Weekly Link Roundup

Source: Vogue

The Birkin Bag Gets an Update (The New York Times): “… the house will introduce the Birkin 3-in-1 … In a nod to modern-day needs, it includes a canvas pochette bearing the bag’s classic leather flap that can be removed and carried as an envelope clutch … When the pouch is attached to the bag — its flap lies across the top and fixes to the gussets, while the Birkin’s handles pass through the clutch’s slits to keep it in place — it looks like a classic Birkin. But when the clutch is taken out, the bag becomes an open, spacious tote, roomy enough to fit a laptop for working on the go.”

The Nasty Logistics of Returning Your Too-Small Pants (The Atlantic): “The average brick-and-mortar store has a return rate in the single digits, but online, the average rate is somewhere between 15 and 30 percent. For clothing, it can be even higher, thanks in part to bracketing—the common practice of ordering a size up and a size down from the size you think you need. Some retailers actively encourage the practice in order to help customers feel confident in their purchases. At the very least, many retailers now offer free shipping, free returns, and frequent discount codes, all of which promote more buying—and more returns. Last year, U.S. retailers took back more than $100 billion in merchandise sold online … Perfectly good stuff gets thrown away in these facilities all the time, simply because the financial math of doing anything else doesn’t work out; they’re too inexpensive to be worth the effort, or too much time has passed since they were sold.”

How Brands Are Convincing Shoppers to Spend Early This Holiday Season (The Business of Fashion): “… brands that want to entice shoppers by launching sales early risk a hit to their bottom line; putting products on sale for three months isn’t ideal for a brand’s margins or image. To spread out the holiday season without doing so, experts recommend brands stagger promotions, activate holiday messaging on social media and invest in technology that will drive loyalty … Shoppers are expected to spend $1.3 trillion this holiday season, an increase of about eight percent from 2020 … But anxiety around actually receiving product has consumers opening their wallets earlier than ever. Some 75 percent of consumers now say they plan to do their holiday shopping early.”

The Privilege of Mediocrity (The New York Times): “When minority artists make films and television programs, write novels and plays, they do so under social pressures — both explicit and perceived, from outside and from inside their communities — that shape the decisions they make as creators and affect how audiences receive their art. Mediocrity, the freedom to make average or worse material and continue to enjoy opportunities, is reserved for the few, and those mostly white, male and straight. Indeed, one of the greatest underrecognized privileges of whiteness might be the license it gives some to fail without fear … in the United States, mediocrity is a form of power and exclusion that’s just as much a function of white supremacy as redlining and voter suppression, though it may dress itself up in the garments of meritocracy … Mediocrity is … a way station on the journey to excellence, a space for radical experimentation and a momentary respite from the unrelenting tug of ambition. The right to be mediocre is also the right to psychic safety that, paradoxically, produces the conditions for artists to take risks.”

The Real Reason Facebook Changed Its Name (The Atlantic): “There are at least three driving forces motivating Facebook and Co. to pursue the metaverse, and pursue it to the extent that one of our largest tech giants is willing to rename itself in its honor: Public-relations strategy, founder ego, and a growing, industry-wide business imperative … Becoming a hero in the metaverse feeds Zuck’s ambitions the way aspiring to space travel feeds Bezos and Musk.”

You Don’t Need a Sexy Halloween Costume to Wear Fishnets (The Wall Street Journal): “This fall … fishnets could transcend their tawdry reputation as cheap All Hallows’ Eve novelties … Wolford’s … reports that the brand’s fishnet sales are up 60% between January and September compared to the previous year, with larger-weave and nude sets among the most popular … well-to-do Venetians may have worn versions of ‘openwork’ hosiery as early as the 16th century, when intricate stockings signified wealth and status.”

The Enduring Appeal of Laura Ashley (The New York Times): “On Sept. 8, 1985, Ashley fell down the stairs at her daughter Jane’s house in the Cotswolds, where she had celebrated her 60th birthday the day before. She went into a coma and never regained consciousness, dying nine days later, a mere two and a half months before the company’s first stock issuance. At the time, Laura Ashley Ltd. was at its height, but Ashley herself was the soul of the business, and it soon began to founder. By 1990, Laura Ashley was in the red and, by 2003, it had shuttered all of its stores in the U.S. and Canada to focus on licensing and e-commerce.”

Ready for Heels? Try the Surprisingly Comfortable Platform (The Wall Street Journal): “Post-lockdown, platform heels have climbed in popularity. According to … Lyst, searches for ‘platform heels’ have increased 41% this month compared with last … for women who wish to reclaim an elevated existence, platforms offer a relatively painless segue from fleece-lined house shoes by taking pressure off the ball of the foot, making high heels feel less high … Fall’s imposing platforms are more assertive, less overtly sexy—and more versatile—than single-sole stilettos.”

The Art of the Boyfriend ‘Soft Launch’ (The Atlantic): “… a boyfriend might be soft-launched to give a person’s friends and followers the chance to get used to the idea of him, as well as to give the soft-launcher a chance to gauge their social circle’s first impressions … the boyfriend soft launch isn’t just a joke. Being online and caring about Instagram requires a person to think about how any major change in their life will come across to a wide audience.”

The Fight for Sneakers (The New York Times): “Shoppers armed with specialized sneaker bots can deplete a store’s inventory in the time it takes a person to select a size and fill in shipping and payment information. For limited-release shoes, the time advantage afforded by a bot could mean the difference between disappointment and hundreds of dollars in instant profit … Thanks to resale sites like StockX and GOAT, collectible sneakers have become an asset class, where pricing corresponds loosely to how quickly an item sells out. Sophisticated sneaker bots, which can cost thousands of dollars, are key to creating the artificial scarcity that makes a sneaker valuable and, in turn, makes a brand seem cool.”

Is Everyone Buying Fake Bags But Me? (ELLE Magazine): “The subreddit r/RepLadies is a self-described ‘happy place’ for discussion about replicas … It has 71.9K subscribers and thousands more lurkers, and it’s far from your run-of-the-mill Reddit forum. It’s a community that revels in the granular buying process of finding, locating, and shipping fake goods. There are guides on how to get verified on WeChat, how to speak in conversational Mandarin on Google Translate, how to reserve a shipping locker … and how to group items to avoid getting flagged by customs … r/RepLadies is a digital world where women attempt to beat capitalism at its own game using ingenuity and resourcefulness. The forum would make excellent fodder for a sociological study of compare-despair cycles, self-flagellation and shopping addiction.”

Americans Have No Idea What the Supply Chain Really Is (The Atlantic): “Both at home and abroad, labor is the ghost in the machine. The supply chain is really just people, running sewing machines or loading pallets or picking tomatoes or driving trucks. Sometimes, it’s people in the workforce bubbles of foreign factories, eating and sleeping where they work, so companies can keep manufacturing sneakers through a Delta outbreak. The pandemic has tied the supply chain in knots because it represents an existential threat to the lives of the humans who toil in it.”

Luxury’s Gray Market Is Emerging From the Shadows (The New York Times): “… the gray market sells authentic luxury products — but at a significant discount, usually between 15 and 35 percent, and with no contact with the brands. Through a practice sometimes known as parallel importing, gray market sellers tend to take advantage of the varying pricing strategies and taxation requirements for luxury products across different regions in order to get certain hot products to those who want them for less … Last year, the gray market was estimated to be worth up to 8 percent of the $257 billion personal luxury goods market.”

♥ Recently purchased: Adidas Big Baffle Down Longline Coat, Banana Republic High-Rise Wool Pant, Ann Taylor Plaid Tweed High Top Sneakers, LOFT Hooded Coatigan, Sézane Louise Scarf, Everlane The ReWool Peacoat, and Chloé Medium Woody Logo Strap Felt Tote.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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