Weekly Link Roundup

+ The LAM GALLERY Clear Bag that I reviewed here is now 50% off online.

+ Kanye and Adidas: Money, Misconduct and the Price of Appeasement (The New York Times): “Adidas entered the partnership in hopes of catching up to Nike, which had long dominated the hypercompetitive global sneaker market … While some other brands have been quick to end deals over offensive or embarrassing behavior, Adidas held on for years … Even as they squared off in arbitration, Adidas and Mr. West came to an agreement that served their common interest. Starting in May, Adidas began releasing the remaining inventory of Yeezys … most of the revenue would go to Adidas, and Mr. West was entitled to royalties. The shoes took in about $437 million in sales through June … The success of the Yeezy releases showed that some customers may no longer closely associate the star with the brand they love, and many do not care about his behavior.”

+ Move Over, Peloton. Rucking Is the Newest Fitness Craze in Silicon Valley and Beyond. (Business Insider): “The premise is simple: Ruckers fill a backpack with weights to amp up exercises like walks and hikes. For people with limited time to work out, rucking offers a one-two punch of cardio and strength training that can be lower impact than a run or a HIIT workout. In Silicon Valley, specifically, rucking is resonating with entrepreneurs who feel strongly about optimizing every part of their lives.”

+ Kylie Jenner Built a Beauty Empire. Now She’s Coming for Fashion. (The Wall Street Journal): “This fall, she launches Khy, a fashion line in partnership with co-founders Kris Jenner and Popular Culture’s Emma and Jens Grede, a married couple who are also involved in the multibillion-dollar juggernauts Skims and Good American. Khy—a play on a nickname of Jenner’s—will feature different guest designers and concepts throughout the year. The brand aims to produce investment pieces at an affordable price point … Nothing in Khy’s first release costs over $200. The faux-leather pieces, including a voluminous trench and skintight dresses, feel very Mad Max meets 1980s Thierry Mugler. It’s the wardrobe of a biker babe during the apocalypse—who happens to have internet access and a Pilates-toned body.”

+ New York’s Quirkiest Vintage Shop Is a U-Haul Truck (The New York Times): “Instead of offloading his inventory at a traditional stoop sale, Mr. Ortiz said he wanted to organize something that felt more like a curated pop-up shop involving other vendors. By renting a U-Haul truck, he realized that he could not only transport furniture he wanted to sell, but also host the sale basically anywhere he could find parking and use the truck as a space to display the goods being sold.”

+ The Economics of Pumpkin Patches (The Economist): “Pumpkin patches are a way for people to maintain connections to rural life … nearly $820m of pumpkin-related products were sold over the past year, a 9% annual increase. Sales of fresh pumpkin amounted to more than $190m in the year ending October 14th. Pumpkin patches are not hard to create. Farmers do not have to devote too much acreage to make a worthwhile patch. Money can be made from selling apple cider and donuts to the pumpkin punters as well as jams and vegetables.”

+ Shopbop just discounted thousands of styles up to 40% off, including styles normally excluded from storewide promotions. My picks:

+ The Hero Gen Z Needs (The Atlantic): “Snoopy has always been defined in part by how emotional he is. Some fans say that his personality speaks to their inner child: He plays pretend and dreams big, while finding joy in little wins such as receiving a full bowl of food. But Snoopy’s grand feelings also reflect his existential side—a reminder of the comic’s original gloomy tone, the perception of which was softened and sanitized over subsequent decades. It seems that a new generation is finally seeing Snoopy for who he really is.”

+ Why We Need to Talk About Marriage (The New Yorker): “Baum finds that marriage is a surprisingly unexamined subject, at least by professional philosophers, who have left the field to novelists, filmmakers, and other artists and theorists. When marriage does make an appearance in the philosophical canon … it is typically only a subsidiary topic. Philosophers lose their minds a bit when trying to address the subject of the marital condition … the unmarried Kant’s insistence that marriage is founded upon ‘the reciprocal use that one human being makes of the sexual organs and capacities of another’ … Baum asks whether the relative lack of philosophic interest in marriage could, in fact, be the key to understanding what marriage means philosophically. Is marriage … ‘what you only do when you do not ponder it too much?’ ”

+ The True Villain of Britney Spears’s Memoir? You (Vogue): “… who among us could look away from her demise? Who wasn’t clicking on those Page Six articles, even if it was to condemn their contents? How did we not see how unfathomably grim it all was, long before hair clippers and umbrellas and conservatorships entered the equation? … Britney’s saving grace, it would seem, is that she’s aware that her life has been spent caught between a rock and a hard patriarchy, even as that fact has slowly crushed her spirit. At its core, The Woman in Me is effectively Spears calling us—all of us—on our bullshit.”

+ GoStudent, the $3 Billion Edtech Darling, Scaled Fast and Partied Hard. The Result Was a Mess. (Business Insider): “GoStudent … which first billed itself as the go-to online-tutoring platform for students from kindergarten to high school, had scaled rapidly to become Europe’s highest-valued edtech startup, backed by heavy hitters like SoftBank and Coatue. At its peak, GoStudent employed just over 2,000 people and served 24 countries. The startup was a point of pride for the European tech scene, which has long operated in the shadow of Silicon Valley. But 28 current and former GoStudent employees and tutors said they experienced a poorly run organization with clumsy management. GoStudent, they said, promoted a party culture and had lax standards for vetting tutors … As of 2021, GoStudent did not check tutors’ IDs in multiple markets outside of the UK, current and former employees said, adding that if a tutor was kicked off the platform, they could theoretically use a fake name to sign up and be approved to join again. Even tutors raised concerns that ‘anyone’ could sign up to work with children on the platform. An ex-GoStudent employee said it seemed like the company ‘didn’t want to put the resources into figuring out how to stop’ potential abuse.”

+ My faith in celebrity biographers fell to a new low after reading Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk last month; even after calibrating my expectations, I was still disappointed by how Michael Lewis chose to tell Sam Bankman-Fried story in his latest book. In Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon, SBF is presented as a peculiar but naive “young man” (he’s 31); Lewis seems to suggest that SBF’s oddness and aloofness explain why FTX had such poor accounting practices, but this characterization minimizes SBF’s culpability. Lewis comes across as incapable of writing objectively about villains, insisting that his subject is misunderstood and could be redeemed.

I also recoil at the way that Lewis writes about Asian women, describing one as “small and agreeable and ill-designed for rebellion”; the only mannerism of this former FTX employee that Lewis deems important enough to describe is how “she still reflexively covered her mouth with her hand when she laughed.” (Disclosure: I am oversensitive to instances of r/menwritingwomen.)

Look, I am sympathetic to Lewis; he clearly did not expect for FTX to implode so spectacularly and completely when he set out to profile SBF–still, it reflects poorly on him to Surprise Pikachu after spending more than a year with SBF and not finding more reasons for suspicion, especially after this podcast aired. It’s clear that Lewis isn’t interested in FTX’s business or cryptocurrency more broadly, and this indifference shows in Going Infinite.

+ The Restaurant Nearest Google (The Verge): “… Thai Food Near Me … is named after a literal Google search, betting it can bring in customers with the power of SEO … The restaurant is optimized for the digital platforms diners use to find places nearby, not for the person walking past on the street or getting a recommendation from a friend … The name is both notable and obvious — if you’ve spent any amount of time searching for things online, you will understand the reference immediately.”

+ X, One Year Later: How Elon Musk Made a Mess of Twitter’s Business (Bloomberg): “A new analysis … estimates that 950,000 to 1.2 million people now pay for X’s $8 monthly premium service. That means X persuaded less than 1% of users to sign up—and translates to revenue of less than $120 million annually from the company’s subscription service, not including app store fees from Apple Inc. and Google. This is hardly a replacement for the ad revenue that Twitter relied on in the pre-Musk era—about $4.5 billion in its last full year as a public company … Collectively, X’s top five advertisers are spending 67% less on ads than they did before the acquisition … Fidelity, which kept equity in the company when Musk bought it for $44 billion, said in May that it valued its stake at just one-third the level it did when the deal closed.”

+ Winter Sweater Showdown: Why Cotton Rivals Cashmere This Season (The Wall Street Journal): “Most people view cotton sweaters, unfairly, as summer-only options. When fall blusters in, they flock to cashmere- and merino-wool knits, convinced ovine fibers make superior fall and winter fare. But if you pick the right ones, cotton knits can hold their own in cooler months … The complicated cotton-grading system isn’t exactly consumer-friendly, but, Reis said, you can generally determine quality by touch—the softer and more substantial the feel, the better the cotton. Look for ‘extra-long staple cotton’ … which is produced from the largest, fluffiest plants … Those fibers are wound up into smooth, strong yarns. Long-staple cotton is less likely to pill—and more apt to retain plushness—than short-staple options, which can droop and sag with wear.”

+ AI Has a Hotness Problem (The Atlantic): “When an AI image-generation tool—like the ones made by Midjourney, Stability AI, or Adobe—is prompted to create a picture of a person, that person is likely to be better-looking than those of us who actually walk the planet Earth … I’ve reviewed more than 100 fake faces of generic men, women, and nonbinary people, made to order by six popular image-generating tools, and found different ages, hair colors, and races … The faces did tend to have one thing in common, though: Aside from skewing young, most were above-average hot, if not drop-dead gorgeous. None was downright ugly. So why do these state-of-the-art, text-to-image models love a good thirst trap?”

+ Recently purchased: GUNEST 1/4 Zipper Sweater, Sunday in Brooklyn Tulle Knit Mix Kimono, Mango Tweed Jacket, Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket RepelShell, J.Crew Warwick Topcoat, Ann Taylor Bow Halter Top, The Annalise Mock-Neck Mini Sweater Dress by Maeve, The Bettina Tiered Shirt Dress by Maeve, Banana Republic Riya Midi Dress, and Hyacinth House Freya Fringe Sweater Dress.

Have a good week, everyone!

Hi, I am Elle!

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