Weekly Link Roundup: December 11, 2020

America’s Most Hated Garment (The Atlantic): “Clothes change to reflect the people buying them, and even before the pandemic, plenty of evidence showed that the sweatpants bogeyman was already nearing its death. American shoppers are becoming more diverse, more interested in casual clothing, and less concerned with meeting rapidly antiquating ideas of appropriateness meted out by their bosses. The hip-hop-inflected revival of the sweats maker Champion was a strong pre-pandemic indicator that sweatpants were ready to make their final push past the straggling cultural stereotypes weighing them down. Sweatpants are bottom-up in a culture in which standard-bearers are uncomfortable with things that aren’t top-down. The reality that the world has moved on without them might not stop sweatpants haters from feeling hostile toward people who dress down. But a lot of people who consider themselves bastions of good taste for things such as their opposition to sweats are actually just a little behind the times, even if they don’t realize it.”

Goodbye, Blazers; Hello, ‘Coatigans.’ Women Adjust Attire to Work at Home. (The New York Times): “The retail landscape is changing with the new needs of the remote worker. Bankruptcies this year included Brooks Brothers and the owner of Ann Taylor and Loft. Rent the Runway closed all of its stores and removed its unlimited subscription option. In Gap Inc.’s latest quarter, net sales soared 15 percent at Old Navy and 35 percent at Athleta while plummeting 34 percent at Banana Republic.”

Get Rich Selling Used Fashion Online—or Cry Trying (Wired): “Poshmark concedes that the people who manage to make a living selling full time on the app are those who get their inventory new from Amazon or Asian wholesale websites—not people who spend hours hunting through thrift stores and reselling … Poshmark … seems to rely on its sellers never discovering what thrift stores such as Buffalo Exchange knew long ago: Most of our old clothing is worth way less than we think it is. So little, in fact, that it’s hard to even give it away. That’s the tension at the heart of Poshmark: Whether you’re just trying to clean out your closet or treating it like a small business, for the amount of time you have to invest in interacting on the app, it’s almost impossible to make more than a meager return while selling old clothes. Poshmark is less a road to entrepreneurship and more another on-ramp to the gig economy … Poshmark appeals to women because it offers flexible work while allowing them to mostly stay home. It contributes to the fantasy that with enough hustle, they will make good money off of their old clothing, keep it all out of the landfill, and pay for a nice vacation while they’re at it. But its product design choices have turned the act of selling into a time-consuming social exercise of questionable value.”

Tony Hsieh’s American Tragedy: The Self-Destructive Last Months Of The Zappos Visionary (Forbes): “… the memories of Hsieh paint an image of a man whose mission in life was to create happiness … But while he directly … and indirectly … delivered on making other people smile, Hsieh was privately coping with issues of mental health and addiction … Hsieh’s personal struggles took a dramatic turn south over the past year, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the nonstop action that Hsieh seemingly craved … Hsieh, always a heavy drinker, veered into frequent drug use, notably nitrous oxide … By August, it was announced that he had ‘retired’ from the company he built … Friends and family members, understanding the emerging crisis, attempted interventions over the past few months to try to get him sober. Instead … Hsieh retreated to Park City, where he surrounded himself with yes-men, paying dearly for the privilege.”

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Childhood Without Other Children: A Generation Is Raised in Quarantine (The New York Times): “It is too early for published research about the effects of the pandemic lockdowns on very young children, but childhood development specialists say that most children will likely be OK because their most important relationships at this age are with parents. Still, a growing number of studies highlight the value of social interaction to brain development. Research shows that neural networks influencing language development and broader cognitive ability get built through verbal and physical give-and-take — from the sharing of a ball to exchanges of sounds and simple phrases.”

M.B.A. Applicants, Brace for ‘Most Competitive Year Ever’ (The Wall Street Journal): “Applications to American M.B.A. programs rose for the first time in five years in 2020, partly owing to schools’ loosening testing requirements and would-be students looking to ride out the economic downturn … Space is already limited in many programs, after some admitted students put off enrolling earlier in the pandemic. The deferral rate … for all students climbed from 2% in 2019 to 6% in 2020 … The percentage of applicants that programs are inviting for interviews fell about 8% at the top 16 schools, and the rejection rate rose about 7% compared with a year ago … At the top seven schools, the interview request rate has fallen by about 11% in the past year and rejections have jumped 10% from a year ago.”

False Labor (Harper’s Magazine): “If there’s one person less welcome among the IVF Warriors than a new mother, it is a woman who has given up on becoming one. For though these communities were created to support women trapped in the fertility-industrial complex, they hold fast to its founding commandment: never quit, because nothing is impossible. In a culture where some mothers are told that their children’s lives are worth nothing at all, other women—women who look like me and most of the IVF Warriors—are told that no expense is too great to bring another child into the world.”

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The Sadness of the Trips Not Taken (The New York Times): “Through the lens of travel, 2020 for many has been about — well, nothing and nowhere … would-have-been-trip-takers are left grappling with a specific loss, not only about places not seen and experiences not had, but also milestones not celebrated, people not hugged and time that’s impossible to get back. They are also questioning whether they have any right to feel sadness, given the widespread illness, death and economic turmoil caused by the virus.”

The Crown’s Majestic Untruths (The Atlantic): “The real source of unease with The Crown comes from the dissonance between the high naturalism of the program’s costumes, staging, and set design and the liberties taken with its plotlines. The current discussion would not be happening if the show were not so rigorously faithful to the historical record in every department except for its script … the promise of The Crown is that what we’re seeing is true, perhaps not literally, but close enough to draw power from the connection. When there’s real blood at stake, real lives, real futures, that acts as a short circuit to the audience’s amygdala … The program’s arc is moving closer to the present, where wounds are fresher and grievances not yet burned out. It is also sharper in its criticism of the Royal Family, particularly Prince Charles … dramatists take sides. They also create meaning. And here is a vice that The Crown shares with horse-race election coverage: the subordination of facts to narrative.”

Why Conservatives Are So Threatened by Harry Styles in a Dress (Rolling Stone): “Like the TikTok maid videos, the point of the cover wasn’t to shock or to titillate. The goal of the shoot wasn’t any different than that featuring a female model in a similar garment: to show a gorgeous person in a gorgeous dress, looking gorgeous. What really incensed conservative commenters … was precisely how mundane the image was supposed to be.”

The Handbag Proves Fashion’s Great Survivor (The Guardian): “While store closures and economic uncertainty have hit the fashion industry hard – net profits at luxury giant LVMH fell by 84% during the first half of 2020 – demand for classic handbags has proved resilient. Global fashion search platform Lyst has reported searches for vintage bags have hit an all-time high in 2020, increasing 46% year on year, with secondhand Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Hermès the most in-demand names.”

The Children of Pornhub (The New York Times): “Pornhub … attracts 3.5 billion visits a month, more than Netflix, Yahoo or Amazon … [and] rakes in money from almost three billion ad impressions a day. One ranking lists Pornhub as the 10th-most-visited website in the world … Pornhub is like YouTube in that it allows members of the public to post their own videos. A great majority of the 6.8 million new videos posted on the site each year probably involve consenting adults, but many depict child abuse and nonconsensual violence. Because it’s impossible to be sure whether a youth in a video is 14 or 18, neither Pornhub nor anyone else has a clear idea of how much content is illegal.”

How DoorDash Pulled Ahead in the Food-Delivery War (The Wall Street Journal): “DoorDash … commanded nearly half of the U.S. food-delivery market as of mid-October, up from one-third a year earlier … With little competition in the suburbs, DoorDash earned big bucks from families placing large orders. It also gave priority to expanding the number of restaurants on its app, while Uber Technologies Inc.’s Eats focused on restaurants with fast delivery … DoorDash has never posted a full-year profit and cautioned prospective investors that Covid-19-driven growth spurt might not last. The company will be the only public stand-alone U.S. food-delivery company after Grubhub Inc. agreed to be acquired in June.”

Select styles are now up to 40% off at Reformation. Shipping is free on all orders. My picks:

Etsy Was a Twee Culture Punchline. Now It’s a Wall Street Darling. (The New York Times): “Since the start of April, the site has sold nearly 54 million masks, worth $600 million, and the boom has proved surprisingly durable, helping to supercharge key profit and sales metrics at the company. In the third quarter, the total value of goods sold on the site, excluding masks, was also up 93 percent, as housebound Americans bought home furnishings, craft supplies, jewelry and accessories.”

Who Will We Be When This Is All Over? (Wired): “Perhaps … this brutal year can bring about systemic change. The pandemic has further exposed how the negligible social safety net in the US disproportionately punishes women. Saddled with additional unpaid labor in the home due to the closure of schools, in September 865,000 women left the workforce, four times the number of men.”

For Covid-Era Wedding Dresses, Anything Goes (The Wall Street Journal): “Perhaps by 2023, voluminous dresses will rule anew after this season’s more modest looks. After all, World War II-era brides were obliged to wear austere, fabric-saving dresses—sometimes made of Army Air Corps-issued parachute silk—but, by the 1950s, optimistically extravagant dresses returned. Post-vaccine, brides will probably go big again.”

Here’s Why Vaccinated People Still Need to Wear a Mask (The New York Times): “In most respiratory infections, including the new coronavirus, the nose is the main port of entry. The virus rapidly multiplies there, jolting the immune system to produce a type of antibodies that are specific to mucosa … If the same person is exposed to the virus a second time, those antibodies, as well as immune cells that remember the virus, rapidly shut down the virus in the nose before it gets a chance to take hold elsewhere in the body. The coronavirus vaccines, in contrast, are injected deep into the muscles and stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies. This appears to be enough protection to keep the vaccinated person from getting ill. Some of those antibodies will circulate in the blood to the nasal mucosa and stand guard there, but it’s not clear how much of the antibody pool can be mobilized, or how quickly. If the answer is not much, then viruses could bloom in the nose — and be sneezed or breathed out to infect others.”

Recently purchased: J. Crew Honeycomb Cashmere Rollneck Sweater, Harris Wharf London Volcano Belted Wool Coat, Burberry Long Reversible Vintage Check To Solid Scarf, Tory Burch Wool Cashmere Coat, Iris & Ink Aika Turtleneck Midi Dress, and Tory Burch Printed Ruffle Dress.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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