Weekly Link Roundup

+ Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company (The New York Times): “Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe … The trust, which will be overseen by members of the family and their closest advisers, is intended to ensure that Patagonia makes good on its commitment to run a socially responsible business and give away its profits. Because the Chouinards donated their shares to a trust, the family will pay about $17.5 million in taxes on the gift. The Chouinards then donated the other 98 percent of Patagonia, its common shares, to a newly established nonprofit organization called the Holdfast Collective, which will now be the recipient of all the company’s profits and use the funds to combat climate change. Because the Holdfast Collective is a 501(c)(4), which allows it to make unlimited political contributions, the family received no tax benefit for its donation.”

+ Patagonia Billionaire Who Gave Up Company Skirts $700 Million Tax Hit (Bloomberg): “The deal is structured in ways that … bring the billionaire other perks, by letting him and his family keep control of Patagonia while shielding them from tax bills that could have totaled hundreds of millions of dollars … Chouinard is at the fore of a small-but-growing movement among the ultra-wealthy to use nonprofits to exert political influence long past their lifetimes … Holdfast is a 501(c)(4), a nonprofit that can make unlimited political donations … For that reason, any giving to a 501(c)(4) isn’t eligible for income-tax deductions. In addition, the Patagonia founder will owe $17.5 million in gift taxes for the shares he transferred to the trust. Still, the moves mean Chouinard won’t have to pay the federal capital gains taxes he would have owed had he sold the company, an option he said was under consideration. On a $3 billion sale, that bill could be more than $700 million. It also helps Chouinard avoid the US estate and gift tax, which is a 40% levy on large fortunes when they’re transferred to heirs.”

+ Bro Vests Are Cool Now. Really. (The Wall Street Journal): “… the bro vest has been morphing. Fashionable guys—those more likely to sling little bags than lanyards across their bodies—have started donning more stylish variations … These upstart vests, never ho-hum, don’t bear corporate logos. Cheery embroidery and patches often adorn them; the colors skew non-middle-management.”

+ Coach Is Done With Accessible Luxury (The Business of Fashion): “… the brand is coining a new term, ‘expressive luxury,’ as part of a broader repositioning meant to lure Gen-Z and lean away from the down market connotations of ‘accessible,’ and more into luxury’ … During the pandemic, Coach debuted a plan to beef up data and digital. It established an e-commerce arm, boosting online sales from 8 percent of total revenue in 2020 to about 30 percent now … It started to look at its customer clearly, rather than aspirationally. Kahn acknowledged as much on an earnings call in 2020: ‘At certain times we have placed too much focus on the customer we wanted and not on who our customer actually is.’ “

+ The People’s Republic of Shein (The New York Times): “… many of the videos on social platforms made about Shein … inspire comments raising these issues: How can a $4 top be made to last, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill? How can the workers who sewed and shipped that garment be compensated fairly? Yet this hasn’t deterred Shein’s devotees, many of whom feel they haven’t seen enough evidence to stop shopping with the brand … most of the customer base remains … fixated on the low prices.”

+ Human Trafficking’s Newest Abuse: Forcing Victims Into Cyberscamming (ProPublica): “Tens of thousands of people from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and elsewhere in the region have been … lure[d] them into working in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, where Chinese criminal syndicates have set up cyberfraud operations … The victims are then coerced into defrauding people all around the world. If they resist, they face beatings, food deprivation or electric shocks. Some jump from balconies to escape. Others accept their lot and become paid participants in cybercrime … Typically, fraudsters ingratiate themselves into online friendships or romantic relationships and then manipulate their targets into depositing larger and larger sums in investment platforms that are controlled by the fraudsters. Once the targets can’t or won’t deposit more, they lose access to their original funds. They’re then informed that the only way to retrieve their cash is by depositing even more money or paying a hefty fee. Needless to say, any additional funds disappear in similar fashion.”

+ In Queen Elizabeth II’s Style, Color and Conviction (The Wall Street Journal): Some women complain of becoming invisible in old age, but the queen’s uniform grew bolder in her 80s and 90s. While she always favored bright colors … she turned to nearly neon hues in the 2000s. Silhouettes stayed simple but she chose eccentric shades like hot pink and bright yellow. The point was to be visible ‘Bright colors are “all about politeness … She feels that if people have been waiting for her in the rain for eight hours behind barriers, they should at least be able to spot her when she finally arrives.’ “

+ How Abbott Kept Sick Babies From Becoming a Scandal (The New York Times): “Over the years, newborns on rare occasions have fallen sick or died after being fed powdered formula. Until recently, however, the pattern largely lurked below the public and political radar. One big reason is that Abbott and its lawyers … have repeatedly beaten back attempts to hold the company liable … A few large companies control the $2.1 billion market for infant formula — none more so than Abbott, which before this year’s crisis accounted for nearly half of formula sales. Unlike bottled formula, the powdered version is not sterile … powdered formula can be a breeding ground for a type of bacteria, Cronobacter sakazakii, that in babies can cause meningitis. Even when treated swiftly, the illness can lead to severe brain damage or death … But in any individual case, it can be hard to prove what caused an infection. The potentially deadly bacteria resides in dirt and water; studies have found it in kitchens. Because the bacteria can clump together in formula containers, it’s possible for a sample to test negative even if Cronobacter was in the powder that went into a baby’s bottle.”

+ The HGTV-ification of America (The Atlantic): “… gray floors rarely travel alone. With them, you’ll likely also find … a subway-tiled backsplash; upper kitchen cabinets replaced with minimalist open shelving; a shower stall covered in tiny, multicolored sheets of glass mosaic tile; a barn door gliding along a faux-rustic decorative track instead of turning on hinges. These bundled aesthetic commonalities aren’t just coincidences, and they can’t be entirely described as trends … they’re what happens when house flippers and landlords run roughshod over the housing market … Last year, more than 5 percent of all houses sold in the United States were flips. The same has been true since 2017. Meanwhile, a quarter of all single-family-home sales went to landlords, aspiring Airbnb tycoons, and other types of investors in 2021. All told, nearly a third of American house sales last year went to people who had no intention of living in them. These trends show no signs of reversal: In the first quarter of 2022, as housing prices soared across the country and many hopeful owner-occupiers struggled to get their offers accepted, the flip rate was nearly 10 percent.”

+ Are No Eyebrows the New Eyebrows? (The Wall Street Journal): “Going browless is not an inherently modern phenomenon. In the Middle Ages, women plucked their eyebrows and hairlines to create the illusion of an elongated forehead—a mark of beauty and intelligence. Italian Renaissance paintings, likewise, show how light and imperceptible women’s eyebrows then were. Just picture the Mona Lisa: Her smile you can see, but her eyebrows are barely there. The current wave of brow-free faces follows a Y2K fashion revival, during which supermodel Bella Hadid and others reclaimed the thin brows of the ’90s and aughtsbrow-ditching celebrities and their aestheticians could be taking a cue from young, queer people on social media, whose well-documented eyebrow experiments predate the summer.”

+ Until 09/20/2022, take 20% off at Supergoop! with code FF20 during its Friends & Family Sale. I reviewed some of my favorite Supergoop! products in this post for those who are interested.

+ So Square It’s Hip: ​​Gen Z Tries on the Communist Cadre Look (The New York Times): “On Chinese social media platforms where trendsetters trade fashion tips, young people — mostly men — have been sharing pictures of themselves dressed like their strait-laced, middle-aged dads working in Communist Party offices. They call the trend ‘ting ju feng,’ or ‘office and bureau style’ — meaning the working wear of a typical mid-rank bureaucrat … Some followers of the trend may be tongue in cheek, poking fun at China’s era of conformity. Others say that they are in earnest and that for many young Chinese, the look suggests a stable career path and a respectable lifestyle — a Communist Party version of the preppy look.”

+ How Banana Republic Became a Bright Spot in Gap Inc.’s Portfolio (The Business of Fashion): “Banana Republic sales were up 9 percent in the quarter ending July 30 — helping to send Gap Inc. shares 6 percent higher following the otherwise bleak earnings report. In the quarter ending April 30, sales grew even more dramatically compared to last year, rising 24 percent while Gap and Old Navy were both down double digits. Rebounding sales are the payoff to a grand reinvention of the Banana Republic look that began a year ago … The idea was to eschew the brand’s inoffensive offering and replace it with an undeniable point-of-view. The result was ‘Imagined Worlds,’ an adventure-themed campaign that re-introduced Banana Republic’s origins as a safari apparel maker with sharply styled and tailored products like utility jackets, cargo pants and wide-leg trousers. The look — part-bohemian and vaguely imperial — wasn’t for everyone. But that was the point. Banana Republic had been so bland for so long that it became imperceptible to consumers. Now, its British Army-inspired trousers and suede fisherman vests stand out in a sea of boring chinos and tops … In addition to the new look, Banana has cut back on promotions to just two sales per year and some seasonal promotions, like Black Friday. The average unit price has increased — a pair of pants cost around $100 and leather jackets upwards of $500 — and it has introduced new categories such as BR Baby and BR Athletics …The brand is relaunching its shoes and handbags offering this week and has increased its assortment of cashmere garments. More than half of Banana Republic’s sales come from its lower-priced Banana Republic Factory segment, where prices are at least half off compared to retail … Banana Republic remains a fraction of Gap’s overall business. The company posted $16.7 billion in sales in the year ending on January 29, 2022, and Banana Republic accounted for about 12 percent of it, or $2 billion. Banana alone cannot mount a full turnaround for Gap Inc.”

+ The Future of Crypto Is at Stake in Ethereum’s Switch (The Economist): “The merge is the name the crypto-community has given to the point at which the Ethereum blockchain will transition from using ‘proof-of-work’ as a consensus mechanism—the method by which all the computers maintaining a blockchain agree to add new transactions to it—to using ‘proof-of-stake’. They call it the merge because, for almost two years, a separate proof-of-stake blockchain, called the Beacon chain, has been running alongside the original Ethereum one for developers to test, improve and test again. The Zoom call is for the developers to agree on when the two chains will join together. The date and time of the event will depend on how much computer power is being used to maintain the blockchain, but should happen at around 1am utc on September 15th. This is no mere technical tweak. It is a complete overhaul of a $200bn software project that has been running for seven years, which will, if all goes to plan, be implemented with no downtime. People in crypto compare the process to changing the engine of an aeroplane mid-flight. Proof-of-work is hugely energy intensive, requiring vast amounts of computing power, and has resulted in blockchains, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, consuming as much energy as small countries. Proof-of-stake will require 99.9% less energy to operate. The effect on emissions will be as though, overnight, Chile had been switched off. More important still, the merge will, if successful, show that Ethereum has the capacity for self-improvement, opening the door to more sweeping changes.”

+ Some Like It Not: Are Men in Dresses Still Funny? (The New York Times): “The history of onstage cross-dressing goes way, way, way back … now this longstanding theatrical device is considerably more contested … One can fit a number of genres and genders under a dress-wearing umbrella — there are men and male-presenting performers playing women, playing men playing women, wearing dresses for drama, wearing dresses for laughs, wearing dresses as a means of self-expression. And many artists see drag, performed by people of all genders, as its own distinct category of stylized performance. Each new production prompts a new round of reflection, conversation, and occasionally controversy over whether these characterizations are sexist, transphobic, dated or delightful.”

+ The Ye and Adidas Conflict, Explained (The Business of Fashion): “Since 2015, Ye has given … [Adidas] access to an audience it has struggled to engage on its own. The line, which runs until 2026, is no celebrity vanity project either, with nearly $2 billion in annual sales … Trouble began brewing in early August, when Ye voiced his frustration with his alleged lack of creative control over his brand’s partnership with Adidas … Ye appears to be trying to strong-arm Adidas into giving him greater control over the Yeezy Adidas venture … Sales for Yeezy’s Adidas sneakers grew 31 percent year-on-year to nearly $1.7 billion in 2021, accounting for nearly 7 percent of Adidas annual revenue … as Adidas has discovered, these deals can quickly become an expensive headache when relationships sour. Brands often safeguard their partnerships with stringent non-disclosure provisions in the event of a breakdown in the relationship … However, A-list celebrities, like Ye, often have the clout and bargaining power to either exclude these clauses at the outset or make them hard for brands to enforce for fear of reputational damage.”

+ Gap Brand CEO Tells Staff the Kanye West Partnership Is Over (Bloomberg): “Gap’s top executive said the company would terminate the Yeezy Gap partnership and move on from Ye … Under the terms of the agreement, Gap will continue to sell its existing Yeezy Gap products in both Gap stores and its website into the first half of 2023 … That includes multiple product releases this fall and a holiday collection.”

+ Hip-Hop Mogul and Gap Officially End Their Partnership (The New York Times): “Ye … formally notified Gap via a letter on Thursday that he was terminating their agreement involving the Yeezy Gap apparel line, citing breach of contract. Instead, Ye is moving ahead with plans to open his own stores … In the first 18 months of the deal, only two products were released: a puffer jacket and a sweatshirt. They were sold online only. Not until May, after Ye enlisted the help of Demna, the single-named designer of Balenciaga, and that brand’s ateliers was a full line of 36 styles, Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga, unveiled. Those products finally reached stores in July, many of them at higher prices than usual for the Gap: hoodies for $240, T-shirts for $140 … Whether it would be enough to change the trajectory of the Gap was unclear. In its most recent quarter, Gap brand sales fell 10 percent from the year before. The Balenciaga Yeezy line is governed by a different contract and will not be affected by the Yeezy Gap termination notice … The partnership with Ye is rupturing as Gap is searching for a permanent chief executive. Sonia Syngal, who oversaw the Yeezy Gap deal, left the chain in July.”

+ Recently purchased: Tronjori High Waist Trousers (newly available in “short”), Banana Republic Modern Wool Blazer, Ann Taylor Mixed Cable Shoulder Button Sweater, Ann Taylor Floral Scarf Print Mixed Media Ann Cardigan, The Drop Jaxon Rib Button Down Sweater Dress, Veronica Beard Leeland Pointed Toe Chelsea Boot, Sorel Hi-Line Lace-Up Combat Boot, and Sam Edelman Uma Knee High Boot.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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