Weekly Link Roundup: January 22, 2021

The MicroClimate AIR helmet: I almost bought one back in November. Like, if the lead time wasn’t 10 weeks, I would’ve. And if they improve the battery life on this, I might still.

Magary: I Tested the Dumbest PPE of All Time – the Rich Guy COVID Helmet (SFGATE): “… the battery on the Air helmet lasts a whole four hours … You can accessorize your literal headspace to your heart’s content. But you’re still wearing a weird-ass helmet, and you still gotta carry it around, and take it off when you want to do vital things, and listen to its fan whirring until the battery shorts out.”

Terrible Financial Advice Is Going Viral on TikTok (Vox): “Personal finance TikTok, also known as #FinTok or #StockTok, has become a massively popular segment of the app that, at its best, is made up of experts who make videos discussing how to get out of credit card debt, explaining the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401(k), and encouraging young people to start investing for retirement. At its worst, however, Finance TikTok perpetuates financial myths, scams, and dangerously misleading information.”

Can Robert Bigelow (and the Rest of Us) Survive Death? (The New York Times): “Last June, four months after bone marrow disease and leukemia claimed the life of his wife … Mr. Bigelow quietly founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support research into what happens after death … [and to answer] two ‘Holy Grail’ questions — whether bodily death marked the end of existence and whether we are alone in the cosmos.”

How Long Can the Kardashian Empire Reign? (The Business of Fashion): “… the Kardashians are entering uncharted territory. Their reality television show, ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’ which brought them international fame, is set to end this year after 20 seasons … There is no playbook for the Kardashians to follow … However, what differentiates the Kardashians from other stars of their ilk and puts them more in line with the British royals or the Kennedys is their ability to reinvent.”

Can Andrew Yang Eat His Way Into the Hearts of New Yorkers? (Eater): “Yang has … brought the same food-centric playbook to his campaign for New York City mayor … Something about it is working. Each one of Yang’s food pictures gets thousands of engagements as it’s broadcasted to his 1.9 million followers, an audience that far eclipses the followings of his fellow candidates.”

Is Hedi Slimane’s Celine Working? (The Business of Fashion): “At Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, Slimane had made a name for himself by marketing youth style and culture through tight jeans, biker jackets and skinny ties. But with hip-hop having supplanted rock music as the dominant cultural force, relaxed, streetwear-inspired silhouettes had become the preferred mode of dress and were driving the success of brands like Off-White and Balenciaga … Holed up in a Saint-Tropez villa, Slimane had landed on what felt like a more considered edit from the Yves Saint Laurent heyday he frequently references — proposing softer, less sexed-up pieces aimed at the mature client Celine is historically known for serving … Estimates vary widely for how the brand is doing today, with analysts saying sales could be down between 7 and 40 percent year-on-year for 2020.”

♥ Until 01/25/2021, take an extra 75% off three or more sale items at Ann Taylor. Use code EXTRA15 for an extra 15% off. Shipping is free on orders over $75. My picks:

A Chinese Celebrity Scandal Puts Surrogate Births on Trial (The New York Times): “China bars medical providers from offering surrogate services but doesn’t bar people from using them … around 1,000 Chinese babies are born through in vitro fertilization every year in the United States, where the laws on surrogacy vary by state. The practice has become so popular that China’s biggest online booking company, Ctrip.com, offers some managers subsidies so they can freeze their eggs.”

Investor FOMO Is Selective for Luxury Brands (The Wall Street Journal): “Burberry stock … still has a long way to go to catch up with Prada. The Milanese label is the best-performing large luxury stock of the past 12 months, gaining 67%, while Burberry is one of the worst. Prada’s shares have traditionally been more expensive than its British peer’s, but the premium has skyrocketed in recent months. There isn’t much hard evidence yet to justify investors’ faith in Prada. Earlier this month, the company said its retail sales fell 6% in the second half of 2020—better than Burberry’s latest numbers, but not by much. True, there are some indications that Prada is getting more attention on social media. It ranked fourth in a recent Citi Brand Heat Tracker, while Burberry languished in 14th place. The question is whether this will translate into meaningful market-share gains as more consumers emerge from lockdowns this year.”

A Fashionable History of First Ladies on Inauguration Day (Vogue): “Since 1789, the fabric, construction, origin, and symbolism behind the clothes worn by presidents’ wives on Inauguration Day have been read like a press release on their intentions for the four years ahead.”

Birkenstock in Talks for $5 Billion Sale to CVC Capital (Bloomberg): “Birkenstock … is in talks to be taken over by CVC Capital Partners … A deal could value the business at more than 4 billion euros ($4.8 billion) including debt … Birkenstock sold 23.8 million pairs of shoes in the financial year through September 2019, which helped sales rise 11% to 721.5 million euros. Net income for the period rose 40% to 129 million euros.”

Fashion at Biden-Harris Inauguration Showcases Commitment to American Designers (The Wall Street Journal): “For … inauguration, President Joe Biden, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff have all chosen to wear the work of American designers or labels, including Ralph Lauren, Christopher John Rogers and Markarian.”

Snapchat Wants You to Post. It’s Willing to Pay Millions. (The New York Times): “Snapchat … debuted Spotlight in November and is ‘distributing over $1 million USD every day to Snapchatters,’ … As TikTok has become a more crowded and competitive space to break out, young people are sensing opportunity in Snapchat, especially given that they can potentially make money so soon … For Spotlight to succeed, it can’t just pay creators, it must also bestow fame. Followers are their own type of currency and, in some ways, just as valuable as dollars. For brands to take notice of Snapchat stars, the platform must demonstrate that it is a place that incubates and fosters talent — and popularity. Most people on the internet know what a TikTok star is, but an archetypal Snapchat creator has yet to be defined.”

US Clothing Retail Sales Declined 12 Percent in December (The Business of Fashion): “… holiday sales actually grew 8.3 percent year-over-year, with home improvement stores and online retailers driving growth, while apparel chain and department store sales declined … But … sales of apparel and personal-care products at multi-brand retailers … increased 27 percent in the week ending January 9, the largest increase since the start of the pandemic.”

Manhattan Retail Rents Plummet as Pandemic’s Pounding Lingers (Bloomberg): “Soho was hit the hardest in the fourth quarter, with average asking rents dropping nearly 22% to $290 a square foot … Asking rents tumbled 20% on lower Fifth Avenue — running from 42nd to 49th streets and dominated by big national chains. Upscale Madison Avenue saw a 16% decline … The supply of space is surging in most areas, with availability rates in key districts such as Fifth Avenue, Soho and Meatpacking at 24% or higher … Madison Avenue, from 57th to 72nd streets, had the highest availability rate for the second straight quarter, reaching almost 40% at the end of the year.”

Pajamas Are the New Sweatpants—How to Wear Them Everywhere (The Wall Street Journal): “It might seem counterintuitive, but a sharp pair of PJs can look more put-together than the sad WFH uniform … [of] sweatpants, T-shirt and hoodie … as of November 2020, year-to-date pajama sales were up 5% nationwide … Specialty sleepwear brands have enjoyed an even greater surge.”

Veneers Are Becoming An Essential Accessory For Influencers (Buzzfeed): “Our cultural fascination with perfect smiles has been growing steadily for years, and social media has only accelerated the interest … the Instagram Smile has now become ubiquitous … There’s been a steady march toward a universal straight white smile for quite some time now. According to an October 2010 New York Times article … ‘nearly 600,000 people had veneers in 2006, an increase of 15 percent over 2004.’ That number has only continued to grow, with last year marking a 12% increase in cosmetic dentistry. Unsurprisingly, veneers were the most requested procedure.”

Washington’s Secret to the Perfect Zoom Bookshelf? Buy It Wholesale. (Politico): “Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book, has become a go-to curator of Washington bookshelves, offering precisely what its name sounds like it does … While the company ships nationally, it gets a hefty portion of its business from major cities including Washington. And, over the past two decades, Books by the Foot’s books-as-decor designs have become a fixture in the world of American politics, filling local appetite for books as status symbols, objects with the power to silently confer taste, intellect, sophistication or ideology upon the places they’re displayed or the people who own them.”

Inside Twitter’s Decision to Cut Off Trump (The New York Times): “… members of Twitter’s safety team saw a Trump fan urge militias to stop … Biden … from entering the White House and to fight anyone who tried to halt them. The potential for more real-world unrest … was too high. Twitter was also under pressure from its employees, who had for years agitated to remove Mr. Trump from the service, as well as lawmakers, tech investors and others.”

♥ Recently purchased: Everlane The Wool Mackinaw Jacket, loft Turtleneck Cable Sweater (an extra 60% off today!), Ann Taylor Equestrian Midi Slip Skirt, Banana Republic Washable Merino-Blend Sweater Polo, Reformation Kim Long Sleeve Silk Dress (I bought this a while back and it’s now 40% off), Reformation Marla Button Placket Sweatshirt, and ALLSAINTS Ellen Long Sleeve Lace Peplum Top.

Have a happy and safe weekend, everyone!

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