Weekly Link Roundup

+ Dolce Vita’s Paily Heeled Sandal is currently 50%-65% off at Amazon in a number of colorways (see on me above); most are still available in a full run of sizes. The fit is true to size and the padded woven straps require no break in.

+ How to Fix Broken Brands (The Business of Fashion): “… the whole heritage thing — studying the archives and brainstorming updates to ‘80s catalogue looks — is the easy part … Whether a brand resuscitation succeeds in the long run … hinges on the less glamorous work of chipping away at the corporate structures that allowed once-loved labels to fade in the first place. Mostly, that boils down to uniting the entire organisational chart — from the C-suite down to designers, merchandisers and publicists — around one vision that spans the product, the marketing and the customer experience.”

+ Living in Adoption’s Emotional Aftermath (The New Yorker): “Deanna is adopted, and she has spent much of her life grappling with the emotional consequences of that. She believes that a child who starts life in a box will never know who they are, unless they manage somehow to track down their anonymous parents. It distresses her that many of her fellow-Christians … talk about adoption as the win-win solution to abortion, as though once a baby is adopted that is the end of the story. If someone says of Deanna that she was adopted, she corrects them and says that she is adopted. Being adopted is, to her, as to many adoptees, a profoundly different way of being human, one that affects almost everything about her life. … There are disproportionate numbers of adoptees in psychiatric hospitals and addiction programs, given that they are only about two per cent of the population. A study found that adoptees attempt suicide at four times the rate of other people. … ‘Coming out of the fog’ means different things to different adoptees. It can mean realizing that the obscure, intermittent unhappiness or bewilderment you have felt since childhood is not a personality trait but something shared by others who are adopted. It can mean realizing that you were a good, hardworking child partly out of a need to prove that your parents were right to choose you, or a sense that it was your job to make your parents happy, or a fear that if you weren’t good your parents would give you away, like the first ones did. It can mean coming to feel that not knowing anything about the people whose bodies made yours is strange and disturbing. It can mean seeing that you and your parents were brought together not only by choice or Providence but by a vast, powerful, opaque system with its own history and purposes. Those who have come out of the fog say that doing so is not just disorienting but painful, and many think back longingly to the time before they had such thoughts. Some adoptees dislike the idea of the fog, because it suggests that an adoptee who doesn’t feel the way that out-of-the-fog adoptees do must be deluded. And it’s true; many out-of-the-fog adoptees do believe that. They point out that a person can feel fine about their adoption for most of their life and then some event—pregnancy, the death of a parent—will reveal to them that they were not fine at all. But there are many others who reject this—who aren’t interested in searching for their birth parents, and think about their adoption only rarely in the course of their life.”

+ Why Is Everyone Watching TV With the Subtitles On? (The Atlantic): “… subtitles are everywhere, and in fact, they may already be our default mode. According to … Roku’s vice president of viewer product, a 2022 internal survey revealed that 58 percent of subscribers use subtitles: 36 percent of them switch the subtitles on because of a diagnosed hearing impairment; 32 percent do it out of force of habit … Many of the people using subtitles, in other words, do not need them. And as it turns out, it is a Millennial thing, or at least Millennials are leading the way. A full two-thirds of Roku’s Millennial customers use subtitles, more than any other generation, including seniors, though Smalley attributes that in part to technical hurdles, which is a polite way of saying that older users don’t always know how to turn them on… it’s not your fault that you can’t hear well enough to follow this stuff. It’s not your TV’s fault either, or your speakers—your sound system might be lousy, but that’s not why you can’t hear the dialogue. ‘It has everything to do with the streaming services and how they’re choosing to air these shows’ … Specifically, it has everything to do with LKFS, which stands for ‘Loudness, K-weighted, relative to full scale’ and which, for the sake of simplicity, is a unit for measuring loudness. Traditionally it’s been anchored to the dialogue. For years, going back to the golden age of broadcast television and into the pay-cable era, audio engineers had to deliver sound levels within an industry-standard LKFS, or their work would get kicked back to them. That all changed when streaming companies seized control of the industry, a period of time that rather neatly matches Game of Thrones’ run on HBO … Game of Thrones sounded fantastic for years … Then, in 2018, just prior to the show’s final season, AT&T bought HBO’s parent company and overlaid its own uniform loudness spec, which was flatter and simpler to scale across a large library of content. But it was also, crucially, un-anchored to the dialogue.”

+ Should DTC Brands Open Their Own Factories? (The Business of Fashion): “In addition to quality control, having direct oversight of the supply chain can reduce shipping costs, get products to market faster and make it easier to head off problems. Operating a factory can be tedious for brands, but knowing where their products are in the manufacturing process provides its own peace of mind … Vertical integration works best when brands have established demand for their products, and don’t have a long list of vital investments competing for funding, such as opening stores or increasing advertising spend.”

+ As Older TikTok Creators Flourish, Brands Are Signing Them Up (The New York Times): “TikTok is gaining traction with older users, so brands are following them there … there are opportunities for older brand representatives because there are fewer creators in that age category to compete with … Upfluence, which manages a repository of 4.5 million social media creators that advertisers can comb to find partners. As of mid-April, the listing had only about 2,700 entries for people 60 or older .. and just 174 of those had a TikTok account. The group is also overwhelmingly female and white … ‘an indicator that other groups may be underrepresented overall.’ “

+ How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Swallowed Hollywood (The New Yorker): Whether you have spent the past decade and a half avoiding Marvel movies like scabies or are in so deep that you can expound on the Sokovia Accords, it is impossible to escape the films’ intergalactic reach. Collectively, the M.C.U. movies … have grossed more than twenty-nine billion dollars, making the franchise the most successful in entertainment history. The deluge of content extends to TV series and specials, with an international fan base that scours every teaser and corporate shakeup for clues about what’s coming next. As in the comics, the M.C.U.’s chief innovation is a shared fictional canvas … Hollywood has always had sequels, but the M.C.U. is a web of interconnecting plots: new characters are introduced, either in their own movies or as side players in someone else’s, then collide in climactic Avengers films … the Marvel phenomenon has yanked Hollywood into a franchise-drunk new era, in which intellectual property, more than star power or directorial vision, drives what gets made, with studios scrambling to cobble together their own fictional universes. The shift has come at a perilous time for moviegoing. Audiences, especially since the pandemic, are seeing fewer films in the theatre and streaming more from home, forcing studios to lean on I.P.-driven tentpoles … Whole species of movies—adult dramas, rom-coms—have become endangered, since audiences are happy to wait and stream … or to get their grownup kicks from such series as ‘Succession’ or ‘The White Lotus.’ Yet even prestige television has become overrun with Marvel, ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ series, which use the small screen to map out new corners of their trademarked galaxies. Hollywood writers, who are currently striking over the constricted economics of streaming, also complain of the constricted imaginations of TV executives … Industry people like to speculate about ‘Marvel fatigue,’ which is mostly wishful thinking—though a recent series of creative missteps and corporate machinations have rivals salivating. As much as competitors gripe about Marvel, though, they’ve spent the past decade trying to emulate it … [but] you can’t wish a universe into existence, Genesis style. Marvel, which had a preëxisting tangle of comic-book plots to draw on, rolled out its movies methodically, gaining the audience’s trust … ‘the Marvel folks have an emotional handshake with their consumers.’ Just as you can live your tech life within the frictionless confines of MacBooks and iPads, it’s possible to live your entire entertainment life in the Marvel universe, which pumps out a new series or movie every few weeks. Because the M.C.U. rewards expertise, it can baffle the casual viewer … But a critical mass is on board … Thirty-odd films later, Marvel’s critics (and even some fans) groan at the formula. There’s the climactic C.G.I. slugfest, often pitting a good iron man against a bad iron man, or a good dragon against a bad dragon, or a good witch against a bad witch. There’s the self-referential shtick, the interchangeable villains. There are presumed-dead characters who reappear, as on a soap opera. Most plots boil down to ‘Keep glowy thing away from bad guy,’ and the stakes are nothing less than the fate of the world, which come to feel like no stakes at all.”

+ Has Supreme Hit a Ceiling? (The Business of Fashion): “The streetwear brand logged revenue of $523.1 million in the year ending in March, a 7 percent drop from $561.5 million the year before. Net income also decreased to $64.8 million, from $82.4 million … Supreme’s underperformance could be seen as the latest sign that the hype around streetwear has cooled. Many luxury brands and consumers have pivoted away from logo-heavy hoodies, puffers and sneakers in favour of more muted and elevated styles … Brands can risk putting core consumers off when they become part of large entities. Consumers naturally gravitate towards newer brands that promise cultural cachet without the growth targets from corporate headquarters … the brand’s entire model was built on scarcity. The magic dies when the brand and its clothing becomes ubiquitous on the streets, when customers walk past the store on Thursday (drop day) and see smaller and smaller queues, or can find items available on the brand’s app any day of the week.”

+ Google Introduces Generative AI Virtual Try-On Tool (Retail Dive): “Shoppers can hit products with a “Try On” badge to select a model to virtually try on tops from brands like H&M, Loft, Everlane and Anthropologie. The technology will help consumers visualize how the garments may look on people ranging from size XXS to 4XL, with different skin tones, body shapes and hair types.”

+ It’s Time to Show Your Toes (The Cut): “They’re basically the footwear equivalent of lingerie: enticing because something’s not fully visible but just visible enough to keep things interesting … Mesh flats have arrived … Do these flats have support? Absolutely not. Your podiatrist would be aghast. Will they hold up against rain? They’re definitely not Gore-Tex. But after years of chunky dad sneakers; thick, pillowy soles; and sky-high Versace platform heels, it’s refreshing to see silhouettes that are ultraminimal — i.e., you can actually feel the sole of your foot hit the earth, sensitive arches and the elements be damned.”

+ Inside the Meltdown at CNN (The Atlantic): When he took the helm of CNN, in May 2022, Licht had promised a reset with Republican voters—and with their leader. He had swaggered into the job, telling his employees that the network had lost its way under former President Jeff Zucker, that their hostile approach to Trump had alienated a broader viewership that craved sober, fact-driven coverage. These assertions thrust Licht into a two-front war: fighting to win back Republicans who had written off the network while also fighting to win over his own journalists, many of whom believed that their new boss was scapegoating them to appease his new boss, David Zaslav, who’d hired Licht with a decree to move CNN toward the ideological center. One year into the job, Licht was losing both battles. Ratings, in decline since Trump left office, had dropped to new lows. Employee morale was even worse. A feeling of dread saturated the company. Licht had accepted the position with ambitions to rehabilitate the entire news industry, telling his peers that Trump had broken the mainstream media and that his goal was to do nothing less than ‘save journalism.’ But Licht had lost the confidence of his own newsroom … ‘Right or wrong. I’m not saying he’s a good guy. He’s definitely not,’ Licht said of Trump. ‘But, like, that was the mission … Sometimes something should be an 11; sometimes it should be a two; sometimes it should be a zero. Everything can’t be an 11 because it happens to come from someone you have a visceral hatred for.’ I told Licht that while I agreed with his observation—that Trump had baited reporters into putting on a jersey and entering the game, acting as opposing players instead of serving as commentators or even referees—there was an alternative view. Trump had forced us, by trying to annihilate the country’s institutions of self-government, to play a more active role than many journalists were comfortable with. This wasn’t a matter of advocating for capital-D Democratic policies; it was a matter of advocating for small-d democratic principles. The conflating of the two had proved highly problematic, however, and the puzzle of how to properly cover Trump continued to torment much of the media. Licht didn’t understand all the fuss … What made unity so elusive was that CNN’s newsroom had splintered into at least three factions. Some of Licht’s journalists were dead set against him, believing his approach was a recipe for false equivalency. Others were lukewarm, open to a change in direction yet confounded by his ill-defined denunciations of the work they’d done in recent years. Even those who were fully on board—people who had hailed Licht’s theoretical objective for the network—expressed bewilderment at his lack of specifics. He had talked a big game when he came aboard 10 months earlier, but since then—and especially after CNN’s botched coverage of the first January 6 hearing—had largely kept out of sight, leaving producers and hosts to reimagine their programs off interpretations of Licht’s innuendo … Everyone at CNN had long ago come to realize that Licht was playing for an audience of one. It didn’t matter what they thought, or what other journalists thought, or even what viewers thought. What mattered was what David Zaslav thought. … Over the previous year, people who knew Zaslav—and who had observed his relationship with Licht—had depicted him as a control freak, a micromanager, a relentless operator who helicoptered over his embattled CNN leader. Zaslav’s constant meddling in editorial decisions struck network veterans as odd and inappropriate; even stranger was his apparent marionetting of Licht. In this sense, some of Licht’s longtime friends and co-workers told me, they pitied him. He was the one getting mauled while the man behind the curtain suffered nary a scratch.”

+ Burberry Falls as Americas Slowdown Sours China Rebound (Bloomberg): “The British fashion brand’s stock is on track for its biggest drop since March 2022 after it said demand for sneakers and entry-level products is softening among younger Americans. The poor performance there, which was also driven by more Americans traveling abroad and reducing local spending, offset a resurgence among Chinese shoppers who are crucial for the brand. It took the shine off a 7% growth in overall comparable store sales in the year to April 1, which was ahead of expected growth of 5.6% … Chinese shoppers currently represent about 30% of total sales, which is still lower than 40% pre-pandemic … And while some Chinese tourists are returning to Europe, Burberry isn’t expecting a return to normal travel patterns in the current fiscal year. Chinese tourists are staying mostly in Asia at the moment.”

+ When Doctors Use a Chatbot to Improve Their Bedside Manner (The New York Times): “Skeptics … are so far underwhelmed about the prospect of large language models like ChatGPT helping doctors … replies that occasionally were wrong but … more often were not useful or were inconsistent. If a doctor is using a chatbot to help communicate with a patient, errors could make a difficult situation worse … But empathy can be deceptive. It can be easy … to confuse a good bedside manner with good medical advice … doctors are all too aware of the need for empathy, But the right words can be hard to come by … the program gave him the words to explain the lack of effective treatments.”

+ How Dowries Are Fuelling a Femicide Epidemic (The New Yorker): “… women’s status in India seems to have progressed little. In 2022, India ranked a hundred and thirty-fifth out of a hundred and forty-six countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, behind Bangladesh (seventy-first) and Sri Lanka (a hundred and tenth) as well as Islamic monarchies such as Brunei (a hundred and fourth) and Saudi Arabia (a hundred and twenty-seventh). Such indicators can prompt questions like the one posed by the Guardian a decade ago: ‘Why is India so bad for women?’ … Ask people the reasons for women’s troubles in India, and they point to a cluster of patriarchal norms. The fact that, after marriage, a wife tends to move in with her husband’s family corrodes her support system and discourages parents from investing in daughters as opposed to sons. Women are often urged not to work, and their absence of an income deprives them of bargaining power within the household. And divorce, though legally recognized, is still treated like a blight on a family’s honor, tainting the marriage prospects of the divorcée, her siblings, and her children. Even if women escape abusive relationships, a lack of professional training can make it hard for them to live alone … India’s patriarchal customs conspire to trap women in marriages. According to the World Health Organization, between a quarter and a half of all Indian women suffer intimate-partner violence, yet only about one per cent of marriages end in divorce. Although divorces are increasing, especially in urban areas, India’s divorce rate is still among the lowest in the world.”

+ Deliveries Keep Getting Faster. Will It Last? (Retail Dive): “In April, the time between a customer placing an order and final delivery fell to an average of four days … compared to 5.6 days in April 2022. The company’s supply chain visibility platform tracks more than 1 billion shipments annually … A confluence of factors will likely limit delivery speeds from going much faster, if not slow them down outright. Retailers have been cautious in recent months about leveraging higher-cost shipping services in an inflationary environment that’s biting into their bottom line. In turn, the demand for express deliveries using air cargo networks has waned, with many shippers instead calling for more economical ground transportation … Companies shifting to more regional fulfillment models like Amazon could lower transit times and shipping costs. But it’s a risky venture for companies lacking the robust infrastructure and forecasting capabilities that Amazon has. If demand starts to shift, inventory may be stationed in areas where it isn’t as economical or fast to ship out of … Sixty-two percent of consumers say an accurate estimated delivery date is more important than fast shipping.”

+ What Does ‘Colorful Formal’ Mean? (The New York Times): “The pivot to adjective-filled party dress codes is an attempt to flash some contemporary cultural cred. And while you can always take a stand against the prevailing trend, it’s more respectful of your hosts to make an effort to play by their rules. Which brings us to “colorful formal,” which means pretty much what it says on the tin. Forget black, forget white (and gray, beige, taupe). Basically, this is not about staying basic — or neutral, which I guess makes some sense in the current political environment.”

+ Recently purchased: Quince 100% Organic Cotton Knit Blazer, MELLODAY Geo Mock Neck Maxi Dress, OPT Kelly Green Mariabella Dress, J.Crew Oversized Patch-Pocket Cardigan Sweater in Stripe, Fraiche by J Surplice Flutter Sleeve Romper, Gonii No Show Socks, and Marie Marot X J.Crew Shirt in Ratti® Ropes Print.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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