Weekly Link Roundup: March 1, 2021

I really wanted to like McDonald’s Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich and tried it three times last week, but it’s just an ersatz Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich; my favorite fast food chicken sandwich remains the Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich

McDonald’s Joins the Fierce Fight for Chicken Sandwich Supremacy (The New York Times): “In recent years, American fast-food customers have embraced chicken and, in particular, so-called Southern-style chicken sandwiches. Consumers in the United States ordered 2.6 billion of the crispy, juicy sandwiches last year … Fried chicken sandwiches were the second-most ordered item on the DoorDash platform, just behind chicken fingers, last year.”

Condé Nast Can Learn From Netflix (The Business of Fashion): “Condé Nast must be careful not to dictate too much of Vogue’s editorial direction from New York and London for the simple reason that local audiences have local preferences. An overly centralised content strategy can be risky when future success is inextricably linked to consumers living in fast-growing international markets … Rather than selling American content to foreign markets per the old Hollywood model, Netflix has been highly successful in selling global content to a global audience. In 2016, the streaming video giant expanded to 190 countries. Just two years later, most of its subscribers and a majority of its revenue came from outside the US, supported by investment in a global library of content tuned to local preferences … Netflix doesn’t just produce local content for local markets. Instead, it produces local content that, with the help of subtitles and dubbing, resonates with viewers around the world, thereby reaping the benefits of its local investments globally.”

Mars Is a Hellhole (The Atlantic): “Mars is a hellhole. The central thing about Mars is that it is not Earth, not even close. In fact, the only things our planet and Mars really have in common is that both are rocky planets with some water ice and both have robots … Mars has a very thin atmosphere; it has no magnetic field to help protect its surface from radiation from the sun or galactic cosmic rays; it has no breathable air and the average surface temperature is a deadly 80 degrees below zero … visiting as a proof of technology or to expand the frontier of human possibility is very different from living there. It is not in the realm of hospitable to humans. Mars will kill you … Musk has used the medium of dreaming and exploration to wrap up a package of entitlement, greed, and ego. He has no longing for scientific discovery, no desire to understand what makes Earth so different from Mars, how we all fit together and relate. Musk is no explorer; he is a flag planter … Someone in his position could do so many things on our little blue dot itself to help those in need.”

The Dispossession of André Leon Talley (The New York Times): “The gifting is rarely as crude or straightforward as pay to play; there’s often no stated quid pro quo. And editors would insist it does not affect their taste or judgment, which is their currency, despite the fact that in many other businesses, gifting of this nature may prompt accusations of bribery and corruption. But in fashion, which was and is an industry where salaries are notoriously low and the pressure to represent the brand is notoriously high, it has long been considered part of the sector’s basic economy and an approved relationship-building tool … Lines are further blurred by the fact that in fashion, professional relationships are often nurtured in nonprofessional settings: on a beach for a photo shoot, where everyone is staying at the same resort; over dinner at Caviar Kaspia in Paris, to celebrate a show.”

World Fashion Capitals Get a $600 Million Haircut Thanks to Covid (Bloomberg): “… New York, London, Paris and Milan … could miss out on more than $600 million in economic activity this season … New York’s fashion week usually generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, surpassing that of the U.S. Open tennis tournament … During normal times, they attract 150,000 attendees who fill Manhattan’s hotels, light up the night life and spend lots and lots of money … London’s fashion week usually brings in more than £269 million ($374 million) for the city … Five of Paris’s 12 premier hotels, dubbed Palaces, are currently open, though with occupancy rates hovering between 5% and 15%.”

Sex Tapes, Hush Money, and Hollywood’s Economy of Secrets (WIRED): “American history is filled with carnival barkers and snake-oil marketers who put showmanship before truth. Blatt was the right marketer in the right circus. Soon clicks would come to determine what gets put in front of our eyeballs. When media follows consumer desire, audiences get outrage and vulgarity—and Blatt was more than happy to deliver.”

When One Fridge Is Not Enough (The New York Times): “Around 35 million U.S. households have two refrigerators, and … six million households … report owning more than two refrigerators, whether full- or dorm-size units … That number has climbed from 14 percent of all homes in 1978 … to 30 percent in 2015. About 27 percent of today’s urban homes and almost 40 percent of rural ones have at least two refrigerators … Still, ownership of multiple refrigerators cuts across divisions like income and household size. The chance of owning more than two refrigerators rises with income, with households making under $20,000 a year the least likely and those making more than $140,000 the most likely … People of color also have second refrigerators in disproportionately high rates. Nearly 20 percent of Black Americans have them, as do 22 percent of Latinos and 23 percent of Asian-Americans.”

New styles have been added to J.Crew‘s sale section. and are now an extra 50% with code SHOPSALE. Shipping is free on all orders for J. Crew Rewards members (membership is free).

Is Net-a-Porter’s Unconventional Prada Deal the Future of Wholesale? (The Business of Fashion): “Prada … has [been] shifting its distribution strategy to drive a majority of sales via direct-to-consumer channels … Today, 90 percent of its sales are direct … Net-a-Porter will sell their goods via a drop-ship model … Prada owns and controls the inventory. Typically, Net-a-Porter buys and holds inventory, marking it up by a factor of 2.2 to 2.5 to generate a profit. Now, Net-a-Porter will simply earn a commission … The model reflects not only shifting sales strategies at luxury brands, but also the success of competitor Farfetch … Because the margins are far lower — instead of making 50 percent profit, it’s often only 20 to 30 percent — a store needs to sell far more product in order to generate the same revenue. The costs of logistics and shipping may also rise.”

The Lion, the Polygamist, and the Biofuel Scam (WIRED): “Congress … has offered up billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies to spur biodiesel production. Some states have chipped in additional incentives. The shape, size, and number of these subsidies have shifted over the years, but there are two that are important to the tale of Jacob Kingston and Lev Dermen … Step one: production. Every gallon of B100 that a producer distills from raw feedstock is given a[n] identification number … [that] work sort of like carbon credits … Step two: blending. Producers then mix the B100 with a little regular diesel to produce what they call B99 … Every gallon of B99 produced earns them a $1 ‘tax credit’ … Those subsidies have worked: American biodiesel production shot from around 100 million gallons in 2005 to around 1.7 billion in 2019. But the industry is far from self-sustaining, and supporting it hasn’t come cheap … biodiesel credits have cost American taxpayers at least $12 billion so far—not all of which was used as intended, to say the least.”

Is Victoria’s Secret Too Big To Fail? (The Business of Fashion): “In the quarter ending in May, North American sales at Victoria’s Secret were $822 million, down about 45 percent from $1.5 billion a year earlier … Its stock is trading at nearly $52 a share, up from $9.17 in May 2020, after announcing better-than-expected sales for the three months ending in January 2021. Global sales at Victoria’s Secret were still down 15 percent overall in the company’s fourth quarter, but online revenue was up almost 33 percent to $831 million.”

Podcasting Is Booming. Will Hollywood Help or Hurt Its Future? (The New York Times): “A successful adaptation into film or television can generate $1 million or more for podcast creators, far exceeding what most shows can collect from advertising. (The entire ad market for podcasts was estimated to be less than $1 billion last year.)”

Bernie Sanders’ Mittens Propelled $1.9M in Etsy Sales Last Month (Retail Dive): “Etsy[‘s] fourth quarter gross merchandise sales rose nearly 118% year over year to $3.6 billion as revenue rose 129% to $617 million. With masks driving 4% of sales in the quarter … the number of active buyers was up 76.7% year over year to 81.9 million. The company added twice as many new buyers in 2020 as it did in 2019 … Net income in the quarter rose 374.7% to $148.5 million. For the full year, GMS rose 107% to $10.3 billion, revenue rose 111% to $1.7 billion and net income was up 264.2% to $349.2 million.”

Loving Ann Taylor’s AT Ease collection; a recent order: The Sweater Jogger Pant, Ribbed Hooded Open Cardigan, and The Wide Leg Sweater Pant.

The New Work-From-Home Uniform: A Business Suit That’s Pajamas, Too (The Wall Street Journal): “Some Japanese clothing makers say it’s time to move beyond merely wearing pre-pandemic formal wear from the waist up. Zoom-era fashion should be unabashedly dual-use, custom-designed to serve both as videoconference-ready attire and lounging wear … Clothier Aoki Holdings Inc.’s answer is its Pajamas Suit (trademarked), a three-piece ensemble … [that] can pass as formal, with touches such as a zipper on the pants—mostly for show, as they are cinched with a pajama-like drawstring … the set, costing about $135 total for top, bottom and jacket, has been selling well since it appeared in hundreds of stores in December.”

How Google’s Grand Plan to Make Its Own Games Fell Apart (WIRED): “Google is a tech company, not a content company. And while Stadia launched in November 2019 with third-party games … Google’s own Stadia games never materialized … [in February) Google announced it was closing Stadia Games and Entertainment, and laying off the 150 game developers it hired to make first-party games for Stadia just a year or two after hiring them … Google’s failure with Stadia Games and Entertainment reflects tech giants’ broad inability to foster game development processes in environments optimized for optimization … The tech company, so good at making services, simply wasn’t set up to nourish the chaotic, multidisciplinary circus that is making games.”

Why Kering Invested in Vestiaire Collective (The Business of Fashion): “… Kering … has acquired a 5 percent stake in Vestiaire Collective … The €178 million ($215 million) financing announced Monday pushed Vestiaire Collective’s valuation above $1 billion for the first time in the latest sign of booming investor interest for online fashion resale platforms.”

Why an Animated Flying Cat With a Pop-Tart Body Sold for Almost $600,000 (The New York Times): “In an NFT sale, all the computers hooked into a cryptocurrency network record the transaction on a shared ledger, a blockchain, making it part of a permanent public record and serving as a sort of certification of authenticity that cannot be altered or erased. The nascent market for these items reflects a notable, technologically savvy move by creators of digital content to connect financially with their audience and eliminate middlemen … The market for NFTs began to pick up last year, with more than 222,000 people participating in $250 million worth of sales, quadrupling the volume in 2019.”

♥ Recently purchased: River Island Houndstooth Knit Camisole, Tuckernuck Black Francoise Mod Mini Dress, lululemon On the Fly Jogger, Cuyana French Terry Boatneck Sweatshirt, Sandro Stretch-ponte Mini Dress, and Alex Mill Hooded Knit Jumpsuit.

Have a great week, everyone!

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