Morning Brew - ☕ One more time

Fast fashion’s forays into resale.
November 14, 2022

Retail Brew


Happy Monday. If you’re a fan of The Godfather, you probably know that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the Francis Ford Coppola film. But what you may not know is that watchmaker Jacob & Co. has made a wristwatch dedicated to the film, complete with 13 “photorealistic” film still engravings and a tiny music box that plays the movie’s theme. The price, however, may be an offer you can refuse: $500,000.

In today’s edition:

—Jeena Sharma, Andrew Adam Newman, Katie Hicks


Second chances

Hands holding a smartphone Shein

It’s no secret that sustainability has been a core consumer concern over the past few years, one that’s prompting several retailers to reconsider their own role in the growing environmental crisis. Fast fashion, in particular, is notorious for pushing overconsumption models alongside high carbon emissions.

  • The UN Environment Programme estimates that fast fashion is the second-biggest consumer of water. It also accounts for 8%–10% of global carbon emissions, outpacing international air travel and maritime shipping together.

So what’s motivating fast-fashion retailers like Shein and H&M to get into the secondhand game? Well, let’s call it a combination of offsetting some of the damage the industry causes and keeping up with current consumer sentiment around sustainability.

“There’s definitely a lot of these brands [that] are seeking that sustainability halo that does come with resale,” Claire Tassin, retail and e-commerce analyst at Morning Consult, told Retail Brew. “It also helps these brands take a little bit of ownership about the way that their products are positioned.”

However, brands like Shein—which recently launched its peer-to-peer program, Shein Exchange—are being slammed for possible hypocrisy. Shein, in particular, remains plagued by allegations of labor abuses and the damage it does to the environment.

“Fast-fashion companies’ business model relies on the production of cheap apparel made from cheap fabrics, so any attempt to become eco-friendly without a commitment to reduce manufacturing and daily product drops, as well as without investing in paying a fair, living wage, will be obsolete,” Anand Kumar, fast-fashion analyst at Coresight Research, told Retail Brew.

And while that might be true, it also begs the question of whether the target consumers for these brands (Gen Z and millennials) actually care if resale programs signify a genuine effort on the brand’s part or if it’s simply greenwashing.

Keep reading here.—JS



Black Friday approacheth


As Black Friday and Cyber Monday loom in the not-so-distant distance, you need insight into shoppers’ buying behaviors. Wunderkind’s 2022 Consumer Insights Report explores how recent, uh, events have affected the way consumers interact with brands. Hint: It’s complicated.

The 2022 Consumer Insights Report takes a deep dive into what consumers value heading into the biggest shopping days of the year. Here’s what matters most:

  • Flexible payment plans such as buy now, pay later are popular with nearly half of US consumers, especially in times of economic uncertainty.
  • Online shopping is still huge this holiday season, with 71% of consumers planning to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals online.
  • Brand values like sustainability, fair wages, and diversity are more important than ever in consumer buying decisions.

Be prepared for this season’s highs and lows. Get the report here.


Thinking outside the big box

A photo of author Rick Wartzman sitting in a chair and the cover of his new book, Still Broke. Photo: John Huggins

Rick Wartzman is a journalist and business historian. His new book, Still Broke: Walmart’s Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism, will be published on November 15. Wartzman details the boldness of Walmart executives adopting green initiatives and raising pay. And while lauding both, as the title makes clear, he ultimately concludes that Walmart and other companies fall short when they choose not to pay workers a living wage.

This is the conclusion of a two-part interview. Part 1 detailed how Walmart began to turn the tide of negative publicity toward it in 2005 with its recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

How did Walmart begin to shape its climate policies that are so highly regarded today?

Back in 2005, when they were just beginning all the environmental stuff, there were secret meetings. The environmentalists didn’t want to be seen going to Bentonville [Arkansas, Walmart’s headquarters] and meeting with Walmart. And Walmart didn’t want to be seen meeting with a bunch of lefty environmentalists. And so these were all hush-hush kinds of talks. They brought in the Environmental Defense Fund and Conservation International and others, and they really did hear what they had to say, and they ended up working very closely with them to structure meaningful environmental and sustainability programs…Walmart is widely and rightly recognized as a sustainability leader, certainly among retailers, but really among the corporate community at large.

Keep reading here.—AAN



Fine print

Oatly's 'Hey Barista' magazine Oatly, Getty Images

“Not long ago, brands like Asos, Bumble, and Casper were dabbling in the magazine space, creating branded publications as part of their marketing strategy…Now, it looks like some brands…are turning to smaller-scale, mostly unbranded publications, hoping to tap into a niche audience,” writes Marketing Brew’s Katie Hicks:

[Bohb Blair, CMO of Jones Soda is] spearheading this month’s rollout of Mary Zine to go along with Jones Soda’s cannabis brand Mary Jones, which went live in April.
Oatly is also tapping into a more niche market with its new magazine, Hey Barista. The brand sent 10,000 copies of the print version to Oatly’s independent coffee-shop partners in the US and Europe upon launch in October.

Keep reading here on Marketing Brew.




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Today’s top retail reads.

Supply and demanding: Walmart, Amazon, and Target had lost leverage with suppliers during pandemic shortages, but are now aggressively refusing to pay higher prices. “It is the fastest boomerang in giving power back to retailers that I’ve ever seen,” said Archie Black, chief executive of SPS Commerce. (the Wall Street Journal)

Adazon: How Amazon makes more money on advertising than its Prime memberships. (Vox)

Basic training: Why Planet Fitness still charges only $10 a month, and hasn’t raised its basic membership price in three decades. (CNN)

Catch up to the Zoomers: When it comes to e-commerce, Gen Z wants to go fast. 57% of the Zoomer demographic prefer one-click checkouts to shopping processes that force customers to fill out address or card forms. Bolt’s seamless one-click checkout tools can help your biz meet Gen Z’s need for speed. Learn more here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


Can’t join us in person? The Brief is going virtual!

Can’t join us in person? The Brief is going virtual!

We know life gets busy, and it might be tough to make it to NYC to attend The Brief in person. Well, there’s no need for FOMO anymore. In partnership with Vimeo, we’re bringing The Brief to you via livestream so you can tune in from wherever you are (well, wherever you are that has internet access).

You’ll be able to livestream our first IRL Marketing Brew Summit, which will spotlight innovations, highlight strategies, and provide solutions to today’s biggest challenges. Industry leaders from HBO, McDonald’s, Vans, Poshmark, and many more will share their knowledge about these topics, giving you actionable insights straight from your laptop.

Get 50% off your livestream pass today only using code TheBrief at checkout!

Tune me in!


  • Gap began selling thousands of items on Amazon.
  • Micron and other chip makers that struggled to keep up with demand during the pandemic are seeing demand plummet and lowering sales projections.
  • Shipping containers were in short supply at the height of the pandemic, but now are overabundant and filling up depots.
  • HarperCollins’s union went on strike to raise base pay from $45,000 to $50,000.
  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos awarded Dolly Parton $100 million for his Bezos Courage & Civility Award.
  • Balenciaga departed Twitter, becoming the first major fashion retailer to do so after Elon Musk took ownership of the platform.


At the mall, it’s where band tees are the only tees. In Retail Brew, it’s where we invite readers to weigh in on a trending retail topic.

A Yahoo article recently reported on retail chains that were struggling and “may not make it to 2023,” among them: Bed Bath & Beyond, Rite Aid, Party City, and Jo-Ann, the sewing and crafts store. We’re pulling for all of them, because we don’t like to see people losing jobs or empty stores, but…

You tell us: These four stores are struggling. Which one do you think is the most likely to survive?

Circling back. Last week, we asked you about the saga of Elon Musk and Twitter, which has hijacked our Slack channel and probably yours, too. His purchase of Twitter, and promise to loosen content moderation, has been widely criticized by those who believe it will result in misinformation and hate speech on the platform. About 3,700 Twitter employees, half its workforce, were laid off.

  • Brands including Mondelez, General Mills, General Motors, and Pfizer have pulled ads from the platform.

Amid all this Twitter news—and a simmering debate about whether Musk is a force of good or evil—we asked you how’d you feel if you woke up to a tweet from Musk about your brand. More than half (51.7%) of you said you’d prefer if your brand got attention elsewhere, while 27.6% shrugged that any exposure is good exposure, 17.2% said that they didn’t care and Musk can tweet whatever he wants, and 3.4% didn’t know or have an opinion.


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Written by Jeena Sharma, Andrew Adam Newman, and Katie Hicks

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