Weekly Link Roundup

Make your own DALL·E mini here

+ DALL-E, Make Me Another Picasso, Please (The New Yorker): “A few years ago, a company called OpenAI fed a good deal of … images, along with text descriptions, into the neural network of an artificial intelligence named DALL·E. DALL·E was being trained to create original art of its own, in any style, depicting in uncanny detail almost anything desired, based on written prompts. But a mastery of the entire universe of human imagery makes for difficult choices.”

+ Fashion Has Abandoned Human Taste (The Atlantic): “… the puff sleeve … has its boot firmly on the neck of the American apparel market. If you have tried to buy any women’s clothes this year, you already knew that—the sleeves are everywhere, at every size and price level … At a time when most fashion trends have gotten more ephemeral and less universal because of constant product churn, some manage to achieve the opposite: a ubiquity that feels disconnected from perceptible demand. Right now it’s puff sleeves, but we’ve also seen cold shoulders, peplums, crop tops, pussybows, fanny packs, and shackets—a host of looks that have generated their own aesthetic feedback loops, iterated until the buying public can’t stand them anymore. Americans now have more consumer choice than ever, at least going by the sheer volume of available products, but so much of the clothing that ends up in stores looks uncannily the same.”

+ ‘The Golden Age of Thrifting Is Over’ (The New York Times): “Because of the rise of thrifting, what isn’t worn ends up getting donated … Although it’s a better option than sending clothes straight to a landfillthoughtless donating can direct lower-quality items to people who really need them, while also driving up thrift stores’ operating costs … thrift stores have no shortage of donations, especially in recent years. But an increase in donations has led to increased business costs. Stores need more employees and more time to sort through the clothes. Inventory and space issues mean more clothes need to get either sold into the export market for a lower cost or disposed of, which has a financial cost … That means that what does get sold on the store’s floor — which is usually 20 percent of donations — is priced higher to make up the cost of running the store.”

+ Jorts Have Taken Over (Vogue): “Once you’ve seen a jort, you can’t forget it. It burrows into your brain and most likely your closet. Google trends also can’t unsee it: This summer, there has been a spike in the search term … There is an art to styling the airy-leg shorts. The aesthetic doesn’t have to be Sandlercore baggy layers—though you can do that! Instead, it’s about balance. It’s about intention … the tight top and loose-and-long shorts look is a stellar one that calls to mind a refined Slim Shady. In other words, buckle up into your jorts—it’s going to be a breezy summer.”

+ Stores Have Too Much Stuff. Here’s Where They’re Slashing Prices. (The Wall Street Journal): “Look for prices to start dropping around July 4, analysts say … Deep discounts are expected on oversize couches, appliances and patio furniture that are more expensive for companies to store in their warehouses … Look to e-retailers that specialize in larger goods like furniture to lower their prices … Retailers who sell their own lines of clothing and décor, like Gap Inc., could be especially inclined to mark down their inventory … because they can’t pass the cost onto anyone else … Consumer electronics are another category ripe for overstock discounts, Mr. Wallace-Brewster says, because the chip shortage is showing signs of abating. Items such as TVs and laptops are likely to be on sale … Inventory surpluses are unlikely to affect the price of home staples and food … Discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross that specialize in surplus goods may not have great sales … Also unlikely: slashed prices on luxury items. If anything, luxury prices for things like handbags and shoes are poised to keep climbing … Bigger metro areas may be poised for higher discounts than their rural counterparts … since they ordered based on demand at the height of the pandemic—which was higher in areas that are more population-dense.”

+ At a Luxury Shirtmaker in India, Obsessing Over the Tiniest of Details (The New York Times): “Ms. Devi was sewing a buttonhole with nearly invisible stitches. Each one takes 40 minutes and has more than 100 stitches per inch; other shirtmakers that specialize in this kind of clothing would likely have 40 or 60. Each shirt takes up to 35 hours to make, and tailoring aficionados who obsess over the most exacting details in a cuff, a button-down collar or a hand-stitched hem have described 100Hands shirts as some of the finest in the world … The shirts cost $345 to $450 and up depending on whether the shirt is custom and the extra handwork in certain details.”

+ At Gap, take an extra 60% off sale styles with code QUICK, or 40% off full-priced styles with code MORE, and use code ADDON for an extra 10% off. Shipping is free on orders over $50. There are lots of everyday basics, so if you are looking to shop hoodies, leggings, cardigans, t-shirt dresses, and athleisure styles, do check out this sale.

+ Why It’s Time to Believe Amber Heard (Vogue): “Go on social media, and the anti-Heard sentiment is palpable. The memes have been ferocious, sometimes consisting of a spot-the-difference comparison with domestic abuse victims; at other times, televised courtroom footage has been appropriated to openly mock her appearance. It is plain misogyny … Heard is being systematically jeered at and ridiculed like a medieval criminal in the stocks, as she catalogs historic abuse, as she alleges rape. Have we completely lost track of the severity of these allegations? We all understand that Depp fans will side with Depp. But even the less-aggressively Depp-pilled of us want to believe that the Caribbean pirate is blameless—if not squeaky clean, then at least under the duress of drug addiction, or acting out of character. That his violence can be somewhat explained away by a lapse of judgment, or circumstance, or both. We certainly don’t want to believe that this entire court case is a precise and conniving operation in discrediting Heard, regardless of what she has to say, regardless of her truth … I spend a lot of time wondering if everyone’s lost the plot. If the erosion of empathy we see online has rendered us so inherently unkind as a species that there’s no return. I don’t want to despair for humanity. I want to believe that some of us are offline and mildly compassionate, or compassionate in a way that doesn’t get tweeted about. That you’re all out there being nice to each other, and I’m reporting on a tiny cluster of internet users with pitchforks.”

+ An Ex-Mormon tech CEO Partied Nonstop and Pushed Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories. Silicon Slopes Stood By and Watched. (Business Insider): “Utah’s growing tech scene, nicknamed Silicon Slopes … insisted … that Bateman is an aberration in what they promise is a welcoming community. Here, employees and executives attend church together. (A 2020 survey suggests about three-quarters of the people in Entrata’s hometown, Lehi, belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) The area prides itself on being a kinder, gentler answer to Silicon Valley’s startup scene … But it’s also a tech ecosystem desperate to make a name for itself. To make too much of a fuss about Bateman threatened to distract from all the great things Silicon Slopes was doing … The private-equity firms that knew about Bateman’s reputation and backed Entrata anyway have come away unscathed … Meanwhile, Entrata employees continue to process complicated feelings about their founder and the dark side of bootstrapped companies. The lack of accountability can allow bad leadership to fester — potentially for years.”

+ Sequoia Is Down Bad (Newcomer): “In 2021, Sequoia embraced a strategy of holding on to its winning venture capital investments as public companies … The new structure established a perpetual fund where Sequoia can hold companies indefinitely … At current share prices, Sequoia’s position in Unity today is worth about $1.5 billion and its position in DoorDash is worth about $2.7 billion. So together, that’s $4.2 billion. If Sequoia had sold its current holdings near the all-time high for Unity and DoorDash, Sequoia could have generated $18 billion in returns. Or more conservatively, if it had sold a year after those companies went public, it would have generated roughly $12 billion.”

+ Gabby Petito’s Life With—And Death By—Brian Laundrie (Vanity Fair): “The tightness around Gabby’s throat lit up her brain’s panic centers. As her amygdala kicked into high gear, pain flooded her body. Her head felt like it was going to explode. Black and white circles peppered her vision, making it difficult to see Brian’s face or discern his state of mind—what was he feeling as he choked her? Fury? Nothing at all? Gabby couldn’t talk him down this time. The words caught in her throat—she couldn’t breathe, or speak, or scream … Brian tightened his grip, slamming Gabby’s head against the rocky ground over and over. It was a long, deliberate process. Death by strangulation, one of the most lethal forms of intimate partner violence, can take up to four or five minutes.”

+ Romance Scams Explode, Leaving Broken Hearts and Millions Lost (Bloomberg): “More than 95,000 people in the US reported fraud initiated on social-media platforms in 2021, with losses totaling about $770 million … That was more than double the year-earlier figure and up from just $105 million in 2019. Scams tied to romance were the second-most profitable on social media, after investment fraud … Recovering funds is very rare … And while victims often are senior citizens or part of an older demographic, even those in their 20s and 30s who grew up with the Internet can fall for the scams.”

+ What If All Men Disappeared and the World Was Just Boring? (The Atlantic): “The defining feature of The Men, a snappy premise in search of a novel, is the utterly flat reality it imagines for its women. Building an entirely new world order of this sort ought to puff up dramas great and small. But pfffffft. Why does the air seem to go right out of them? The Men launches women into positions of uncontested power but entirely underestimates their complexity. It makes you long, against all your better instincts, for the men to come back. There’s a big, ugly problem built into the foundation of The Men. The novel slices a clean chromosomal line through the middle of humanity, XX on one side, XY on the other, as if biology were destiny.”

+ Mark Manson, the Self-Help Guru Who Burned Out (New York Magazine): “Along with the documentary, the Subtle Art journal, and the newly launched Subtle Art School, Manson was planning one other Subtle Art project, a collection of 1,000 quotes from the book to be sold as NFTs, which excited him as an experiment. ‘I told my agent, ‘In ten years, it’s either going to be one of the smartest things I ever did, or it will be a joke and an embarrassment.’ I don’t think there’s really an in-between there. Is it the edge of something new, or is it just a cliff and we’re going to fall off?’ He laughed. (Months later, after a lackluster NFT launch, he said he considered it ‘a failed experiment.’) Collectively, as he saw it, these projects were the last real efforts he would make with the Subtle Art brand; they would ‘get it out of my system,’ he said. His plan was to spin off the brand as its own thing, run by his team, and at some point fulfill his obligation to Harper. After that, he would be done. ‘I’ve said this many times: The whole point of self-help is to leave self-help. If self-help works, you don’t need it anymore.’ “

+ New Dementia Prevention Method May Be Behavioral, Not Prescribed (The New York Times): “… the researchers estimated that about 62 percent of current dementia cases could have been prevented across risk factors and that 1.8 percent — about 100,000 cases — could have been prevented through healthy vision … ‘A neural system maintains its function through stimulation from sensory organs’ … Without that stimulation, ‘there will be a dying out of neurons, a rearrangement of the brain.’ “

+ China’s Fast-Fashion Giant Shein Faces Dozens of Lawsuits Alleging Design Theft (The Wall Street Journal): “Shein or its Hong Kong-based parent company, Zoetop Business Co., has been named in the past three years as a defendant in at least 50 federal lawsuits in the U.S. alleging trademark or copyright infringement … Plaintiffs range from small-time designers operating out of home studios to retail giants including a unit of Ralph Lauren Corp. and sunglasses maker Oakley Inc. … In many cases, Shein has settled with plaintiffs, often for an undisclosed amount … In some instances, Shein has responded to complaints about knockoffs of their work by blaming third-party suppliers … Since 2019, it has been named as a defendant in almost 10 times as many federal copyright or trademark-infringement cases as fast-fashion rival H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB.”

+ Fashion’s Metaverse Reality Check (The Business of Fashion): “In virtual spaces and on social media platforms, the appetite for creating and adapting online identities is high: approximately 70 percent of US consumers from Gen-Z to Gen-X rate their digital identity as ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important.’ A similar appetite for virtual goods can be found in China, where 70 percent of luxury consumers have purchased or will consider purchasing virtual assets.”

+ Recent purchases: Dolce Vita Paily Braided Sandal (more colorways here), Free People Weekend Plans Bodysuit, J. Crew Cashmere Henley T-Shirt, ZAFUL Twisted Racerback Cropped Top, Banana Republic The Wide-Leg Crop Jean, and Sézane Chacha Dress.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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