Weekend Link Roundup

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♥ The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is now open to the public. Some previously sold-out styles have been restocked today, so I’d recommend taking another look if you are shopping this sale. My picks: Halogen Wrap Dress (love! Will feature next month), Madewell Small Transport Leather Crossbody Tote, Sam Edelman Single Breasted Wool Blend Coat, BLANKNYC Onto the Next Faux Leather Drape Front Jacket, Vince Mixed Cable Wool & Cashmere Blend Sweater, Madewell Fishtail Anorak, Theory Oaklane Wool & Cashmere Wrap Coat, J. Crew Dover Blazer, and Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite® Circle Cardigan.

Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You. (ProPublica): “In 2017, private insurance spending hit $1.2 trillion … yet no one tracks how much is lost to fraud. Some investigators and health care experts estimate that fraud eats up 10% of all health care spending, and they know schemes abound … Rising health care costs boost insurers’ profits. Policing criminals eats away at them. Ultimately, losses are passed on to their clients through higher premiums and out-of-pocket fees or reduced coverage … Medicare officials … acknowledged that the agency doesn’t verify whether an NPI applicant is a medical provider or has a criminal history. The agency claims it would need ‘explicit authority’ from the Department of Health and Human Services to do so — and currently doesn’t have it. Regulations, and potentially the law, would need to be revised to allow the agency to vet the applications.”

The Verdict on Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry (The Business of Fashion): “The UK’s biggest luxury brand said same-store sales climbed 4 percent in the first quarter compared to a year earlier, marginally beating expectations, as product from the new creative overhaul drove consumers, particularly Chinese millennials, to stores and online … Core to Gobbetti’s strategy is an attempt to transform Burberry from a more accessible luxury player to a British rival to Dior or Louis Vuitton. That’s meant scaling back its concession space in less exclusive department stores, refurbishing 23 stores and closing 9 underperforming ones and pushing its 126-year heritage with a new monogram … to promote its heritage but also tap status-hungry, newly wealthy shoppers keen for logos … The early sales reaction hasn’t altered the full-year outlook of broadly stable sales as store closures and fewer wholesale concessions will weigh on performance. Growth will accelerate from 2021. The brand said consumer perception was changing citing key Instagram influencers endorsing their product unpaid.”

Amazon Prime Day Brings Sales, and Risks, for Retailers (The New York Times): “… stores should focus on creating long-term relationships with customers, rather than chasing temporary sales spikes … ‘If retailers continue to prioritize episodic events over ongoing customer engagements throughout the year … consumers will be conditioned to buy this way — only when there is a major sale’ … One risk that retailers should consider as they plan mid-July sales is cannibalization … Shoppers who buy heavily discounted items in July may be less inclined to return to the same stores later in the summer.”

The $50 Dress That Conquered Britain (The New York Times): “Cultural trends rooted in mass consumption … have become popular subjects on social media in recent years, picking up the slightly catty nickname ‘basic’ … After a period of dominance for dystopian, aggressive streetwear in women’s wear … a shift toward romance — couched in comfort and practicality — has started to emerge, and is encapsulated in pieces like the spotted Zara dress. The virality of this latest garment and others that have come before it, as well as the online discourse built around it, is also a clear example of the power of social networks, and the fact that in an increasingly digital age, many customers want to see their favorite brands or purchases on display on people just like them, affirming their buying decisions and reassuring them they are part of the crowd.”

Sale styles have been further discounted (and new sale styles have been added) at H&M, and are now up to 70% off. Shipping is free on orders over $40. My picks: Sleeveless Dress, Short Skirt, Shaping Skinny Regular Jeans, Patterned Twill Jacket, Skirt with Belt, Halterneck Dress, Linen-blend Dress, and Super Skinny Regular Jeans.

The Mysterious Path to Professional Running (Atavist): “The lack of financial resources in the post-collegiate world of running can act as a barrier for promising athletes attempting to enter the professional ranks. And without a national league like in team sports, there’s no set path for talented runners to follow. The individualistic nature of track and field also makes it difficult for athletes to compare their situations against a standard … Due to the secrecy in salaries, it’s hard for runners to advocate for themselves. Running contracts are notoriously cutthroat. Most, if not all, have performance requirements written into the language … and some include reduction clauses, which means companies can reduce compensation if athletes don’t meet performance goals.”

Why Urban Planners Should Pay Attention to Restaurant-Review Sites (MIT News): “MIT urban studies scholars have now found that in China, restaurant data can be used to predict key socioeconomic attributes of neighborhoods … using online restaurant data … researchers … can effectively predict a neighborhood’s daytime population, nighttime population, the number of businesses located in it, and the amount of overall spending in the neighborhood … new methods of quantifying residential levels and economic activity could help guide city officials … [the] study observed correlations between restaurant data and neighborhood characteristics, rather than specifying the exact causal mechanisms at work … the causal link between restaurants and neighborhood characteristics can run both ways: Sometimes restaurants can fill demand in already-thriving area, while at other times their presence is a harbinger of future development.”

A Rare Look Inside Zara (The Business of Fashion): “Inditex’s board confirmed Chief Operating Officer Carlos Crespo as the company’s new CEO, splitting up the dual chairman/chief executive role Isla has held since 2011 … the company has big ambitions to adapt to fashion’s new digital reality. It’s aiming to sell all of its brands online globally by next year, an achievement that would make it one of the world’s first truly global apparel retailers … Inditex, which has driven success in large part through its ability to rapidly respond to the ebb and flow of consumer demand, is stepping up its sustainability initiatives, starting with its biggest brand, Zara … By the end of this year, all Zara stores will meet the company’s eco-efficient standards, reducing energy consumption by 20 percent and water consumption by 40 percent. All brands within the Inditex empire will meet this standard by next year … Zara remains the company’s flagship brand, together with Zara Home generating roughly 70 percent of sales last year.”

The Murky Ethics of the Ugly-Produce Business (The Atlantic): “Depending on who you ask, ugly produce is either the salvation or destruction of America’s food system. The reality of its potential impact might be a little more complicated, with start-ups profiting from the food system’s structural problems while also providing real, material good for working-class people … Odd produce might not go to Whole Foods, but much of it still does go to stores that serve working-class people, or gets sent to processors who turn it into salsa or apple juice … The vast majority of American produce does indeed make it to a packinghouse for processing and distribution, but farmers point out that efficiency varies wildly depending on what kind of producer you are.”

Inside the Victoria’s Secret Pipeline to Jeffrey Epstein (New York Post): “Epstein … was close friends with Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner, who owned Limited Brands — now L Brands — the parent company of Victoria’s Secret. Wexner was so close to Epstein that both men shared ownership of the sprawling East 71st Street mansion … Epstein, who was an investor in a Manhattan modeling venture, has been accused by prosecutors of using his connections to the modeling company to ‘audition’ girls to give him massages that often ended up in sexual abuse.”

Clothing You Don’t Have to Wash, Explained (Vox): “Brands that market their clothing as odor-fighting … almost always attribute it to the fabric’s supposed antimicrobial qualities. But … this can be misleading … what really matters is whether the stinky, oily compounds the bacteria has produced will stubbornly cling to your shirt or drift away on a breeze. That is determined by the type of fabric … A greener and cheaper strategy might be to just hang your clothes in the sunshine to kill any lingering bacteria and let the breeze waft away the odorous compounds … just try to buy products made of natural fibers instead of synthetic, and hang them up after use.”

Barneys New York Explores Options That Include Bankruptcy (The Business of Fashion): The nearly 100-year-old retailer, known for its high-end designer collection, is working … to prepare for a potential bankruptcy filing that could come in the coming weeks … Barneys has not yet made a final decision on whether or not to seek bankruptcy protection, and is weighing other possible solutions for addressing high rents that are straining its business.

All sale styles are now an extra 40% off at Madewell with code VERYRARE. Join Madewell Insider (membership is free) for free shipping on all orders. My picks:

Where Did Forever 21 Go Wrong? (Los Angeles Times): “With about 800 stores worldwide and more than $3 billion in estimated annual sales, Forever 21 … is being squeezed on multiple fronts. The chain reportedly needs to shore up its finances just as its coolness factor is indeed ebbing and young consumers keep migrating to other retailers, especially online sellers … The landscape is rough for clothing chains. Abercrombie & Fitch plans to close 40 of its stores this year. Gap Inc. is slashing 230 of its namesake brand’s stores and … spinning off its better-performing Old Navy brand.”

A Look Inside the Secretive World of Guantánamo Bay (The New York Times): “The base and the military tribunal system set up to try some prisoners have been plagued with high turnover … A major focus of visits in recent years is the military’s efforts to get funds to build permanent barracks, dormitory-style buildings, for forces now living in prefabricated housing units. Congress gave the Pentagon $115 million in 2018 to replace some trailer parks with a barracks for 848 prison soldiers. It has yet to be constructed, but the military wants to build more … In many ways, beyond the prison zone, the base of 5,500 to 6,000 residents has the trappings of small-town America. It has a commissary, neighborhoods for Navy families, a school system for sailors’ children and fast-food restaurants run by foreign laborers that are mostly popular with the people who come without their families. About one-third of the base residents are Jamaican and Filipino guest workers … The 40 detainees currently held at the Guantánamo prison are down from a high of about 675 in July 2003.”

I Found Your Data. It’s for Sale. (The Washington Post): “… as many as 4 million people have been leaking personal and corporate secrets through Chrome and Firefox … The root of this privacy train wreck is browser extensions. Also known as add-ons and plug-ins … Some extensions have a side hustle in spying. From a privileged perch in your browser, they pass information about where you surf and what you view into a murky data economy.”

Quads Are the New Biceps: Why Fashion Went Long on Short Shorts (The Business of Fashion): “Merchandisers attribute the return of short shorts to undercurrents bubbling up in fashion and the culture at large, from the retro and athletic wear trends to the rise of casual dressing, changing gender norms and even climate change … young men in the booming health and fitness economy simply want to flaunt the fruits of their labour … runway watchers cite the Spring/Summer 2019 season as a watershed moment. That season, major brands … sent more than 300 male models in short shorts down the runway, nearly triple the previous year’s total … The garment’s popularity has given rise to what was once considered unthinkable: the office short. Men in creative fields in particular now view smart, tailored shorts as part of their workplace wardrobe.”

♥ Recently purchased: La Vie Rebecca Taylor Averie Wrap Dress, J. Crew Résumé Dress in Stretch Linen (now an extra 50% off), Kate Spade Puff Sleeve Tweed Dress, A&F Utility Romper, Uniqlo Pleated High-Waisted Long Skirt, and Ann Taylor Pleated Maxi Skirt (Eye-catching, in a good way! Assuming it doesn’t sell out soon, will feature in a future post).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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