Weekly Link Roundup

Can Meta Make Wearable Technology Happen? (The Business of Fashion): “Mark Zuckerberg was spotted in Italy meeting with fashion executives, including the CEO of Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica, but also the leadership of a slew of big luxury brands. Zuckerberg teased a new wearable product, which he described as a ‘neural interface EMG wristband that will eventually let you control your glasses and other device’ … Snap and Meta have avoided the biggest misstep of past generations of wearables by creating products that, to the casual observer, look like appealing analog products already on the market. Now, they must roll out features that are fun and useful enough to convince consumers that they need to wear a camera on their head in addition to a smartphone on their wrist.”

The ‘Coastal Grandmother’ Rises in All Her White-Linen Glory (The Wall Street Journal): “Coastal Grandmother is an exaggerated stereotype of the privileged older woman. She’s an aspirational character … professional women over 50 with enormous white couches and a penchant for walks on the beach. In real life, CG is exemplified by the off-duty looks of mogul Oprah Winfrey (in coastal Montecito) and Ina Garten (in coastal East Hampton)—neither of whom are actually grandmothers or even mothers. No matter: the Coastal Grandmother is more of a mindset than a rigid classification.”

I Lived the #VanLife. It Wasn’t Pretty (The New York Times): “To suggest that the worst part of vacationing in a van is sleeping in a van is not fair to the other aspects of the endeavor, which are also all the worst part — but it is cramped, slovenly and bad. It is impossible to make a bed while already sprawled atop it … We were millennials pursuing the manifest destiny of our generation — chic, rootless wandering — who had become mired in a boomer-esque rush hour. We needed to leave … On the last day of our adventure, in the rental-return lot, I received an unforgettable souvenir: excruciating pain that ripped through my back the second my foot touched the asphalt. While the agony left me unable to walk for weeks, it afforded me the extraordinary experience of sobbing in a wheelchair on the tarmac at LAX and clutching the hand of a kindhearted Delta employee as she prayed aloud that my life would improve. I later learned that sitting tensely for several hours a day in a huge rattling vehicle can sometimes be bad for your back.”

♥ (Video Link) Trevor Noah Complete Remarks at 2022 White House Correspondents’ Dinner ( C-SPAN on YouTube):

The Great Rage (The Atlantic): “This new focus by the Justice Department on harassment around the country … reflects how the ties of basic decency holding American civic life together have become seriously frayed … more than 500 top health officials have quit their job since the beginning of the pandemic, many of whom cited threats and intimidation as a decisive factor. One 2021 survey by the publication Education Week found that 60 percent of principals and school administrators said that their employees had been threatened within the past year over the schools’ handling of the coronavirus crisis. And increased violence, or the threat of violence, has also spread to areas of life that might not usually be inflected by politics. The Federal Aviation Administration tallied almost 6,000 reports of ‘unruly passengers’ in 2021, compared with fewer than 150 in 2019. Service workers have struggled to calm dyspeptic customers.”

Are Ties Really Dead? (The Wall Street Journal): “Interest in ties has been waning for some time, but the last two years of schlubby-comfy pandemic dressing have particularly dimmed their future … fewer and fewer back-to-the-office and party dress codes call for a smartly knotted tie … even some professionals who once wore ties daily now hesitate to sport them to work for fear of being teased … The days of widespread office-mandated ties may well be over, but ‘occasion-based’ ties are moving. ‘You see less of what you would see as a ‘banker’s tie’ and much more business in what I would call ‘casual neckwear … Brights and prints are definitely working. Floral neckwear is working for us.’ “

How Ben Got His Penis (The New York Times): “… as Ben sat there pretending to go, he pictured a more hostile group of drunken men and how they might react to the absence of his penis. Bathroom bills were on the rise, and every day for the rest of his life, taking a leak would mean managing risk. He was just 26 — still quite young. Looking ahead at a lifetime of this, the downsides of surgery suddenly seemed reasonable. Having a penis would help him feel safe, even if he still had to sit down in a stall … The penis, as an organ, is idiosyncratic, assigned to a seemingly random set of duties that you might not group together if designing it from scratch. The heart pumps blood; the stomach digests food. The penis procreates, urinates and transmits pleasure. It reacts to temperature, emotion and touch — a complex assemblage of tubes, tissue and nerve, configured in the awkward crook of space between the legs … Beyond the initial construction of the shaft, a phalloplasty might also include extending the urethra, creating a scrotum, defining the glans, adding testicular prostheses or inserting an erectile implant. Depending on the combination of procedures, a penis might take a couple of years to complete, involving many surgical stages and revisions and a long-term commitment to organizing life around access to doctors, insurance coverage, time off from work and postoperative care. For trans patients, the risk of complications is high … about 70 percent … Nevertheless, patient satisfaction rates are high.”

Is Luxury Recession-Proof? (The Business of Fashion): “History shows that heritage brands with a strong leather goods offer fare best during economic crises. Then comes makeup. Bottom of the leaderboard is affordable luxury and, paradoxically, high-end watches and jewellery … There is a litany of studies on consumer behaviour during economic downturns, some of which point to increased appetite for escapism that can lead to irrational purchases (for example, cinema ticket sales went up during the Great Depression in the US despite a 25 percent unemployment rate). Lipstick and makeup falls into this category of purchase even more so nowadays as the number of luxury brands offering makeup as an entry point grows.”

What’s Behind America’s Shocking Baby-Formula Shortage? (The Atlantic): “Nationwide, 40 percent of formula is out of stock—a twentyfold increase since the first half of 2021 … Three factors are driving the U.S. baby-formula shortage: bacteria, a virus, and a trade policy … After the recent deaths of at least two infants from a rare infection, the Food and Drug Administration investigated Abbott, a major producer of infant formula, and discovered traces of the pathogen Cronobacter sakazakii in a Michigan plant. As a result, the FDA recalled several brands of formula, and parents were advised to not buy or use some formula tied to the plant … the second cause: the virus. The pandemic has snarled all sorts of supply chains … Demand for formula surged as parents hoarded in 2020; then demand fell, leading suppliers to cut back production through 2021; and now, with more new mothers demanding more formula in 2022, orders are surging faster than supply is recovering … the third factor: America’s regulatory and trade policy … FDA regulation of formula is so stringent that most of the stuff that comes out of Europe is illegal to buy here due to technicalities like labeling requirements.”

How the ’90s Leather Blazer Took Over Spring (and Your Instagram Feed) (The Wall Street Journal): “An ideal barrier for spring’s fickle temperatures, the leather blazer injects a classic, tailored silhouette with danger and insouciance. Whether new or vintage, it needs to be well cut … The leather blazer’s renewed relevance comes courtesy of the broader ’90s and Y2K revival dominating the fashion sphere … But it’s also … simply a sign of our collective sartorial mood.”

Dolls and Drinks for Likes and Clicks (The New York Times): “It’s not a wholly novel concept for adults to return to kid-centric locations for a dose of nostalgia and irony … Of the dozen American Girl Place locations, five feature full-service restaurants … with an extensive dessert menu. The original Chicago location, which opened in 1998, secured a full liquor license so it could host galas and benefits. New York is the only other location that serves liquor, but beer and wine are served at all of the cafes … the company welcomes American Girl fans of all ages.”

♥ (Podcast) The Reluctant Explorer (This American Life)

Cautionary Tales from Cryptoland (Harvard Business Review): “Blockchains are not well suited to many, if not most, of the use cases that are being described as ‘Web3’ … Web3 projects seem to be a solution in search of a problem. It often seems like project creators knew they wanted to incorporate blockchains somehow and then went casting around for some problem they could try to solve with a blockchain without much thought as to whether it was the right technology to address it, or even if the problem was something that could or should be solved with technology at all … companies first need to identify and research the problem they are trying to solve, and then select the right technology to do it. Those technologies may not be the latest buzzword, and they may not cause venture capitalists to come crawling out of the woodwork, but choosing technologies with that approach tends to be a lot more successful in the long run … In my view, the places where crypto has done some good … have primarily been in situations where there are enormous societal and political failings and any replacement is better than what exists. For example, some people have successfully used crypto to send remittances to people under oppressive regimes. These examples are fairly limited, and the fact that it’s worked seems largely because crypto hasn’t been deployed in such a widespread way for those regimes to try to become involved.”

This New Social App Is Boring, in a Good Way (The New York Times): “Once a day, at an unpredictable time, BeReal notifies its users that they have two minutes to post a pair of pictures. The feed is mundane, but also fun — for now at least … the typical BeReal feed features photos taken in class, at work, while driving or getting ready for bed. There are lots of people making funny or bored faces while doing fun or boring activities. It’s nice! Or at least not miserable, which is worth a lot these days … Right now, BeReal feels more like a group activity than a full-fledged social platform, a low-stakes diversion that, despite its direct demands, doesn’t ask for much … That’s not to say a larger platform won’t mimic or try to buy BeReal if it continues to grow: Snapchat, Instagram and now Twitter have been encouraging users to post less self-consciously with features like Close Friends and Twitter Circle. They yearn for the good old days, too.”

What Do Female Incels Really Want? (The Atlantic): “The term femcel is now in widespread use, not just in Reddit forums but on every major social platform, including the Gen Z–favored TikTok, but we still don’t know what it’s for. If a femcel revolution is coming, what new world are femcels dreaming about? … Women have long been understood to hold sexual capital; in modern dating culture, they’re expected to wield it. Femcels complicate that story. They feel the same sense of ‘humiliation and exclusion’ that incels do, but they react to those feelings differently … [Incels express that anger] radically: through threats of violence, or through bizarre … calls for the government to ‘redistribute’ sex … Though society is discussed as inherently ‘lookist’ and unfair, femcels are not out to change it, because they don’t see it as changeable … On the internet, young women see more images of beautiful people every day than they have at any other time in history … It’s easy to feel like an outsider, and it’s also easy to feel like you’ve been lied to: If traditional beauty standards don’t matter, then why are they still celebrated all the time? What are we, stupid? ‘I think for girls, it just feels kind of infantilizing … Like, we’re not allowed to think of ourselves as we really see ourselves.’ It was illuminating, for a time, to have a word for that.”

Ditch the Suit! And Have All Your Clothes Made Just for You (Bloomberg): “… a look that’s utterly your own … tailored just for you … to obtain a signature style, you’ll need to take a leap into the realm of custom craftsmanship, where you can have something entirely unique made to your specific tastes. And think outside the office! A whole new generation of artisans is applying old-world techniques to make modern clothing, whether it’s a leather jacket or a tracksuit … custom clothes as an act of validation after two years of reevaluating our priorities in and out of the office: ‘If you work hard and you have the financial means to have the best of things, you should have clothes that look beautiful on you regardless of your height, weight, size, or race.’ “

Why Is It So Hard to Get a Restaurant Reservation Right Now? (The Wall Street Journal): “Looking online for a reservation at the New York location usually yields 10:30 p.m. weekday openings and nothing on Fridays or Saturdays. According to … Resy, April was the busiest month on record, even though historically its busiest time tends to be in the summer. (July 2021 was the previous record.) The average number of ‘notifies’—a waitlist function that allows users to sign up for alerts if someone cancels a reservation they want—has increased 50 percent per restaurant in New York City since 2019. OpenTable says their data suggests that walk-ins in the U.S. have dropped 10 percent from a sample period in 2019 compared to the same time in 2022.”

Redefining ‘Sustainable Fashion’ (The New York Times): “… for every development suggesting a serious commitment by industry and government to at least come up with a plan for systemic change (and a time frame for it), there’s another that makes real sustainability, when it comes to fashion, seem as far away as ever … the term ‘sustainable fashion’ itself doesn’t either. It is an oxymoron. ‘Sustainable,’ after all, implies ‘able to continue over a period of time,’ according to the Cambridge Dictionary. ‘Fashion,’ on the other hand, implies change over time. To reconcile the two is impossible. No wonder striving for net-zero emissions makes us all feel like Don Quixote, tilting at windmills … So we are going to use ‘responsible fashion’: a term that refers to a world in which all players, from the consumer to the C.E.O., the manufacturer and the farmer, take responsibility for their part in the supply chain and the creative process, and for the choices they make. It may sound semantic, but it is the difference between an end goal that appears impossibly, perhaps discouragingly, out of reach, and the process of at least trying to get there: step by step, increment by increment, decision by decision.”

♥ Recently purchased: Supergoop! Glow Stick SPF 50 Sunscreen, Open Edit Blazer, J. Crew Squareneck Mini Sweater-Dress, House of CB Gathered Slit Midi Sundress, A&F Traveler Mini Dress, Banana Republic Barrel Jean, and BR Factory High-Rise Pleated Chino.

Have a happy and safe weekend, everyone.

Hi, I am Elle!

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