also seeing media platforms that cater to Gen Z trying to use technology to open up therapies and make them more democratic and accessible,” Greene said.
To that end, Clementine, based in the U.K., aims to treat sleep, self-esteem and anxiety issues through hypnotherapy, enabling the user to get into a trance state quickly to relax the mind. “The hypnotherapist might ask you to think about a time when something happened or a situation,” said Kim Palmer, founder of Clementine. “The therapy is personalized because we’re bringing everything back to you.”
Fifteen percent of Clementine’s users are Gen Z and Palmer noted that the cohort is willing to spend money because the app is content-driven. (Currently subscriptions cost 9 pounds a month or 40 pounds for the year.) “They will pay if they can see the benefit,” Palmer said. “Clementine offers instant gratification, which is what Gen Z expects.”
Meanwhile, apps like Wellory and Levels are also taking a digital approach to health and wellness. And while their Gen Z usership is low, there is huge growth potential because both factor in personalization, which according to Greene, is very important to the demographic.
Wellory, an anti-diet and nutrition app, connects consumers with a virtual nutritionist. The app includes nearly a thousand nutritionists, dieticians and certified health coaches. “We custom tailor every program to each individual to help them hit their goal,” said Emily Hochman, founder and chief executive officer. “About 65 percent of our customers focus on weight loss and 35 percent of our customers are focused on improving their energy, sleeping better and feeling good through the power of healthy eating.” Wellory tracks a user’s meal with photo food journaling and a nutritionist responds with feedback, comments and suggestions. The app includes memberships for one month, $49.99; three months, $129.99, and six months, $209.99.

Levels, on the other hand, tracks a user’s blood glucose in real-time to maximize diet and exercise. After a brief questionnaire, which is reviewed by a doctor, a continuous glucose monitor prescription is granted and a pharmacy sends two sensors. Each is worn for 14 days and the Levels app takes a continuous data stream and transforms it into actionable insights to help the user understand what’s happening.
“It’s incredibly difficult to get on top of things like metabolic health,” said Dr. Casey Means, ​​Levels cofounder and chief medical officer. “We believe that people should be able to own their health data and have access to information about how food is affecting them.” Levels is still in a closed beta program and has had about 13,000 people go through the program with a waiting list of about 130,000 people.
“Gen Z feeds into this idea in all their digital interactions with community and messaging as a key component,” Greene said. “When it comes to something like their health, self-tracking is something that there’s no point in doing it if there isn’t substance.”
Levels has made interaction with users on the app a priority with a feature called compare. “The community glucose view is something people can opt into if they want to get support from the community and to be able to learn from other people’s information,” Means said.
Open, a mindfulness app offering meditation, breathwork, music and movement, also has a community element. Open lets members invite a friend to a class. “We’re seeing people increasingly engage,” said Raed Khawaja, cofounder and CEO. “People use the chatbox quite a bit in the movement classes. They’re providing live feedback to the music or they’re greeting each other from all over the world. There’s often interaction where the teacher invites the class to share an intention or provide a response. There’s also the ability to turn your camera on, so you can see who you’re practicing with.”
Currently, the app is testing options where you leave a practice and enter an audio chat room with the person you practiced with or invited. “Anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness is something that is impacting Gen Z quite significantly,” Khawaja said. “So we’re definitely seeing them migrate to platforms like ours.”

It’s important to acknowledge that the pandemic brought about a new cohort of health, especially with the lack of access to traditional doctors and forced telehealth. Katara McCarty, founder and CEO of Katecha Corp., was reaching for apps to manage her stress and anxiety and she could feel the collective grief and trauma of the Black community. The life coach and public speaker prescribes wellbeing resources to her clients and she found the apps she was using were out of touch with where she was as a Black woman. So McCarty created Exhale to provide resources to help manage and reduce the impact and effects that systemic racism has on Black and brown women of color. “We have meditation, breathwork techniques, guided visualizations and daily affirmations, all that hit the user’s phone daily,” she said. “The topic is resonating with a larger group than just Gen Z, but we are seeing Gen Z use it.”
Exhale is currently free to use, but in building Exhale 2.0, McCarty will add a pay-what-you-can model where users can choose their subscription. “Behind the paywall, we plan to build out a video option where you can see someone and meditate with them,” McCarty said. “Also, we want to provide a telehealth component so our users can connect to a coach or therapist if they want to take their wellbeing and mental health journey further than what our resources offer.”
The combo of wellness and gamification is also becoming increasingly popular. For example, Revery, which is in beta, is designed to make wellness affordable and accessible through the medium of gaming. The goal is to get users to play short game sessions over a long period of time. It focuses on mental health, starting with sleep, and is leveraging cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
“Gen Z is attracted to the gamification of a lot of services because that’s part of the world that they have been born into,” Bovell said. “It’s hard for them to even think of a world that was pre-smartphones.”
Another example of juxtaposing health and gaming is Be a Looper, a daily mental health check-in and peer support app to keep users “in the loop” with up to five people globally. It claims to play a significant role in chronic disease self-management and in lowering the suicide rate. Each user gets a notification at 4 p.m., prompting them to check-in.

“Our evidence-based approach incorporates neuroscience principles developed by my cofounder, psychologist and neuroscientist, Roy Sugarman,” said Amanda Johnstone, founding CEO of Transhuman Inc. “We then workshopped these principles with those lived experiences alongside experts in gamification, security, applications and semantics and the board and advisory of mental health public health campaign R U OK? We drew down on popular mobile interactions, including tap, tap, swipe, scroll and reveal (think Candy Crush, Snapchat and Tinder). We used research shared by gaming companies about user retention, colors and viscosity, and hired the people behind the development of them to assist in the creation.”
According to Bovell, the gamification framework is what Gen Z is used to and therefore they develop an immediate sense of trust and security. “Gen Z is a culturally progressive generation,” she said. “And because they’re online, they’re constantly exposed to information trauma all the time, trauma that other generations weren’t exposed to growing up. So they’re leaning more into the tools and solutions to support them through it.”
Screen Savers
Innovative apps in the wellness space.
Be a Looper: This daily mental health check-in combines health and gaming to create global peer support networks.

Be a Looper

Clementine: Pre-recorded hypnotherapy sessions help clients combat anxiety, depression and sleep issues.


Exhale: Founder Katara McCarty is focused on reducing the impact of systemic racism on Black people via meditation, breathwork and more.


Levels: Levels tracks a user’s blood-glucose levels in real-time enabling users to maximize diet and exercise.


Wellory: The “anti-diet” nutrition app connects clients with registered nutritionists, dieticians and health coaches for a 360 approach to healthy eating.


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Saks as Dot-com Test Case – WWD

Is it time for an omnichannel undo? 
Retail is going to have to figure that out fast. 
After more than a decade of chasing an omni future and bringing bricks and clicks closer together — both on the back end and for consumers — Richard Baker, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks parent Hudson’s Bay Co., upset the status quo in March by separating the luxury firm’s retail and e-commerce businesses.  
Now, activist investor Jana Partners is pressuring Macy’s Inc. to follow suit and other retailers and industry experts are trying to gauge just which way the wind is blowing. Macy’s has declined comment on reports of the Jana pressure.
Saks has become a kind of test case. And if the e-commerce business does file to go public — some see a big-time valuation — the details of just how well the split is working could ripple across the industry. Saks declined comment on whether it was looking to an initial public offering in the near future.

Specifically, if Saks’ IPO paperwork shows signs of real strength and value in the separation, it could turn up the heat for retail to continue to make big changes even after big changes have been made during the pandemic. 
“Once the information will become broadly available to the market, the pressure will be massive, not only on Macy’s,” said one person familiar with the situation at Macy’s. 
While splitting apart the brick-and-mortar and web business does add complexity, people who have looked at the issue closely argue that the two sides of the business can still work well together and that the web business will become more of a draw for tech experts. 
“It’s an arms race for tech talent and a dot-com currency is a huge draw,” the person said.  
But many in the industry still see something of a mathematical magic trick, where one business is split in two and suddenly worth twice as much. 
“It is absolutely financial engineering,” said consultant Greg Portell, lead partner in Kearney’s global consumer practice. “At best case, these types of deals create uncertainty [and] complex businesses. More realistically, they are a short-term mistake.” 
Separating a retailer from its dot-com operations flies in the face of a decade’s worth of omnichannel coming together, where the industry at large pushed to eliminate the divisions between their bricks and clicks to focus more squarely on their relationships with shoppers and where they were selling.
“We talk about consumer centricity, we talk about omnichannel — this is a pivot completely in the other direction that is being done for the investor’s benefit, not the consumer’s benefit,” Portell said. 
“From a pure shareholder value perspective, there’s a lot of value in these types of splits and that’s what’s going to create the pressure on the executive teams to have really clear answers on why they are making the choices they are making,” he said. “Yes, this solves a short-term [valuation issue], but what is left unanswered is the long-term route to profitability.”
That makes the current debate a part of retail’s hard look at e-commerce, which has been a central topic in the industry for a generation, but is still unsettled in many ways.  

“Nobody argues that this isn’t a unique strategy, creative and never tried before. I give Richard and his team enormous credit for working through the complexities. But you have to start with a consumer — that’s the real question,” said Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior adviser and former chairman and CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue. “If the consumer experience is seamless, it could potentially be very value-creating. If the consumer experience is hurt, there could be an issue. But I believe Richard and Marc Metrick (CEO of saks.com) are doing everything they can to make sure the consumer experience is seamless. I know they are making investments and focused on that.”
Simeon Siegel, managing director of equity research at BMO Capital Markets, said: “The question ultimately becomes what is the operational impact — does this have an impact on the customers’ experience. What about the whole notion of being seamless and synergistic? This is the dissection of a company. If a company can dissect its operations and garner a higher valuation and not impact a customer experience, it’s hard to argue against not taking advantage of current market dynamics. What we continually see are smaller online businesses generating higher market values than larger store-plus-online businesses, but the question is does it retain that valuation, does it grow into its valuation? If the separation drives a wedge between management and the customer, then ultimately that has to erode the value of the operations. 
And Mark Cohen, director of retail studies, adjunct professor, at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, said: “It’s a catastrophic, short-sighted, of-the-moment strategy. It’s moving against the tide for all viable retailers integrating their operations rather than separating them.”
There have been reports that saks.com, which does a volume of about $1 billion, could be valued as high as $6 billion. “That’s raw speculation that eventually could become valid based on demonstrated performance, or invalid based on performance,” said Cohen.
Before the Neiman Marcus Group spun off its Mytheresa subsidiary into a separate company, it garnered a high valuation. That could have motivated Baker to split saks.com and the Saks stores into separate companies, with the intent of taking saks.com public, possibly next year.

“The Mytheresa situation was completely different. It was a wholly owned subsidiary of Neiman Marcus, and not part of the fabric of Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman,” said Cohen. “Mytheresa operated independently and was a normal divestiture of an asset. Neiman Marcus had to raise money. But it was an independent dot-com business as opposed to neimanmarcus.com. When you divest a piece of a parent you are left with a stub, and if a stub is not performing well, the stub has every reason to become nonviable, and all the value shifts to the divestiture.”
Divesting assets is not always a good idea. Years ago, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management tried to force Target Corp. to sell its real estate assets and mounted a proxy fight. “He failed,” said Cohen. “Target’s board wasn’t willing to roll over and play dead in the face of a proxy. It had a deeply held view that its long-term best interests were on owning the real estate rather than leasing the real estate. Years earlier, Target studied lease versus owning and came to the conclusion they were better off owning its real estate and in control of their rent and occupancy costs. They weren’t motivated by an of-the-moment opportunity to create cash.”

Richard Baker
Patrick Macleod/WWD

The message from HBC is that saks.com can get bigger and more profitable faster and serve a larger audience as a stand-alone company with new financing. As reported, Insight Partners, a venture capital and private equity firm, made a $500 million minority equity investment in saks.com last March, valuing it at $2 billion. The money flowing into saks.com is being used to increase marketing, expand the assortment with new categories and more depth in categories currently carried.
Last June in an interview, Metrick said orchestrating the split wasn’t as complicated as others had imagined. Hudson’s Bay Co. had already decentralized its shared services structure, enabling its divisions to operate more independently, and by the time the split was announced on March 5, 2020, the work to separate saks.com and Saks stores had already been underway. He said more than 150 operating service agreements and 150-plus transitional agreements were established between the two companies, that saks.com charges fees for the services it provides to SFA, and vice versa, and that the intellectual property is owned by saks.com. 

Saks.com’s chief merchandising officer Tracy Margolies and her team handle the buying and merchandising for saks.com and Saks Fifth Avenue stores. Emily Essner, chief marketing officer of saks.com, is in charge of all the pricing, promotion and brand image for saks.com and the Saks Fifth Avenue stores. For the merchandising and marketing, saks.com charges fees to SFA, Metrick said. Meanwhile, because the SFA stores company is handling such functions and services as buy online, pick up in stores; returns; exchanges and alterations, SFA charges saks.com fees through the operating service agreements.
The strategy could catch on but experts say it’s not likely for high-multiple companies like Costco, or even Walmart Inc., which are driven far more by store operations than by the internet, compared to Macy’s and Saks. They also compare the Saks stores to being a “franchisee” of saks.com.
Some complications could come from how merchandise is handled. For example, if a fashion item is bought online and returned to a Saks store, it must be sent back to the dot-com operation. Days are lost trying to sell something that is perishable over time. Also, many shoppers select items online but want to pick up items in-store. Not everything seen online is available in the store, but Saks store associates are trained to help in-store shoppers purchase online.
“The separation has been working much better than they imagined,” said one source familiar with Saks Fifth Avenue. “With the private equity investment in saks.com, they have been spending more on marketing, buying more categories and buying in greater depth in the older categories. There is more inventory available in stores and online, and if you go and visit a store today, nothing is different. If anything, there is an improvement. This isn’t the first time Baker is disrupting the retail landscape.”
More from WWD: 
Poshmark Buys Sneaker Verification Firm Suede One
In Fashion: Next Generation Control Freaks With a Dream
Levi’s Bounces Back in Third Quarter Despite Pandemic Woes

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Khloé Kardashian’s Good American Announces B Corp Certification – WWD

Good American has attained B Corp status — an eco-certification that’s gaining traction among fashion, as luxury label Chloé announced its entry into the B Corp club this week, too.
“Since Day One, we’ve believed in focusing our efforts on what will make the biggest impact for our community, our business and the planet. That’s why we worked hard AF [as f–k] to get B Corporation certified,” Good American announced Monday in an email to customers, alongside a sitewide anniversary sale. “We will continue to put people and planet up there with profit.”
Awarded by B Labs, the B Corp status represents a stringent level of social, environmental and corporate governance and is routinely referred to as the “gold standard” for sustainable companies.

More than 4,000 businesses bear the accolade. Having Benefit Corporation [abbreviated as B Corp] status means companies must achieve a minimum verified score on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous tool used by B Lab to vet companies. Companies must also pay annual dues and follow B Lab’s extensive auditing procedures.

In an age where transparency rules, B Corp is a market signal. Companies like Patagonia, Eileen Fisher and Allbirds all boast B Corp status.
Just this week, Chloé (helmed by creative director Gabriela Hearst, a notorious sustainability advocate) announced its B Corp status. In September, Vestiaire Collective became the first reseller to achieve B Corp status. As with Chloé and Vestiaire Collective, Good American is not yet searchable in the public B Corp directory. (Per communications with B Lab, it is understood that companies must set up a public profile.)
Los Angeles-based Good American was founded by ​​Emma Grede and Khloé Kardashian in 2016, bolstered by a tag line of “representing body acceptance.” Days before the B Corp announcement, Kardashian took to Instagram to tout the apparel company’s annual open casting call running Oct. 13 to 22 across the U.S. The aim is to uncover fresh talent spanning “every shape, size and background,” per Good American’s lingo, to best represent the American woman’s sizing needs today. Good American is partnering with Klarna, IMG and Nordstrom for the casting call, which will see finalists flown out to L.A. to star in the next campaign.

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Fashion Scholarship Fund to Host 85th Awards Ceremony – WWD

The Fashion Scholarship Fund’s Annual Awards Ceremony is returning to a physical venue.
The national nonprofit organization will host its 85th annual awards ceremony on Feb. 7, 2022, at the Glass House in New York City.  Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director and Off-White founder Virgil Abloh and Neiman Marcus Group chief executive Geoffroy van Raemdonck will be celebrated for their contributions to the fashion industry.
Abloh will be honored for establishing the Post-Modern Scholarship Fund in partnership with the FSF, to benefit Black students through funding, career support and mentoring. The fund kicked off in 2020 with a $1 million donation from Abloh and partnered brands Louis Vuitton, Farfetch, Evian and New Guards Group.

Van Raemdonck will be recognized for elevating Neiman Marcus’ support for diverse youth through The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation’s partnership with the FSF and the company’s Executive Development Program, which prepares young professionals for merchandising and planning roles in addition to various business functions.

Much like in previous ceremonies, the FSF will award over $1 million in scholarships to 120 students, including 20 of Abloh’s Post-Modern Scholarship Fund scholars, who will all be in attendance.
Prior to the gala, four scholar finalists will compete for the FSF’s top scholarship award by presenting a case study to a panel of judges. Each concept will be spotlighted at the gala.
“We are so pleased that our community will be gathering live and in-person in February. It will be especially exciting to have this year’s entire class of Scholars with us — 120 students — who will travel from cities and towns across the country to New York City, many of them for the first time, to be celebrated at this year’s reimagined gala, FSF Live,” said FSF executive director Peter Arnold. “We look forward to honoring Virgil and Geoffroy and to showcasing the work of the next generation of industry talent — they are the heart and soul of all that we do.”
The most recent top scholarship prize winner was Evelyn Siao of Lehigh University, who presented a campaign for Levi’s called “Deeper Pockets” to raise awareness about the gender wage gap while also offering women’s jeans with deeper pockets. The previous ceremony was held virtually.

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Mushroom Leather Is About to Bloom for Fashion – WWD

Make room for ‘shrooms: The world of fashion and the world of mushrooms converged in 2021 through fungi-inspired looks on the runways and the introduction of mycelium vegan leather designer products.
But those examples might just be a trickle compared to what comes next.
Following a $60 million Series D funding round in March, Ecovative Design, a pioneer in mycelium material science, is planning to bring its mushroom biofabrication technology directly to fashion, footwear and accessories. The company told WWD that it’s in talks with brands and aims to drop new partnership announcements in the coming months.
The arrangement would mark a notable shift from Ecovative’s typical model, which licenses the technology to market partners. They then produce their own mycelium textiles and other items, using the mushroom root to create materials like packaging, vegan leather and food for brands and other businesses.

The dealmaking is a show of confidence, and perhaps with good reason. The company holds most of the patents in this field — some 60 percent to 70 percent, according to chief executive officer and cofounder Eben Bayer. It also built a new mycelium foundry, allowing it to explore a large number of strains at the same time, radically accelerating its research and development capabilities.
“It’s basically to create a whole suite of ‘hides’ from the forests that are based on mushrooms and not animals,” explained Bayer.
He might be regarded as the father of mycelium materials — his first invention goes back to 2006, when he was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His work on mushroom-based insulation wound up birthing a movement, with other companies now working with mycelium fabrications.
Of course, it goes far beyond packaging. With its mycelium foundry, Ecovative believes it has achieved breakthroughs on a new breed of high-quality faux leather that can replace alligator, cow and pig hides without compromise, through its Forager Hides mycelium leather.
It’s logical, if one considers the natural world. “Fungi and animals are actually much more closely related than plants, so if you’re going to make a hide-like thing, mushrooms make sense,” Bayer said.
The mycelium hides that his company produces through the foundry today benchmark very similarly to existing bovine leathers across tear strength, tensile strength, drape and feel, he added. His team focused on the science to produce this quality, and do so consistently, to make it suitable for business applications.
Bayer also believes the timing is ripe. In the past, the public wasn’t ready or may have had reservations about vegan leather, considering it inferior or lower quality than animal hides. “But I think we reached a tipping point, particularly in fashion, and across the globe, [with] people wanting these kinds of solutions,” he explained.
“I think more specifically within the fashion industry, and as a technological solution, mycelium has been identified as the best alternative to using an animal skin — or potentially something that can, I believe, be even better than the animal hides.”

The sentiment rings true for cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg, whose 2019 documentary “Fantastic Fungi” captivated fans on Netflix.
This weekend, Schwartzberg is holding the Fantastic Fungi Summit to dive into different areas of mushroom application, from cooking to wellness and, of course, mycelium science. Speakers include Deepak Chopra, Rick Bayless, Michael Pollan and others, including Ecovative’s Bayer.

A shot from Louie Schwartzberg’s film “Fantastic Fungi” on Netflix.
Courtesy photo

When it comes to the fashion world, “clearly what is new is the use of mycelium product to replace leather. Stella McCartney has a new handbag, maybe the first mycelium-made handbag,” Schwartzberg told WWD. “And mycelium is being used in a lot of other applications, as well as replacement for leather.”
McCartney used Mylo, a vegan mushroom-based leather produced by Bolt Threads. When the relationship kicked off in 2018 — with the designer’s first Mylo prototype bag, the Falabella, on display in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum — Bolt was licensing Ecovative Design’s original mycelium technology. The companies fell out, and following a legal dispute, are no longer connected.
Over the summer, McCartney released a bustier and utility pants made of the material, followed by the Frayme Mylo bag during Paris Fashion Week. It’s the first product heading to the consumer market using Bolt’s Mylo leather.
Mushrooms hold more influence on fashion than mere textiles, however.
Fans of the documentary often say that the most mind-blowing aspect of the fungi world is its interconnectedness, and the theme seems to have resonated for fashion this year, at least on an aesthetic basis, with designers indulging pattern replication and other nature-inspired prints.
“The best thing about the movie for me, which I had no idea when I started, was this idea that the mycelial network, this underground internet, is a shared economy for ecosystems to flourish without greed,” Schwartzberg explained. “That is how nature works.…You can see the mycelial network connects the mother tree with the baby tree, the trees that’s in the shade with the trees that’s in the sun. They share nutrients; they share information. It’s how everybody survives.”

Cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg.
Courtesy photo

He described the phenomenon as “nature’s intelligence or biomimicry,” as a replicated network rippling out and facilitating communication between fungi and other plants. It’s evident in the visible patterns seen in the forest and, he said, it’s even extended to the runways.
For the filmmaker, “the part that really blows my mind is the fact that a lot of the designers are saying that the fungi has inspired their fashion design. You look at the patterns in their fabrics, like shots of turkey tail and lion’s mane [mushrooms]. I think it’s exploded.”
Indeed, designers like Johanna Ortiz said that “Fantastic Fungi,” specifically, influenced looks in her fall 2021 collection.
“That, I think, is the big surprise — that it’s actually creating and shaping art and beauty, by taking these rhythms and patterns from the natural world and bringing them into fashion,” he continued.
In that sense, perhaps it’s not so surprising. In Schwartzberg’s mind, fungi and its intelligent network are beautiful, and people are hardwired to respond to beauty.
“I think people are waking up to incorporating the patterns and colors of nature — to be more natural, to be more organic. And that’s why I think we saw this explosion this year, with fungi meeting fashion,” he added.
“I mean, I never thought it would be a part of couture fashion. And now it is.”
The next step, according to Ecovative, is to breed the mushrooms at sufficient scale for mass adoption.
“For us and everyone involved in the space, the remaining step is to prove true industrial scale production. Because materials that perform well, that you can only see in a museum or get as a one-off or special sale, really, is not satisfying to the public, who wants these goods,” Bayer said.
He knows that massive scaling is critical to this effort, and his road map aims to achieve that over the next five or six years.
“We are building, at this moment, the world’s largest aerial mycelium farm, capable of producing millions of pounds or millions of square feet,” he added.

The hope is that mycelium leather adoption will experience what every brand wants for their products: a major mushrooming effect.

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