Weekly Link Roundup: January 15, 2021

Why a Vogue Cover Created an Uproar Over Kamala Harris (The New York Times): “The selected photo is determinedly unfancy. Kind of messy. The lighting is unflattering. The effect is pretty un-Vogue. ‘Disrespectful’ was the word used most often on social media … Vogue had not granted any kind of contractual cover approval rights to Ms. Harris. That meant Ms. Harris’s team had not seen the final choice, which was left to Vogue, and had not known the magazine had decided to swap the photos … So while Vogue might have been imagining its choice as reflecting the modernity of the times, it was also one that contravenes the momentousness of the occasion. Ms. Harris may be the new establishment, but she is still the establishment. As is Vogue — which is probably part of why Ms. Harris agreed to do the cover in the first place.”

How to Sell Subculture to the Masses (The Business of Fashion): “… there’s an inherent tension involved when brands with anti-corporate roots join forces with some of the global apparel market’s biggest players … The acquirers are paying for authenticity, but that’s a quality that’s notoriously hard to scale. Many of these brands also bank on scarcity to maintain their allure; they may lose their shine once they’re available in every suburban strip mall … While it varies from company to company, direct-to-consumer brands tend to peak in North America when annual sales reach about $3 billion, while wholesale labels peak at around $5 billion.”

Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good (Bloomberg): “FONO, or fear of a negative outlook. Also known as ‘dismissive positivity,’ it’s expressed as an overbearing cheerfulness no matter how bad things are, a pep that denies emotional oxygen to anything but a rictus grin … Such magical thinking has paralleled the rise of professionals hired to be a personal cheerleader. Membership of the International Coach Federation, the life coaching body, has soared from almost 4,700 worldwide in 2001 to more than 41,000 today.”

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All the Jobs Lost Last Month Reportedly Belonged to Women (The Cut): “… the country lost 140,000 jobs [in December] … whereas men actually gained about 16,000 jobs, women as a whole lost 156,000 … 154,000 Black women … left the workforce in December … Among Black women aged 20 or older, the unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, or about 1 in 12 people … roughly 1 in 11 Latinas aged 20 or older were unemployed in December, or 9.1 percent, compared to 8.2 percent in November … about 38.6 percent of women over the age of 16 who’d lost their jobs during the pandemic had been out of work for at least six months as of December. Among Black women, that figure rose to 40.8 percent; for Latinas, it was 38.3 percent; and for Asian women, it was 44 percent.”

Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling (The New York Times): “As of December, [OnlyFans] had more than 90 million users and more than one million content creators, up from 120,000 in 2019 … With millions of Americans unemployed, [some] are turning to OnlyFans in an attempt to provide for themselves and their families. The pandemic has taken a particularly devastating toll on women and mothers, wiping out parts of the economy where women dominate: retail businesses, restaurants and health care … The most successful content creators are often models, porn stars and celebrities who already have large social media followings. They can use their other online platforms to drive followers to their OnlyFans accounts, where they offer exclusive content to those willing to pay a monthly fee … OnlyFans takes a 20 percent cut of any pay. Some creators receive tips through mobile payment apps, which aren’t subject to that cut … But many of the creators who have joined the platform out of dire financial need do not have large social media followings or any way to drum up consistent business … Digital sex work can give the illusion of safety and privacy … But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks … OnlyFans creators have also received death and rape threats on social media.”

Yes, the Pandemic Is Ruining Your Body (The Atlantic): “For many people, the physical ramifications of a year or more in isolation will be temporary, or at least largely reversible. For some, though, the accumulated toll of the pandemic’s disruptions to daily life could be deadly … Depression and anxiety, both of which have surged among Americans during the pandemic, are enormous risk factors for heart problems, especially among people over 50.”

Believe in Tesla? Then Why Aren’t GM, Ford and Toyota Crashing? (The Wall Street Journal): “The total market value of all other major U.S., European, Japanese and Korean car makers has risen in the past year, even as Tesla’s value rose eightfold to match them. Shares in Chinese and Indian car makers … have also risen, while Chinese electric-car makers have soared alongside Tesla … Private investors armed with stimulus checks from the government have piled into the stock market in the past year … Growth investors also like to buy stories … For this group, the addressable market and potential is more important to the analysis than details of quarterly cash flow … The other category of investors includes nuts-and-bolts fund managers and others who pay close attention to the numbers … These investors are unlikely to find a way to buy Tesla at a valuation of $1.6 million for each of last year’s sales, even if they think the company itself has a decent future. Between these two views, there is usually an opportunity for arbitrage, going short one company and long a competitor and helping to bring stock prices back into line with fundamentals. But betting against the Tesla share price has been a quick way to become a former hedge-fund manager in the past year, and most of the short positions have been closed.”

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These $4,400 Sneakers Are the New Stilettos (Bloomberg): “Demand for designer shoes last year slid 21% globally compared to a 19% slump for the broader footwear market … While Lyst … saw online searches for ‘heels’ increase 33% in the fourth quarter of 2020 from the previous year, reps believe it had more to do with a desire for shorter mules, which saw a 47% increase, and the general move to online shopping during the pandemic. Stilettos were down 12% and heel boots saw a decline of 9% from the year before; sandal heels were up 21%. Searches for slippers were up 242%, and within that category searches for clogs were up 110%. Even love-to-hate it Crocs has seen new life, with 2020 revenue climbing more than 12%, to $1.4 billion, a record high for the company.”

The Memory War (The Cut): “On the heels of the national panic over satanic-ritual child abuse in the 1980s, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation helped shift cultural sympathies from alleged victims to the accused, portraying survivors as casualties of radical-feminist therapists who “implanted” memories of child abuse in gullible patients. The theory the Freyds promoted made its way into college textbooks, syndicated talk shows, and Supreme Court confirmation hearings … Schooler’s work suggests that memories of childhood sexual abuse aren’t so much repressed as mischaracterized. Victims often remember what happened to them as children; they just don’t have the tools to understand it, let alone explain it to others. Once they gain information that casts the experience in a new light … what was previously considered weird or uncomfortable is recognized as abuse.”

A Shift in American Family Values Is Fueling Estrangement (The Atlantic): “Most estrangements between a parent and an adult child are initiated by the child, according to a 2015 survey of more than 800 people. A survey of mothers from 65 to 75 years old with at least two living adult children found that about 11 percent were estranged from a child and 62 percent reported contact less than once a month with at least one child … There are good and bad features of modern family life, in which relations are often based more on ties of affection than on duty or obedience. In these times, the people we choose to be close to represent not only a preference, but a profound statement of our identities. We are freed to surround ourselves with those who reflect our deepest values—parents included. We feel empowered to call on loved ones to be more sensitive to our needs, our emotions, and our aspirations. This freedom enables us to become untethered and protected from hurtful or abusive family members.”

Be Kinder to Yourself (HBR): “Often, we’re our own worst critic. When we feel anxious or frustrated, we talk to ourselves more harshly than we’d find acceptable by anyone else … There are four elements of self-compassion: using a tone of kindness, recognizing that pain is a universal human experience, taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions that neither suppresses or exaggerates them, and expecting yourself to make the best decision you can in the situation you’re in.”

Why Fashion Brands Were Silent After the US Capitol Storming (The Business of Fashion): “Some may have become more cautious after being burned when their statements supporting Black Lives Matter and other causes were seen as inauthentic, self-serving and … at odds with their own internal cultures, attracting social media backlash … Others may have been wary of commenting on every new crisis at a volatile moment in history. But for many, the underlying calculus was rooted in the distinction between politics and values … While universal values are not always universally shared, they are less fraught with the tension and complexity that can make party politics a minefield for brands. Critically, they can also be more easily activated in a way that is positive, constructive and aligns with a brand’s own framework of values … Many brand managers will have watched the Capitol invasion unfold in real-time and, despite pressure from employees, quickly realised there was no positive brand story for them to tell.”

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Hear Sycamore Resets Ascena Management (WWD): “Kindler is … in line to head the Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey divisions of Ascena … Kindler … started her career at Ann Taylor, where she was part of the team leading the launch of the e-commerce business and Ann Taylor Loft.”

There Is No ‘Sex and the City’ Without Samantha (Rolling Stone): “… the primary reason the Sex and the City reboot is a bad idea is the glaring absence of one of its four main characters — the one who constituted the heart and soul, and arguably the moral center, of the entire franchise: the sexually voracious publicist Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall … as even the biggest SATC critics know, at its core Sex and the City is neither about sex nor the city, nor shoes nor Chris Noth’s cleft chin, nor inexplicably wearing belts around your midriff — it’s about the enduring power of female friendship. And the absence of one of the core group of female friends at its heart betrays that very idea.”

The Capitol Rioters Weren’t ‘Low Class’ (The Atlantic): “The notion that political violence simply emerges out of economic desperation, rather than ideology, is comforting. But it’s false. Throughout American history, political violence has often been guided, initiated, and perpetrated by respectable people from educated middle- and upper-class backgrounds. The belief that only impoverished people engage in political violence—particularly right-wing political violence—is a misconception often cultivated by the very elites who benefit from that violence. The members of the mob that attacked the Capitol and beat a police officer to death last week were not desperate. They were there because they believed they had been unjustly stripped of their inviolable right to rule.”

Fewer Guards, More Black Brands: Sephora’s Plan to Win Back Shoppers (Bloomberg): “Sephora [is] … rapidly falling behind its biggest direct competitor, Ulta Beauty Inc., in terms of sales. As recently as 2017, the two chains were neck-and-neck, with both bringing in around $5.9 billion in the U.S. sales … Just two years later, Ulta raked in $7.4 billion to Sephora’s $5.9 billionTwo in five U.S. retail shoppers say they have experienced unfair treatment based on the color of their skin, with Black consumers 2.5 times more likely than White ones to have that kind of interaction, according to an online survey of 3,034 U.S. shoppers and 1,703 retail employees commissioned by Sephora.”

♥ Recently purchased: Everlane The Cloud Cable Cardigan, ALLSAINTS Nevarra Mock Neck Sweatshirt, Sézane Micky Jumper, Ann Taylor Blazer Coatigan, lululemon On Repeat Dress, and Free People Modern Minidress.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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