Must Read: Balenciaga to Offer Full Scholarships to Black Pratt Alumni, Specialty Beauty Boutiques Are Coming for Sephora

Plus, Loft launches clothing rental service.
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Alek Wek and Demna Gvasalia at the 2017 CFDA Awards. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for LIFEWTR

Alek Wek and Demna Gvasalia at the 2017 CFDA Awards. Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for LIFEWTR

These are the stories making headlines in fashion on Wednesday.

Balenciaga to offer full four-year scholarships for Black Alumni of Pratt
Demna Gvasalia was awarded the Creative Spirit Award at a scholarship benefit for the Pratt Institute on Tuesday. The designer was unable to attend the event, but it was announced that Balenciaga has made a commitment to offer the Black Alumni of Pratt full four-year scholarships to two students. The Black Alumni of Pratt group was established in 1990 with the mission to advance scholastic and career opportunities for students and graduates of African and Latino descent. {WWD

Do specialty beauty boutiques stand a chance against Sephora? 
Beauty is one thing that people still rabidly shop in stores for, which has resulted in the proliferation of many specialty beauty boutiques. These stores sell curated assortments of prestige products and buzzy new brands, but do they stand a chance against the increasingly dominant Sephora and Ulta? And, perhaps even more importantly, do they stand a chance against each other? {Business of Fashion

Photo: Laretta Houston/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Photo: Laretta Houston/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Tyra Banks makes her triumphant return to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit
It's been 23 years since supermodel extraordinaire Tyra Banks made history as the first Black model to cover the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. On Wednesday, the 45-year-old shocked the world by announcing she'd come out of modeling retirement to front the 2019 issue, shot in the Bahamas. This marks the third time she's landed a coveted spot on this cover, but if you ask us, it's the fiercest one of all. {People}

Loft launches clothing rental service
Loft is launching a rental service, where customers can pay $64.95 a month to rent up to three items at time, with unlimited swaps. The service will offer a wide range of Loft's clothes, including dresses, skirts, tops, pants and jackets, available in sizes 00 to 26, petite, plus, tall and maternity. {Fashionista inbox} 

Why fashion brands are turning to podcasts
Despite their non-visual nature and limited reach, podcasts are becoming a popular communications tool for fashion companies. Proponents of audio storytelling say it helps them develop relationships with their customers. "They offer the advantage of frequency — they're often automatically downloaded — and intimacy, since they allow clients to delve into the provenance and operations of brands," writes Adrienne Gaffney for Vogue Business. "The audience is also significantly different from that on Instagram, fashion's primary digital marketing platform. They are better educated, more affluent and profess more interest in culture, making them the very audience that luxury brands crave after." {Vogue Business

The making of Alexa Chung's Met Gala dress
Alexa Chung released her first full-length video on her newly-launched YouTube channel on Wednesday. The 15-minute clip offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of her custom Met Gala mini-dress, which was inspired by the ornate embroidery of the 18th century French court and the bold style of Studio 54. "One thing that has been important to me is that I never want to follow the crowd," Chung says. "So in designing the dress for this year's Met Gala I wanted to consider how other people will realize the theme of 'camp' and ensure we are different in our approach." {Fashionista inbox} 

Fitness brands are broadening their wellness focus
Athleta is just one of many fitness brands that is rejiggering its approach to be more wellness-centric. This year, the Gap-owned sportswear company introduced a new year-long, 13-store event series called the Wellness Collective. Similarly, online workout platform Obé has turned to events and a video content series with wellness experts, and Degree, the go-to deodorant for sports aficionados, has recently partnered with wellness and health index Blue Zones to promote "movement," not exercise. {Glossy

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