This week the largest (Nike) and fourth largest (H&M) fashion companies reported financial results by revenue. Here’s what we hope to learn:
The two biggest surprises around the economy so far this year have been the surprisingly resilient US consumer and the sometimes anemic post-lockdown recovery in China. Look for H&M to give you some hints of the former, and Nike of the latter. Fast fashion can be squeezed as consumers control their spending, due to inflation or a cold economy. That didn’t happen – a recession always seems to be around the corner but never comes. As evidence mounts that central banks’ interest rate hikes are having the intended effect, sneakers and $25 wrap dresses may finally be starting to make a comeback.
In China, with H&M recovering from a 2021 boycott (recently closing its Beijing flagship), the best place to get a read on that market is Nike. The brand is still popular in China, but sales are still tracking below 2019 levels, and behind the brand’s expected six months into the post-lockdown period, investment bank Bernstein said earlier this month. That’s partly down to uneven economic reforms, but also stiff competition from local brands.
Both H&M and Nike are adapting to the increased competition. They are for H&M, Shein, Temu and other online brands. Meanwhile, Inditex’s Zara has found success with its “premium” approach to fast fashion – able to raise prices without losing many customers. Can Shein attack at the bottom, and Zara at the top, and H&M find a comfortable place in the middle?
Nike’s competition is more traditional: new brands, Chinese sportswear giants Li Ning and Anta, or fast-growing rivals like Hoka and On. The latter are still small (but $1 billion+ annual sales each are not that small). Adidas is also due for a recovery. The competition may be the motivating factor behind Nike’s return to wholesale.
Future protective fashion
Looking ahead, Nike has made some big changes in the Metaverse, recently launching its own world in Fortnite using Epic Games’ Unreal engine and holding its first NFT sale on the .Swoosh, Web 3 platform. What’s less clear is what kind of return Nike expects from its investment in the virtual world, and when.
Meanwhile, H&M is working on its next sustainability strategy, which aims to double sales by the end of the decade and cut emissions in half. The waste and emissions generated by fast fashion have made the sector’s biggest players the target of regulators and politicians. H&M pulled its “conscious” label last year, which sparked accusations of greenwashing. New European Commission regulations will make it harder for fashion companies in all sectors to show their products as environmentally friendly. The Swedish retailer’s biggest success on this front was in resale. Earlier this year, Selpy said its 80 percent stake in the secondary marketplace generated annual sales of 1 billion kroner ($93 million). Its own resale platform is the largest operated by any single brand, with 27,000 listings, according to ThredUp. This looks amazing, except that ThredUp has a lot of listings just for women’s turtlenecks.
What else to watch this week?
Paris Men’s Fashion Week: Lagos Space Program, Ludovic de Saint Serin
Jacques shows at Versailles
Marc Jacobs shows in New York
L’Occitain reported the results
International Fashion Summit in Copenhagen
H&M Group reported first half results
Nike reports quarterly results
The Eurozone has reported inflation data for the month of June
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