Weekly Link Roundup

One of my favorite warm-weather pieces, the Free People Candy Shop Dress (outfit from this post), has been re-released this season, with some updates–a square neckline, crocheted yoke, and unfinished hem, as the Ari Long Sleeve Minidress

What’s Next for LVMH’s Fashion Group (The Business of Fashion): “… the coronavirus crisis … has widened the gap between so-called ‘megabrands’ and the small and mid-sized labels which had already been struggling to grow before the pandemic. Sales at LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Dior flagships surged from 2016 through 2019, along with those of rivals like Hermès and Kering’s Gucci, while smaller competitors like Valentino, Chloé or Tod’s saw their market share slipping … some analysts have questioned whether smaller brands still make sense for huge luxury groups. ‘Bolt-on’ acquisitions are tricky to scale and can be seen as a distraction for management, and a money pit for investment capital that might be better spent on growing the group’s more-profitable core businesses … The faster pace of disposals and designer changes also underscores that while Arnault has taken a famously long-term approach to investing in brands, the portfolio is still being constantly reviewed … LVMH isn’t likely to cut loose smaller luxury labels with a storied heritage and craftsmanship, either, even if today’s competitive landscape has made scaling them a challenge. But its framework for managing those brands seems to have become more malleable, with a few brands now planning to deviate from the group’s somewhat one-size-fits-all playbook of appointing a star ready-to-wear designer, opening dozens of retail stores, and refocusing the business on handbags.”

Forget NFTs. What about the HTF (Hard to Find)? (The New York Times): “All over the United States … shoppers are encountering the same thing: products that are sold out or on back order. That they are ‘hard to find,’ … naturally increases their desirability, sort of like ‘hard to get’ used to be in relationships. The reason some things are unavailable seems straightforward enough. Millions of people who before the pandemic weren’t at home much spent the last year testing the limits of their clothes dryers, dishwashers and stoves, and their living spaces groaned under the unreasonable demands.”

The Trouble with ‘Sustainable’ Fashion (The Business of Fashion): “Sustainability is fashion’s word of the moment, encompassing any effort by a brand to operate more responsibly. Its definition, therefore, is hazy. Often, brands don’t need to use the word ‘sustainable’ at all to communicate a moral high ground to their customers. Marketing images set in nature, product descriptions that emphasise natural fibres and talk of timeless styles are among the signals that have come to imply environmentally responsibility … The ambiguity works to the advantage of fashion brands. Sustainability has become a luxury signifier, often allowing a label to charge higher prices. Businesses that are seen as sustainable appeal to like-minded customers, who rarely look into the details. One survey of young European consumers by Zalando found that 60 percent said supply chain transparency was important to them, but only 20 percent actively researched the topic ahead of a purchase.”

The Crucifixion of Courtney Stodden (The Daily Beast): “It took many years for Stodden, 26, to see themself as a victim of Hutchison’s predation. After much soul-searching, and some shocking revelations concerning Hutchison, they finally initiated divorce proceedings in 2018, and their divorce was finalized in March 2020.”

Why Instagram Still Isn’t a Shopping Destination (The Business of Fashion): “Though [Instagram Checkout’s] launch two years ago was billed as a watershed moment in Instagram’s push to become an e-commerce powerhouse … the function hasn’t resulted in a meaningful increase in sales … Brands said the biggest pain point is that Checkout may promise a more seamless shopping experience, but it doesn’t deliver a better one. While it allows consumers to buy anything that happens to catch their fancy in just two clicks, shoppers don’t get the benefit of all the additional product information they would find on a brands’ website. In many cases, if they wanted sizing information, details about materials or additional photos, they’d have to close out of the app and manually visit the brand’s homepage on their browser. Some checkout pages do include product information, but it may be obscured underneath the ‘Add to Cart’ button and requires extra exploration.”

Why Millennials Can’t Grow Up (The Atlantic): “Millennials … are a generation delayed. The pandemic recession has led not-so-young adults to put off having kids, buying a house, getting married, or investing in a car—yet again. But today’s economic conditions are not just holding Millennials back. They are stratifying them, leading to unequal experiences within the generation as well as between it and other cohorts … The very wealthiest Millennials are doing better than people at the same age decades ago … The Millennial top 10 percent—who grew up in relatively wealthy families and went to selective colleges—are doing just fine. But poorer Millennials—particularly those without a college degree—remain far, far behind … the typical Millennial without a college degree has nearly 20 percent less wealth than would be expected.”

Juul Finds Hell Hath No Fury Like an Army of Really Rich Parents (Bloomberg): “By the fall of 2018, a formidable group of wealthy parents whose children had fallen prey to nicotine addiction, from Atherton to San Francisco to New York City, were organizing in various ways to stop it The tobacco industry long ago learned that it was reliant on, and had to continually solicit, what it has referred to as ‘permission from society to exist.’ Now, Juul is learning the same holds true for itself. The lesson is worthy of being taught at Stanford: The enemies you least want are the parents of your customers.”

Ralph Lauren Sold Club Monaco. What’s Next? (The Business of Fashion): “Ralph Lauren … announced … that it sold Club Monaco to private equity firm Regent, L.P. for an undisclosed sum. Insiders say the retailer had been struggling in recent years and was not well-positioned to weather the pandemic … The sale ‘concludes’ Ralph Lauren’s evaluation of its portfolio in an effort to focus on core brands, the company said in a statement.”

Empty Lots, Angry Customers: Chip Crisis Throws Wrench Into Car Business (The Wall Street Journal): “Auto makers have been forced to cut production of more than 1.2 million vehicles in North America because they can’t get enough chips that are used for everything from safety systems to brakes and engines … That has turned car lots into a sea of bare asphalt. Dealers had fewer than 2 million vehicles on the ground or en route to stores at the end of April, roughly half the normal number and the lowest level in more than three decades … Demand has pushed the average price for a new vehicle to $37,572 in April, up nearly 7% from a year earlier and a record for the month.”

Why Investors Are Betting on Lyst (The Business of Fashion): “Lyst … raised $85 million from the likes of Fidelity International, C4 Ventures and LVMH ahead of plans for a public listing. The terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Lyst — essentially a digital shopping mall that aggregates millions of fashion products from brands and retailers under one virtual roof — was reportedly valued at $700 million. The company declined to lay out a timeline for an IPO … Fashion e-commerce is a tough business. Both digital heavyweights and luxury incumbents have struggled to turn a profit, weighed down by high customer acquisition costs, the friction of managing shipping and returns, and a saturated market where competitors are just a click away and e-tailers are often forced to engage in competitive discounting to drive sales. Lyst lost £11 million in its financial year ending March 31, 2020 … the platform has yet to become profitable. The company surpassed $500 million in gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2020, but takes a ‘low double digit’ commission on these sales and remains small compared to Farfetch, which expects to generate more than $3.7 billion in GMV and cross into profitability in 2021 … Investor interest in online luxury players is riding high after a pandemic-driven sales boom. And although stores have reopened, the shift to e-commerce is likely to stick, if not at lockdown highs then at least above pre-pandemic levels … Presently, Lyst is more like a search engine sitting atop a vast catalogue of over 8 million SKUs from over 17,000 brands and retailers, offering the biggest product assortment in the market … But a search engine tethered to a big assortment isn’t always better for consumers, who often don’t know what they want and like to browse edited, focused product selections. Morton said his ambition looks less like Google and more like ‘Spotify for fashion’ … Last year, Lyst began working with Mateo Rando, Spotify’s product director for mobile apps, who recently joined as chief product officer.”

How the Internet Turned on Elon Musk (Politico): “The loathing Musk inspires from the left is uniquely intense and personal, not unlike that directed toward his fellow techno-optimists in the Democratic Party like Andrew Yang and Pete Buttigieg. Musk shares their cardinal sin: that of cringe, an obliviousness toward, or unwillingness to acknowledge, the tastemakers who define pop culture at its highest level — which increasingly includes policy positions, like police abolition or massive wealth redistribution. Musk has remained stubbornly committed to a brash and vague tech-bro libertarianism that was already wearing out its welcome among cultural elites in 2011, and seems fully retrograde in the world of 2021.”

How L Brands Brought Victoria’s Secret Back From the Brink (The Business of Fashion): “… L Brands, the lingerie giant’s parent company, announced it would be spinning off the lingerie retailer, roughly a year after a planned sale to Sycamore Partners fell through … though the pandemic dealt a setback for Victoria’s Secret, closing the malls that house so many of its stores, it also forced a financial reckoning analysts say was long overdue. The crisis forced the retailer to reduce production and close 250 stores, helping to rid it of the glut of unsold product. Victoria’s Secret was then able to pull back on an endless cycle of deep promotions … Halting the cycle of heavy discounts has set the stage for increased profits going forward, making for a healthier business overall, even if the retailer never again reaches the heights of its ’90s or aughts revenue.”

I’m A Proud Asian Woman. This Is Why I Used To Date Racists. (HuffPost): “After years of fetishization and objectification, I had at some point internalized the belief that this was what it meant to be an Asian woman. It meant being a source of desire and derision all at once. While others may have stopped believing the lie we hear as young children — ‘he hurts you because he likes you’ — I let myself see racial abuse as the price to pay to be granted attention and affection, especially from white men. I eventually became so full of self-loathing — and my self-worth became so devastatingly low — that I convinced myself it was enough to be wanted solely because of my race and my appearance. Who I was as a person didn’t really matter. In all honesty, I don’t think I even knew who I was as a person at the time. I had become a blank slate, to be whatever the people around me wanted me to be.”

♥ Recently purchased: Sézane Lucila Ring Bardot Cindy Backless Romper, Bardot Alexa Floral Slipdress, J. Crew Tweed Fringe Shell, Uniqlo Cotton Ribbed Crop Top, and MakeMeChic Tie-Back Cami.

Have a great week, everyone!

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