It Might Feel Like a Retail Apocalypse—but is that Really True?

The theme for the 2019 AATCC International Conference was “innovating today for a challenging tomorrow.” Some of the most influential names in the textile industry gathered in Fort Worth, Texas to discuss these challenges, many of which are already being faced today 


One session that really stood out to me was “Retail’s Apocalypse or a New Dawn?” presented by Tony R. Anzovino of Haggar Clothing Co. We often hear that retail stores are closing by the thousands each year—enough to strike concern in even a casual consumer, let alone someone in the business.  


But Tony’s presentation offered some much-needed perspective: more stores opened last year than closed. Even Sears, which was frequently the poster child for the Retail Apocalypse, opened stores in 2018.  


It isn’t just an imbalance of coverage contributing to this perception. There’s another, perhaps bigger, factor at play: 


The retail model is changing. You might see fewer department stores in your local mall, but more and more smaller retailers are opening up brick-and-mortar stores. According to a report from JLL Research, the top 100 online-native brands have announced 850 store openings between 2018 and 2023. This hardly seems like a sign that retail is dead.  


We’re also seeing iconic retailers like Macy’s experimenting with new shopping experiences. “The Market at Macy’s” is a pop-up retail experience for brands to connect with new audiences. For loyal Macy’s shoppers, it’s a chance to experience something new in-store. For less regular shoppers, it’s a new reason to visit Macy’s—and a chance to explore the retailer’s own merchandise in the process. A win-win and a sign that the future of retail isn’t doom and gloom. It’s just different 


The Role Color Plays in the New Retail Landscape 


Footwear startups like Allbirds and Rothy’s know that the power of a new color (or colors) can prompt a spike in sales. Just look at this new-color teaser from Allbirds: 


Or this one from Rothy’s: 



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The best inspiration comes naturally. ? Photo by @rocky_barnes

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Whether we’re talking about a fashion startup or a longstanding retailer, color can’t be sacrificed in the rush to respond to trends and release new products to eager consumers 


So how do you achieve both speed and quality? 


The ability to respond to the market quickly demands a more automated approach to color management. Improving your color development process can have a direct impact in giving consumers the products they want when they want them.  


It also plays a central role in product consistency. Imagine you buy a pair of royal blue pants from your favorite store. Later, you’re browsing the company’s website and see a jacket that appears to be the same color. But when the jacket arrives, the pants are clearly a brighter blue. 


This can have a lasting impact on consumer quality perceptionas my colleague Dustin Bowersox wrote about on And it’s easily avoidable with a streamlined approach to color management—one that involves proper use of light sources, choosing the right colors and fabrics, and coordinating color across your supply chain.  


We aren’t in a retail apocalypse, but this isn’t the time to slow the pace of innovation, either. As consumer expectations grow, an approach that instills confidence in color will ensure quality, cost and brand loyalty don’t stand in the way of your plans.   


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