Fashion brands can’t just be brands; they have to be retailers. Brands up and down the fashion ladder, from Michael Kors to Milly, from Alice + Olivia to Theory, from Acne to Vince, from Burberry to Gucci, are focusing business efforts not on their wholesale partners but on direct retail channels. On their e-commerce sites and in their own stores, they control the product arrangement, the merchandising, the pace of inventory drops, the shipping times and fees, the return policies, the product recommendations and the look and feel. It’s not a vanity exercise. With wholesale channels tapped out, it’s where there’s still room for growth. “The reason why we’ve developed a bigger direct-to-consumer business is because it’s critical today to have a customer understand you, inside and out,” said Theory CEO Andrew Rosen. “We’re putting a lot more focus on our customer now, because to understand them means to serve them better, which needs to grow. We simply can’t do that in the same way with outside retailers, whether it’s Saks or Neiman or Bergdorf.” Read more at Glossy.