Weekly Link Roundup

+ Shopbop’s end-of-season sale is here: take up to 70% off thousands of styles; prices as marked, no code needed. Some highlights: STAUD Landscape Dress (reviewed here), Senreve Maestra Bags (reviewed here; 50-60% off), UGG Diara Booties (20% off; reviewed here), and Schutz Dorothy Pumps (60% off; sizes very limited). More picks:

+ What’s Really Behind the ‘Mob Wife Aesthetic’? (The New York Times): “… mob wife aesthetic — a louche amalgamation of fur coats, leather and leopard prints that are being presented on the platform as a kind of mafiosa cosplay … Hundreds of videos on … [Instagram] show young women with no apparent marital relationship to organized crime trying on their own approximations of the look, which usually involve heavy jewelry and heavier eyeliner … The most basic version involves throwing a fur coat — real or faux — over an all-black outfit. But according to its proponents, the look is nothing without the attitude to go with it. Careful students of the mob wife oeuvre add red nails and lipstick, a high-volume hairdo and sunglasses big enough to function as a kind of windshield.”

+ How TikTok’s ‘Mob Wives’ Are Fuelling the Resurgence in Fur (The Business of Fashion): “… just a few years ago … it appeared fur’s trajectory was on an unstoppable decline. Since the late 2010s, brands and retailers … announced their intention to phase out fur products. Israel has enacted a ban on new fur sales, similar to California’s, while Italy and Norway announced they would stop fur farming. In 2021, Kering chief executive François-Henri Pinault said that fur had ‘no place in luxury.’ Cut to 2024, and sentiment around fur has shifted as the mob wife aesthetic endears the material to a new generation of consumers. It’s bleeding into fashion and Hollywood … But this fur moment is different from the past. Now, it’s secondhand and fast fashion retailers that are reaping the benefits of fur’s viral moment, as are alternative material startups and brands with good quality faux fur offerings … Brands that are at the right place at the right time can expect to earn dividends. And because so many luxury labels have moved away from fur, in the case of the ‘mob wife’ trend, that’s more likely to be fast fashion or mass market retailers. A faux fur jacket from Zara has emerged as one of the leading products benefitting from the trend, with searches and social interest in Zara’s fur jacket products seeing an increase of 212.7 percent in search and social buzz compared to similar products last year.”

+ High Fashion or Hunting Gear? Why Chic City Women Are Shopping at Traditional Sporting Stores (The Wall Street Journal): “Plenty of … women have caught on to the style savvy of specialty sporting labels. Barbour (a motorcycle- and country-clothing brand), Purdey (hunting), Orvis (fly fishing) and Ariat each sell practical, durable clothing and accessories as chic as high-fashion alternatives (and often less pricey). These wares are plenty polished for your urban office.”

+ The Ozempic Plateau (The Atlantic): “Weight loss triggers a set of powerful physiological changes in the body, which evolved over millions of years to keep us alive through periods of food scarcity … Exactly when varies quite a bit from person to person, but it happens after losing a certain percentage of body weight—meaning some people might plateau while still meeting the criteria for obesity. For Wegovy, it’s after losing, on average, 15 percent, usually more than a year into starting the drug. For Zepbound, it’s about 20 percent. These numbers are higher than is sustainable through diet and exercise alone, but they also do not reach the 30 percent achievable via the gold standard of bariatric surgery. These differences matter because they suggest that the level of the plateau is not permanently fixed. Recent advances in understanding the gut hormones that these drugs are designed to mimic hint at a possibility of even more powerful weight-loss drugs. Scientists are now testing ways to push the plateau down further; a drug could one day be even more effective than bariatric surgery.”

+ What the Ultrarich Wear to the Grocery Store (The New York Times): “On the 14-mile-long island, Class of Palm Beach functions for some as a sort of social-media-age Shiny Sheet, a nickname for the Palm Beach Daily News, a paper that fills its pages with photographs from society galas and luncheons … The fashion in Palm Beach involves the same labels worn in other wealthy enclaves, but the way people wear them evokes a certain lifestyle … The accounts … were meant to showcase that lifestyle and offer an escape, as well as fashion inspiration.”

+ The 3 Big Reasons Americans Are Suddenly Psyched About the Economy (Business Insider): “… all the good vibes Americans are suddenly feeling about the economy boil down to stocks, gas prices, and eggs … Since November, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index has jumped by 29% — the largest two-month gain in over 30 years. People are more convinced that inflation will keep falling, and their outlook on their personal finances has also improved. In other words, consumers finally feel less terrible about everything.”

+ Kohl’s has a great offer on the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado that I am current loving. A pack of two 28ml containers of this cream is $51.80 with free shipping.

+ The Meme-ification of American Politics (The New Yorker): “As the 2024 campaign gets under way, many Americans have tuned out current events … only forty-eight per cent of respondents were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ interested in the news, down from sixty-three per cent in 2017. News sites have seen a crash in traffic because of this fatigue. But at least half of American adults say they consume some news on social-media sites … The share of adults who get their news from TikTok in particular has tripled since 2020; a third of adults under thirty regularly get their news from the platform … the 2024 election seems likely to be waged in a media environment where more and more voters are forming opinions based on the funny video their cousin’s husband’s sister shared in the group chat.”

+Designer Pokémon and Gold Tamagotchis: Why Luxury Brands Are Revisiting ’90s Toys (Vogue): “… while fashion may be barreling towards a 2010s revival, brands are channeling their ’90s and early aughts inspiration via unexpected avenues. Beyond the never-ending Y2K fashion revival, labels big and small are dreaming up accessories that resurface childhood memories, reimagining our favorite toys and characters in new—and most importantly, chic—ways … Onetime children now have access to adult money.”

+ I started reading Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy by James Stewart and Rachel Abrams shortly after the Succession finale aired last May; its authors made the rounds on recap podcasts about the HBO show because Sumner Redstone, former chairman of National Amusements, CBS, and Viacom and the main character of Unscripted, is one of the inspirations for Logan Roy. While Unscripted and Succession both do a bang up job of making wealth look unattractive–money doesn’t guarantee dignity in death nor does it offer protection from abuse–Unscripted feels more daytime drama than prestige TV.

In Unscripted, readers meet Sumner in his 90s–a frail but sex-obsessed media mogul who dotes on much younger women with eye-popping gifts. The authors cast just a passing glance at Sumner’s humble beginnings and extraordinary career, but in most of this book he is an odious, infirm man who is abusive to his children–then cries at the thought of dying alone.

I decided to finish Unscripted earlier this month before starting my next Authoritative Historical Nonfiction™. I made it to the end, but it was a mostly joyless experience. While Unscripted doesn’t lack lurid details, it is entirely humorless (in fairness, its authors never claim it as anything but a telling of the Redstone family drama). I also struggled with the structure of the book: the first half had a gossipy tone and revolved around Sumner’s indiscretions and the hype machine that enabled him; then there’s an abrupt shift in tone and narrative to CBS’s MeToo scandal involving Les Moonves, the beleaguered former CEO of CBS, and the corporate machinations that led to Shari Redstone’s takeover. I can’t help but wonder if Unscripted‘s two authors decided to stitch together their individual contributions with brute force, instead of marrying the narratives in a more organic way.

If you are looking to pearl-clutch and be outraged, give Unscripted a try.

+ Here Comes the AI Backlash (The Business of Fashion): “… brands turning to AI … could find themselves having to reassure customers the technology wasn’t just a way to cut out wages that would have been paid to a person — though history shows that, when possible, businesses will do just that.”

+ What Happened to Pants? (Harper’s Bazaar): “Pants have been having an existential crisis for over half a decade now, ever since Gen Z started wielding the word cheugy like a knife … In practice, pants are just fabric tubes for legs. They’ve been an outfit anchor for decades—something you don’t have to think about too much. Socially, we’re expected to wear pants, and we mostly oblige. That might be why deviating from the original design seems to get people really worked up: It feels truly disruptive. Being caught with no pants on is, after all, a prototypical nightmare. But maybe as fashion gets a little more tame, pants have been given the opportunity to let loose.”

+ Fast-Food Giants Overwork Teenagers, Driving America’s Child Labor Crisis (The Washington Post): “… fast-food companies have illegally scheduled thousands of teenagers to work late and long hours and to operate dangerous kitchen equipment … In some cases, companies have hired children 13 or younger — violating 1930s-era laws designed to protect their safety and educational opportunities. Federal law prohibits 14- and 15-year-olds from working past 7 p.m. and more than three hours on school nights. Overall, child labor violations have more than tripled in the past 10 years, with violations in food service increasing almost sixfold … Major chains that depend on the franchise business model have much higher rates of violations than those that don’t … Franchise-heavy McDonald’s, for example, has averaged 15 violations per 100 stores since 2020.”

+ Amazon Won’t Buy iRobot After All (Retail Dive): “In August 2022 they announced that Amazon would acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion in cash, and the Federal Trade Commission began looking into the proposed deal within weeks. Last year, the European Commission also opened an “in-depth investigation” into the proposed acquisition and by November had warned the e-commerce giant that its preliminary assessment was that it would run afoul of antitrust regulations … The companies said they have signed a termination agreement; Amazon said by email that it will pay iRobot a $94 million breakup fee.”

+ Why China Has Lost Interest in Hollywood Movies (The New York Times): “In 2023, no American films ranked among the 10 highest grossing in China despite highly anticipated sequels in the ‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Fast & the Furious’ and ‘Spider-Man’ franchises. Neither ‘Oppenheimer’ nor ‘Barbie,’ two of Hollywood’s biggest hits last year, cracked the top 30 in China at the box officeThe only other recent year when Hollywood was shut out of China’s top 10 was 2020, during the pandemic … China’s film industry is producing more high-quality movies that resonate with domestic audiences … Against the backdrop of growing tensions with the United States, Beijing has advanced its ambitions to become a cultural influence, supporting efforts by local filmmakers to create films that are in line with the ruling Communist Party’s doctrines.”

+ Can AI Carry On a Designer’s Legacy? (The Business of Fashion): “At 78, Norma Kamali isn’t ready to retire … For months, she has been working with the AI-focused agency Maison Meta to build a custom tool that can generate new designs based on her creative DNA from text prompts. They’ve been feeding thousands of images from the brand’s archive into the model, teaching it the essence of her style … the hope is that, when the day comes that she’s no longer there, her team will still be able to draw on her creativity as if she were … Kamali, who is a patternmaker, believes any design must have a strong connection to the pattern. She’s not certain right now how they’ll achieve that with AI designs and is still determining which parts of the company will be trained to use her AI system.”

+ Recently purchased: Bloch Nashira Ballet Flat, J.Crew Cashmere Sweater Lady Jacket, Zoe and Claire Button Front Sweater Dress, AllSaints Half Moon Leather Crossbody Bag, Babaton Optimize Dress, French Connection Metallic Cotton Blend Cardigan, Ann Taylor Button V-Neck Sweater Dress, UGG Jaelyn Cardigan, Banana Republic Sabbia Italian Twill Trench Coat, and J.Crew Quinn Square-Toe Ballet Flats.

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