The Weekly Closeout: J.C. Penney’s inclusive kids apparel brand and the second(ish) item in Yeezy Gap


It’s been another week with far more retail news than there is time in the day. Below, we break down some things you may have missed during the week and what we’re still thinking about.
From Walmart’s use of robotics to Fabletics’ reported IPO, here’s our closeout for the week.
What you may have missed
Walmart partners with Symbotic to install automation system in supply chain
On Wednesday, Walmart announced that it is teaming up with robotics and automation company Symbotic to bring its high-tech system to 25 of its regional distribution centers. Through the partnership, the retailer could modernize its supply chain facilities and adapt to consumer demand. Walmart first applied Symbotic’s system in its Brooksville, Florida, distribution center back in 2017.
J.C. Penney debuts inclusive children’s apparel line as former Target merchant makes her mark

J.C. Penney on Thursday launched a new private label, “Thereabouts,” an inclusive children’s apparel line that “celebrates diversity of shapes, sizes, styles, and abilities.” Sizes range from 2T–22, “including plus and husky,” according to a company press release. For the garments with adaptive features, Penney partnered with adaptive fashion marketplace Patti + Ricky.
If all that sounds like the department store is following in Target’s footsteps, it could be, considering that chief merchant Michelle Wlazlo spent three years at Target before jumping to Penney in 2019. In a statement Thursday, Wlazlo’s description of developing Thereabouts echoes the practice Target has followed since it began its private label revamp in 2016, relying “on research and feedback from parents and kids throughout the design process.”
It remains to be seen how much taking a page or two from Target’s merchandising playbook would help J.C. Penney, which has struggled mightily in apparel for years. But the approach isn’t a bad one to emulate, given that Target now boasts several billion-dollar brands among its owned labels, which saw sales spike 36% in the first quarter. The mass merchant has also worked in recent years to bring adaptive clothing into the mainstream for both children and adults.
“We believe all kids should feel confident and capable in the clothes they wear, and parents should feel good about the clothes they buy,” Wlazlo said.
Allure steps into physical retail
Allure took the content straight from its pages and brought it to a new experiential retail concept. The beauty magazine recently opened the Allure Store on New York City’s Lafayette Street. The concept features a curated selection of over 280 beauty products from more than 150 brands — all of which have been previously featured in Allure.
“As consumers begin to return to in-store shopping, innovation is critical for brands to cut through the noise,” Markus Grindel, managing director of global brand licensing at Condé Nast, said in a statement. “Allure Store is reimagining retail with an entirely new approach to beauty, combining its trusted editorial voice and unparalleled expertise to create a first of its kind, 360-degree immersive shopping experience.”
The store features a number of tech capabilities, like augmented reality for virtual try-ons, QR codes, and smart mirrors.
Retail Therapy
The latest Yeezy Gap drop: Been there, done that

The second drop of the Yeezy Gap collection arrived this week, but anyone hoping for any new insights into Kanye West’s vision for this brand, or any pickup of the pace of its rollout, was disappointed. Is it even a new drop if the item is simply a different colorway of the old one? Others saw this coming a long way away after West was spotted in Paris at the Balenciaga fashion show earlier this month, wearing what looked to be a black version of the sky-blue puffer jacket that debuted a month ago. 

Anyone who thought the first Yeezy Gap drop resembles a trash bag was vindicated on Monday when a black version was released for preorder in Japan, Europe and the U.K.
Courtesy of Yeezy Gap
 

 
There are a couple of other things that make the latest drop less ground-breaking than many had hoped: The black iteration recalls Missy Elliott’s garb in The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) video, released more than a decade ago. And it likely feels all too familiar to those already comparing the buttonless coat to a trash bag.
What we’re still thinking about
39 million
That’s how many households are getting monthly child tax credit payments worth hundreds of dollars each starting in July as part of President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats’ stimulus bill passed earlier this year. Analysts with Cowen called it an “underappreciated” stimulus that could boost grocery, e-commerce and apparel retailers. In clothing and footwear, where back-to-school shopping is ramping up, the credits could add $4.5 billion to $6 billion in additional spending.
50,000
That’s how many new employees Dollar General plans to add to its stores, distribution centers, trucks and support center by Labor Day. The hiring spree is coming as the dollar store chain adds more than 1,000 stores this year, by far the most among brick-and-mortar retailers.
What we’re watching
It’s a hot season for IPOs
In a hot market for IPOs — Retail Dive has tracked six major go-public efforts in retail since the beginning of the year — Kate Hudson’s Fabletics activewear brand is reportedly joining the fray. The company is looking to raise $500 million, with hopes of a more than $5 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported. Among others, Warby Parker in June filed to go public, along with ThredUp, Authentic Brands and Torrid, which have all filed IPOs since March. Allbirds is also reportedly prepping an IPO.



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