Weekly Link Roundup: July 31, 2020

♥ Because I don’t have cable, I had to wait to watch The Last Dance on Netflix–weeks after everyone else. As someone with only a casual interest in men’s basketball, I thoroughly enjoyed the series, as the 90s Chicago Bulls were the last NBA team I followed in earnest. Is it a balanced documentary, knowing that Michael Jordan’s production company partially funded the project? Probably not, but it is entertaining, even thrilling at times.

Is Dior Catching Up With Chanel? (The Business of Fashion): “Dior’s revenues and profitability have surged in recent years amid rising demand for its canvas book totes, saddle bags and high-top sneakers, and the brand is determined to stay in the spotlight … Dior’s combined sales of fashion and beauty products are estimated to have jumped 24 percent [in 2019] climbing to €6.6 billion ($7.54 billion) … Chanel’s revenues grew 13 percent on a comparable basis to $12.3 billion in 2019 … Dior could keep gaining on Chanel because of its greater willingness to sell online. While Dior has ramped up e-commerce in recent years, selling its $4,500 Lady Dior purses and $860 t-shirts through its website and even on social platforms like China’s WeChat, Chanel is still holding out from selling its handbags or fashion online.”

(An article I’d recommend reading in full.) The Stranded Babies of the Coronavirus Disaster (The New Yorker): “As the virus spread, and travel froze, parents around the world suddenly found themselves separated, by thousands of miles, from newborns who were, in fact, their biological children. Commercial surrogacy is growing more popular, thanks to a number of converging factors: advances in reproductive technology, a wave of restrictive adoption laws, the rise of gay rights, and the fact that women in developed countries are waiting longer before having children, leading to more problems with fertility. But it’s also illegal in most of the world, including in almost all of mainland Europe. Opponents of the practice argue that it makes surrogates vulnerable to exploitation, especially if they are poor, and creates risks for the children … every year, thousands of would-be parents travel abroad, to the handful of countries where surrogacy is legal. One of the biggest destinations is the United States, which has cutting-edge reproductive technology and the most permissive laws: both same-sex couples and unmarried people can have children via a surrogate. But the price tag is out of reach for many people, and, in the past decade, Ukraine has emerged as a cheaper alternative. Ukrainian surrogates give birth to several thousand babies every year, the majority of whom have foreign parents. The country has around fifty reproductive clinics and numerous agencies that act as middlemen, matching couples with egg donors and surrogates. COVID-19 threw this system into chaos. There are no official numbers on how many babies were stranded around the world … at least two hundred babies were stuck in the U.S., cared for by an improvised network of surrogates, relatives, baby nurses, and Good Samaritans.”

Elon Musk, Blasting Off in Domestic Bliss (The New York Times): “The view of Silicon Valley has grown darker in recent years, as Americans realized that the lords of the cloud who were supposed to improve our lives were carelessly harvesting our data and allowing themselves to be disinformation factories. Mr. Musk’s peers may mock him for his grandiosity and say that his worldview of good battling evil is just a smart business stance to lure the best people. And he is certainly a grandmaster at marketing and self-promotion. But he also really does want to save the world and make products that bring joy.”

What to Do After the Founder Leaves (The Business of Fashion): “… there were a record number of chief executive departures at US companies in 2019, with over 1,600 exits … Often, these figures were not only chief executives but also their chief fundraiser, chief creative officer and chief brand ambassador. Their successors must often build, almost from scratch, the corporate structures needed to manage day-to-day operations at a large, fast-growing company. At the same time, they must preserve the magic that got the business there in the first place. How those tasks are handled can make or break a company.”

J.Crew’s extra 72% off sale ends tonight; enter code SALETIME at checkout. My picks: Tiered Popover Dress in Ratti® Safari Print, Button-Back Shift Dress in Beauchamps Linen, Camille Sweater-Blazer With Shawl Collar, Pleated Midi Skirt in Shimmering Plaid, Flutter-Sleeve Linen T-Shirt With Lace Trim, Pullover Hoodie in Towel Terry, Pleated Midi Skirt, Diagonal Cable-Knit Crewneck Sweater, and Crocheted Lace Ruffle Top.

How Fishing Became Fashionable (Literally) (The Wall Street Journal): “Fishing-related clothes have been streaming into fashion collections and stores at a steady pace over the past few years. The pocket-packed fishing vest … remains the trendiest piece of angler gear, but the fishfluence extends beyond that staple … Fishing is just the latest outdoor pursuit mined for its fashion potential … The functional nature of this clothing can indeed serve urbanites well. A nine-pocket vest means you’ll never be without a place to park whatever you need to carry; a jacket you could theoretically swim in can guard you against a city squall; and a hat that deflects the sun for five hours as you command the creek will do the same as you wander through town.”

Fashion’s Racism and Classism Are Finally Out of Style (The Atlantic): “… the tales of toxicity in fashion aren’t new … The veneration of whiteness and wealth isn’t merely incidental to the global fashion business, but central to its vision and embedded in its practices, from who gets hired to how things get marketed. Luxury fashion is built on the emotional scaffolding of human aspiration—what happens to the industry when everyone gets sick of worshipping rich white people … That tight control of fashion’s most powerful and influential brands makes it difficult for people outside the well-pedigreed white elite to enter the industry at all, let alone influence how it conceives of luxury … Brands and media companies might commit to working with models from more diverse backgrounds or to including more Black celebrities in their ad campaigns or style coverage. But internally, little changes.”

The End of Modernity (The Economist): “Modernity, like fashion, is an enduring notion that masquerades as forever young … History suggests that when emergency recedes and emergence begins, tastes are significantly altered … Shock lays waste to old tastes by destroying the old world and building a new modernity from the rubble.”

Hotels Nix Mints and Breakfast Buffets. Hand Sanitizer, Anyone? (The New York Times): “Hotel occupancy rates in the United States have been devastated by the pandemic, dipping down to a low of 22 percent in April. Travelers have slowly begun returning, but the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases in many states clouds the industry’s near-term future. In the meantime, hotels are doing what they can to attract travelers and address their concerns … The first priority is delivering a feeling of safety … Hotels are also rethinking what guests value most … Before the pandemic, hotel beds had begun to resemble decorative pillow forts, with bed scarves and coverlets. The beds have now been reduced to a set of essentials that can be washed between each guest.”

Everyone’s a Day Trader Now (The Wall Street Journal): ”At E*Trade Financial Corp., investors opened roughly 260,500 retail accounts just in March, more than any full year on record. Newer rival Robinhood Markets Inc., maker of a wildly popular trading app, logged a record three million new accounts in the first quarter … With professional sports largely on pause and group gatherings discouraged, users have flocked to day-trading apps to cure isolation and boredom from lockdown … Trades this year by individual investors more than doubled the usual level of retail activity … Individuals now account for a fifth of all stock-market activity and a quarter during the busiest sessions.“

♥ New to my podcast playlist: Foundering (the first season is about WeWork). The last episode of the season aired on Thursday so you can binge away; if you like StartUp, definitely give Foundering a listen.

How a Bunch of Lava Lamps Protect Us From Hackers (WIRED): “Every time you log in to any website, you’re assigned a unique identification number. It should be random, because if hackers can predict the number, they’ll impersonate you. Computers, relying as they do on human-coded patterns, can’t generate true randomness—but nobody can predict the goopy mesmeric swirlings of oil, water, and wax. Cloudflare films the lamps 24/7 and uses the ever-changing arrangement of pixels to help create a superpowered cryptographic key.”

Hearst Employees Say Magazine Boss Led Toxic Culture (The New York Times): “… the Hearst Magazines leader, Troy Young, has drawn complaints from people who said he had made lewd, sexist remarks at work … Hearst employees have questioned company leadership at a time when employees at its more glamorous rival, Condé Nast, have done the same. There have also been staff revolts at other media organizations, including The Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal and Refinery29.”

(Excellent piece; I would suggest reading it in full.) I Went to Disney World (The Atlantic): “What is an amusement park in which visible smiles are forbidden, and laughter and screams of delight are muffled to the point of inaudibility? If you think it is like watching sitcoms without a laugh track … you do not fully appreciate the inhumanity of this situation, the strangeness of being in a place that exists to elicit joy—wiped clean of all legible emotion. The psychologist Paul Bloom has noted that the pandemic is unlike other catastrophes, because our suffering and collective response are solitary. To be a hero during the Blitz, you pulled neighbors from rubble; you commiserated with friends and encouraged them, in person, to buck up. To be a pandemic hero, you stay home and binge-watch Project Runway in your underpants. In Disney World more than anywhere else, this odd and psychically depleting fact about the pandemic—that it robs us of shared emotional space—haunts you. It may still be the happiest place on Earth, but you can’t tell by looking at anyone.”

Can Anything Shake Consumers’ Addiction to Fast Fashion? (The Business of Fashion): “… the pandemic is likely to deepen the power of affordable fashion. The coronavirus crisis has already plunged the US into recession and seen unemployment levels reach historic highs. Financial hardship is likely to increase the weight consumers give to price rather than environmental and social considerations, particularly when it comes to well-known brands with beguiling newsletters, discounts and easily-accessible online storefronts. Even before the pandemic, consumers’ purported interest in sustainability had a limited impact on their actual spending … But while price still seems to trump most other considerations for many consumers, big brands see a growing opportunity in marketing sustainable fashion. capsule collections featuring organic cotton, carbon offsetting and textile recycling have become common initiatives. Experiments in resale, fabric innovation and automation all point to efforts to remain relevant and on the right side of consumer sentiment.”

Amateur J.C. Penney Traders Beg Judge to Save Them From Wipeout (Bloomberg): “Speculation by amateurs is nothing new, but for the first time experts can recall, investors are buying shares of even bankrupt companies. Hertz Global Holdings Inc., oil driller Whiting Petroleum Corp. and J.C. Penney have all seen their stock price surge in recent sessions, despite being in Chapter 11.”

We’ll Be Wearing Masks for a While. Why Not Make Them Nice? (The New York Times): “… companies and designers have flooded the market with alternatives to the common throwaway surgical masks … Inventors have dreamed up masks with motorized air purifiers, Bluetooth speakers and even sanitizers that kill germs by heating the face covering … to over 200 degrees … In boutiques, patterned masks are showing up on mannequins, exquisitely paired with designer dresses.”

♥ Recently ordered: DAE Daily Shampoo, Shiseido Future Solution LX Total Protective Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen, Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, and CAMI NYC Romy Lace-Trimmed Silk-Blend Charmeuse Bodysuit (50% off!).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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