DTC Dispatch #027

Can you spot an AI Met Gala photo?

🕶️ Dreaming of Summer days

This week in DTC Dispatch:

🏋️ Equinox’s $40,000 membership may offer a unique opportunity for retailers

🩳 Pacsun and Formula 1 showcase new sports collection at Miami pop-up

🤖 Katy Perry's own mom fell for her Met Gala AI photo. Do you know what to look for?

👟 Skechers Rides on DTC Growth & Multi-Brand Offerings

🛍️ Saks Launches Retail Media Network Targeting Luxury Shoppers


Equinox’s $40,000 membership may offer a unique opportunity for retailers

If you thought gym fees were already high, get ready for this. Equinox is about to launch its priciest membership yet at $40,000 a year.

In partnership with Function Health, the "Optimize by Equinox" membership offers personal training, nutrition advice, massages, and sleep coaching. Members will have biannual tests to check organ functions, metabolism, fitness, nutrients, and cancer markers.

Julia Klim, Equinox’s VP, compared the program to Formula 1 or elite athlete setups, with experts designing personalized plans based on data.

While it's a big investment, it's a chance for brands to target wealthy customers.

Equinox collaborates with athleisure brands like Lululemon and Nike, both online and in their stores. They've also partnered with luxury fashion, nutrition, travel, and entertainment brands, offering perks to members.

Whether you're Equinox or a retailer looking to partner, this elite membership seems beneficial for everyone.

Our take: Equinox's introduction of its $40,000 "Optimize by Equinox" membership raises eyebrows and warrants reflection on the growing trend of luxury fitness experiences. While the comprehensive package promises personalized training, nutrition guidance, and extensive health assessments, its exorbitant price tag is exclusionary to the majority of individuals seeking wellness services.

The comparison to Formula 1 or elite athlete setups may resonate with some, emphasizing the tailored approach and expertise involved. However, it also highlights the stark divide between accessible fitness options and those reserved for the elite.

Also, while partnerships with luxury brands may enhance the allure of membership, they reinforce the exclusivity of the program. This perpetuates the notion that wellness is a privilege reserved for the affluent, neglecting the broader societal need for affordable and inclusive health solutions.

While Equinox's initiative may cater to a niche market, its implications for societal health equity are concerning. As the fitness industry continues to evolve, prioritizing accessibility and affordability should remain integral to promoting overall well-being for all individuals, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Pacsun and Formula 1 showcase new sports collection at Miami pop-up

Pacsun is turning its focus to sports to better connect with its audience, blending athletic themes with fashion and creating immersive experiences, as stated in a press release.

In July of last year, Pacsun introduced its first store dedicated solely to activewear. Recently, it revealed collaborations with UFC 300 and the Angel City Football Club.

Richard Cox, Pacsun's VP of men’s merchandising and global partnerships, highlighted the success of their Miami event, which attracted over 8,000 attendees. He emphasized how the community embraced the new styles and engaged with Pacsun's sports-themed activations.

This isn’t Pacsun’s first venture into sports activations. Last year, they garnered attention at the Grand Prix in Las Vegas with a collection, pop-up store, performances, and exclusive designs by Jeff Hamilton. This year, they gave fans the chance to win signed Jeff Hamilton Formula 1 x PacSun Full Leather Racing Jackets.

Earlier this year, Pacsun launched The Pacsun Collective, a group of diverse content creators, designers, and artists. They collaborate on merchandise design, including the Spring/Summer 2024 campaign, and contribute to marketing.

Additionally, Pacsun has been using social media, especially TikTok, to host weekly live streams showcasing and selling items. These streams provide behind-the-scenes looks at brand events, effectively engaging their target audience through interactive platforms.

Our take: With their blending of sports and style, Pacsun targets those who value both fashion and an active lifestyle.

The opening of Pacsun's activewear store emphasizes its dedication to serving sports fans. Partnerships with big names like UFC 300 and the Angel City Football Club reinforce its position in the sports fashion market.

Richard Cox's acknowledgment of the success of Pacsun's Miami event shows the brand's commitment to engaging with its community. Involving consumers in sports-themed events helps build loyalty.

Using platforms like TikTok for live streams not only showcases Pacsun's products but also offers insight into its brand. This engagement strategy boosts visibility online. Prioritizing community engagement, collaboration, and digital innovation, Pacsun is set for continued success in sports fashion.

Katy Perry's own mom fell for her Met Gala AI photo. Do you know what to look for?

In New York City for Monday's Met Gala, themed "Garden of Time," celebrities from music, entertainment, and fashion gathered adorned in floral, sparkling attire, and extravagant timepieces. Contrary to social media posts, Katy Perry was not among them.

"Couldn't make it to the MET, had to work," the singer wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of herself in the studio along with two photos seemingly from the gala.

These images were actually created with AI.

In the first, Perry appears on a hedge-lined red carpet at the Met, wearing an elaborate ball gown adorned with flowers and butterflies, her dark hair styled in waves. In the second, a close-up, she wears a metallic corset top with a large key down the middle and a skirt of flowers and leaves, her hair straight.

Though the exact source of the photos is uncertain, they caused a stir on X (formerly Twitter) as viewers at home debated their favorite celebrity looks.

Perry is a Met Gala regular known for her on-theme outfits, such as a chandelier and hamburger in recent years, so it's understandable why internet observers might assume she attended this year's event.

Our take: Katy Perry's absence at the Met Gala sparked discussion on social media, highlighting the influence of AI-generated content and our fascination with celebrities. The discovery that Perry's gala photos were created by AI raises doubts about the authenticity of online images, revealing how technology shapes our perception of famous figures. While Perry is known for her bold fashion choices, her absence serves as a reminder that celebrities have lives beyond the limelight.

Ultimately, Perry's absence emphasizes the complexities of fame in the digital era. It urges us to evaluate the content we encounter online and offline, recognizing technology's impact on our perception of celebrities and events.

Skechers Rides on DTC Growth & Multi-Brand Offerings

Skechers U.S.A., Inc. stands out in the fiercely competitive industry landscape, thanks to its focus on diversifying its brand portfolio, leveraging digital advancements, and expanding its global footprint. These deliberate strategies have propelled the company's growth trajectory, particularly evident in its robust performance in both the direct-to-consumer (DTC) sector and international markets. Such strategic agility underscores Skechers' keen ability to swiftly respond to evolving consumer preferences, positioning it favorably for sustained prosperity.

The company's commitment to growth is further manifested through strategic investments aimed at fortifying its market presence and operational capabilities. With plans to establish new retail outlets, enhance omnichannel functionalities, and inaugurate a second distribution hub in China, Skechers exhibits a proactive stance toward seizing emerging opportunities and reinforcing its competitive edge. These strategic initiatives not only align with the company's ambitious sales targets but also underscore its dedication to enhancing shareholder value over the long term.

As Skechers advances, its sound financial position serves as a solid foundation for pursuing its strategic objectives with confidence. Bolstered by its robust financial performance and prudent management practices, SKX is well-positioned to navigate challenges and capitalize on growth prospects in the dynamic marketplace. With a forward-looking approach and a commitment to operational excellence, Skechers is poised to realize its financial and operational goals in the foreseeable future, charting a course toward sustained success in 2024 and beyond.

Our take: Skechers U.S.A., Inc. has excelled in a tough industry by focusing on diversification, digital innovation, and global growth.

An important strength of Skechers is its ability to adapt quickly to changing consumer preferences. By expanding its brand range and using digital technology, Skechers stays ahead in both online sales and global markets.

Skechers invests strategically to strengthen its presence and operations. Plans for new stores, improved online services, and expanding in China show its proactive approach to growth. These plans align with Skechers' ambitious sales goals and aim to benefit shareholders in the long term.

Supported by a strong financial position and smart management, Skechers is well-prepared to face challenges and seize opportunities. With its forward-looking approach and commitment to excellence, Skechers is on track to meet its goals and ensure lasting success.

Saks Launches Retail Media Network Targeting Luxury Shoppers

Saks has introduced digital advertising services to connect luxury brands with shoppers on its platform. According to a press release on Tuesday (April 23), the new Saks Media Network provides sponsored product ads and display banners on its luxury eCommerce platform, Saks.com.

Kristin Maa, Senior Vice President of Growth at Saks, highlighted the network's aim to enhance the customer experience by leveraging insights from the full shopping journey across Saks Fifth Avenue's digital and physical ecosystem.

This retail media network utilizes the Saks brand, its first-party customer data, and its 435 million annual visits to help brands reach customers at the right time and place, as stated in the release. Using these resources, the Saks Media Network can showcase products that match customers' interests.

Additionally, the company's in-house media team can assist brand partners in driving business and provide detailed reporting and insights, according to the release.

Our take: Saks has launched digital ads to improve its platform for luxury brands and shoppers. Using the Saks Media Network, the retailer aims for a better shopping experience. Kristin Maa's focus on using insights from Saks' digital and physical presence shows the store's commitment to understanding customers.

With access to customer data and millions of visits to Saks.com, the Saks Media Network targets the right audience. Personalized ads increase engagement and sales. Saks' in-house media team supports brands with successful ads. Detailed reports help brands refine their strategies.

Overall, Saks' move into digital ads shows its proactive approach to meeting customer needs. Using technology and data, Saks improves marketing for luxury brands, making shopping better for customers.

Thanks for reading this week’s edition of the DTC Dispatch!