+ Big Mac Sauce Can Now Be Added to Any McDonald’s Order (The Takeout): “The Big Mac dipping sauce cups will be available at no extra charge when selected as the sauce for an order of Chicken McNuggets. It will also be able for purchase a la carte to pair with, well, anything else on the McDonald’s menu … The secret sauce won’t be emblazoned with McDonald’s signature red and yellow color scheme. It’ll be packaged in little blue-and-silver tubs, a nod to the Big Mac’s original wrapper when it debuted in 1968.”
+ The Shining Promise and Dashed Dreams of China’s Live Shopping Craze (The New York Times): “Last year alone, an estimated $500 billion in goods were sold via livestream on apps like Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, or Kuaishou, another short video platform — an eightfold increase since 2019 … The format emerged in China several years ago, then became ubiquitous during the coronavirus pandemic. Now nearly half of China’s one billion internet users have tried it, even as it remains largely unfamiliar in the West. To Americans, it may be reminiscent of television shopping — but interactive and, as a result, far more compelling.”
+ ‘Old Money’ Style, in This Economy? (The Wall Street Journal): “The old-money look isn’t confined to internet trend holes. It’s visible on the runway, in the equestrian boots and St. Moritz coats Rhuigi Villaseñor designs for Bally, and the undone trenches and slouchy knits at Tory Burch. We can see it in the Barbour-and-Loro-Piana-filled world of HBO’s ‘Succession’ … Everything old and frayed is new again … Looking overly polished and together was often at odds with traditional preppy style, especially in its 1920s and ’30s, Ivy League heyday. ‘Not trying too hard was always a really important part of the equation when these clothes originated’ … patches, wrinkles and scuffs were desirable. ‘That all conveyed an ease in this lifestyle that you were not a striver, you were already there.’ “
+ Why Tax-Free Shopping Matters (The Business of Fashion): “Tax refunds have long been a draw for high-spending visitors from China, the Gulf and the US, who see shopping for luxury brands from Burberry to Chanel as an increasingly important element of their trips to Europe … while spending by American visitors to Britain has returned to pre-Covid levels, spending in France and Italy has soared to twice those levels. And the pattern is more pronounced among visitors from the Middle East, who now prefer to shop in France and Italy over the UK at even higher rates than their American counterparts.”
+ Gap Inc. Says More Layoffs to Come (Retail Dive): “… laying off about 500 people in its corporate offices … People in the retailer’s international sourcing division, San Francisco headquarters and finance team will be affected … expense cuts, including a shakeup in its C-suite, would bring some $300 million in annualized savings. The company has eliminated the role of chief growth officer … The move comes amid ongoing struggles, with fourth quarter sales declines at all of the company’s brands. In 2022, Gap Inc. swung into the red with a $202 million net loss, compared to $256 million in net income in 2021.”
+ Are Blue Checks Uncool Now? (The New York Times): “Now that anyone can purchase a blue check, many users find the symbol newly uncool. The icon makes its owner appear ‘desperate for validation,’ according to the rapper Doja Cat. To others, it signals support for Mr. Musk amid his bumpy takeover of the platform. Users who value the symbol enough to pay for it are being shouted over by a chorus of prominent users who say verification is no longer worth it … ‘The idea that you would pay for status, and that it’s something that’s not conferred upon you, seems to be fundamentally undesirable for people who have status.’ “
+ Is Mass Appeal Even Possible Anymore? (The Business of Fashion): “Brands no longer just sell stuff; the expectation that corporations take a stance on cultural and political issues has made a unified customer base improbable.”
+ The Influencer Economy Is Warping the American Dream (The Atlantic): “Influencing, in the context of inflation and mass layoffs, can appear to be the new American dream for Gen Z. Watching someone film their own life and make a disproportionate amount of money from doing so, without being beholden to anyone, seems like an appealing way to avoid financial uncertainty … But the dream is deceptive. Influencing may appear to be a different type of labor—or not be labor at all—but it still falls into the same traps as traditional work … Despite their freedom from an employer, they are also reliant on platforms and institutions that they may not agree with.“
+ What Is Bluesky and Why Are People Clamoring to Join It? (The New York Times): “Bluesky’s users say the app — which was funded by a Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey — has come the closest to mimicking Twitter’s tone and feel … unlike Twitter, Bluesky plans to be a decentralized system, meaning people may eventually be able to build their own apps and communities within it … was designed that way so that no individual could create rules for the entire Bluesky community. Bluesky also operates using an ‘open protocol.’ This is unusual because social media platforms have traditionally been walled gardens, meaning that what is posted on individual platforms remains only on that platform. For instance, your tweets show up on Twitter and your photos show up on Instagram, but they cannot be easily cross-posted across those social networks. But because Bluesky is trying to be more open, it could someday allow posts to flow between different social media platforms with ease.”
+ Eileen Fisher Is Back. Her Fans Are Younger Than Ever. (The Wall Street Journal): “The same qualities Ms. Fisher’s loyal fans adore in her work—ease, quietness, modesty—have occasionally made her an easy target for good-natured satire. The brand’s image in the public imagination was as the ultimate outfitter for genteel mature women, worn by Vermont potters and Santa Monica midwives … While the company and its designs have remained steadfast, a perfect storm has gathered to become Hurricane Eileen: Young people are eager to buy responsibly made clothing; upscale Eileen Fisher alternatives like the Row and Totême are the height of fashion; and there’s a pandemic-induced, possibly permanent embrace of comfort.”
+ Currently loving: vibrant pop-up cards from FreshCut Paper, which combine cards and flowers, two Mother’s Day staples.
+ Mcdonald’s Says People Are Cutting Back On Ordering Fries With Their Burgers As Consumers Tighten Their Budgets (Business Insider): “… the cost of meals and snacks from limited-service restaurants in the US has risen by 7.9% over the past year. McDonald’s told investors last summer that some diners, ‘particularly lower-income customers,’ have been trading down to value offerings and ordering fewer combo meals … ultimately McDonald’s is ‘certainly a beneficiary’ of the economic uncertainty … as customers with a strain on their disposable income are more likely to turn to the chain because of its low prices … McDonald’s US comparable sales were up 12.6% in the quarter, which it attributed to increases in both menu prices and the number of diners. Total global revenues were up 4%.”
+ Taylor Swift and the Sparkling Trap of Constant Reinvention (The New York Times): “To watch her go through them in succession is to see not just fabulous clothes worn with purpose, but also the hamster wheel of constant reinvention that has been the model for contemporary female pop stars since Madonna set the tone in the 1980s. It’s particularly stark in comparison with another musical act now touring to similar response and acclaim: Bruce Springsteen. Mr. Springsteen is 73, and his style hasn’t changed much in 50 years. He’s still in beat-up jeans and a denim shirt, bracelets around his wrist, boots on his feet … the pressure to dress up and change up falls exponentially on women.”
+ Why Gen-Z Loves Dupes (The Business of Fashion): “Dupes, or less expensive alternatives to fan-favourite products, are everywhere … In beauty, the concept is especially resonant because products can be indistinguishable both in formula and appearance once they’re applied. TikTokers, who see dupe videos as a shortcut to virality, are powering the trend …The dupe craze isn’t hurting — and may even be helping — prestige beauty. For the most part, consumers traded up rather than down last year: prestige sales reached $27 billion in 2022, up 15 percent from 2021, according to Circana, while mass sales grew 4 percent. Consistently referencing a product as a holy grail builds buzz and desirability.”
+ America’s Death Trap (The Atlantic): “… over the past 30 years or so, U.S. life spans have increased a little bit, but way behind the pace of similarly rich countries like Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. This is a pretty shocking development because throughout economic history, people living in richer countries have generally lived longer. And yet in the U.S.—which is the richest country in the world—we’re not getting the long lives that we would expect … there is a mortality tax on being an American as opposed to being French or Japanese … the growing gap between American longevity and that of other rich countries, at least in the past 30 years, is being driven by our poor health, specifically, more drug addiction, more drug-overdose deaths, and a higher risk of obesity.”
+ Bed Bath & Beyond Shoppers Rush to Use All Those Coupons (The New York Times): “Bed Bath & Beyond, which opened in 1971, held unique cultural cachet among big-box retailers … Facebook groups were formed for people to trade the retailer’s coupons. Over the decades, those coupons reliably showed up in millions of mailboxes — and, more recently, email inboxes … People gave them as gifts to new homeowners and college students, kept them in kitchen junk drawers and car glove compartments. At least one customer used them as a calling card, writing their phone number on the back of the coupons and handing them to fellow patrons deemed attractive.”
+ Recently purchased: English Factory Mix Media Mini Dress, J.Crew Marseille Tote, Maeve Scalloped Buttondown Dress, Madewell Modular Sleeveless Romper, Gap 3/4 Sleeve Stripe Big Shirt, Jeasona Cat Socks, J.Crew Sequin Mini Skirt, Banana Republic Signature Silk Scarf, and Dagne Dover Nova REPREVE® Sling Bag.
Have a great weekend, everyone!