Weekly News Update // Week of May 31, 2021

Here's TRAUB's roundup of recent consumer and retail news. Etsy buys Depop for $1.6B, ocean floor diamonds emerge as a new option in the industry, and more.


  • JD Logistics Gains on Debut After $3.2 Billion Hong Kong IPO BoF
  • Etsy Buys Depop for $1.6 Billion BoF
  • Digital brand company Perch raises $775M to expand globally Retail Dive 
  • Malt raises $97M at a $489M valuation for its freelance marketplace for developers TechCrunch
  • Bobbie Bags $15M Series A To Create A Better Baby Formula Crunchbase News 
  • NUE Life Health raises $3.3M for its psychedelics-meets-tech mental wellness platform TechCrunch
  • Kudos, with its cotton-based, eco-friendly diaper, soaks up $2.4 million in seed funding TechCrunch
  • Singapore-based D2C dental brand Zenyum raises $40M Series B from L Catterton, Sequoia India and other investors TechCrunch


Ocean Floor Diamonds Are Officially a Thing

Just off the coast of Namibia, the ocean floor is scattered with… diamonds. Real, actual diamonds. Exactly like the ones you’re familiar with—the kind extracted from mines—these stones are billions of years old. But entirely unlike those diamonds, they were carried through rivers, churned through mega-storms, and eventually emptied into the Atlantic over the course of millennia. They can be plucked from the water by the human hand, “with no trace left on the environment.” The story is as awe-inspiring as nature itself, but if you’re wondering why you didn’t know “ocean diamonds” exist, you aren’t alone. Even Baylee Zwart, the founder of fine jewelry label Azlee and an expert in rare-cut diamonds, admits she had no idea it was possible. “This is a whole new category of diamond,” she says. “I’ve asked other people in the jewelry industry if they’re familiar with ‘ocean diamonds,’ and they’re like, What are you talking about? It’s the coolest thing I’ve heard in a while.” Vogue  

Rent the Runway Interviews Banks for US IPO This Year

Rent the Runway Inc. is interviewing banks in preparation for an initial public offering that could come as early as this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Discussions are at an early stage and the company could still decide not to pursue an offering, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Rent the Runway, based in New York, raised funds last year at a valuation of $750 million, below its previous valuation of $1 billion, Bloomberg News has reported. It’s not clear how much it might seek to be valued in an IPO. A representative for Rent the Runway declined to comment. BoF


Gap, Walmart team up to unveil new home essentials brand

The home category got a boost last year, and now two major retailers have become strange bedfellows. Walmart and Gap have formed a multi-year partnership on a home essentials brand dubbed Gap Home. The initial collection will be available exclusively on Walmart.com starting June 24, according to a press release Thursday. It includes over 400 products across the home decor, tabletop, bedding and bath categories, and is aimed at college dorms and homes. Seasonal and special collections will be released throughout the year and developed with IMG, Gap's licensing agency. Gap is the first fashion retailer to collaborate with Walmart in the home category, per the release. The financial terms and exact length of the deal were not disclosed. Retail Dive

The store of the future won’t have any merchandise at all

Some day in the future, Ralph Lauren stores may not have any merchandise in them. At least that’s what chief innovation officer David Lauren envisions. Instead, you’ll chat with an in-store expert about the outfit of your dreams—a teal polo or a red linen summer dress, perhaps—and the brand will make it for you on demand. Lauren has always been interested in how technology could transform the fashion industry. As the son of the brand’s namesake founder, he joined the family business in 2000 and crafted a role for himself as its first head of innovation. He’s helped usher the classic American brand into the 21st century through projects like interactive screens in stores in 2007 and a shoppable virtual fashion show in 2009. Now, Lauren’s goal is to let customers create the product of their dreams from scratch, a reality he believes is only a few years away. Ralph Lauren is currently piloting “Create Your Own” garments online. Over the holidays, customers were able to design their own outerwear, mixing and matching hundreds of colors option to create down vests and jackets. And last month, Ralph Lauren unveiled the custom polo, which lets customers design their own version of the brand’s most iconic product. Fast Company

Google’s plans to bring AI to education make its dominance in classrooms more alarming

When Google CEO Sundar Pichai addressed the company’s annual I/O Developers Conference on May 18, 2021, he made two announcements suggesting Google is now the world’s most powerful organization in education. Opening the livestreamed keynote from the Mountain View campus gardens, Pichai celebrated how Google had been able to “help students and teachers continue learning from anywhere” during the pandemic. Minutes later, he announced Google’s new AI language platform, a central part of the company’s long-term AI strategy, with a specific use-case example from education. LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), he claimed, could enable students to ask natural language questions and receive sensible, factual, and interesting conversational responses. Fast Company


Beyond Beeple’s $69M NFT: How creators can (and will) thrive in the crypto economy

On March 11, 2021, an NFT (non-fungible token) created by the digital artist Beeple sold at Christie’s for $69 million dollars. Overnight, NFTs became the No. 1 topic within the creator economy. After a wave of eye-popping sales to crypto-rich investors, the hype exposed the world to the opportunities that crypto offers artists. A new creator crypto economy has emerged. During my time at Patreon, I saw the potential of a direct-to-fan monetization model. By empowering creators to earn a steady, sustainable revenue stream through direct engagement with their communities, the system—which puts control and ownership into the hands of creators—will build a more beautiful and rewarding creator economy. For artists to maximize the benefits of crypto, they will need to think beyond NFTs and begin building a more cohesive and inclusive system where all fans (including the crypto whales) can participate. Artists can focus on what they love: releasing art and bringing value to their communities. Fast Company



  • Nike Veteran Joins Moncler as Chief Brand Officer WWD
  • Capri Holdings Taps Jenna Hendricks as Senior VP, Chief People Officer WWD
  • Lazada President Liu to Leave Alibaba’s Southeast Asia Unit BoF


  • The Future of ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ BoF 
  • The Challenges of Labelling Sustainability BoF