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Shopping for Fashion, Six Months On

  • September 18, 2020

Mainstream retailers have also reported major gains online. Gap, said last month that its e-commerce business had doubled in the second quarter and now accounted for half of all North America sales. At the same time, store sales fell by almost 50 percent.

A common 2020 refrain has been that the pandemic has accelerated industry shifts that were already underway, and bricks-and-mortar store continue to close at an alarming rate. Lord Taylor said it would liquidate its stores after filing for bankruptcy in August; the Zara owner Inditex said it would close 1,200 stores in a bid to boost online sales; and the RealReal, the online luxury resale marketplace, closed all of its physical stores, part of an ill-timed venture offline.

Department stores are, by design, one-stop shops for anything and everything and with a business model that historically has been dependent on shoppers walking away with something new.

But growing consumer concern over the environmental impact of fashion, coupled with the challenges of selling non-essential items during a pandemic, mean that some big-name retailers have started making steps to rewrite the rule book.

Last month Selfridges, the London department store, announced Project Earth, a five-year sustainability plan that includes a clothing rental service in which shoppers can borrow items like a £1,000 ($1,336) Louis Vuitton handbag for four days at a cost of £138 ($184).

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